Content Writing

Just How Hard Is It To Get Your Article Published in Top Tier Sites (For Free)

Getting your article published in top tier publications is an excellent way to improve the credibility and industry authority of your business or personal brand. It allows you to delve into a particular topic in detail and garner the respect of a like-minded audience.

Done well, guest blogging can benefit not only the writer, but the publication too. This is because many high-profile sites are always looking to present a diverse range of opinions and voices in a bid to boost engagement and remain relevant. But just how hard is it to get your work published in top tier sites (for free)? Let’s delve deeper…

Guest Posting Best Practices and the Application Process

Let’s face it, getting your work published on the mega sites is far from easy. But it’s not impossible either. Publications are on the lookout for fresh, savvy, intelligent and inspirational content that’ll entertain existing readers and potentially draw in a new audience. So let’s check out several guest posting best practices as well as some of the hardest application processes you can try to nail.


With a monthly audience of over 150 million people across all platforms, it’s clear that the global media company Forbes is impressively huge. Covering topics ranging from business and investing to technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and lifestyle, there’s plenty of scope for budding writers and ambitious brands to catapult themselves inside through excellent article craftsmanship. But of course, Forbes doesn’t just let anyone land a spot on their publication, oh no.

Forbes actually has a contributor program with a pretty tricky route to entry. In fact, Forbes doesn’t publicly disclose how to become a contributor or submit a guest post. Even if you spend hours checking out the Forbes website, you’ll end up crying into your coffee in frustration. So what’s the best way to proceed?

Forbes wants to extend its reach through its contributors. So it’s important to work on proving your value long before you attempt to get work published. To do this, make sure your niche is clearly identified and that your topic knowledge is second to none. From there, you can start to generate a sizable following that could pique the interest of publications such as Forbes. Think about publishing pieces and quotes on other high authority publications, writing well-researched and thought-leading posts on LinkedIn and collaborating with authors who already have significant follower numbers.

Also, prepare to get social. Networking is your friend. Read existing Forbes articles and reach out to any contributors that you particularly like. A quick Google search will usually bring up essential contact information or you’ll often find access to their social accounts by clicking on the name of the author underneath each article title. Contact this person directly. But don’t forget to do things like engage with social media feeds with enriching content or links to your previous articles as this could also catch the eye of someone who could give you a quicker route into the Forbes in-crowd.

Big No-No: Be aware that contributors who don’t add contact information to their About section on the Forbes site, usually don’t want to be contacted. So, tracking them down and sending them unsolicited pitches probably won’t result in a positive reply.

Remember, if Forbes do take an interest in you, they’ll do their research before getting in touch. So to prepare for ‘Judgment Day’ – AKA a quick-fire dissection of your content career – make sure you’ve already got content published to:

  • Your own blog – this is a great place to experiment with all kinds of topics and styles until you find one that’s perfect. There are minimal rules to follow when you run the blog yourself, but if you want to be noticed by a particular publication, it’s a good idea to choose topics that they cover.
  • Your Medium account – this widens your reach and allows you to talk to a specific niche of people. You may even make some money this way.
  • Your LinkedIn profile – as LinkedIn is a professional site, it’s a good place to post really top-quality work that might get picked up by industry influencers or reshared. This will all serve to boost your digital credibility.
  • Other online publications – if none of the heavyweights want to know you at first, fear not. Start with smaller publications but keep your aspirations high. The key thing is to ensure that any work published is of the very best quality possible.


Like Forbes, Manhattan-based media company, Bloomberg, also looks for contributors on a regular basis. But again it’s not an easy gig to land. In fact, to maintain the quality and credibility of this subscription-based service, many authors are required to have specific qualifications. For example, Bloomberg Law invites law firm practitioners, in-house counsel, law professors and other legal and corporate professionals to join their contributor team. And there are specific requirements and guidelines that must be adhered to. For example, long-form articles known as Professional Perspectives should explore developments of clients and the practice of law whereas Practical Guidance helps practitioners work more effectively and includes overviews, descriptions, checklists, forms, timelines, tables and flowcharts. The length of submissions must be between 1,000 and 3,000 words, with pitches submitted to

Top Tip: Always view the stylesheet of the publication you’re writing to. The Bloomberg Law stylesheet for example has a couple of must-haves. These include:

  • A short, descriptive title
  • Introductory text that describes why the topic is relevant and timely, then moves quickly into a roadmap of the article, highlighting any problems or issues it will address. Note here that out of date content is highly likely to be rejected and you may sometimes have just a small window to get a submission in on time for it to continue being relevant post publication.
  • Short paragraphs and subheads that break up text for easier review.

There are also a host of other more general style points that must be followed, for example:

  • Bloomberg Law uses serial/Oxford commas, not AP style.
  • No double spaces after periods.
  • No bold or italics for emphasis.
  • No italics for cite intros—just use f
  • No first-person voice. Second person is OK for practitioner tips, checklists, etc.
  • Avoid puns, metaphors, or cultural or literary references.
  • Em-dash—with spaces closed around it—is preferred to using parentheses.
  • Write out acronyms on first use, and use parentheses, without quotation marks, if only used once, or repeated farther down. If the acronym appears soon after, in the next sentence or paragraph, do not use parentheses on first mention.
  • Don’t mention or promote specific products or services.

Big No-No: As you can see from the last style point, many publications do not want articles or pieces that are overly promotional. So be careful when making your submission that you’ve not included any forbidden links, brand names or products. The name of the game as a contributor is not to promote your brand in an obvious way. It’s to set yourself apart as a thought-leader that qualifies for a spot in a high-end publication. If you are allowed to include a link back to your site, the Link Juice from a site like Bloomberg will also do wonders for your rankings and overall SEO effort.

The Washington Post

The Washington Post is a daily American newspaper. It’s considered a top tier publication, with more than 63 million people visiting in July 2022 alone. Nearly 87% of those accessing the Post do so by mobile device, showing this publication to be a great source of on-the-go news and information. As with most high-profile sites, The Washington Posts accepts guest contributions for op-eds. And, as you might expect, there are a bunch of submission rules to follow. Here’s what the Post has to say about the submissions they wish to receive.

Submissions should be limited to 800 words. We consider only completed articles and cannot commit to, or provide guidance on, article proposals. Op-eds may not have been submitted to, posted or published to any other media. They must include the writer’s full name – anonymous op-eds or op-eds written under pseudonyms will not be considered. They also must include the writer’s home address, email address and telephone numbers. Additionally, we ask that writers disclose any personal or financial interest in the subject at hand.

The Washington Posts also looks for things like:

  • Timeliness – is your piece pegged to something in the news?
  • Resonance – is it something that will interest Post readers?
  • Freshness of perspective – is it an argument heard many times before or can you put a different spin on a topic? Remember, churning out old news or copying what others have already done is super boring. Instead, look for new angles, interview interesting people, include recently released statistics, create your own statistics if you can and show your uniqueness.

The Post clearly states how writers don’t need to have special expertise on a topic. But they also mention that it’s beneficial for the writer to explain how their background or experience informs their point of view as this can make for a more interesting op-ed.

As you can see, getting your article published in top-tier sites is not a walk in the park. It requires hard work, dedication, in-depth knowledge and the ability to network effectively. Often, you’ll need specific qualifications to maintain the standard of the publication. And the style guidelines and submission details always need to be read carefully.

Have you had success getting on any top tier sites? What do you find most hard about the contributor process? Tweet me @Charli_Says

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