Interested in Becoming a POPSUGAR Contributor? These Are My Tips for Getting Accepted Into the POPSUGAR Voices Program
If you follow me either here or on social media, then you know that I write for POPSUGAR as a contributor. In 2020, I made it one of my goals to have my work published on a site outside of this blog and the websites I contribute to on behalf of my employers. Over the last few years, I’ve been looking to grow my own brand and voice, and knew that getting published would be a step in the right direction. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have a piece published on POPSUGAR (a publication I’ve been reading for years) and even more elated when I was asked to join the contributor team.
Since becoming a contributor, I’ve had the opportunity to write about topics I’m passionate about in a variety of forms; from pet product reviews, to fitness advice, to personal anecdotes, to shopping guides and more. I’ve had the chance to work firsthand with brands across different categories and make meaningful connections with other PR professionals. But, perhaps most importantly, I’ve acquired a deep sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. I’ve always loved writing and I enjoy sharing my thoughts and experiences with millions of readers across the world. Plus, I love POPSUGAR’s mission of inspiring women to lead their healthiest and happiest lives.
On my journey as a contributor, I’ve had a number of people reach out to me for tips and advice on becoming a contributor themselves. In this blog post, I’m going over some of the basics (how to submit content, for instance) and sharing some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way that led to my becoming a regular writer for the online publication.
The Contributor Program: POPSUGAR Voices
First, let’s cover the lingo. Non-staff writers (AKA: contributors like myself) are a part of the POPSUGAR Voices team. This is the publication’s freelance division. The best part about the Voices program? You do not have to be an official, on-the-books contributor to submit content. Anyone – seriously, anyone – can submit content to the site for consideration through the Voices program. So, you may be wondering…
How Do I Submit Content to POPSUGAR Voices?
If you’re interested in submitting content for consideration, you’ll need to create an account through the Voices dashboard, here. This platform isn’t exactly mobile-friendly so I would suggest doing this on a desktop!
Setting up an account is easy – fill in some basic information and you’re good to go. As part of your account profile, you may be asked to submit links to published work. If you haven’t been published by an outside source, that’s OK! You can use links to your own blog. I’m pretty sure when I set up my account I submitted a mix of posts from this blog alongside posts I ghost-wrote for NYCM Insurance. I could be wrong – but I imagine asking for published pieces is just another way to get a better sense of your writing style. (Of course, if you have been published, that will only help your cause, so definitely include those links!).
Once you’ve created your account, get acquainted with the platform. It’s pretty simple and user-friendly! You’ll see in the dashboard that there is a section that allows you to submit stories (It’s hard to miss – it’s called “submissions”). This is where you’ll submit all of your awesome content.
You may be thinking, “But wait – what do I write about?” Keep reading.
Tips for Content Submissions
Through the Voices platform, you’ll see a list of content suggestions at any given time. This can be suggestions for different listicles, product review ideas or story angles that they feel they’d like to see more of on the site. While I definitely recommend checking out this list, here is my suggestion and probably biggest takeaway from this blog post: Write something only YOU could write. Put it this way: Anyone can write a listicle on how to celebrate a holiday safely during COVID-19. But only YOU can write about how Covid affected your holiday, your plans, your relationship with loved ones. Get personal, get real. People love to read the stories of others. It helps us feel seen and less alone. It inspires us. And the editors know it.
More Tips for Getting Your Stories Published on POPSUGAR:
But wait, there’s more! Here are some other tips I’ve picked up along the way:
- GET PERSONAL. Again, write something only you could write. You have a unique life experience and angle that only you can communicate. This is what people want to read!
- Be Specific: Make your headlines and content specific. For example, instead of writing “4 Morning Sickness Essentials,” write “I Wish I’d Known How Effective B-6 Is For Morning Sickness Before Getting Pregnant.” Can you tell I’m speaking from experience, here?
- Edit, Edit and Edit Again: Proofread multiple times so that your piece is as polished as possible. Let’s just say it’s not going to help your case if you have a grammatical error smack dab in the lead. Ask a friend to read your draft before you submit it – they might catch some things that you missed!
- Draw Your Readers In: Write a catchy headline and an engaging intro paragraph. Ask yourself, “If I read that article headline, would I be interested to read the rest of the story?” If the answer is “no,” rethink your headline and content.
- Play to Your Strengths. When I was pregnant I wrote a LOT of content about being pregnant. Why? Well, for one it was therapeutic (pregnancy was ROUGH) but also because I knew pregnant people like to read stories from other pregnant people. It helps us feel like we’re less alone in our beachball-mimicking, swollen as all get-out, constantly nauseous state. Are you a subject matter expert? Do you have a life experience that you feel others could relate to? Did a personal experiment change your life in some way? It’s all fair game; use it!
- Let Your Personality Shine Through: I write like a talk. That is, when I’m writing for this blog or other publications. (I went to grad school for PR so I’m not ashamed to say that I’m really good at writing for different brands and people, but I love getting to write like myself!) This doesn’t work for every publication but it seems to be working for POPSUGAR. Don’t write like a robot, write like you!
- Get Comfortable With Rejection: The editorial staff gets literally thousands of pitches every day. Don’t be discouraged if your pieces get rejected. I ended up with four rejections before getting my two golden ticket pieces published. If you do get rejected, take a step back and ask if there is anything you could have done differently to make the piece more unique or interesting.
- Write With Zeal. Does the story that you’re writing really inspire you and make you excited? If the answer is “no,” then scrap it. If you don’t care, other people won’t either.
- Tell the Story You’ve Been Wanting to Hear: What’s the story you’ve been wanting to read? Have you found yourself scouring the internet for articles you’re looking to relate to on a personal matter? Write the article you’re looking for! If you’re looking, chances are other people are, too.
How Is Being a Contributor Different From Just Submitting Content?
Being a part of the contributor team is a little different than just firing content away into the platform and hoping it will get picked up. Here are some of the major differences:
- You get paid! That’s a nice difference.
- The platform is slightly different. Once you’re a contributor, your Voices platform will change slightly. You will now have new pages within the portal including assignments, payments and reference. Assignments is where you will track the articles you are working on and communicate with your editor. The payments page allows you to track when you will get paid for each published piece and “reference” is a link library where you can find all you need to know about creating different posts, writing in the POPSUGAR style, sourcing images, etc.
- Pitches, not stories. Once you’re a contributor, you will be asked to submit pitches rather than complete stories. The editorial team will then assign you the pitches they are interested in. If you don’t hear back about a pitch, it means they’re passing on the idea.
- Prompts. Aside from accepting pitches, the editorial team also posts prompts in the portal that are up for anyone to grab. If you feel like you’d be a good fit for one of the prompts, you’re free to take the assignment.
- Commitment. As a contributor, you’re expected to send in at least five pitches a month to remain an active part of the program. I personally send in probably 20 pitches a month but it definitely varies from month to month depending on how busy I am!
- Monthly newsletters. All Voices contributors receive an email newsletter on the first day of every month, outlining content that the editorial staff is currently interested in. This newsletter also contains important updates about the program so you’ll definitely want to give it a read-through.
Does POPSUGAR pay contributors?
As mentioned above, contributors get paid for their work! To be honest, when I was first getting started in this program, I couldn’t find an answer as to whether or not contributors got paid. One of my stories had been published but I had not submitted any tax info and no one was reaching out to me for my bank account.
I did some research. Somewhere – in the wily depths of the internet – I found a forum where someone said that they started getting paid for their POPSUGAR content once they had two articles published. It was after they had their second story published that someone reached out to them and asked them if they would like to join the contributor team. After reading this, I was motivated after my first publication to press on and see what happened.
As it turns out, my experience was the same as the forum post author. After having my second piece published, a POPSUGAR employee reached out to me and asked if I would like to join the POPSUGAR team as a contributor. After replying, “yes, absolutely,” a second employee reached out to help me get set up in the contributor dashboard and collect tax information. Again, the team made it really easy.
How Much Do POPSUGAR Contributors Get Paid?
Through the POPSUGAR Voices program, contributors are paid by the story. Once your pitch is accepted, you will be contacted through the portal by the vertical’s editor. When your story is assigned, it will come with a deadline and a pay rate. If you are interested in pursing the assignment, you accept it – there is no negotiating pay rate. Different story formats come at different pay scales. Suffice it to say, the more work you would theoretically have to put into an article (extensive reporting, a step-by-step DIY), the more you will get paid.
It’s also worth noting that submitting a story doesn’t guarantee payment. After writing the piece, the editors will review it. It isn’t until your story is officially published that you will receive payment (30 days after the fact).
Why Should I Pursue the POPSUGAR Voices Program?
Do you think writing for POPSUGAR may be something you’re interested in but you’re not sure? Here are a few reasons why you should definitely pursue it if you’re on the fence:
- It’s a fun way to make a little extra pocket money!
- Being published even once will be a great little add to your LinkedIn page or resume.
- It’s an effective way to grow your personal brand and influence.
- You’ll make new professional connections.
- Trying new things is always a solid way to take care of your mental health and wellness.
- Writing about things you love is a cathartic exercise!
- Better question – what do you have to lose?
Questions? Thoughts? Feedback?
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know if you have further questions on anything published in this article or if you have feedback to share. Reach out to me and let me know if you found this information helpful and if you’ve had success in having your work published. I’d love to connect and also check out your awesome stories!
Visit My POPSUGAR Author Page
Curious to see what kind of articles I’ve had published? You can check out all of my published pieces here. When I was first getting started I wrote a lot of family content. In 2021 I’ve made it a personal goal to branch out and get published across more verticals and am slowly starting to make more appearances in Food, Fitness and Fashion. Once you have a piece published, you’ll also have an author page that hosts all of your articles; I look forward to checking it out 😉