How To Get Your Writing Published

Recently I did a poll on Instagram asking what people would like to see me write about. A lot of you reached out and asked if I could share how I started my writing career and how I was able to get published on sites like HuffPo, Good Housekeeping, Scary Mommy, and so on.

This is something I love to talk about, especially if it helps others realize their writing dreams.

First, I’ll say – you don’t have to be a great writer to be a writer. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? But, it’s true! You do, however, have to be a great storyteller. I feel like that is my strong suit. I’m a great storyteller with decent writing skills. Tell a great story and people will read it. Once you tell the story in writing then go back and edit. Then edit. Then edit again. Then have someone else edit. I’m serious. When your brain is in story mode you’re more likely to skim over the mistakes.

Here are some other tips to help you become a better writer (because even if you’re a great storyteller, you still need to be a decent writer or your work will be turned away ):

  • READ. A LOT. I read a book a month. This helps expand my vocabulary and see how other writers share their stories.
  • Remind yourself not to write how you speak. People have a bad habit of doing this. For blog posts, yes, write all the slang or informal language you want, but if it’s for a publication – it needs to be cleaned up and professional.
  • Ninety-nine percent of the time you don’t need the word “that” in a sentence. If you can read the sentence back and it still makes sense without the word “that” – take it out. The over usage of “filler words” is definitely the sign of an amateur. Editors will notice this right away.
  • Try, not, to, go, crazy, with, the, commas. Like how I did that there.
  • Write your essay or submission from the heart, then go back and edit when you’re done. You need to use different skills for editing so wait until the end.
  • Make sure to use your, you’re, their, there, they’re, its, it’s and so on correctly. If I get submissions for guest posts and I see they don’t know the difference between these – I turn it down.
  • Last little nugget. When writing numbers: 1-9 you spell out, 10 and up you can use numerics.

Now back to getting published (once you clean up your skills)……

I’ve said it a million times over the years on this blog – networking is the key to success. Both in-person and online are very important. This is my most important advice. Do you want to be a writer? Join Facebook groups for writers, local groups, networking groups, etc. Any chance you get to meet new people, especially those in the arena you’re trying to get in to, take it! Relationships turn into friendships and friendships turn into empires. This is how you will find most of your opportunities. So get to joining those FB groups!

Aside from networking, I started this blog as a platform to share my work over social platforms. You don’t need to start a blog, but you need to have a way to share your work with the masses. The more eyes you can get the better. Facebook, LinkedIn, IG and Twitter are great for this.

To get “important eyes” on my work I would look up editors for publications I wanted to see my work in. Twitter was the best resource for this. Typically editors all have their credentials with the vertical segments they work in. Example: Sarah Smith, HuffPo Politics or something along those lines. A lot of editors will do “calls for submissions” on their feeds as well and share their emails for a direct connection. Put your stalking pants on because there will be a lot of it!

Feeling a little ballsy? Here’s another good tip. When I shared my work on Twitter I would often tag editors so they would see and hopefully click the link to read my essays/articles. I would also email every single piece I wrote to any editor of the vertical segment (family, business, local, etc) I thought my piece would best fit for.

You can also go to the website you want to write for, scroll all the way to the bottom, there you’ll usually find a submission email or link. Personally, I feel like these are just a black hole of thousands of submissions but anything is worth a shot.

I did all of the above on every piece I wrote for two years and finally, I had someone at HuffPo write back and ask me to be in their contributor network. TWO YEARS. It’s very rare to get in the first try with any publication, but it happens. Once you get into one site you start to build your network and your resume. One small job led to bigger jobs and before I knew it my work was being shared on Yahoo, MSN and the like.

Some sites will just ask for a pitch, in which you can send them your idea and a brief snippet of your piece. If you don’t get in with one site, keep pitching until you find a home for it. If you have friends with blogs or a favorite blog you follow – ask them if they accept submissions too! Again, it’s all about getting your work out there.

Ask for help! When I first started I would reach out to other bloggers or writers (their links are always in their author box on articles they write) ask for their advice, tips, or if they could point me in the right direction.

From there I lived by the philosophy: to have a friend you have to be a friend. I commented on posts, liked posts, shared work from other writers, and supported them. When you support them, they support you. When you build up a network like this, your work is more likely to go viral.

Once you get in with a publication, follow the advice of the editors. Be timely on your revisions, do the editing yourself. If the editor likes you and they don’t have to do a lot of work for you – they’ll keep asking you for more. This can lead to endless opportunities.Something important to highlight – be authentic and true to yourself. You might run across an editor who wants you to write about things you’re not comfortable with, or will make edits and embellish your words to make your work more click bate. When this happens – stand your ground. Someone once changed the title to a piece of mine and no one even read the piece, they just saw the title and ripped me apart in the comment section. I got nasty messages on FB and everything. I never wrote for that site again.

The last thing I’ll mention is you have to toughen up that skin. Whenever you open yourself up, you open yourself up to criticism. No matter what you write about, someone will have an opposing opinion. The internet can be a mean place sometimes. Remind yourself the only opinions that matter are those from your closest circle. Everyone else is just noise you don’t need to listen too. As one of my fav speakers, Renee Brown, always says, “You’re the brave one putting yourself in the arena and they are the ones afraid to do the same so they hurl their nasty opinions from the cheap seats.” Let them stay there.

Resource groups I love:

Beyond Your Blog

Writers helping Writers

Pro Bloggers

If you’d like to see my published work –– click here .

If you have further questions about specifics, send me a note and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

Want To Grow Your Business? Here’s How…

Almost two years ago I left the corporate world to start my own business as a writer and consultant. I loved the company I worked for but knew in order to grow both personally and professionally; it was time for a change. It was going to be a challenge going from a well-respected, globally known brand to a virtually unknown brand – me, Holly Rust. I definitely had my work cut out for me.

The first six months were rough and I questioned my decision daily. Luckily, I scored my first few accounts from leveraging my own local network. To grow my network further I tried to fill my schedule with coffee and cocktail dates and I attended local networking events. These activities were beneficial to growing my business, but unfortunately they took up a lot of time. With two small children and a traveling spouse, time was not a luxury I had. I needed to work smarter – not harder. I starting utilizing what little time I did have to build my network online, from my couch, and it usually involved ice cream. The Internet was always available and I was going to take advantage.

Almost two years in, I have a large network that now expands globally. My business is booming and has even opened doors to new ventures – all because I turned to the Internet to expand my network.


Helpful tips to build your brand or business online:

Stay Active! If you can’t make it out locally, be active online. Potential clients need to be reminded you’re out there and you’re ready to work. Every day you need to reach out to people personally – even if it’s just to let them know about your new venture or to keep the connection alive. Consistency is key.

Use Social Media. Using free tools that expand your network ten folds – no brainer! Sign up on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., for your business. Use your personal accounts to promote your brand as well. Update your profile on LinkedIn often. Let people know what you’re doing. Be proud and passionate; this will translate to your audience.

If your friends don’t want to support you or get annoyed by your posts, they can easily hide your notifications. Furthermore, if they can subject you to their life drama and political rants – then they can surely support you in your entrepreneurial aspirations. My rule: If my current friends will not support me, I’ll just find new ones who will!

Proudly display your accomplishments on social media for everyone to see! An old boss always told me, “No one will ever toot your own horn louder than you.” So toot away because this let’s people know your succeeding in your business and will want to follow you more.

Make New Friends. Connect with 5-10 new people a day from any outlet. Post daily if possible about what you’re doing and the services or products you’re providing. Don’t forget to continue with your regular lifestyle posts too if you’re using your personal accounts to promote; otherwise your audience will become desensitized to your business.

Ask Or You Shall Not Receive.  Ask for partnerships. Ask for business. Ask for referrals. Ask for advice. What’s the worst that can happen? They say, “No”? You cannot wait for people to notice you; you have to make them notice you. In my experience most people are willing to share their best practices and love to partner with others. You also must remember that to have a friend, you have to be a friend. Enter each conversation asking how you can help them first. Your good will always comes back to you in one shape or form.

Use Hash Tags. When posting on social media – make your posts work for you. Use hash tags! Hash tags, used correctly, make your posts easily searchable. Also, if you incorporate whatever topics are trending at the time of your post you will broaden your audience.

Become ‘Besties’ with Bloggers. Bloggers are great resources to help spread awareness for your brand or business. Businesses and individuals reach out to me on a daily basis to partner with them or to sponsor a post. Many bloggers also do reviews, referrals and cross promotions. I rarely turn down a chance to be exposed to another individual’s or business’s network.

Join Online Networking Groups. Even if the group has nothing to do with your business, you may uncover some business opportunities. These groups usually have rules about promoting yourself, so be sure to check with the admins before posting. You can, however, reply to other group member’s posts soliciting your business if the post applies to what you offer.

When building your brand or business online you first need to manage your expectations. Rome was not built in a day! Like with any investment, these things take time. Stay consistent and present in the online world, but above all – don’t give up.

Here's to your continued success!
Here’s to your continued success!