(Illustration: Petra Zeiler)

We’re Always Looking to Work with New Freelancers

Outside publishes stories about adventure sports, gear, travel, fitness, health, culture, and the environment. We’re always on the lookout for reporting, essays, service pieces, and cultural criticism focused on the outdoor world. Rates typically start at 50 cents per word for online stories and go up from there, depending on the complexity of the reporting and your experience as a writer. Our policy is to send checks within 45 days of an assignment being completed.

The first step is to make sure you’re sending your idea to the right place. Is it a feature-length essay or a quick news hit? A gear review or a travel story? Below this intro, we’ve written specific guidelines for all the sections of our magazine and website, along with the best email addresses for your initial outreach. 

Once you’ve determined the best place to direct your story idea, send us a pitch that describes why your story is a fit for Outside, why you’re the writer to do it, how you’ll report it, and why the story is relevant now. If other publications have written about this topic before, tell us why your angle is unique. It’s also helpful (although not necessary) to include a suggested headline and subhead that sum up your story. If you’re new to writing for Outside, send us a few clips in the style of the piece you’re pitching. Finally, because outdoor adventure writing has historically highlighted predominantly white male voices and subjects, we are particularly interested in women, BIPOC, LGBT+, and other diverse voices and subjects.

If you haven’t heard back in a few weeks or if your story is particularly urgent, it’s fine to send a follow-up email. We regret that we can’t respond to all pitches, but we’ll contact you if we think your story could be a fit for Outside. Please don’t call us about pitches or send us unsolicited drafts.

Here are further instructions on how to pitch or submit an idea to Outside’s specific channels and departments. 

News Tips

Have a news tip you think Outside would be interested in? Please send it to newstips@outsideim.com.

Features

Outside has been committed to publishing literary longform for more than 40 years. We consider print and digital features including journey narratives, profiles of fascinating people in the outdoors, personal essays, investigative features, adventure stories, environmental writing, and business reporting. Our features run anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 words, though most land somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000.

Feature pitches are most likely to be successful if you’ve done some pre-reporting. Describe who your characters will be. Answer the questions: Why this story, and why now? How does this story connect to something topical or universal? And what makes it an Outside feature? Think of the beginning of your feature pitch as you would the lede to your story: it should grip the reader with vivid writing and give us a sense of your voice and style. Due to the ambitious nature of features reporting, it will also help tremendously to include clips to similar longform stories you’ve written in the past. 

To pitch a feature story, you can send it to the appropriate channel (Adventure, Health, Travel, Culture, or Gear) or email features@outsideim.com.

Adventure

The Adventure section of the website covers public lands, exploration, the environment, and outdoor sports (think climbing, skiing, surfing, hiking, and biking). We’re interested in stories of firsts, wild survival tales, profiles of compelling characters, and explorations of the tragedies that often accompany pursuing a life in the outdoors. While we break news when we can, more often our writers have success explaining to readers what the news means, analyzing trends, taking a strong stance on an issue, or pursuing a longer narrative feature that goes beyond the headlines. We rarely do news or trip reports on niche expeditions or accomplishments. 

To pitch an Adventure story, email adventure@outsideim.com.

Health

For our Health channel, we’re looking for stories about health, wellness, endurance, running, and fitness—defined broadly. As a general rule, we cover these topics as they relate to the outdoor world and/or endurance sports. We publish a mix of longform reported features and profiles, personal essays, service pieces, and shorter reported stories. If you’re new to working with us, service pieces and shorter reported stories are good places to start pitching. We’re always looking for what we call first look pieces, which are generally around 1,200 words and focus on a promising new company or person as a lens for examining a larger trend in the health and wellness space. (Here’s one example.) 

In our health and wellness coverage, timeliness is especially important—you should be able to answer why you’re pitching this story now. We’re looking for stories about broader shifts in the fitness world, but we’re not chasing fads—please don’t pitch us write-ups of a single new study or glowing reports on the latest buzzy wellness product. (Or really anything promoting weight loss.) We usually bring a healthy amount of skepticism to our reporting on wellness and nutrition trends, so if you do pitch something on these topics, we’ll be looking for that instinct.

Lastly, we’re particularly interested in stories about women and diverse subjects. We know that fitness and endurance sports coverage can be very male-dominated—and as we’ve reported, women and people of color are often underrepresented in scientific research, both in sports science and more broadly. We’re committed to taking an inclusive approach to covering these subjects. 

To pitch a Health story, email, health@outsideim.com.

Travel

The Travel channel is a place where readers go for stories to inspire their next trip and authoritative service on how to make the most of it. The reported pieces we publish include a mix of personality- or access-driven travelogues with unique angles, opinion essays on the latest travel issues, profiles on people shaking up the industry, and news hits that use a timely development to illustrate an emerging trend. Our service-oriented story formats include smart roundups and primers that provide insight that can’t be found elsewhere, comprehensive guides that function like A-to-Z road maps to a place, and experience-based intel—from travel gear to travel hacks—on how to save, upgrade, or be a more conscientious traveler. 

Our travel coverage falls squarely within the adventure realm. That doesn’t mean we only consider pitches from writers doing extreme things in extreme places, but there does need to be an active or outdoors component to each of our stories. For service and news pieces, we’re looking for ideas that display special insight or access. If you’re pitching reported stories or essays, we like to see a new angle or an authoritative stance. Longform travel pitches that have the best chance of getting greenlit display some combinations of a compelling narrative arc, a unique cast of characters, and a new angle (i.e., a place that hasn’t been explored often) or point of tension.

We’re always looking to cover national parks, road trips, emerging adventure destinations, budget travel, sustainability, ethics, and inclusion issues. We tend to pass on simple service pieces without a broader context, personal essays devoid of reporting or an experience, and stories centered on a niche topic with little connection to a larger narrative. 

To pitch a Travel story, email travel@outsideim.com.

Culture

Our Culture channel covers everything from lighthearted topics like good food and drink, quirky subcultures, and dating, to critically important issues like gender, race, and equity, all through the lens of the outdoors. We also cover media that intersects with the outdoor world, including books, film, TV, podcasts, music, and visual art. We publish profiles of people and groups doing impactful work, personal essays and opinion pieces, deeply reported features, cultural criticism, and the occasional hot take.

If you haven’t written for Outside before, book and film reviews can be a great way to break in. We typically only cover new or upcoming releases, especially ones that represent larger trends or ideas in the outdoor world. For books in particular, we’ll often assign a review of two or three works that share a related theme. We love voice, humor, and fascinating characters. If you’re pitching a profile or story about a group or organization, make sure we haven’t covered them recently, make a case for why we should do a story about them now, and explain the significance of their work or accomplishments in the larger outdoor world or industry. For reviews, make sure there is a clear tie-in to the outdoor world and include a taste of your broader analysis and criticism of the work. If you’re pitching a personal essay, give us a sense of your voice, the narrative arc of your essay, and the larger ideas you’ll try to explore. Our bar for an “I discovered myself in nature” essay is very high. 

To pitch a Culture story, email culture@outsideim.com.

Gear

The Gear channel focuses first and foremost on covering the apparel, equipment, and accessories that make readers’ outdoor experiences better. Our reviews range from deep dives on the best skis of all time to roundups on the gear you need to get into mountain biking. But reviews are far from the only thing we’re looking for. We also cover service—how to choose, care for, and even resell your gear—and report on business news in the outdoor space, trends, and companies doing things differently. 

There are a lot of websites that write about gear, but at Outside we focus on putting that gear into context. Why are these the best midlayers of all time? What should the future of e-bikes look like? How do you build out the perfect adventure vehicle? There’s a lot of high-quality technical gear out there—that’s why we do this—but thoughtful, creative, funny, or unusual angles are what we’re aiming for. 

Outside’s Gear readers are a diverse bunch with wide-ranging interests. Accordingly, our goal is to provide inviting, engaging stories for everyone—from core experienced outdoorspeople and weekend warriors to those exploring adventure sports for the first time. When you’re pitching, think of the bigger picture: How you can make the subject interesting and useful for a broad audience? Lastly, tell us why you’re the best writer for this particular story. Whether you have years of reviewing expertise in a sport, the ability to look at something with the fresh eyes of a newcomer, or the reporting contacts to make a sensitive story balanced, make the case for why you can see an article through. 

To pitch a Gear story, email gear@outsideim.com

Art and Photography

Photography and illustration are an essential part of our brand and play an important role in making Outside’s content vibrant, fresh, and compelling. We are continually evolving and looking for engaging photographers and illustrators to contribute to our online and print platforms. We look for portfolios and photo stories that are aspirational and feature diverse subjects and activities related to the outdoor world. 

If you have a finished photo essay you’d like to pitch or want to introduce us to your work, please send your website link with a brief introduction and a selection of images for review to photo@outsideim.com. All images should be at least 5x7 inches and 72 DPI and saved as JPEGs (no files larger than 20 MB). You may also pitch photo galleries to the corresponding channel editors above, including photo samples and a brief summary of the story.

If you’re an illustrator who wants to work with Outside, please email art@outsideim.com.

Social Media 

Outside’s Audience Development team is open to tips and submissions for our off-site platforms, including social media and email newsletters.

Newsletter links: We frequently receive emails and letters from avid readers with links to local outdoor news, hoping we will consider including it in our daily What You Missed newsletter. Please contact emailreply@outsideim.com to submit ideas of this nature—we love receiving them. 

Instagram: Interested in being featured on our Instagram account? We're looking for submissions with a compelling caption and backstory. We’re open to both professional shots and rad iPhone photos or videos that delight or surprise. Your pitch—as long as it relates to the outdoors—can be virtually anything. We (and our followers) especially love pitches that are newsy like this one, cover a surprising adventure angle like this one, touch on stories that are outdoor-adjacent like this one, etc. 

If you’d like to to be considered, send us a selection of photos (up to 10) or a video you’d like us to feature, along with a short, two-to-three sentence pitch for the caption, including any handles you would like to tag. Depending on the pitch, we may have you write out additional information (up to 300 words). We’re looking for mini-reporting here—the who, what, where, when, why. Quotes are great; backstory is, too. 

We don’t feature influencers unless there is a specific news hook or reason to do so. We don’t want pitches to feature your headshot or promote your business or brand. We don’t want pitches that are long enough to be posted on our website. Check out where to send those in the guidelines above. 

Please note that we can only pay for Instagram photos if we have commissioned them and/or they are exclusive to Outside. (For information on pitching photo galleries for the website and magazine, please read the Art and Photography guidelines above.) Due to volume, we cannot respond to every direct message to our Instagram account and the below email is the best way to reach us to ensure your pitch is reviewed. 

To pitch an idea for a collaboration on our social media channels, please email audience@outsideim.com

Lead Illustration: Petra Zeiler
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