How to Pitch a Story to SELF

Thanks for your interest in writing for SELF! We’re always looking for new writers to work with, and want to make the pitching process as clear and straightforward as possible. We’re especially excited to work more frequently with writers who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, or belong to other marginalized identities—and not just to write specifically or exclusively about your identity (unless you want to).

Before you pitch, please take a few minutes to read the following recommendations and guidelines. We’re going to cover the following:

  • Information about SELF’s brand mission and philosophy

  • What types of stories to pitch

  • What types of stories NOT to pitch

  • How to pitch us

  • Who to pitch

  • Our pay rates

We look forward to hearing from you!


SELF magazine is a mission-driven health and wellness brand. Our goal is to help people take good care of themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. Sometimes that’s by reporting on individual actions that can make a difference; sometimes that’s by highlighting efforts to make systemic or institutional change. Sometimes it’s a bit of both. Whatever the case, SELF is here to help.

Before you pitch, it would be helpful to search the site and our social channels to get a sense of the brand tone and philosophy (and also to make sure that you’re not pitching something we literally just covered). It may be helpful to know that the brand has published editor’s letters and editorial packages that advocate for specific positions in the service of public health, including:

To learn more about SELF, including information about our leadership team, editorial standards and practices, social channels and newsletters, and more, read SELF’s About Us page here.


Since SELF is a health and wellness service brand, we’re looking for stories that will help improve personal health or public health. When pitching a story, you should be able to answer the question: How is this helpful?

We have a few main categories of focus: health, fitness, food, beauty, love (think sex and relationships, both romantic and otherwise), and lifestyle (travel, money, career, home, productivity, and so on). Beyond those categories, here are the types of stories we’re looking for from freelancers:

Reported Service

Right now, we’re focusing almost exclusively on service journalism—stories that give people the information they need to know in order to take action. We’re typically looking for reported pieces that rely on research and expert insights. Think how-tos, tips, tricks, advice, and explainers that people can act on. It’s not enough for a story to simply explain why something is the way it is; it should also help people understand what they can do with that information, and how to apply it in their own lives in a practical, logistical, IRL sense. (Very simply, a good service story should tell a reader: Do this, here’s why.)

Here are some examples of service stories we’ve published recently:

Personal Experience-Based Service

We are not accepting pitches for personal essays right now, but we are accepting pitches for service stories that are based in part (or fully) on your non-expert, yet still relevant, personal experiences. The idea is to share a wellness practice you have that accomplishes a very specific task in your life, and that you think other people might benefit from hearing about as well. These can be tricky to pull off, though—the key is that the practice needs to solve a tangible problem or challenge, rather than simply be something that makes you feel good or better in general. Think of it as the hack-y, tip-y advice you give your friends who are dealing with something frustrating and somewhat mundane, but that doesn’t necessarily require professional assistance. Some examples we’ve published recently:

Expert-Recommended Product Roundups

Good product recommendations can be a huge service to people—the key is finding the right people to make those recommendations. For product roundup stories, you should pitch a list of products that fall into a particular category, as recommended by people whose independent expertise and experience makes their recommendations noteworthy and valuable. Some examples of product roundups that we’ve done recently:

Opinion and Cultural Criticism

We don’t accept a ton of opinion or cultural criticism pitches because those are mostly handled in-house or by our recurring columnists, but we are open to them. The key is that the idea needs to be timely, relevant, and research- or expert-informed. We’re significantly more likely to accept an opinion or criticism pitch if you have an established expertise in the particular area, and a clearly stated opinion that you can back up with facts. We’re also more likely to be interested in an opinion piece if it’s a bit surprising or thought-provoking. We’re looking for opinions that will make people stop and think: Huh, that’s interesting—I haven’t considered that perspective before. Some recent examples:


We very rarely accept feature story pitches (when we assign them out, we develop the pitches in-house). But when we do, the key is that the feature is heavily reported, and also structured around a narrative. This means that you should pitch a story you want to tell, not an idea or trend you want to explore, or a person or organization you want to highlight. When pitching a feature story, you should have done a good amount of pre-reporting on the feature itself, and also make it clear whether you have access to the sources in the story that you’re pitching. Tell us what the narrative is about, what scenes we’re going to see in the piece, who the primary characters are, and—crucially—how that narrative ties into a bigger context in the health and wellness space.


Some of these we handle in-house. Some of them just don’t make sense for our audience.

  • Quick news write-ups

  • Personal essays

  • Explainers without service (so, explaining a trend without also providing practical takeaway for the reader)

  • Fiction, memoir, or poetry

  • Q&As

  • Stories that you’ve already written ahead of time

  • Stories that have been published elsewhere already

  • Stories about how to lose weight (see our Style Guide about how we talk about weight, nutrition, bodies, and health)

  • Stories that uncritically parrot PR talking points without skepticism or diving deeper into the science (and that’s particularly true for anything related to wellness or nutrition trends)

  • Stories that aren’t explicitly about improving personal health or public health


When reaching out with a pitch, please include the following:

  • A working headline (or two) that shows very clearly what the story is about.

  • A paragraph or two description of the story, including why it’s relevant right now, how it can be helpful to people, and what your angle or approach will be. Be sure to also include the types of experts or specific people you want to speak with—the more specific, the better.

  • If we’re new to working together, it helps to include clips of relevant work you’ve done, and any information that illustrates your expertise in the topic you’re pitching. We are especially interested in developing relationships with freelancers who have established beats.

  • A word count estimate.


Our editors will make every effort to respond to your pitch within 7 days. If you do not hear from us in that time frame, please feel free to pitch your story elsewhere. The following editors are currently accepting pitches for the following subjects:

  • Zahra Barnes, Health Director ([email protected]): Health conditions, general health and wellness, beauty (primarily skin care, hair care, and skin conditions), health disparities in any marginalized groups, abortion care/access

  • Sally Tamarkin, Features Director ([email protected]): Food and nutrition, weight and body image, and the intersection of health and social justice

  • Christa Sgobba, Senior Fitness Editor ([email protected]): Fitness

  • Sarah Jacoby, Senior Health Editor ([email protected]): Drugs and drug policy

  • Anna Borges, Senior Health Editor ([email protected]): Mental health, sexual and reproductive health, queer mental health/sex/love, productivity, creativity, emotional health, mental illness

  • Patia Braithwaite, Senior Health Editor ([email protected]): Sex, love, relationships, family, work, personal finance, home, travel

  • Lori Keong, Senior Commerce Editor ([email protected]): Commerce-related pitches (wellness products you can’t live without, roundups based on your expertise, expert-based product recommendations)

If you’re not sure who to pitch, reach out to both Zahra and Sally and one of them will direct you to the right editor.


We’re making an effort to standardize our rates as much as possible. Fees are subject to change, but currently our rates start at $300 for a story with minimal to no reporting, and increase from there. Reported service stories start at $400; features start at $800. As a general rule, we may pay more based on the amount of reporting expected for the piece, turnaround time, and special expertise.

Originally Appeared on SELF