4 Proven Steps to Become a Contributor For Major Publications

Want to become a contributor? Contributors write for publications like Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur Magazine, Huffington Post, and others. This is a golden opportunity for you to get your content in front of millions of people!

For writers and entrepreneurs, it’s a smart way to show off your writing skills. It also comes with a bunch of other rewards I’ll share down below.

In this post, read about how to become a contributor.

I’ll cover:

  • Why you should become a contributor
  • 4 steps on how to become a contributor
  • The difference between contributor vs. writer
  • How to become a Forbes contributor and how much you’ll get paid
  • And more!

Ready to start?

Why Become A Contributor?

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You’re thinking you might want to become a contributor, but what are the benefits?

  • Increased visibility
  • Brand recognition
  • Thought leadership
  • Make money from your writing
  • Professional development

Increased Visibility

Becoming a contributor to major publications is one of the fastest ways to increase your visibility and create brand awareness. You can become more credible in your industry and start building your reputation as an expert.

This visibility can bring a wealth of benefits, like creating leads for your business, developing joint venture partnerships, SEO benefits for your website, and other perks.

Brand Recognition

Boost your personal brand and be associated with reputable, well-known publications. It builds trust in your community and will help you become more recognized.

Thought Leadership

Publish high-quality, insightful content in big publications can help you establish yourself as a thought leader. You can further build your reputation as an industry expert.

Writing Income

Did you know that contributors can get paid for their writing?

Some writing pieces pay more than others, but in general, making up to a few hundred dollars per article is what you can expect. Writing 5-10 pieces a month can earn you a healthy side hustle!

Professional Development

Become a better writer, improve your research skills, and improve your content quality. You’ll be able to stay abreast of developing trends in your industry, continuously add to your expertise, and gain experience.

Are you sold yet?

Next, let’s cover how to become a contributor…

How To Become a Contributor?

become a contributor

You’re ready to become a contributor. What do you do, and how does it work?

The four steps you’ll follow will be to:

  1. Publish a portfolio
  2. Understand the publication’s article submission guidelines
  3. Pitch
  4. Be active on social media and network 

Publish a Portfolio

The first thing you want to do is get published online. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s incredibly helpful to be a published writer before pitching to a major publication like Forbes or Fast Company.

Getting your content published online is pretty simple.

Start with smaller publications in your niche. Look for guest blogging opportunities, and make sure you have at least 5-10 published pieces online before you pitch bigger publications.

Aside from getting published at smaller publications online, you can also look at starting your own blog.

This is the perfect place to host your writing. And then, when asked to supply your portfolio or examples of your work, you can drop the URL of your personal blog.

Another option is starting a Medium blog. Medium is a platform popular among writers, bloggers, and tech enthusiasts (check out our article on how to make money on Medium).

This is just like having your personal blog, but it will be hosted on Medium, which is a good way to increase your visibility and credibility.

You can launch a personal blog, a Medium blog, or do both! I see the benefits of doing both, and I personally do this!

Read this guide on how to start a money-making WordPress blog.

Understand the Publication’s Guidelines

Understanding the publication’s guidelines is an important part of the pitching process. Research this in advance before you even pitch.

It would be a major failure to get as far as pitching, get your pitch accepted, then learn about publishing guidelines afterward and hit a brick wall.

This won’t happen if you research the guidelines upfront.

Especially for bigger publications, they tend to publish their guidelines for the public’s view. And they are pretty clear in their expectations:

  • Topics covered
  • Wordcount
  • No interviews
  • Original content only

This gives you an idea of some of the guidelines you might come across. Here’s a look at some of Harvard Business Review’s contributor guidelines:

harvard business review contributor guidelines

Pitch

Find publications you want to contribute to and pitch! Each publication’s contributor process is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here.

For example, at Fast Company, you will submit your 600-900 word completed and unpublished article to their Work Life section. They are actually against pitches, but other publications will welcome your pitch.

It just goes to show how different one major publication can be from another.

Do some research on the contributor/pitch process for the publication you’re interested in. Follow all the instructions and wait for your story to be published.

How Do You Find Publications Where You Can Become a Contributor?

This is where your research process will come into play.

  • Network and use your connections: Reach out to your network and leverage the connections and relationships you’ve built.
  • Use social media: Get on a social media platform to search your niche to find followers, groups, and hashtags that could lead you to potential publications to contribute to.
  • Use Google: Do a thorough online search using Google to uncover publications in your industry where you can become a contributor.

Be Active On Social Media and Network

Build out your social presence on a social media channel or more than one! Connect with your peers and key people in your industry. Contribute on social media, tweet, publish posts, and get your name out there. This is social networking.

Use social channels where your audience and peers in your niche hang out, like X (Twitter), LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

What Is The Difference Between a Writer and a Contributor?

Are you a writer or a contributor? Does it mean the same thing or not?

There is a clear difference between a writer and a contributor, though sometimes people use the two terms interchangeably:

A writer creates content, like articles, essays, and stories. These are professionals who write for magazines, publications, websites, newspapers, and other places. They are a regular contributor and can be a freelancer or a staff writer.

A contributor is someone who provides content to a publication occasionally, or on a part-time basis. More like a guest contributor.

These people submit articles, opinion pieces or other kinds of content. They act as a subject matter expert, industry insider, or guest writer. They can be writers, business owners, industry experts, or an influencer.

They share their knowledge and expertise with the publication’s audience.

Writers and contributors both create content. They have that in common.

The main difference is that writers produce content as a regular contributor on a full-time basis, whether it be to one or multiple companies, websites, or publications. 

Contributors have less of a formal role with publications, but they are subject matter experts and industry professionals who contribute content occasionally.

How Do I Become a Contributor to Forbes?

Best Sites for Freelance Writers.

You want to become a contributor on Forbes. This means you’ve followed the steps highlighted above, identifying Forbes as the publication you want to write for. 

Then, you created a portfolio for yourself online, whether with smaller publications or through personal blogging. 

You’re ready to pitch Forbes! 

How does it work?

4 Steps To Becoming a Forbes Contributor

Follow these steps to be one step closer to contributing for Forbes.

Step 1: Read Forbes

If you want to contribute for Forbes, then chances are, you already know the outlet well. You know they publish content on topic ideas like:

  • Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Money
  • Digital Marketing
  • Technology
  • Real Estate

If you haven’t already read Forbes, you’ll want to start here.

Reading the publication will give you incredible insight into how stories are structured and writing style. So you can structure your content this way.

Step 2: Research The Editor

Look up the editor on Google, Twitter (X), and LinkedIn. For online media, pitching the editor is pretty standard. Once you identify the editor, look up their email address and get ready to prepare your pitch!

Step 3: Craft a Clear, Compelling Pitch

Now comes the hard part: writing your pitch!

Don’t let pitching scare you. If you’re new to writing a pitch, this will be good practice for many more pitches to happen in the future.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Write clearly: Make your pitch clear and concise.
  • Your story idea should be relevant (this is where your Forbes research and previously reading the publication will come in handy).
  • Sell your story: Make a case for your story. Tell the editor why it needs to be published in Forbes.
  • Write for Forbes: Ensure your story aligns with Forbes’ audience.
  • Communicate turnaround time: This creates a sense of urgency. Tell the editor why your story should be published now and why it’s relevant.

The goal of your pitch is to share your story idea and get approval before writing the article.

Do not write the story before pitching. Don’t submit a rough draft or final draft to the editor unless asked to do so.

Step 4: Write Your Article

If you’ve made it this far, that means you’ve been successful pitching Forbes, and you’ve gotten the green light to write your article for publication!

Congrats!

Make sure you follow the contributor guidelines:

  • Keep your wordcount under their limit
  • Write for Forbes’ audience
  • Write in a clear, compelling way
  • Deliver a high-quality article that demonstrates your expertise and knowledge about the topic
  • Use published research and industry stats in your writing

Here are some quick tips to be successful writing for Forbes:

First, write to serve the audience. Create value-driven, high-quality content that delivers your point across clearly. Second, remember that shorter is better. Cut out the fluff and get to the point in your writing.

Provide valuable information and brand yourself as the subject matter expert that you are!

Do Forbes Contributors Get Paid?

Yes, Forbes contributors do get paid. Our research revealed payments of $250/month for 5 pieces per month or $500 for 7 pieces.

This is a lot lower than I thought, personally, but most Forbes contributors are not generally in it for the money, I think. 

The notoriety and reputation of this major publication speaks for itself. If you’re published in Forbes, you can add “Forbes contributor” to your email signature.

You’ll boost your online reputation, and it can do wonders for personal branding.

If you’re interested in writing for Forbes or other publications for the money, consider joining their team of staff writers for full-time work.

Or, read this list of 19 websites that pay you to write short stories.

The Bottom Line On Becoming a Contributor

We just covered the steps of how you can become a contributor. Writing for a major publication is a goal many writers have.

It can be a ton of work. The process can be challenging and stressful, but if it were easy, anybody would do it, right?

In all, I think the process is well worth it. And, once you get your foot in the door, your future contributions will be a lot easier.

Be patient and be prepared to wait a while before the right opportunity comes your way, and you can finally become a contributor at the publication you’ve been eyeing.

Hopefully, this guide provided some clarity on the process and put you at ease knowing the process ahead.

Are you psyched to start this process to become a contributor?

Which publication are you aiming to get published in?

Tran Danh

Tran Danh

I'm Tran Danh, the author behind Smart Passive Income (SPI), a blog dedicated to online business and entrepreneurship. I started this blog in 2008, following in the footsteps of Pat Flynn, the founder. Being one of the leading business blogs globally, SPI attracts over 2 million readers each month. Through my content, I aim to assist individuals in generating passive income from various online sources. Join me on this transformative journey as we delve into the world of online business and uncover the strategies and tactics that have led to tremendous success for myself and countless others.

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