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Notes on contributing a guest blog to the Green Guide
It’s up to you what to write about. We don’t prescribe – nor proscribe – topics, as long as you follow these two rules:
- No direct selling. We’re not interested, nor are our readers, in an advert in the form of a blog. That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about your services, your products, your organisation, an event you are organising, an offer, a competition, a book you’ve written, etc – just do so in an elegant way that won’t put our readers’ backs up. If you’re engaging and interesting, readers won’t mind you talking about these things; indeed they will welcome it. They want to know about these things. But they won’t appreciate an advert with a hard sell.
- Don’t be offensive, aggressive or libellous. And no snide comments. Don’t be sexist, racist, homophobic, and all the other –isms that are just plain nasty and unacceptable. We won’t publish it and if you continue to submit such tawdry content, we’ll chuck you off the Green Guide. And we won’t publish anything that will get us into trouble in the courts because you’ve made it up or can’t substantiate the claims you’ve made. We’ll hold you personally liable for any flak we take.
The editor’s decision is final on these two rules and there isn’t any room for manoeuvre.
So what should you write about?
- Write about what interests you. Your enthusiasm, passion and interest will engage the reader. If you’re finding your chosen subject dull, you can bet our readers will. So if you can’t get excited about a topic, ditch it and find something new.
- Do express your opinion, engage in debate, be provocative, play devil’s advocate, be contrary. But don’t do any of these for the sake of doing it. Do it because you care about your topic and you want to share it with the reader. Above all, be informative.
- If you’re blogging on behalf of a business or organisation, readers will want to know about issues, developments and stuff you’re working on. Discuss your problems and how you overcame them; talk about product insights and innovations; tell stories about events, meetings and conversations from which you learned something new. Essentially, you’re sharing your particular specialism, your niche, your discoveries. That’s what our readers want.
- But you don’t always need to talk about your business or organisation. The topic could be something personal, like a song you heard at the end of a TV programme, a line in a film or book, something a friend or family member said, something you saw in the street, a product you recently purchased, somewhere visited or experienced, something remembered from long ago. These things might generate a thought process that leads to a discovery or insight that you can share with the reader.
- Keep to one topic, or at most two related ideas. You’re not writing a dissertation. So keep it simple, don’t over-complicate. Blogs are read quickly. You want your reader to go away having discovered something that they can hold on to or act upon easily.
Tone and style
- Try to be positive, engaging and upbeat. Morose and downbeat, unless extremely funny, generally don’t work. Even Marvin the Paranoid Android wears thin after a while. Rants are ok but should be used sparingly.
- You don’t need to be funny or well-connected to have something to say. Humour helps, though you don’t need a joke in every paragraph. Witty, thoughtful comment appeals to readers. Unless you are very good at it, being a sarcastic smart-arse can be very difficult to pull off. By all means try. You might become an internet sensation. You might also fall flat on your face.
- Avoid jargon where possible, and explain it where you do use it, remembering that readers are keen to learn. Be careful not to overload your blog with specialist words and acronyms.
- Generally you should keep sentences and paragraphs short and punchy. Complex sentences with lots of sub-clauses and a point buried deep within a showy literary style won’t work. You want your blog to be snappy and easy to read, not dense and a slog to get through.
- If you’re new to blogging, it does take a while to find your own voice and way of writing. So don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles. Read other bloggers for inspiration. A good tip is to think about your blog as a conversation with a friend. Imagine telling them your idea, then write that up. And don’t worry if you write a line or paragraph that doesn’t quite work. It’s better to get something down that you can shape and correct. It’s often a good idea to go back to your blog for a final edit after a short break from it.
- When complete, read your blog aloud, to yourself or a colleague. If it’s easy to read out loud and easy to understand, you have a good blog. If you stumble across your own words and can’t follow your own argument, you need a rewrite. Or help from an editor – so get in touch via email@example.com
Typically your blog should be between 500 and 1,000 words in length. You can, of course, exceed this but remember about keeping your readers engaged.
You can upload pictures to your blog, including a pic of the author. There’s no limit to the number of pics you can add, but we suggest 4 or 5 is a good number and anything above 20 is excessive. It might be better to put your pics into a slideshow if there are several. We can help with that and the slideshow’s position on the post.
Each picture can have its own caption and you should remember to credit a photographer and the copyright owner when requested to do so. It’s good form to recognise someone else’s work even if you haven’t been asked to, and we would encourage you to do so – if not in the caption then elsewhere in the body of your blog.
Please do not use pictures that you don’t have permission to publish. We will remove any pictures we believe to be in breach of copyright.
Keep captions to around 20-30 words.
Pictures should be correctly formatted and saved as jpg files. Generally, a picture should be less than 1mb in file size and the picture itself should be 1080px wide. The maximum file size is 2mb.
If you have worries about your pics, email them to us as high res jpgs files and we’ll sort them out.
Save Draft & Preview
Click on Save Draft/Update regularly as you write your blog (or edit pasted text) to make sure you don’t lose your work. Hit the preview button to see how the post will look when published.
It’s a good idea to link to external sites and publications when you mention them in your blog. Do this using the link tool.
Test your links to make sure they go where you want them to.
Your blog will be published after moderation, and according to the above criteria. When you hit save, your blog will be saved on our website but readers will not be able to see it until publication. We might correct spelling errors, and we might want to discuss something in your blog if we are concerned by it or don’t understand it. We will help you with loading pics and creating links. Where relevant we will add a signoff and standfirst (intro) to your blog.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org when you submit a blog. A blog will usually be published within 72 hours of being submitted. Please advise us asap if the content is time sensitive and needs to be online more quickly.