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How to Become a Forbes Contributor

The world of writing has been through growth over the years. With technology and digitalisation has come the expansion of the written word from solely paper, to including screen. Writers these days are often acutely aware that their industry is different, and they are ready to evolve with it. If writing is the dream, you should be reaching for the stars. Why not start with the greats? Of all the online magazines and newspapers, Forbes is among the best. Becoming a Forbes contributor is a sure-fire way to boost your writing career and skills.

A Business magazine at heart, Forbes has grown with the times to house various topics, including Lifestyle, Innovation, Industry, and Consumer (to name a few). If you want something on your resume that pops, aiming for Forbes is one of the best – if not the best – companies to shoot for. Forbes was founded in 1917 by B. C. Forbes. Surpassing a century in the business demands quality control and creative flair. Over time, Forbes has bloomed into the publication that every writer wants a piece of. B. C. Forbes said, “if you don’t drive your business, you’ll be driven out of business”. It is this ideal that has kept Forbes in the limelight all these years, and it is this mindset that will get you in the door.

Why become a Forbes contributor?

Founder of Forbes magazine, B.C. Forbes.

Founder of Forbes magazine, B.C. Forbes.

Forbes magazine hit the century milestone this past Autumn. This landmark in their long history marks the company’s survival through a transitory era. That era has seen many of Forbes’ competitors losing their footing – and their place – in the new world. With over a hundred years in the game, you might expect that Forbes has started to lose its touch. In fact, quite the opposite is true. While competitors have begun to fade amid digital disruption, Forbes has used the Worldwide Web to elevate its business model. Currently, Forbes boasts millions of readers every month, with an impressive sixty-million visiting the site in December last year alone. Having your work go live on Forbes is a sure-fire way to give your writing career a healthy boost. The Forbes contributor network came to fruition in 2010.

Today, the network is the single largest key digital driver for the company. Becoming a Forbes contributor gives you a platform of millions of readers every month. Your work will be featured on Forbes’ most prominent space. The Forbes contributor programme started eight years ago, the primary goal was simple, and still is. The concept is wired around bringing together hundreds of people who are experts in their fields. These individuals write regularly about current topics of interest in their fields. Nearly ten years later, the Forbes contributor network is powered by upwards of 1,500 contributors. The network is rich with with professional articles that have successfully grown Forbes’ digital magazine. So, how do you join the brilliant minds that write for Forbes?

You must genuinely love what you do

Maybe it sounds obvious. But here is the thing about writing: you cannot enter the profession purely for the money. Firstly, it can – and often does – take a while to build a reputation that can earn you significant money. And secondly, like anything else, if you go into writing solely fixated on income, you are likely to be miserable. Forbes is not just a blog you run in your free time. Therefore, Forbes is one of the most elite, prestigious magazines today. The company does not have its reputation by hiring Forbes contributors and writers that do not have the passion. If you do not back your content 100%, it will show and you could lose the opportunity. Even the most talented and passionate writers need a break sometimes. Like any career, to thrive you must really love it for it to work.

Forbes contributors are paid, but it is more likely a side job (at least, to begin with). Additionally, having the ability to write a lot goes a long way. This goes hand in hand with loving to write, because writers who love it often (if not always) write more. Forbes likes its writers to be able to write a post a week. You must be able to figure out if you are capable and willing to do that. When you pitch to Forbes, show that you are capable of the position of Forbes contributor. Forbes is likely to hire someone who has a hundred blog posts or pieces that are online elsewhere. They are less likely to hire someone who has no proof of experience – period. Your voice must be loud, and writing a lot is the way to make that voice louder.

Find your key focus area

So, you have a strong background that showcases your ability to write content. This is a great start. But to become a Forbes contributor you must have a focus, a niche that you are fluent in. If you know exactly what that focus is, fantastic. If you don’t, then the best place to start figuring it out is by looking through your past work. What are the pieces that you love the most? Chances are, these are the topics that you wrote your best work for. Similarly, think of the kinds of articles you yourself like to read the most. Think about your career and the skills you possess. These are the areas and topics that resonate with you the most. Line them up with the topics on offer at Forbes and decide. Choose only one – picking more than one will divide your attention. Forbes contributors are focused.

The sections at Forbes are each run separately by different editors. This means that your editor is an expert in the field too. As such, your work will strengthen as you learn more and fine tune. After you have chosen your desired section, you must narrow it down again. I know – it sounds tedious – but there is a point to it all. Think of it like this: Forbes currently has around 1,500 writers. For every successful applicant who is now a writer, there are a hundred that have not made the cut. This is a competitive gig. So, narrow your focus area down. For example, if lifestyle and travel is your thing, do not simply pitch yourself as a lifestyle and travel writer. It is too broad. Instead, pitch yourself as a lifestyle and travel writer who specialises in the digital nomad lifestyle, or digitisation in travel.

Preparation

Forbes uses its failures to improve. They expect their writers to do the same.

The key to becoming a Forbes contributor is determination and passion. The gig is a competitive one to land, but it is doable. Therefore, you just need to be prepared. What Forbes cares about more than anything else is quality. Forbes is renowned for being a tough gig to land because they want the best of the best. And this is absolutely part of the reason they have remained such a headstrong industry titan. The reality is that you must fine-tune your knowledge and skills to excel in any field. Being a Forbes contributor is no different. And excelling is how you make it into Forbes’ contributor network. Be confident in your abilities, and be aware and willing to work on your weaknesses (every writer has them). Make them think of you as a Forbes contributor before you’re even in the door. Wow them.

By this point, you are more than well on the way to familiarising yourself with Forbes. You understand the company itself, the role of a Forbes contributor, and what you want from it. Once you have narrowed down to your key focus area, spend some time fine-tuning your approach to the eventual pitch. Creating the pitch is the fun part. This is your chance to showcase the best of your work. Editors love range – even though you have specified your focus area, show that your writing is adaptive to the topic. If you write with the same tone for every piece, it will all start to read the same. Add a link to your blog, or even posts published on other publications. Write some pieces catered specifically for Forbes (think of them as practice) and add those in, too.

How to contact Forbes and pitch yourself

Writing for Forbes may be your dream, but it is also a highly-coveted opportunity. It tends to attract hundreds of other writers all vying for the same chance to become a Forbes contributor. Now here comes the part where you call to action and make it happen. Forbes can be a tricky company to approach about becoming a contributor, but it can be done. There is no single person or email to contact to pitch yourself, but there are three ways to approach contact. Firstly, most contributors have been invited to become Forbes contributors. Do or write something so amazing that Forbes wants you to work with them, and let them find you. Secondly, if you know someone who is a contributor already, ask them for an introduction. And thirdly, if neither approach is applicable, then find the editor of the section you are interested in.

Each section at Forbes has its own editor. A quick Google search for ‘Forbes [section here] section editor” should tell you who the current editor is. Once you know, search their name on the Forbes website. Read some of their work. Look on their social media and see which other Forbes posts they are linking – especially if they are not theirs. This gives you a solid insight into what they like to read themselves. Make note and go and write ten posts that are on similar topics that the editor likes. Publish your posts once you are happy with them. Spend time fine-tuning your skills at driving traffic. Once you have three posts with thousands of page views and fifty plus comments, draft your email to the editor. Keep it simple; link the three pieces, what you can offer, and the area you are interested in writing about. Send, wait.

What if you are not accepted?

Even talented writers get knocked back from Forbes the first few times. If you don’t get it the first time around, you can always try again. Read the response email from the editor. They will likely be giving you key advice that will make you a better writer (even a future Forbes contributor). Read through your posts again – are they really your best work? Where is the room for improvement? Perhaps copy your article to a new Google Doc and highlight the areas of improvement. Work with those areas. Give it another try if you feel like you can. But if you can’t, then you can always search for other ways to get your foot in the door.

Former Forbes publisher and son of founder B. C. Forbes, Malcolm Forbes said, “failure is success if we learn from it”. If you do not get the job the first time, there are other ways to find your way in. Therefore, let failure drive you, not diminish you. Just because your post has thousands of views does not mean that it is perfect. It is the same point when thinking about all the comments you receive on it. Do not give yourself a false impression that you are the perfect writer. Putting your skills on a pedestal leads to mistakes, and nobody likes a shaky foundation.

At Reputio, our focus is on digital DR and guest posting on top tier publications like Forbes. If you need some assistance to get your work on Forbes, get in contact with us. We have published dozens of Forbes articles and we can work with you to create posts on your behalf, that cater more specifically to what Forbes wants. Becoming a Forbes contributor can be difficult. We can help you bridge that gap.

Brittany Dean

Brittany Dean is the Content Manager at Reputio. Since graduating from the University of Queensland in early 2018 she has worked remotely, gaining experience in the writing industry as both a writer and an editor.

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