How to Become a Contributor to Entrepreneur.com
I’ve covered a number of different sites on this blog, with tips to help you become a guest post contributor for them. Some of them are pretty difficult, while others are comparatively easy. Which side of the coin do you think fits Entrepreneur?
About Entrepreneur Magazine
Entrepreneur began life as a magazine in 1977, published primarily in North America on a monthly basis. Their website was launched in 1987, putting them firmly ahead of the curve as far as many of the major publications we think of today go. Today, of course, it has grown into a global publication with availability in print in Mexico, Russia, India, and other locations. The website, of course, is universally available.
As the name might suggest, Entrepreneur is a magazine dedicated to many of the same topics as sections of Forbes, Business Insider, and Inc. They cover entrepreneurship, small business ownership and management, and general business topics.
Also, to compete in the list arena, they too have an annual list. Where Inc. covers new businesses, and Forbes covers individual marketers, Entrepreneur has the Franchise 500; the top 500 franchises according to their own internal submissions and ranking policies. They have other lists as well, like the Homebased 100 and the Fastest Growing, but they aren’t quite as well known.
All of that said, Entrepreneur actually covers a wide variety of topics, and aren’t limited to just business management for small businesses. For example, on the front page right now, I see technology stories about Apple watches and Apple purchases, low cost franchises you can open as an entrepreneur, books you should read as a leader, and even lifestyle tips.
As you might expect, a lot of the content you see on the site comes from some exclusive angle. Some of them are quotes from inspirational people, like Warren Buffet. Some are elements of news, tech and business happenings reported on with up-to-the-minute coverage. Some of it is the deep cuts, analysis and tips from people who have long time experience in their arenas.
It’s generally this last one that is going to fit you as a guest poster. It’s very hard to pitch news to a site like Entrepreneur, for two reasons. One, the turnaround time on a pitch can be days or even weeks, which means you won’t be pitching something newsworthy by the time it’s hypothetically published. Two, a publication as big as Entrepreneur already has a staff of full time writers doing nothing but covering news, so they have that area pretty well covered.
As far as special sources of information, flaunt ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. If you have a connection to a millionaire and can get an exclusive interview, that can be great fodder for an Entrepreneur post. It can also be leveraged for other big-name sites, but that’s up to you.
Realistically, what you’re going to want to do is mine your own life for something worth talking about. What challenges have you encountered as a business owner? What steps did you take to solve them? What advice would you give to other people following in your footsteps? The more specific and useful the information, the better off you are.
What Does Entrepreneur Want?
Entrepreneur is a unique site in two respects. Firstly, they have a large document of their requirements and the things they look for in contributions. Second, they have a relatively simple registration process to join their contributor network.
First of all, let’s talk about content length. Entrepreneur is geared towards a sort of “lunch break value” position. This means they prefer short content that can be read or skimmed in a minute or two. To this end, they prefer content in the 700-800 word range. They’ll go up to 1,000, but rarely will they consider publishing anything longer than that. You should avoid going beneath 600 as well, since you can barely put any value in a piece that short.
As for the content itself:
- Content that inspires, educates, or motivates readers in some way. Entrepreneur likes content that gets people off their couches and into the world of business, or gets business owners to try something new to expand their brands or grow as entrepreneurs.
- Content that provides insight. Entrepreneur likes content that gives a deeper, more analytical look into current news and trends, ideally with some kind of actionable tip, even if that tip is something as simple as “keep an eye on this trend, it will be important later this year.”
- Content that comes with a distinct, unique message. You need to bring something of value to the table. Try to avoid content that has already been covered on the site. This is where personal experience, current events, and the conjunction of the two are excellent as fodder. If you’re writing something historical or very basic, you’re liable to be rejected. Remember; don’t just cover news, bring your unique perspective to that news.
- Content that provides actionable advice. This is a publication for highly motivated entrepreneurs and small business owners. Platitudes and motivational quotes are rarely good enough; you need specific tips or specific examples of how an entrepreneur can mimic your success or improve upon what you have done to avoid pitfalls or failures.
- Content that comes from trustworthy sources. If you cite quotes or information, studies or statistics, always make sure you’re citing from a primary source whenever possible. Additionally, make sure to vet the information for accuracy and statistical viability. A study of five people isn’t representative of all that much.
- Content that includes valuable links. When citing sources, make sure they add to the piece, not duplicated it. Entrepreneur likes a few links, as long as they provide value. They also prefer not to link to other Entrepreneur content.
All of that should help guide you towards the kinds of content they want to publish. Always remember to pitch ideas rather than present full content; you save yourself work if they don’t like the idea.
Creating and Presenting the Post
Entrepreneur also has a lot of advice as to how you should create and submit your post, once you’ve had a pitch approved. Their top piece of advice is to proof your work, which shouldn’t even be listed, but there are always people who try to submit crap just to see if they can slip it through.
Entrepreneur also has their own style guide you should follow. They don’t like the Oxford Comma, they use double-hyphen dashes, punctuation goes inside the quotes, no double spacing after periods, and so forth. They have a lot of bullet points here, most of which are an adaptation of AP style.
Entrepreneur requires that you link to a source when you cite a statistic or quote someone. If you interviewed someone for a quote, say so up front in the piece, so both readers and editors know you did it. Incidentally, Entrepreneur will help you reach out for an interview with someone influential if you ask, but they want you to ask first in case someone else on their staff has already set up a meeting, so they don’t try to independently flood this poor influencer.
If you have any financial relationship between you and the companies or individuals you write about, you need to disclose it. This includes citing or linking to your own brands, or any other brand that sponsors yours. Entrepreneur does not want you to write about anyone in exchange for money; paid links like that are a violation of their contributor terms of service. Violating can slow down publication of your post, lead to your post being rejected or removed if it was already published, and can lead to your removal from the contributor network.
If you’re writing something that has a “time peg,” that is a timing that it relies on, like a holiday-specific piece or something related to a new released technology, specify in the subject line of your submission. These kinds of posts can be fast-tracked through their publication system.
And, of course, you should avoid overly self-promotional content. You can mention your company, your book, or what have you, but only if it’s as proof of your authority. “I literally wrote the book on this” verification, not “I wrote a book on this you should buy” advertising. If you promote yourself too often, across your posts or within your posts, will likely be deleted.
They also mention that, when you’re submitting a pitch or a piece of content, you provide them with your author bio. I’ve covered writing a good bio in the past, but they also recommend that you provide a unique email address to be used as a login for their system. This is relevant to people who represent multiple authors; each author should have a unique address.
Becoming a Contributor
The official way to become a contributor is to fill out this form</strike (as of 2019, this form has been deleted by Entrepreneur). They ask you for your first and last name, your email address, your location, a link to your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, and a few more free-form boxes. The first box asks you for 2-3 specific article pitches you would like to write. You only have 250 words to express these pitches, so keep them brief but valuable. Say why you want to cover it, your unique approach, and what value it has.
Don’t necessarily cover why you’re an expert on the topic; that’s what the second box is for. The second box also has a limit of 250 words, but you don’t need to use them all. Simply explain who you are, any awards or accolades you’ve earned that are relevant to your pitches, and why you’re an authority in the topics you want to discuss.
There’s a third box, and this one is for specific links to samples of your work. I recommend 3-5 links, specifically to content you would consider the best you have ever written, if and only if that content is relevant to who you are and what pitches you’re sending. Don’t link to some fashion article just because it’s popular when you want to write about marketing topics. I recommend one link of something on your site, and the rest on other big publications, such as if you have written for Forbes, the Huffington Post, or any other big names. You may want to avoid Inc., as they’re technically competitors and might not like it.
If you feel like you have a really good case, you can visit this page and see who the staff of Entrepreneur are and who might be in a position to help you. You can reach out to them, let them know that you’ve submitted your contributor form and would like to see if they’d take a look at it.
Before you do this, I recommend doing three things. First, spend some time networking with these people, so it’s more like a friendly favor and less like a cold call. Second, make sure if you do contact them, that they can help you. Some editors will actually slow down or reject people who try to circumvent the established process. Third, wait a few days after the submission of your pitch, to make sure it has had time to be in the system, so you sound more like you’re asking for an update than a special favor.
Entrepreneur is somewhat forward with their process. First of all, they get a ton of submissions, so it can take 6-8 weeks to process a submission. You can, again, attempt to fast-track it if you have a connection to their staff, but it won’t always work. They are not required to notify you on rejection, so if it’s been 10+ weeks, you’re likely rejected.
If your pitch is tentatively accepted, the editors will create a profile for you in their content system. You’ll get an email, asked to upload a bio and a headshot, and your social media handles. Follow the instructions. As for your pitch, the editor will likely ask for some revisions or provide some suggestions. The content will exist in their system for you to edit and save, and submit again when finished.
Posts marked in Yellow can be edited and are under review. Orange means it is submitted and cannot be edited directly. A clock means it has been scheduled for publication, green means it has been published, and red means it has been rejected. Black means it has been retired, though this is pretty rare.
From there, you’re in the system, and can contact editors directly. You can also simply write and submit new content into their system, which will review it. Keep your account active to avoid having it closed down; I recommend 1-2 posts per month.
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