Forbes is widely considered to be one of the most well-reputed and respected media platforms and has managed to build up an incredible amount of influence in its more than 100 years of operation. Unsurprisingly, Forbes contributors and staff writers are often seen as strong authorities in their fields.
Today, Forbes is an international behemoth with a readership primarily comprised of affluent decision-makers, millennials and business owners, and a reach of more than 140 million people worldwide spread across its online and print media.
The online media arm of Forbes mostly focuses on lifestyle, business, personal finance, and marketing topics, but regularly publishes pieces outside of these areas if it will generate awareness and recognition for the brand, or generate authority in the niche.
The sheer presence of Forbes has made it one of the most sought after publications for journalists, thought-leaders, and business owners that want to leverage its reputation to build their resume and clout in their respective industries.
What is the Forbes Contributor Program?
Rather than running a pure journalism and reporting outfit like many prominent media outlets, Forbes also runs a separate program that sees it accept contributions from a wide range of community contributors.
These contributors typically represent experts in their field with unique insights and experience on the topic, and often have a significant following of their own. It is Forbes’ hope that these contributors can curate and produce content that resonates with Forbes’ existing readership, while also potentially helping Forbes extend its reach to new audiences.
Introduced in 2010, the Contributor Program allowed Forbes to greatly expand the range of content it could produce and the market segments it could cover, allowing it to continue growing its brand and strengthen its position in the extremely competitive space that is online media.
Why become a Forbes Contributor?
Without a doubt, the main reason most people apply for a contributor position is for the simple accolade that comes with being a Forbes contributor. By posting in a highly respected online publication, contributors are able to add “published in Forbes” to their resume, which can help them land other gigs later on.
It provides contributors with opportunities to leverage Forbes’ substantial readership, SEO positioning, and social media following while helping build backlinks to the contributor’s social media pages, business recommendations, and own website.
The prestige that comes with posting on Forbes is, in and of itself, usually enough to make it worth most writer’s effort, but there is also a wide range of additional perks that also come with the position.
Besides the exposure of posting on Forbes, contributors can also expect a variety of fringe benefits—many of which are dependent on a variety of factors.
One of these is improved placement. Contributors that go above and beyond the call of duty or generate excellent metrics will gradually see their content promoted more on the site, helping these writers better position themselves as a credible and recognized source in their industry.
Forbes also provides contributors with free regular training sessions, aimed at helping them improve the consistency of their voice, reach more viewers, improve SEO, and boost social media shares, among other things. These are typically delivered over a webinar.
Posting on Forbes and other high authority publications is an excellent way to build your personal brand, by demonstrating credibility, authority, and insight in your articles.
By producing content that resonates with your intended audience, it is possible to cultivate additional opportunities, build connections, and grow your social media following. Every piece of content you craft should be designed to provide value for the reader while covering your area of mastery.
This can usually be achieved without ever even mentioning yourself, your services, or your business directly in the articles you publish. Instead, your byline will contain enough information for any interested readers to find out more about you, or reach out to you directly for further discussions.
Since around a third of Forbes’ readership demographics consists of senior management, affluent individuals, business owners, and small companies, contributors have an excellent opportunity to build brand awareness among potential clients and business partners, and subtly grow the authenticity of your business.
This benefit was experienced first-hand by ‘7 Systems of Influence’ creator Josh Steimle, who now describes some of the doors that were opened after posting on Forbes as a contributor:
“Writing for Forbes led to other opportunities. Because of that I was able to have my writing published in Entrepreneur, Time, VentureBeat, South China Morning Post, and a host of other places,” said Steimle.
How Forbes contributing works
While guestposting on Forbes can be a rewarding experience for most, there are some potential downsides to the practice, depending on your personal perspective and interests. You will need to weigh the pros and cons to see if the contributor model works for you.
Write about anything (within reason)
Each of Forbes’ sections is owned by a different editor, which together with the assistant editors, manages, curates, and edits content provided by the contributors and staff writers.
For the most part, contributors are expected to only post content in their original line of expertise. That means if you regularly post about lifestyle and self-improvement, then all your subsequent content needs to fit within this niche.
The editors will generally allow some minor deviation, so long as the content works, but any attempts to publish content that doesn’t fit the correct category will likely end up deleted—and don’t expect any warning either. Repeat offending might get you kicked off the program.
Earnings can vary considerably
Unlike staff writers that receive a regular salary or commission for their work or guest writers that don’t receive payment at all, contributors receive a range of financial incentives.
In the early days of the Forbes Contributor Program, the vast majority of contributors were not paid. However, back in 2018, Forbes revamped the Contributor Program to ensure that practically all contributors are now offered a base rate of at least $500 per month—provided they post at least seven times each month.
However, this $500 guarantee was recently suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put a dampener on Forbes’ revenues and forced it to scale back its revenue sharing. Despite this, the outlet currently maintains a $250 guarantee for its contributors, who are now expected to publish just five times per month to qualify. Further changes are likely to be made once the economy begins to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Forbes also shares a fraction of its revenue with writers, but the exact rates are usually negotiated from contributor to contributor.
Although you might expect Forbes’ significant readership to help you generate a handsome payout thanks to this revenue-sharing model, this would only be the case if your content is able to generate substantial views. That said, Forbes Chief Content Officer said that in 2017, more than 100 of Forbes’ ~1500 contributors clocked in five-figure incomes, while the top five racked up over $200k apiece.
To achieve in the upper end of this range, you will almost certainly need to be putting out considerable content with significant reach—something that will probably take years of grind to achieve. As such, contributing to Forbes is usually less about the money and more about the other perks for most program members.
You might be expected to post regularly
As a contributor, you’ll typically be expected to post at least one article per week, but you usually have the flexibility to post more if you want to, and many contributors can post far less than this without being booted off the platform.
It appears that the expected rate can vary from contributor to contributor, but Forbes typically isn’t overly concerned if a contributor doesn’t meet their minimum contribution amount every now and then. But if it becomes an ongoing concern, then the relevant editor will usually work with you to set a more realistic baseline.
Editing will be minimal
Unlike many other outlets, contributors at Forbes are able to send their articles live straight away after publishing from the WordPress editor—there is little to no editing prior beforehand. This means whatever you post will be immediately visible on the website and will begin generating views and shares, so make sure your copy is sound.
Once the piece is published, one of the editors will look it over to see that it fits within their guidelines, and may make small tweaks and edits if necessary. If the content is poor quality, doesn’t fit the niche, or breaks editorial policy in some way, then odds are it’ll be scrapped entirely rather than edited from top to bottom.
The application process for Forbes guest-posting
In the early days of the contributor program, it used to be possible to apply directly by filling in a simple form. But Forbes has seemingly sought to cut back on the volume of applications by making the route to entry less than direct—and for good reason too.
You can bet that each Forbes editor has an extensive list of potential contributors all chomping at the bit for the chance to publish, so they need a way to quickly narrow down the ideal candidates.
Because of this, you will need to be sure that you have clearly identified your niche, and that you already have interesting, well-written content covering this niche in a variety of reputable places before sending in an application. For the most part, Forbes editors are looking for contributors that have already proven their value by generating a sizable following, as well as published pieces and quotes on high authority publications.
Once this box has been checked, you’ll then need to pitch your application directly to the editor of the section that you want to publish in. You can easily find their name by searching something like “Forbes lifestyle editor” on your favorite search engine, which will usually pull up the main editor, assistant editor, and any other editors associated with that section.
If you’re unable to find editor emails or contact details through Google, you may want to consider checking out our Forbes Writer Profiles. This digital product provides you with all the necessary data you need, including emails, positions, social media profiles, and personal preferences. Click here to learn more about this service.
Once you find the names of the editors, it’s then just a matter of checking their author page on Forbes to find their email or social media contacts, which you can then use to open a dialogue. Here are a few tips to maximize your chances of success:
1. Keep it short. Don’t be tempted to send an entire essay explaining why you’re a leader in your field and how much of a mutual benefit your arrangement would be. The editors almost certainly receive dozens of emails a day just like this—keep it straight to the point, but include enough links for the editor to do their own research if needed.
2. Don’t badger the editors. If you don’t get a response within a few days, chalk this one up as a no. Badgering the editor for a decision will only lower your value in their eyes.
3. Highlight your reach. If your posts have garnered significant reach or have great conversion and engagement analytics, be sure to include some of these in your proposal.
4. Be clear. Editors are only going to consider the absolute strongest applications. Keep your subject concise and body, and make reading your application as simple as possible. Don’t be afraid to state plain and clear that you want to join the contributor program.
Although it might be tempting to pitch all of these editors at the same time, it’s best to work your way down from the top, starting with the main editor, before moving onto assistant editors, and so on—waiting at least several days between each attempt.
This system can help you get onboarded to the contributor program, but is only likely to be successful if your application is very strong or if you already have a rapport with the staff at Forbes.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Unfortunately, even if you hit all of the necessary criteria, there is still a fair chance that your application might be rejected—for no other reason than simple poor timing.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying. For the most part, the editor you initially reached out to will provide a brief explanation on why your application was unsuccessful—this might include a critique of your writing, some tips on the type of content they’re looking to see, or links to resources that will eventually help you better fit the position.
Take this information and use it to your advantage, correct your errors then try again in around three months. Be sure to send a brief response to the editor, letting them know of your intention to try again later.
The more content you have that demonstrates your capabilities, the better your chances. Remember, Forbes editors are almost certainly inundated with applications but there are only limited slots available. If your application isn’t in the top 10% at the very least, your odds of success are slim to none.
Since the preferences and needs for each editor likely change over time, it might be worth putting in some research to take a look at recently added contributors—to check how their profile compares to your own. You can find these by scanning through the section that interests you and looking for contributors that recently joined by checking when they first published on Forbes.
Once found, you’ll then be able to research the type of content these contributors write and find out more about their experience, background, and credentials. This can provide some insights into what the editor is looking for in contributors, allowing you to make the adjustments needed to fit the mould.
Let them come to you
Although it is certainly possible to snag a contributor position through the aforementioned application process, it’s not the only entry route.
Editors are also known to scout in suitable talent from time to time. If you’ve got an impressive body of work and have already garnered a solid reputation in a relevant industry, there is a fair chance you might be contacted directly. Of course, this is only likely to occur if the editor is aware of your existence, so engaging with them on social media and building familiarity will work to your advantage.
You can also achieve some degree of familiarity by submitting a guest post to the publication. This can be done by sending your ready-to-publish article to firstname.lastname@example.org. This email was previously used as a catch-all for those looking to submit opinion pieces, but since Forbes no longer accepts these, the inbox is now used for guest post submissions.
Guest posts, ideally in combination with a personal recommendation from another Forbes staff writer or contributor can be an excellent way to get noticed by editors. Combine this with an excellent body of work that aligns with the content the editor usually shares and likes, and ideally needs, and you’ve got an excellent chance of being approached directly.
Without a doubt, being previously mentioned or even featured by another Forbes contributor can significantly increase your chances of drawing an editor’s attention. For this reason, we crafted an entire guide around this topic, which we highly recommend to check out next. You can find it here.
If all else fails, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board—making sure to challenge your skills, build your analytics and refine your writing style until you’re ready to give it another shot. Alternatively, you can also reach out to us. We offer help in all things related to Forbes.com, including contributor positions, features, and more. If that sounds interesting, head over to our services page or contact as at email@example.com