Everyone wants to get published in the Huffington Post.
I’m not really sure why. I’m guessing it’s because millions of people read their articles daily. Mostly their essays and blog posts, probably. When I had a goal to publish an article there, it wasn’t just for exposure. I felt I had something important to say, and I wanted that message to reach as many people as possible. I wanted to help someone, to reach out to someone I would never meet, if I could.
No, I never did get a feature there. That’s not to say I never will. A huge mistake many aspiring writers make is thinking they’re going to be one of the lucky ones, one of those random people who gets published on a website with millions of readers just because they have a message for the universe.
And hey, you may very well be one of the lucky ones, I’m not here to crush your dreams. But I’m telling you right now, you’re going to have much more luck starting small. I don’t care how many times you’ve heard and ignored this advice. It’s coming to you again, and I hope you’ll take it to heart this time.
So. What’s so great about reaching out to publications no one has ever heard of before, anyway?
They will notice you, invite or refer you
Pitching or even just offering your “services” to small publications, you’re much more likely to get a response, and they’ll be much more likely to say, “Hey, yeah, you can totally write some stuff for us.” Big publications get thousands upon thousands of submissions every day. If it’s a small or brand-new publication, you might be the only one they get today – and that stands out.
What if they’re not ready to take you on just yet? This happened to me about a month ago. The editor referred me to someone else instead, because he had the time and courtesy to do that, and I can’t say it didn’t lead to more awesome things thereafter.
You need all the experience and writing samples you can get
Want to be a freelance writer or journalist when you grow up? You’d better be able to show that’s not only what you want, but what you’re fully capable of excelling at. It’s not necessarily all about writing for as many websites/blogs/magazines as possible, but the more work you have to show for your effort, the more places your name appears when someone Google searches you, the more promising of a career you will have. Eventually.
Small publications need material and exposure. You need published work and exposure. It is a partnership like no other, and if you can gather up the courage to reach out instead of waiting for them to notice you first, they will be impressed, grateful and probably willing to take you up on your offer (but do know in advance, you’re not going to get paid in anything but experience, more often than not – never underestimate the value of that, either).
You never know where it will lead
I have been the managing editor of College Lifestyles magazine since July 2015. Ever heard of it? Maybe not, because it’s still a relatively small online magazine. But I didn’t apply for a top staff position and randomly get picked for it. Way back in 2012, I reached out and applied for a writing internship position. After six months doing that, I moved up to an editorial position. Eventually, I became the assistant managing editor, and so on.
These things don’t happen in places like the Huffington Post. It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are or how hard you work. Everyone wants to work there, get published there, be part of that team. Okay, so I’m not working for Seventeen or Cosmo. That doesn’t really matter. I’ve made more connections over the past three years than I probably ever would have as a lonely features intern at a magazine everyone has heard of before. You form professional and personal relationships. That gets you places, whether you believe it or not.
So where do you find these kinds of small publications, anyway? That’s next week’s post. Come back soon for more, and while you’re waiting, check out our other posts in this series. You are always welcome to give suggestions on related topics or ask questions in the comments or on our Facebook page.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.