Kallen Diggs is an editor par excellence. He’s an editor of the Good Men Project. He’s a writer too. Just so you know, Kallen has been featured on Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Fox News, Fast Company, Inc.magazine, Monster.com and a host of other authority websites.
I stumbled on this gentleman at a writers’ community. Actually, he has been invited by Bamidele Onibalusi of the writersincharge with a view of using his wealth of experience as a writer and as an editor to help get more writers into most of the popular publications. His contribution on the forum was invaluable, so I felt it’s worth sharing on here.
Before I bring up the questions that were asked and Kallen’s responses to those questions, Kallen gave some very important tips, in relation to pitching editors and getting accepted by same, that I think if considered at the very least, are a goldmine.
-Tip 2: In your pitch to those editors, just let them know how your piece will add value to their publication. On most occasions, the quality of your writing is of secondary priority to most editors.
-Tip 3: Be professional.
-Tip 4: Be Patient.
-Tip 5: Use a professional email (something like firstname.lastname@example.org).
-Tip 6: Never try to shower an editor with insincerity.
-Tip 7: Do not pitch the senior editor or executive editor! Most of these people get dozens to hundreds of pitches each day. Your email will often get lost or it may take months to hear back from them. Instead, pitch the editor, associate editor or section editor. You may still have to wait for a week, though, but that’s much better than waiting for months or waiting forever.
Now you got some tips there. So real people like you asked Kallen some questions. Below are their questions and Kallen’s responses.
- Question 1: What have you found most valuable in learning how to write for the web?
- Kallen’s Reply: Credibility. It’s easier to get into prolific publications on the web than in print. However, being featured in online publications will increase your writer’s credibility dramatically.
- Question 2: Are there some resources that have helped to strengthen your writing?
- Kallen’s Reply: Purdue Online Writing Lab, Hemingway app, Grammarly, and Ginger.
- Question 3: If one is not engaged in social media, through choice (or circumstance), can (s)he still succeed in writing?
- Kallen’s Reply: Yes. If you focus on print publications, then you can still succeed as a writer without social media. Although, I do not believe that they’ll be around for much longer. I think 90% of them will be gone in 10 -12 years.
- Question 4: Without a website, is it possible to build a loyal client base?
- Kallen’s Reply: Yes, although it might be a bit harder. You’ve to realize that a website is like your storefront. It’s the online standard. Although without it, you’ll definitely need a professional email address, an About.me page, and a LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn can make you A LOT OF MONEY. Get familiar with all it offers. Spend at least 15 minutes a day on the site. Within three months of consistent daily dedication (engaging in LinkedIn groups by sharing and commenting on content, writing LinkedIn pulse articles, and offering immense value to others), you’ll start getting clients. Then, you’ll start to have a good problem. You’ll have more clients than you’ve time. That’s always a good problem to have.
- Question 5: Beyond social proof, how do you get to write for so many high profile publications?
- Kallen’s Response: This one is based on credibility, talent, and likability. Credibility proves why someone should pay attention to you; talent encourages someone to give you an opportunity.
(Note: writing for the Huffington Post is one thing, but the number of likes, shares, and comments that you’re getting for the article is something that we editors, care significantly more about in every article. If you can engage readers, it tells us that you can bring more readers to the article, which will encourage them to ultimately spend more time on the website by reading other articles. If a reader thinks that one article is captivating, they’ll often read other articles on the site).
Likability is only possible when you’ve built a rapport with the editor. Establishing rapport varies. It can take a few weeks or up to a year. Every editor is different.
- Question 6: What causes you to trash one pitch and put another on your table?
- Kallen’s Reply: Your pitch should greet the editor with your name and tell him/her:
-Who you are.
-What qualifies you to write for the publication.
-What you would like to write about.
-Why you think it’s relevant to the publication.
-What would be your three headlines and some bullet points to each one?
-How often could you be relied upon?
- Question 7: What qualities do standout writer you’ve worked with exhibited (in contrast to horrible writers)
- Kallen’s Reply:
-They don’t break promises.
-They use editing tools like Grammarly, Ginger, Hemingway, etc.
-They are not afraid to share their articles (new and old every week).
-They strive to be helpful in any way.
Horrible writers: They just do the opposite of everything stated above.
- Question 8: What exactly can a writer do to endear his/herself to an editor once accepted?
- Kallen’s Reply: I must say that I absolutely hate writers who think Microsoft Spell and Grammar Checker is enough to submit an article.
I write for Entrepreneur.com. There are some people who got accepted in there but never got an article published for that very reason.
Please, if you’re accepted in Entrepreneur, do not insult Peter Page by sending him an article as such. Your article will never get published.
(My note: Kallen here is only screaming QUALITY. QUALITY. QUALITY).
- Question 9: Did you leverage your connections or just consistently pitch the right editors?
- Kallen’s Reply: The quality and longevity of your writing will increase the chance of people making an introduction for writing opportunities on your behalf. That starts with building a quality relationship with those people, which can be formed by being professional and offering immense value.
- Question 10: What are the steps you’d recommend that a newbie freelance writer takes in order to ensure their posts get the attention of the editor always?
- Kallen’s Reply:
(i) The ladder. No one arrives on the top of the ladder magically. You have to start at the bottom of it. Same applies to having the opportunity to write for those publications.
(ii) You need patience as well. I do not know how long that’ll take you. It can take few weeks, months or even years. I do not want to discourage anyone but this is worth to be stated nonetheless. If you recently became a contributor to Huffington Post (in as of this year), most editors at entrepreneur. com, Inc.magazine, Forbes know about the new Athena publishing platform (also known as the glorified medium). Telling them that you have written for the Huffington Post will probably not increase your chances in getting into their publication. All they need to do is to look at your column to see when you started writing for Huff Post. Now, if you’re getting thousands of shares and likes with hundred of comments, they’ll pay attention to see if you’ve done it consistently. Nonetheless, you can still use your Huff Post articles to get into other publications. Overall, you need to be writing for at least 2 – 3 noteworthy or popular niche publication to win over an editor at Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, and Inc.magazine.
(iii) Delayed gratification. The majority of people don’t have it, which is why they’re not successful. I wish that we can all have everything instantly, but that’s not the way life works for most of us. Again, almost 70 – 75% of writers who email Arianna gets a Huff Post account. Before the Athena publishing platform, it was about 20%. If you were an editor at Fast Company or Fortune Magazine, would you rather give the opportunity to the person who writes for a publication that accepts 70% of people submitting an article, or a publication that only accepts 20% of the people who apply?
Editors want prestige. If you're accepted for a publication that is very picky, it dramatically… Click To Tweet. So here are some tips:
-Focus on quality (it’s not necessary you write an article daily unless you’re writing to get paid for page views).
-Focus on improving your article performances (likes, shares, and comments) by learning from top bloggers.
-Write at least half a dozen article for a publication before climbing the next step on the ladder by pitching a more prestigious (or higher ranked publication).
-Make a great effort in cultivating relationships with editors at your current publication(s) and editors at publications you desire to write for someday.
…and we’re done. Questions and answers session are over. But we can continue in the comment box, can’t we?
Thanks, Kallen for giving us a peek into our editors’ heart.
So if you’d be smart, just combine these tips and advice, and your post could be live on that particular publication you’ve been eyeing for so long.
I’ll like to know if there are questions you’ve in respect to pitching editors and getting accepted that have not been answered above. I want to know your questions that were answered and if they were answered to satisfaction. You could share your pitching and acceptance stories with me. As well, any pitch that goes wrong?
Sam is a freelance content writer. He blogs at 1stclasswriters.com where he shares his knowledge and experience about the freelance writing business. When Sam is not writing, he could be on his social channels chatting up like minds.