How I got my article published

Estimated 4 minute read · Saturday, 13 August 2016

I am proud to announce that my article got published on A List Apart giving me the chance to share my career experiences with the community.

My article — "Finding Opportunities in the Mistakes We Make" got published on A List Apart on 2 August 2016. I'd like to share the steps I took to accomplish this, a little background story, some additional tips for writing for developers and the social media activity I got from the article.


  1. Why? If you have an idea for a topic that could inspire or inspire others, then you probably have your why. You could however be putting this on your own blog. What is your why?

  2. Who do you want to write for? Find a website you really want to contribute to. This could be one of many websites you admire and constantly read or follow. Make sure your topic is closely knitted with the theme of their content.

  3. Find out how to contribute. You can read more about contributing by clicking on a "write for us" or "submit your " link usually at the top of the page. Not all websites are open for community contributions.

  4. Submit your topic. The contribution section will have more information about how you can submit your topic. It's usually supported by one or two backing paragraphs telling them how your article could help or inspire others or elaborate more on your topic. The contribution section should give you more insights into what they expect from your submission.

  5. Wait. You may need to wait for feedback. Possibly 2 to 4 weeks depending on their process and guidelines.

  6. Your response, if any. If you get the thumbs up, be prepared to work hard as quality is important on high-volume traffic sites. You may work closely with a writing editor on a collaborative tool like Google Docs depending on their process. They will give you all the information you need. I can't vouch for all websites but I'm sure a response will come.

  7. Comments after publication. Be prepared to provide feedback to comments that come in once your article has been published.

If you don't get the thumbs up, you could ask why it was declined, if they didn't specify. You could try submit your topic to another website or alternatively write about it on your own blog. When you get a new great idea, simply try the steps again.

Tip: Try not to blindly send topics to websites you admire without understanding the theme of their content. This could lead to your topic being rejected.

Background story

I haven't been good with sharing my knowledge and experiences with the community throughout my career. I always assumed my knowledge was mediocre or commonly known.

I'd tried blogging many times but felt directionless and judged myself too harshly. It was scary sharing my ideas, thoughts and code.

I started reflecting on my career. One night I had this bright idea to share the mistakes I have made, something personal that could hopefully inspire or help others.

I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and submit the idea to A List Apart, a website for people who make websites. It made sense as I am a web developer and the mistakes were in that line of work.

I started by reading how I could write for them. I decided to send the title and a short description. The next day I had elaborated and sent the updated information.

Two weeks later I got a response back from them saying that they love the topic and that we will be going forward with it. I almost fell out of my bed when I read the email.

The article evolved after a few iterations while I was working closely with Rose Weisburd — an editor at A List Apart. This was a first for me and the experience was exhilarating.

I never thought it was something I could do. But I did it. And anyone can.

While the iterations were nearing an end, I started thinking about creating a blog that I would consistently contribute to. This is when Corporate Programmer was born, thanks to a great blogging course from John Sonmez.

By publishing at least three posts a week, I was able to bulk up my blog and enjoy writing and sharing my experiences in my own time on my own platform.

When the article was published my Twitter account went wild. I didn't expect this at all. And I had a great looking blog to link to from my author bio page.

The feedback I got was positive and inspiring. I never knew so many people would like it or be able to relate to it that much. Self doubt tends to do this to a person.

It goes to show that we can easily overlook the importance of the information we gather during our days on earth. Something you may consider small could have a tremendous impact on someone else.

I was in awe when I Googled the title and searched for it on Twitter. There were so many references that weren't linked to my account but being shared. How amazing.

Is this something you would like to do? What is stopping you?

Writing for developers

Although my article (and blog) isn't very technical, my audience is.

If you want to learn more about sharing your ideas with the software development community, WriteSpeakCode recorded a panel that shares some great tips that can help you.

Check out the story, complete with the video, compiled by Chiu-Ki Chan.

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