Between 2013-2016 I wrote 164 articles for Forbes as a Forbes contributor. [Note: Contributors at Forbes are unpaid writers, domain experts with day jobs, as opposed to staff writers who are full time employees of Forbes. More on this model here, here, and here.] It has been rewarding for both my personal brand and my digital marketing agency, MWI. It has led to other writing opportunities with publications like Time, Mashable, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, Venture Beat, Fortune, ClickZ, Search Engine Land, and the South China Morning Post, to name a few. I loved doing it (I stopped writing for Forbes in early 2016), and am grateful to have had the opportunity. I got lucky. I never asked “How do I become a Forbes writer?” The opportunity came to me through a friend and was dropped in my lap. However, since I started writing for Forbes, “How can I write for Forbes?” has become the most common question I’m asked. Let me tell you how it happened for me, and then I’ll tell you how you can make it happen for you.
How my relationship with Forbes began
I started blogging around 2001. I have always loved writing. I write for myself, primarily, and to this day am always pleasantly surprised to discover that anyone else reads, let alone enjoys reading, what I’ve written. I do not consider myself as a true journalist, although I have referred to myself as one in order to get into events for free. I consider myself a rank amateur, someone who is virtually untrained. Yet I love to write, and will take any opportunity to do more of it. For over 10 years this blog was the only outlet I had for my writing, with a few minor exceptions.
That all changed in early 2013. I was in a meeting with my friend and fellow Forbes contributor Cheryl Conner and asked her “How did you start writing for Forbes?” I was merely curious. I thought it was pretty cool that she had that platform for getting her ideas out. Cheryl explained the contributor model to me, and told me that her editor, Tom Post (recently moved on from Forbes), would be in town soon and she would introduce me to him. I didn’t think too much of it, but figured it would be a good opportunity. Little did I know.
I met Tom at an event at Weber State University in Utah, where the topic was the future of digital journalism. Tom spoke, and afterward Cheryl introduced me to him. I was surprised when he said “I’ve read your blog and the article you published on Fast Company,” (Cheryl had recently helped me get that published there). Tom continued, “I wish that Fast Company article had been in Forbes. I’d like you to write for us and post the same type of content on Forbes that you post on your own blog.” I was surprised and flattered. I hadn’t expected Tom to know who I was at this point, let alone have read my work and be prepared to give me this opportunity. I told him I’d love to write for Forbes, and that was the beginning of it all.
164 articles later, I’m no longer publishing work on Forbes, at least not directly (I still occasionally pitch articles to other writers there on behalf of clients), and I provide coaching services for entrepreneurs and executives who want to grow their personal brand, which often includes becoming a contributor to Forbes. I’ve helped people get into contributor positions at many publications including Forbes, Mashable, and Entrepreneur.
Getting in can take a lot of work and more than one try. Here are my best tips on how to make it happen.
- Love writing. My writing at Forbes has led to over $2M in revenue for my marketing agency, but you may never make a dime by writing for Forbes, directly or indirectly, and you shouldn’t do it with dollar signs in your eyes. If you write for money, you won’t write very well, and you won’t get the results you want. If you don’t love writing for its own sake it will become a burden rather than a blessing. The majority of those who thrive as contributors like to write.
- Write a lot. Showing a Forbes editor that you’ve written 3-4 blog posts isn’t enough. Showing that you’ve written 100 blog posts, and several pieces that have been published elsewhere, is much better, although you can get in with less. One of the things Forbes wants to know is whether you will produce a piece every week. That’s 52 articles per year. It’s a lot of work. What evidence can you show to prove you’re up to the task?
- Read a lot of Forbes posts. Especially the popular ones. This will give you a good idea of what works on Forbes and what doesn’t.
- Collaborate and develop relationships with other Forbes contributors. Reach out to those who are already writing for Forbes and offer to help them with their writing. Offer to help them with research, interviews, and other building blocks of articles. This will give you more insight into how the process works, and you’ll then be able to pitch yourself as having assisted other Forbes writers in putting together pieces. There’s a good chance you’ll end up getting quoted in an article or two along the way, which doesn’t hurt when it comes time for pitching.
- Choose a focus. At Forbes there are different sections, each run by a different editor. Are you going to write for the Entrepreneur section, the Lifestyle section, or the CMO Network (marketing) section? Choose one, because if you try to get into more than one you won’t get in to any. But don’t stop at choosing a section, you also need a topic within that section. You’ll need to focus on IoT in Asia, or small business HR, or tech VC funding. If you pitch yourself as just IoT, or HR, or VC, it’s too vague, you need to zoom in more.
- Prepare your posts for pitching. Create three posts that you think are worthy of being on Forbes. Get personal and vulnerable. Share secrets. Give your best tips. Provide massive value. Share your experiences where it may help others, but DO NOT MAKE IT ABOUT YOURSELF. It’s not about you, it’s about the reader, and what the reader wants. Write for the reader without any thought of what you’ll get in return. And for good heavens, check your spelling and grammar! If you need help hire an editor or invest in Grammarly.
- Know what to expect. Forbes wants one article per week. You don’t get paid. You need to know how to use WordPress. There is no pre-publishing editorial–you’re expected to write, edit, proofread, and publish all by yourself. Forbes will review your article after you post and sometimes makes minor adjustments, but in my experience this is rare. Forbes provides great group trainings, but don’t expect a lot of one on one attention. 99% of what Forbes gives you is a platform, it’s mostly up to you to figure out how to utilize it.
You are now well prepared to pitch yourself as a contributor to Forbes. Let’s do this!
- Get an introduction. Unless you truly have no other option, don’t pitch an editor you’ve never met through LinkedIn or with a cold call or email. Get an introduction from another contributor with whom you have a relationship. This last part is key–if you and I have never met, never talked, and you email me and ask “Josh, can you introduce me to an editor at Forbes?” I’m going to tell you no. I’m going to reject you because if I gave you an introduction the first thing the editor would ask is “How do you know this writer?” and then I would have to tell him, “I don’t, he just emailed me, I don’t know him at all.” This would hurt your chances, rather than helping. It’s also not going to work if you email me and say “I’d like to develop a relationship with you so that you will introduce me to an editor at Forbes.” If I have to explain to you why this isn’t a good approach, then you don’t have the self awareness to be a good writer. Real relationships take time. They require that you give value first. They require that you don’t do it just to get something in return.
- Pitch the posts you’ve written just for Forbes. Don’t copy and paste the full text into an email. Attach Word docs or link to Google docs. I prefer Google docs myself, but if you send a Google doc to an editor make sure the doc has sharing settings so that anyone who has the link can view it, otherwise the editor will have to request access and you don’t want that friction in your pitch.
- Show your best past work. Include a link to your own blog or posts you’ve written on other publications. Tell the editor “This is some of my writing that I think best represents what I can produce for Forbes,” and then link directly to 3-4 of your most compelling pieces. Bonus tip: Don’t just paste a URL, put the title of the article in your email and link the title. There’s nothing compelling about a link by itself, but one of your titles may catch the editor’s attention and make him click.
- Show your best, relevant work. Your best work may not be appropriate for Forbes. Don’t pitch that. You want the editor to read what you’ve sent and think “Wow, I wish this were on Forbes. This would be perfect!” That will only happen if your writing is something the editor could see copying and pasting onto Forbes.
- Follow up, wisely. Send in your pitch, and then wait a week. Don’t be a pest. Don’t be annoying. Don’t hound. The editor doesn’t owe you anything. He doesn’t owe you a position as a contributor. He doesn’t even owe you a response. You’re not doing him a favor, he’s doing you a favor by even opening your email. If you don’t receive a response after a week, check the editor’s Twitter to see if he’s posted within the past week. Maybe he’s on vacation or a business trip. If he seems active and in the office, send a polite follow up by responding to your own email, “Hey, just wanted to make my email didn’t end up in your spam filter, thanks!” is enough.
There are 1,500 contributors at Forbes. That might sound like a lot, but for every person writing for Forbes, there are 1,000 who tried and failed. Most fail because they don’t prepare, and when they pitch, they pitch poorly. If you follow the steps I’ve outlined above you’re already in the 1%.
To show exactly how easy this can be, I just received this email from someone I’ve been communicating with who was able to get his boss into Forbes as a contributor.
It was really pretty straightforward. I sent an email with a list of potential titles to [editor] saying that my CEO wanted to write for him. He responded pretty quickly asking for drafts of a couple of them, so I sat down with my content writer and wrote some outlines for [CEO] to fill in with his experiences. We went back and forth to edit the style to what [editor] was looking for. His biggest criticism was that we needed to embrace the struggle of entrepreneurship more. Once we’d produced a few pieces he was happy with, he set us up in the Forbes platform and sent us the publishing guidelines. We just published our second piece.
It’s not hard to become a Forbes contributor if you’re prepared and use some common sense. Most people don’t prepare. Most people don’t pitch the right way. But you will. Right? Let me know how it goes 🙂Liked it? Share it!
Joshua, or “Don”, this is a great post! My favorite quote: “I do not consider myself as a true journalist, although I have referred to myself as one in order to get into events for free” …that is hilarous! I would love to help with some of your posts in any way I can!
The contributor/staff arrangement reminds me of an adjunct/professor relationship.
One thing that may help others (present company included) is explaining the Google Docs application that Forbes uses to ‘vet’ their contributors. “Please provide overall theme and a few story ideas; credibility, knowledge and expertise are key” is the area most confusing to many. An overall theme could be “I write about digital marketing and the many subsets within it” or “A Blog About Business”.
Some of the contributors I’ve approached have contracted a grandiosity that’s sickening, as if they’d never tried and failed at anything. 90% of the content I’ve read within my area of expertise (content marketing/SEO) makes little sense or is an obvious paid link baiting article (you can tell, trust me).
I’ve been writing from personal education and experience for two decades. It’s saddens me that Forbes tends to choose the wrong contributors and shuns the good ones.
I never went through the Google Doc application. I’d recommend anyone who can get around it do so as well by going through a personal connection, like I did. But if you can’t get a personal referral, then:
1. Overall theme – What’s your focus? My profile says I focus on Hong Kong, startups, and digital marketing. I write for the “Entrepreneurship” section of Forbes. Would your focus be Asia? Lifestyle? Small business? Take a look at the categories on Forbes and choose one. Every author on Forbes has a single sentence describing what they write about. Make a similar sentence for yourself.
2. Story ideas – I’d recommend submitting three.
a. Credibility – Stats, data, and quotes from experts make an article credible. Always reference where the stats and data are coming from. Link to original sources.
b. Knowledge – Do you really know what you’re writing about? If so, it should come through in your writing. If you aren’t an expert on your topic, don’t pretend to be.
c. Expertise – Do you have experience with your topic? I can write about digital marketing because I have 15 years of experience. I can write about Hong Kong because I’ve lived here for two years now. I can’t say much about outdoor advertising in Vietnam. Write from your experience.
“Some of the contributors I’ve approached have contracted a grandiosity that’s sickening, as if they’d never tried and failed at anything.”
Yeah…well, no comment 🙂
“90% of the content I’ve read within my area of expertise (content marketing/SEO) makes little sense or is an obvious paid link baiting article (you can tell, trust me).”
Again, no comment, other than to say good content rises to the top, and not so good content gets ignored. But I do know Forbes goes to lengths to get good content. It’s easier said than done.
I certainly appreciate you taking the time to clarify. Broken down, I totally understand what they’re looking for. On the application, there’s several boxes (LinkedIn id, etc.). One of those boxes has ALL of 1, 2, and A-C above slammed in one area. Looks like this:
“Concept for your Forbes page*
Please provide overall theme and a few story ideas; credibility, knowledge and expertise are key”
For your reference: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1PSwVwvQUo_g4uUYBS6Awdw9SRPnVhkcx6FD6GPIN3wk/viewform
Now, put like this, it appears your theme and story ideas are to exude A-C simultaneously. If I’m to put stats, data and quotes from credible sources (like, for example, if I borrowed a quote from one of your articles) into my concept, I’d say the final product would look “loud”. Overcrowded.
How much of each story idea am I putting? A title, maybe a few ‘hooks’? Their application is rather verbose. But, I’ll never give up; I know my writing would fit nicely on America’s largest entrepreneurial stage.
Sales and Marketing, as a single or split entity, is my discipline (educated, nearly two decades of hands-on to back my words). I tend not only to provide great tips, but with my psychology minor, I love digging into the psyche of the end user so marketing campaigns are targeted to color, size and what words bring out the right feelings in a potential customer.
I spent several hours on your articles and several other contributors’ on Forbes. By comparison, what I read from you is actually ‘durable’. What I see from others is some never-ending struggle to redesign one article fifteen different times as opposed to coming up with something new – lacks cohesion, in other words. Marketing has many subsets, and within those subsets reside several more; if you’re not speaking from experience, you’re just typing.
I appreciate the “durable” comment. I often have impostor syndrome and feel like I’m the rank amateur at Forbes. Whenever someone says they read what I’ve written I’m always surprised, and if they say they like it I’m even more surprised.
Keep trying, but if you can’t get on Forbes publish on the LinkedIn Pulse network, on Medium, and anywhere else you can. I’ve been surprised how many readers there are in those places. It can lead to great exposure.
It just confuses me how the Forbes selection process works. If Forbes didn’t have the ideal audience (and exposure) for my content, I really wouldn’t care. I’ve actually tried LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, it’s just really crappy that they hide content behind https:// (not exactly search engine friendly). The mecca of content marketing is having someone ‘foreign’ to a singular concept search Google and read your content. It’s like a relationship – she could pick any one man, but chose you. Same applies with the content I produce.
I want my words to resonate 5, 10, 20 years down the road.
I’m going to shoot another application over using the document farm. My everlasting prayer is that whomever reads it is having a good day.
Thanks, Josh, for the information. I’ve been interested in contributing to Forbes, and this post was helpful toward that goal! Would love to find out how I may be considered for an introduction to the decision-makers there. Thanks for your help! Cheers, Ted (A BYU alumni with an obvious connection to Zion.)
I wonder if these tips are still applicable today? I understand that Forbes is highly selective about who and what they put online so, potential candidates should really put their best foot forward. As of now, I have no dreams of being published there – yet – however, I am learning from people who have been featured already. Thank you for the tips. Looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the experts.
I’ve spoken to two people who were recruited by Forbes within the past month or two, and they said they were asked to contribute 5 posts per month, so that requirement still appears to stand. I also have seen at least one Forbes editor being very pointed and specific about what contributors cover with their content.
Sounds challenging. But as they are sometimes syndicating content, doesn’t 5 posts a month seem…overwhelming? Although it’s only 2016, many audiences are already suffering from “content saturation”. I feel it, too, as a digital marketer and copywriter. Ah well. Their rules. Thank you for your response. I appreciate it 🙂
Whether or not it’s overwhelming I’ve found depends on a few factors:
1. Do you love writing? If not, it’s hard to put out 5 articles per month, regardless of anything else.
2. Are you a perfectionist? If you are, it’s going to take you 10 times as long to write an article compared to someone who is a bit looser with their writing.
3. What type of piece are you writing? Sometimes I just write a piece that’s nothing more than my own thoughts and opinion on a topic. I can crank one of those out in 45 minutes and be done. Other times I do an article that includes quotes, research, etc. That might take me 12 hours to put together.
4. What’s the goal? If it’s just that it’s a great opportunity to write for Forbes but it has no bearing on anything else you do, it’s going to be a slog. But if you’re using it to build up your personal brand, your company, generate leads, etc. then it becomes more exciting.
True. I also apply the same principles on my current writings. However, if an individual has other engagements (like contributing to other publications, a day job, and hobbies), it can feel overwhelming – at first. Personally, the goal is what’s most important because it would reflect on your writing.
Being a Forbes contributor is still relevant today and much sought after. For many writers like myself, it’s a dream to see our names on print there.
Thank you for your response.
Thanks for the honest personal experience! It helps 😉
Thank you for this helpful post Josh. Knowing that Forbes expects an article a week was absolutely vital information for us. We have had fantastic success with the Linkedin Pulse publishing platform lately and were considering trying out for Forbes. But 52 articles a year would really not really be feasible. Kudos to you!
Thank you Josh for a great article & breakdown of what the process is like. Forbes might seem like an impossible goal to reach and a pinnacle of writing success but you really break it down to a basic idea that it all comes down to building relationships, networking and creating great content 😀 First time here but definitely looking forward to exploring more of your writing! Cheers!
Thanks Scott, are there any other questions I can answer for you?
Hi Josh, I was wondering if you had any tips about how best to pitch a single guest article once written, especially if it involves data that are time-sensitive?
My name is mohit kumar and i am from india. I am a content marketing expert and expert blogger . I love writing and have vast experience to write the unique content and impressive content according to the market trend and business requirement. I would prefer to find out exact / broad-based potential key phrases as per low competitive/ high searchable by number of visitors in preferred local areas according to business.I love writing and strictly avoid the spamming and copy past work.
I am also a BDM (Business development Manager ) and i have great network of blogger now these day i have too many client who post their article on forbes, huffingtonpost.com, entrepreneur.com, http://mashable.com.
Kindly let me know cost and TAT for each post .
I’d really appreciate if I can get an idea to pitch the first mail to the editor while sharing the google doc.
Thanks very much for the insight. I’ve been successful on getting on as a contributor at HuffPo and Entrepreneur.com, but I find Forbes confusing. In one place on the site it says they don’t take story ideas and to apply as a contributor, and in another spot it says where to send story pitches. The story of your path definitely helps!
That’s great! I’ve been hearing from a lot of people lately that they’re being contacted by Forbes, so if you create a personal brand for yourself there’s a reasonable chance they’ll find you first 🙂
Would you help me to get HuffPo and Entre? is there any research you have done before pitching?
Maybe we can trade for some of your consulting.
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Great tips Josh. Thanks for sharing such great insight. I currently write for the HuffPo and would love to write for Forbes one day, so this has been truly inspiring.
I hope you make it! Do you have a personal blog where you publish content?
Nice post, Josh. Thoughtful and insightful.
Josh, this is very helpful! I appreciate it. I remember seeing an article written a while ago by a former Forbes contributor in which she mentioned she was paid per post and received a share of revenue based on views, but that must have been a while ago and the model has changed. I write for two Economist blogs and would love to contribute to Forbes also (on career/professional development topics), so your article is really instructive. Thanks.
I heard from one person recently who was offered a similar paid arrangement, but I was surprised to hear about it. I don’t know anyone else on that model, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t being used.
‘I do not consider myself as a true journalist, although I have referred to myself as one in order to get into events for free’ – sounds like the real thing to me.
Haha, yeh! Sounds like classic Imposter Syndrome to me 😛
Thank you, Josh! This is so helpful. Your “Love Writing” point is something that really resonates with me as well, and something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. “Enjoy the journey rather than get obsessed with the destination”. I noticed Stephen King echo the same point while reading his prologue:
“And now, let me get out of your way. But before I go, I want to thank you for coming. Would I still do what I do if you didn’t? Yes, indeed I would. Because it makes me happy when the words fall together and the picture comes and the make-believe people do things that delight me. But it’s better with you, Constant Reader.” – Prologue to Just After Sunset
Have you read On Writing by Stephen King? Best book on writing I’ve ever read. And I actually don’t like Stephen King’s books, just not into that kind of stuff, but his book On Writing is amazing.
No, I haven’t! I didn’t really like him until recently as well, truth be told. Then I started trying to write a few short stories, came back to him and there was something in his writing that I started enjoying. The little truths in his stories about how different people react: he doesn’t force-feed them to you, just lets them sit with the rest of the text and you can enjoy them if you find any meaning in them. True show-don’t-tell writing. I’ll have to buy On Writing, now!
Hey, Josh, I’ve got a question. This might sound very paranoid, and very self-enflated to think that an unpublished blogger’s articles would be worth reading and stealing, but let’s say I did email a few people in “the biz” some of my articles… what’s stopping them from copying the articles I sent and publishing them in their own name? Or sending them to their friends – in case I was following their posts – so that their friends could post them? Are there any techniques I can use to protect my writing from being plagiarised?
If I stole an article and published it under my own name I’d be extremely nervous that I’d get caught and my entire career as a writer would be ruined. Why would I risk my entire career in order to save a few hours of work? No article is worth that. I think your best protection is that no writer would see the risk as worth the benefit.
That’s true. Thanks for your insight, Josh.
Hey Josh! Thanks for the Excellent article I want to ask you about the how can I send my content sample to Forbes. If you guide me then it’s very helpful for me. Technology-strategy.blogspot.com. You can check here that I love Writing.
Hi Devendra, check out Who Do I Contact At Forbes to Become a Contributor?
Thanks Josh !
First time here & great insight. I was close to contacting Forbes through LinkedIn, but I guess that won’t get me anywhere. I’ll keep writing, and see where it takes me.. 🙂 Thanks again.
You just got yourself a new follower! Thank you for your insight, truly puts things i perspective. I have been considering putting myself out there to be a contributing writer, and I’m doing my due diligence in figuring out the ropes through the experiences of others. While I’m not a writer by trade (an architect of all things), I have a strong passion for it.
Will definitely keep abreast of your posts and I look forward to reading more.
thank your so much Josh for this wonderful article. You have simplified it very well and it takes discipline to write this much.
Hi Josh, This was a great article and shared the ins, outs, as well as pros/cons. Since I
wrote a book on how to network with the right people, I guess I will put it into practice here.
One question – networking and “assisting” other contributors – any tips on which ones to approach (criteria to choose who) and how? Thanks.
Hi Nancy, the first step, which many people skip, is to become a fan of a certain author first. If they write articles, I’d read at least 30 of them. If they’ve written books I’d read them all. If they have a podcast I’d listen to at least 10 hours of it. If you aren’t having fun consuming that much of the person’s content then they’re probably not the right fit for you. If you love their content, it’s probably because you feel a connection and after consuming a lot of it you’ll be able to say “I feel like I know this person, I feel like I know what they’ll write next.”
During this process I’d also recommend following the person you’re stalki…err, researching on Twitter and ❤ and retweet their posts and occasionally reach out to them and engage in conversation. Not too much, but in a normal, natural way. There are about 20 people I’ve starred on Twitter so I get a mobile update every time they tweet. Then I engage with each of them a few times each week. I also get a good feel for what content they’re creating and what they like to share.
The next step is to reach out and rather than asking “Can I help you do XYZ?” ask “I’m interested in becoming a writer like you. I’m curious, what are some of the biggest challenges you face creating all the content you put out?” You may not get a response, but if you do, you’ll know what that person needs, and if it’s what you do then you can say “I can help with that. Here’s how. Would you be interested in talking more about it?”
Not everyone will be interested, but if you do this a few times you stand a good chance of finding someone you would love to work with who needs your services.
Does that help?
Thanks for the question!
Hey Josh, thanks for the very considerate step by step reply. You rock.
Nancy did you try it ? Please let me know about your experience! Thanks
Epic response and very clear. Thank you for adding this information in as well Josh!
i am a big fan of yours,
I am a writer on huffpost.
I want to write for forbes.
Is it possible for you to invite me as an author .
I’m afraid I can’t invite you, nor can any other contributor. That’s not the way getting in at Forbes works. For more info see Who Do I Contact At Forbes to Become a Contributor?.
I have article to write on forbes but how could i do that ,I am not a contributor .Could you do this for me .Please email me at : email@example.com
Thanks, Josh. This finally got me motivated (and less scared) to take the first steps to becoming a contributor. I’ve sent you a few follow-up questions to your email, actually.
I think we need lot of home work before we try applying for forbes.
Great content here Josh, truly appreciate you taking the time to break it out. I started years ago with CNN iReport, similar rules with regarding possible changes or revisions. Just started with Huffington Post after more then a year away Ghostwriting and Content for other projects . That loss of time hurt the relevance & consistency factor you discuss. Wishing you the best continued success.
Thanks Josh. I have been searching for this information and your article is spot on. It is a perfect help that I was looking to start my journey to be a writer in Digital for Forbes and others in next 1-2 years.
Love the info. Thanks.
Excellent article. I think this blogpost ranks in every ‘How to write for..’ The insights are really personal and to-the-point. Why aren’t you still contributing to Forbes or other blogs? I wonder.
I’ve been busy, plus I’m focusing more on PR than writing these days. Expect to see more of both in the near future.
Appreciate your insights and honesty, Josh.
Sometimes little adjustments like adding names of previous posts that make a difference.
You share more depth about what it could take to become a contributor than other writers. Encouraging others with examples of adding value first, and forming relationships before pitching or requesting favours is my favourite take-away advice.
From someone who appreciates your revealing stories,
Thank you very much for this Awesome piece of content Josh. This is really insightful and you’ve covered it in quite depth. I really love writing. Though I don’t have a lot of articles to point to, I would love to have my articles published on Forbes in the future. I believe it is an achievable dream. I will munch up all the articles you’ve written and hopefully I will gain some insight as to how the mechanism works. Cheers Josh! Thanks again. 😉
Really Great Article Josh. If anyone else reading would like to try to get on Forbes with met – let’s collaborate! Here’s a link to my work: http://steveodell.co/blog/what-is-social-entrepreneurship/
So your advice is to work for free and have other people make money off of your efforts? Be a slave to bad editorial practices? I would rather work for a content mill. This article is almost worthless. Now if you find that girl who Forbes actually thinks is good enough to pay, do an article about her.
I can’t believe every single commenter on here doesn’t bat an eye at giving away their hard earned content. Make people pay for that shit!
If you’re a freelancer, and your goal isn’t an eventual 100k+ a year, reexamine what you’re doing. I know people making hundreds of thousands a year based off nothing more than their online writing efforts.
Forbes didn’t pay me, but I got paid in other ways, like generating millions in revenue for my agency, getting a book deal, landing paid speaking gigs, etc. I agree, nobody should work for free, but there are many ways to get “paid.”
Oh well that’s pretty fair compensation!
It’s really awesome… I have been hoping to get my article on forbes but each time I think about it… I always think in another direction that its impossible. But reading this today make me feel relief.
Thanks for sharing… ???? 7 Methods To Make Your Job Significant Once more
Hi Josh, I’m currently writing for Asia Times and South China Morning post, amongst others. I also have my own website – irislillian.com – I think I would really enjoy writing for Forbes. Would you be interested in chatting about it with me?
Happy to chat, although I’ll warn you ahead of time that I can’t make introductions to editors, writers, etc. I can only provide advice. Feel free to add more comments here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Thanks Josh! writing a great article for readers and writers. This is not a post, really this is guideline how we can get approval on forbes. I am not a writer but I am looking for a writer who can post for me on Forbes.
If you know someone who is doing this, you can share with me is contact detail. I am really interested to contact him
There are a few thousand writers you can choose from. Choosing the right one and crafting the right pitch are the hard parts. I recommend you read How To Get Me To Write An Article About Your Company. Good luck!
This is very useful information Josh.
I am trying hard to be a contributor on Forbes. But I am also afraid of my writing style and voice. I do write in a speaking tone or conversation tone. So, what do you suggest? is it good or do I need to change my style?
Find writers on Forbes who write the type of content you want to write. Then modify your writing to write like them. Only break with custom once you understand it and know why you’re breaking the rules and why it’s the right thing to do.
Great. I’ll note it.
Thanks a lot.
Thanks for this, Josh! I’m ready to become a Forbes contributor. I have a 20 year career as a writer, and would love this platform to further showcase my work. How can I do this?
Follow the steps above 🙂 Also read the “related links” at the bottom of the post.
Thank you Josh for sharing the article. Indeed it is great read and quiet insightful as to how to approach writers and contributors. Its seems like a long way but worth a try to see my article in Forbes.
So inspiring Josh:) I myself trying everyday & pitching my articles to Forbes, Mashable etc but I am failing terribly. But, I know one day I will share my posts on Forbes:) Thanks for motivating me through this post.
Hi Pavan, you’re at an immediate disadvantage because you’re Indian, which is why I wrote An Open Letter to My Indian Friends.
The short version is that these pubs get hundreds of emails a day from people in India, and these emails are full of typos, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, poor sentence structure, etc.–really just poor English. Your comment has a bit of this itself when you say “I myself trying everyday & pitching…” If that’s the kind of English you’re using in your article and email pitches then no wonder you’re getting rejected everywhere. If you’re pitching yourself as a writer in English, then your English has to be 99.99% perfect.
Agree with you:) So, do you have any suggestions for people like me? I didn’t really know even small sentences will affect so much and all I thought was this, ‘knowledge matters’ and someone from editorial team will help you edit your work:)
Imagine you’re on the editorial team at Forbes. You have 100 writers to manage, but you need one more. You need the new writer by tomorrow. You have 1,000 applicants. You have two hours free today to use to make a choice. How are you going to screen through those 1,000 applicants as quickly as possible?
If, in the past, the editor has received 50,000 applications from people in India and 99.9999% of them were terrible, then he may simply eliminate anyone from India. It’s not racism–it’s stereotyping. It’s not fair to the individual who doesn’t match the stereotype, but it happens, and the key isn’t to complain about it (not that you are) but to work harder and break the stereotype rather than lending it more legitimacy.
If the editor is able to look past the stereotype then he’s going to try and eliminate as many applicants as possible, as quickly as possible, and that means he’s going to look for red flags, and one of those is any sort of writing mistake. The editor figures if you really care about getting into his publication as a writer, then of course you’re going to review your email over and over again to make sure it’s perfect. If you don’t do this, it’s either because you’re incapable (big red flag since this means more work for the editor–and he’s already busy), or because you’re lazy (and editors don’t like working with lazy writers). The last thing the editor wants is to bring on a writer who will increase his workload. He wants to work with writers whose work he doesn’t have to edit at all, or indeed even read at all, because he knows he can trust it to be good.
Therefore if you have a typo, spelling mistake, grammatical error, or any one of of 20 other writing or English mistakes in your first sentence, you’re done. Your application gets deleted, and the editor moves on to the next one. He actually appreciates that you made a mistake in your first sentence, because it enabled him to delete your email after only reading it for 2 seconds, instead of having to read it for 30 seconds before finding an error. No matter how knowledgeable you are, if you make mistakes in your writing then the editor may never have a chance to figure out how knowledgeable you are, because he won’t read that far.
BTW, I wrote 164 articles for Forbes between 2013-2016. Guess how many times I heard from my editor? Less than 10 times. Usually with very short communication like “Good job.” or “Don’t do XYZ again.” All my articles were posted directly to the Forbes website, without an editor ever seeing them beforehand. It was only after they were posted that an assistant editor might take a look, and then if she saw a problem she couldn’t fix on her own she’d escalate it to my main editor.
Cool:) Thanks for explaining so clearly. No doubt you are an amazing writer and I have already started reading your articles on Forbes with this one ‘When Should I Start SEO For My New Website?’. Your articles might give me an idea on how to write and tackle the mistakes I was doing over and over again. Thanks for taking time and responding Josh. I’ll surely remember this day and try to improvise my writing skills.
Nice article as am also thinking to be a part of Forbes.
Thanks for this interesting Article Josh.
Have been looking for a way to become contributor, but i don’t know the best step to follow.
I hope you can lead me through
hello josh,let me ask you,i am greek and my english are not very good.sorry for that!
i am ready to hire a freelancer to write for my tour agency an article in forbes,of course you know that is expensive but i need to know if its worthy.we have about 1,5 million american tourists in greece every year and my agency http://enjoygreecetours is going very well,but i need to be famous in more people at the states.
we have a big crisis here so i want to ask you if its worthy to spend 1000 euro for an article in forbes…thank you sir
Hi Kostas, I once wrote a single post in Forbes that generated $2M USD in revenue for my agency. I also wrote 50 posts that generated $0 revenue for my agency. And there were a lot of posts that fell somewhere in between (it was rarely my intent with my writing to generate revenue for my agency or even build up my company or personal brand–most of the writing I did simply because I enjoyed it).
If you pay someone 1000 euro and they get you an article in Forbes and it generates millions, it’s worth it, right? If it generates $0, it’s not worth it. The question is, will it generate a return or not? That depends on the writer and the quality of the article, whether Forbes is where your potential customers hang out, how you use the article in your marketing, etc. And then you have to consider what else you could spend that money on. So I can’t tell you if it’s worth it or not. What I can tell you is that my agency charges as much as $7,500 to place a client’s article in Forbes, and there are PR firms I know of who have charged clients $80K for four months of PR, and haven’t delivered any placements in any publications. From that standpoint 1000 euros sounds pretty good.
thank you for your advice and help,i will be glad to give you a free tour in athens if you ever come.contact me in my personal email josh.
Just landed on your stuff for the first time Josh. LOVE it. Thanks for taking the time.
I’m actually I’m my last year of high school right now. I’ve been maintaining a blog for about a year. I’d like to be a contributor at Forbes as well, mainly so that I have a bigger audience for my work; the greatest desire of a writer is to be read. I don’t know any contributors so could you tell me how exactly I’m supposed to encounter them? Are there any tips you could give me that might provide me an edge over others?
If you want to get what you want then stop thinking about what you want, and start thinking about what others want, and help them get it. If you’re not sure what they want, ask them. You want to get into Forbes? You want to develop relationships with contributors? You have a blog? I don’t know what it’s about, but maybe it should be about how to become a writer for big publications. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write for any, just interview those who do. So you reach out to 50 contributors at Forbes and tell them “I’m doing a blog post on how to pitch Forbes contributors. Lots of contributors complain about the terrible pitches they receive all the time. At the same time, they say they will respond to pitches that are done the right way. What’s your top tip on how to pitch a Forbes contributor the right way?” Then you get an interesting blog post, you also get some answers that are helpful to you, and you have started developing a relationship with a number of Forbes contributors. Do the same thing with other publications so that you have 10 posts like this. Then switch to a different topic and ping those same contributors again to contribute a quick response for that. Repeat. Soon you’ll have a valuable blog with great content, and a bunch of relationships.
Thank you, Josh for this amazing article. I have been blogging for several years but just joined the bandwagon of content writing few months back. Your article answered my every query and now I will PREPARE myself for not only Forbes but other leading publishing platforms too.
Thank you! Writing these down.
Maybe one day. https://www.matthewaustinthompson.com
The problem with Forbes using unpaid writers is that you get lots of thin content from wannabes with impressive resumes and “personal brands.” For example, I just read an article on how to make six figures as a freelancer. The gist of the article is that you needed work eight hours a day for 50 weeks, so you need to charge $50 X 2,000 hours. Now that you know that number (half the article), you just need to get people to refer work to you at $50 an hour (you don’t even need to find it yourself because that’s too much work). Ta-da!
I’ve read so many poor Forbes articles on how to write business plans, create a marketing plan (which was actually just a marcom plan), how to cut home/business expenses, career planning, etc. This is why I Googled, “How to write for Forbes,” because so many of the contributors clearly aren’t SMEs, which tells you something about the quality of their gatekeeper editors. This article seems to be an exception to what I read, but Forbes is clearly getting what they pay for in many instances.
You’re right, some of the quality isn’t what you’d expect to find on Forbes. I think that’s a function of poor gatekeeping and poor oversight, but I think those lame articles are the exception rather than the rule. Overall I think Forbes does a pretty good job managing quality, but it’s certainly not a perfect system.
Regardless, if you ever get the chance to write for Forbes it’s an awesome opportunity. It certainly changed my life.
Outstanding article Josh, thanks for the hard work. This is a great help as I’m currently considering writing for Forbes which I’m sure will boost recognition tremendously. Thanks for an all around pleasant read.
Great feedback, thanks for all of the details!
Please can anyone post my article on Forbes, Huffingtonpost and fiverr and I am a blogger at armworldwide.