How to become a contributor to a major publication

At the beginning of my professional career, I proposed stories to journalists. When they were writing the story, I instinctively wrote them a thank you email.

100% of the time, this journalist answered me to thank me. It was very confusing. Then it hit me. This reporter has a quota. She needs to publish a certain number of articles and if she doesn’t, well, it’s not good.

So when I suggest a story to her, I help her and when she writes the story, she helps me. The same is true for the contribution. The site needs content to generate traffic. If you provide good content, you help them, and when they publish it, they help you.

A classic win-win situation.

You have ideas in your head that you don’t even know you have.

Then the next question is, “Okay, they agreed to let me write for them. But what am I writing?”

I spoke about it several times. If you are good at basketball, it is hard for you to imagine that there are people who find it very difficult to throw the ball into the basket. After all, it’s so easy for you.

The same is true for knowledge. You have thoughts, wisdom and ideas in your head. Don’t leave them there. You might think everyone knows these things. You would be wrong.

Whatever excites you, write about it.

Google is your friend.

As for access to the person managing contributions on the site, well, that shouldn’t be too hard to find.

A few minutes of basic research and you should be able to identify the right person. The next question is how to get there.

Nowadays, you can reach anyone.

I find Twitter is generally the best place to reach people who write or work for big publications, especially in the business sector.

You could do a search on Twitter for the name of the site and maybe see if anyone from there is following you. Otherwise, follow the most relevant person then ask them, preferably privately but for that they must follow you back, who manages the contributors of the site.

After they tell you, ask them if they would like to introduce you. They might reply that you should write the article and submit it through official channels or they will pass it on.

Do this. Write the first article you would like to contribute to and do it well.

As always, be human.

Like most things in business, it’s all about people, trust and the relationship.

Once you’ve identified the right person, don’t just introduce them. Build some trust first. Maybe spend a few days engaging with them and their tweets. Answer some of their questions. Ask them a few questions. Share their tweets. Be human.

Once you’ve established the beginning of a connection, ask them if you can contact them, either via Twitter DM or email.

Then send them the pitch and hope for the best.

Remember, if they publish your article, it’s a mutually beneficial deal and everyone wins in the end. Good luck.

Writing here or for other publications has been essential in my career. It extended my reach to several million readers. My followers on all social networks have increased and my ability to reach anyone on LinkedIn has increased because people see where I write, and my access to companies and leaders has become endless.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

Jacob L. Thornton