Article Writing and Getting Published

You’ve got a great idea for an article, or perhaps you’ve even written it already. You’ve cleared the first hurdle but how do you get it published so other people can read it too? Being able to construct an interesting, valuable article is just the beginning.

The road to publication can be a long, slow one but ultimately worth it if you succeed. Once you become a published writer you may find it easier to get your work out there and if you become recognised for a certain topic or area then publishers may approach you.

Keep it personal

Generally, the best writing comes from passion and/or personal experience. When choosing a topic, make sure it’s something that you care deeply about or are curious enough about to justify hours of research and analysis. Brainstorm a few ideas until you find one that feels right. The more connected you feel with your subject matter, the more confident you’ll be about your writing. A lack of enthusiasm often shows through, resulting in a prosaic product.

It goes without saying that in order to be a successful writer, you need the appropriate skillset; but there’s more to it than that – you need to put yourself out there and get noticed. Why not start your own blog? This will not only give you the opportunity to practise your writing but also write around a variety of subjects which mean the most to you. Promote it on social media. It may well be that your friends and family aren’t your target audience so start reaching out and connecting with different people who may be interested in what you have to say.

Submitting your work

There’s a plethora of websites and publications out there looking for freelancers, it’s just about finding them and, more specifically, finding the ones that are relevant to your work. There are two different ways of approaching editors: one is to write “on spec” or submit a finished article to editors and see if they’d like to take it on – you can read the Guardian’s guidelines for freelance contributors here.

The alternative is to pitch an idea and only write it up if there is an interested party – Be Kind Magazine accepts proposals but does not pay for external contributors. Ideally, you would get paid for every article you write but this is not always possible when starting out. Take note of details such as word counts if they are specified. Submitting a 1,500 word article when only 1,000 words are required can lead to an immediate rebuff.

“Sign up to and request the daily email with news about newly appointed positions within journalism. I get this every morning and it includes a list of editors and journalists who’ve moved into a new role or started working at a different publication. This means they’ll be on the lookout for new stories in this field, so I contact them congratulating them on the new position and then pitch my story idea.”

This is Annie Ridout’s advice in her inspiring and insightful book, The Freelance Mum. Annie is a successful author, editor and freelance journalist – you can read more about her here.

Avoid the urge to blanket drop to cover as many bases as possible in the hope one will take. An editor is much more likely to accept your piece if the content resonates with their readership. Does your tone and style match that of the publication? Read other content that’s been written to develop an understanding of what they might be looking for.

For example, if the magazine or website you’re approaching has a serious air, they won’t accept a piece full of quips and puns. It may seem an obvious point but one that’s surprisingly easy to overlook when you become so focused on your goal of getting published. Finally, proof, proof and proof again. If you can, have someone else review your article for clarity (and spelling and grammatical errors!) to make sure your point is getting across.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Unfortunately, rejection is an inevitable part of being a writer but don’t let it dampen your spirits. As long as it’s constructive, criticism isn’t always negative. Competition can be fierce so take on board any feedback to help you improve your skills. The process to getting published can be a long one but stay positive. Your talent and determination will get you where you want to be.

Remain professional at all times as you are building a reputation. Integrity and reliability are a key part of this so don’t ever be tempted to rip off other people’s work and always meet your deadlines. Think creatively and independently, and always credit your sources.

You own your own work so it can only be published and republished elsewhere with your permission, unless you agree otherwise. Join a writers’ guild or group to receive advice and support as you navigate your way as a writer. Good luck!

For further articles on publishing or on websites that pay for publications please see the Publishing section here