We’re always striving to offer super-actionable and hands-on advice here at Horkey Handbook.
We want freelance writers to succeed, because we know how confusing this journey can be when you’re just starting out.
With that in mind, we’ve launched a new series on the blog. It’s called How I Got Published On, and it will offer practical advice from writers who were published on major websites.
This week’s post comes from Emily McGee, and it’s packed with tips on how to get published on XOJane, one of the most popular websites for millennial women.
If you want to guest post on a website that pays writers and reaches a huge audience, check out XOJane.
XOJane is an online magazine targeting millennial women on a wide range of topics. The site is known for the personal essays it publishes and its highly engaged audience of readers.
Why Guest Post at XOJane
Here are few reasons why you might want to guest post at XOJane:
XOJane has a huge reach.
XOJane has a huge reach. It has an Alexa ranking of 3,571 in the U.S. and averages about 1 million unique visits a month. If your target audience is millennial women who are interested in lifestyle topics like beauty, love, sex, feminism and entertainment, then XOJane is a great place to find new readers.
XOJane is a good portfolio piece.
Because of its immense popularity, XOJane is also a great site to include in your “As Seen In” promo materials or in your portfolio. Again, if your target audience is millennial women, guest posting at XOJane will help you build authority with your audience.
XOJane pays writers.
In addition to its huge audience, XOJane pays for guest posts. When my post was published in April 2016, the rate was $50 for a post.
How to Write a Winning Pitch for XOJane
1. Get familiar with the style of writing and types of posts published at XOJane.
As with any guest post, start by reading popular articles on the site. You need to be familiar with the type of posts they publish and the writing style they are looking for. Your pitch will be rejected if you can’t make your topic and you voice match their style.
On their guest post pitching page, the editors at XOJane are pretty clear that they are always looking for posts that fit into one of the following categories: It Happened to Me, Unpopular Opinion, I’ll Try Anything Once, and Beauty Dare.
These four categories are all places where guest bloggers share a personal story with a unique perspective. Once you’ve decided what type of post you’d like to write, be sure to read several examples in that category. This will give you a feel for how your post should flow and what elements you need to include.
2. Tell the editors how your post fits in.
When you pitch, be sure to tell the editor which category your post will fit into.
Understanding how your post fits into XOJane’s categories helps you make sure that your post will work for XOJane, and it makes the editor’s job easier. If you can make the editor’s job easier, she will be more likely to accept your pitch.
You also need to be familiar with the writing style at XOJane. All of their writers use a conversational tone and have a strong voice. Each author’s personality shines through in every piece. There is nothing generic about a post on XOJane. When you write your pitch, focus on being honest and personal.
3. Be ready to provide photos.
In keeping with the theme of personal essays, the editors at XOJane really want to publish your personal photos with your guest post.
Before you pitch, make sure you have a few good photos that you are willing to share.
The photos don’t need to be professional (I submitted iPhone photos).
Just make sure they aren’t out of focus or otherwise hard to see.
At the end of your pitch, I suggest that you include a short description of the photos you will include in the post.
This helps the editors see that you are prepared and makes their job easier (which makes them more likely to accept your pitch).
4. Follow the pitching formula they recommend.
You can send a complete article to XOJane with your pitch, but you don’t have to!
To save time, I sent a pitch that was a summary of my topic and included bullets about how my experience impacted me and why XOJane readers could relate. This is the pitching “formula” that XOJane recommends, so follow it!
The subject line of your email pitch should be an enticing summary of the topic for your post. Don’t write something generic like “guest post pitch.”
Things to Be Aware Of
If you pitch XOJane, here are a few things to be aware of:
- You won’t hear back right away. When I hadn’t heard back after several weeks, I assumed my pitch was rejected. In fact, it took 5 weeks for them to get back to me and accept it. So, be patient and don’t assume you’ve been rejected if you don’t hear back immediately.
- I had very little communication with the editor who accepted my post. The editor emailed me once to ask for my bio and once to ask for payment info. She didn’t respond to any of the emails I sent her, including an email I sent asking about the publication date for my post and an email to troubleshoot an issue I had with their writing platform.
- In the end, no one from XOJane gave me a publication date for my post. I asked them directly, but got no reply! I just checked the XOJane website regularly until I saw my post had been published. This made it difficult to coordinate the content on my blog to complement the guest post. It also made it hard to offer a related opt-in freebie to anyone who came from XOJane to my site.
- You will submit through their platform. When I submitted my post, XOJane was using the writing platform Skyword. There seemed to be a few kinks with the system, and I wasn’t able to upload my post for about a week. Since no one from XOJane returned my emails, I just waited until the system magically fixed itself. At the time I submitted, XOJane also could not use my bio from Skyword, so I had to submit a separate bio via email. That wasn’t a big deal, but it was one more thing to remember.
My final word of advice for any guest post: If your goal is to get traffic and new email subscribers, make sure your target audience can actually be found at the website you’re pitching.
My post at XOJane had lots of engagement. It was shared over 300 times and had more than 200 comments, but I got almost no traffic or email subscribers. I was trying to target a niched audience on a website that caters to a more general audience.
I had much more success getting traffic and email subscribers when I guest posted here at Horkey Handbook because Gina’s audience overlaps strongly with mine: solo entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses.
- Be familiar with the style of writing and types of posts published at XOJane.
- In your pitch, include the category your post will fit in, a summary of your topic, a description of why it’s relevant to XOJane’s audience, and a brief description of the photos you will include.
- Don’t stress if you don’t hear back right away.
- Don’t expect to know the publication date for your guest post.
- If your goal is to drive traffic to your own site, make sure you want traffic from a general audience of millennial women. If you want to target a more specific niche, it may be more effective to guest post elsewhere.
What about you? Have you tried to pitch XOJane or any other large website?
Emily McGee is a freelance writer, a mama, an expat, and the founder of My Adaptable Career, which offers productivity tips for solo entrepreneurs. Emily helps busy bloggers grow their businesses intentionally and productively. Overwhelmed by all the blogging advice out there? Grab Emily’s FREE 20 page guide that shows you exactly how to invest time and money in your blog.