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Article Contributor Guidelines

VISUALS

  • Image Size-  The best size for graphics is 570 pixels wide x 300 pixels high. However, if your graphic is differently shaped or sized, our system will automatically resize and reposition it- no problem. 
  • Avoid breaking copyright laws- use images you’ve created yourself, or Creative Commons images. At http://search.creativecommons.org/ you can browse a rich selection of images licensed under Creative Commons. You must use the search option “available for commercial re-use.”
  • How to do image credits-  If you find an image with a Creative Commons license, you must give credit to the original artist.  In the blank called, “Image Credit Link" enter a link to where you originally found the image.   In the blank called "Image Credit Name," type "By [Artist Name]. Creative Commons." 
  • Consider a quote meme.  If you’re having trouble thinking of an image for your article, consider making one of your article’s punchiest quotes into a graphic. This helps catch people’s attention on social media. Berrett-Koehler staff use a branded Photoshop template to generate their quote graphics. If you don’t have Photoshop, there are many online applications for generating beautiful quotes, such as Canva.  
  • No ideas?  No worries.   If you do not supply an image, our system will supply an image of the first sentence of your article.  

POSSIBLE TOPICS

Here are the categories of content our site specializes in:
  • Content that matches our books. That means articles on business, leadership, personal development, social and economic trends, politics, and current events. “Articles and Musings” is what we call this section.
  • Skills for authors. This part of our website is called “Change Toolkit” because the topics covered (writing, marketing, and social media) are all tools for creating positive change.
  • Infotainment. We also have a “Just for Fun” section full of pleasant distractions. Feel free to share anything you find curious or interesting.
  • Members of our site are also free to blog about their lives or anything they wish. Our website has a blog section (which is more free-form) and a magazine section (for the more focused types of content listed above.)

LENGTH

As long as you can hold the reader’s attention. This is most likely between 300-1000 words, but longer form pieces can work if they’re enormously compelling. Do not bundle many topics in one post; separate topics deserve separate posts.

HEADLINES

  • Brainstorm a title with care. Your headline is the most important part of your article, so give it plenty of time. Think of several titles and choose the best, (perhaps in consultation with friends and colleagues if they are available.)
  • Keywords help search engines. Think about what words and phrases people would most likely Google when trying to find information like yours. Using those words or phrases in your headline, will help search engines feature your post. (Unless too many other people are using the same keywords.)
  • Give them a reason to click. Make sure you have a strategy for convincing the reader to click on your article. Below are examples of some commonly used strategies. 
  • Value- The “value proposition” of the article is clear (the information provides a tangible benefit for the reader’s work or personal life.)
  • Intrigue- The headline makes them insatiably curious (Upworthy is a good model for this: “The Jaw-Dropping _____ No One Talks About,” is a headline form they use often.)
  • Shorter headlines are easier to share. A good (tweetable) length for a headline is 120 characters or less.

STRUCTURE AND INTENT

  • Think about the reader. A good writer is the servant of the reader. Have a mental picture of your reader when you write. If you’re teaching a skill, what level is your reader at (beginner, intermediate, or advanced?) What does your reader care about? What is he/she trying to accomplish? How can you best help? What will make your reader laugh and smile?
  • Don’t bury the lead. The main idea of your article should be your first sentence. The most important ideas and information in your article should be in the first paragraph. On average, someone visiting a web page will read just 20% of the words on that web page. We want people to grasp your valuable message, even if they only choose to stay for a short time.
  • Include subheads that outline the article. Please put bold subheads every 1-3 paragraphs that summarize the content beneath them. That way, even if the reader only looks at the subheads, they can still grasp your main point. Subheads also help search engines categorize content more accurately.
  • Lists are good - Feel free to use bullet points or numbered lists to break your material into bite-sized pieces.

DESIRABLE WRITING VOICE:

  • Be concise, clear & simple: Never use a long word when a short one would serve the same purpose. Jargon and SAT words are only acceptable when they bring extra meaning to the table. Edit your work to remove all “filler” words and phrases, so that every sentence counts. This increases the article’s info-density and keeps the reader from tuning out.
  • Opinions are welcome, even controversial ones, if well supported: Every word ever written contains some kind of opinion or bias. So we best serve our readers by being transparent about our opinions and biases, rather than falsely pretending to be “objective.” However your opinions should be backed up by facts, and little-known facts should be cited as much as possible via in-text links. 
  • Show respect for everyone: Although opinions are welcome, disrespect toward individuals, groups, or identities is not tolerated. Our publishing mission is “creating a world that works for all,” which means that everybody matters. Don’t use insulting or inflammatory language to describe people or organizations. Make sure that nothing you write accidentally contributes to prejudice or stereotyping.
  • Show personality and humor: Using first-person voice is appropriate and even preferable. Articles without personality are boring to read, so don’t be afraid to express your own unique voice. Using humor in your work is a big plus, especially the following types of humor: clever satire, dry wit, and entertaining anecdotes. It’s okay to have links to “fun” sites as well as more serious content.