Why (not to) guest post on top-tier publications?

Is it really worth the effort anymore?

Jay Kalansooriya
3 min readFeb 25, 2023

Have you ever tried to ‘score’ a guest post?

To be even a footnote in someone else's guest post?

Man, that's exhausting.

All that writing and researching and more writing and pitching and waiting, just to hear crickets.


Regardless of what many successful ‘guest bloggers’ would want you to believe, when it comes to scoring a guest post in a top-tier publication, you and I rarely make the cut.

I mean, let's face it.

Most of these publications have an abundance of content writers on top of volunteering writers (i.e., Forbes, Entrepreneur, B2C, etc.), who are ‘producing’ written, audio, and video content at a much faster rate than you or I could ever hope to match.

For example, Forbes contributing writers had a requirement to provide at least one article per week. And a few years ago, they stopped taking any more contributors because there were just too much. They had a big backlog of unpublished content.

Even if you do managed to get in, the articles are heavily moderated and ‘adjusted’ to have a neutral (read: non advertorial) tone. It’snot going to be an instant publish.

That’s because they actually sell advertorial articles on the backend to high end PR firms. A mere mention of you name (with no hyperlinks) on Forbes will cost you more than $5,000 these days, and an article on Entrepreneur is around $4,000-6,000. A feature article will cost $100,000 and beyond.

Honestly, you have to admit. That’s a damned good business model. For them.

Not so much for us.

Plus, most of these articles contain the most generic content out there. It's like the author just Googled some article together and ran it through a rewording and rephrasing tool. It doesn't provide any value to the readers.

This is because the author’s only concern is to either meet the required article quota or just get their name and byline on Forbes site.

What should you do instead?

There are a few ways to go about this.

Instead of wasting time and resources to write the perfect article, and waiting forever for the editorial team to get back to you (it takes about a month if you’re new), you can direct all of that to pitch mid-tier publications and offer them 2-5 articles, in exchange for a byline and a backlink. In my experience, this process is much faster and more efficient.

Your articles won't be as scrutinized as on Forbes, and you'll be able to produce content at scale with the help of tools like ChatGPT, which you can use to get content ideas as well as generate overall structure for the article so that your task is much easier.

Do this enough times with enough publications, and you’ll be able to ‘level up’ to higher-tier publications, as well as other media networks (i.e., podcasts, shows, etc.)

Furthermore, your online presence will grow because you played the numbers game. Then you’ll be able to leverage that ‘clout’ in to reaching bigger audiences.

There’s also a few ways to get on news sections instead of guest sections. This involves a combination of PR and growth hacking. Usually these aren’t recommended to beginners since you're not yet newsworthy material.

If you have the budget to buy a Forbes article, just know that you can get much more bang for your bucks by using alternative strategies that will eventually land you on much better media networks anyway.

I’m planning to write about some of those strategies in the future. So if you're interested, subscribe to this letter, so that you won't miss them.

As always, you can reach me at abov@substack.com.

Till next week.