Editorial Guidelines for Guest Writers and Freelancers
We Welcome Guest Writers and Freelancers
We hope that these editorial guidelines will provide some parameters for the type of content we would like to post on GoGreen Portals and be helpful to writers as you create your stories while reducing work and confusion going forward. We welcome research-based blogs as well as best practice case studies, personal and professional perspectives, commentary on issues, trends and news that is impacting on sustainability around the world, and of course regular updates on the initiatives of businesses and their CEOs, SMEs and entrepreneurs, NGOs and their supporters, cities and their mayors, tourism developers, rising stars and mega-stars who are using their celebrity status to benefit people and planet.
The Dreaded ‘Overview’
While we are very receptive to all story ideas pitched, we need to lay out a few rules. Chief among these is the old adage ‘Know Your Audience’, which in our case is comprised of people who are deeply concerned with – and have been following – sustainability developments for a long time. For this reason, it doesn’t make any sense to rehash what has already been written about a topic, because everybody’s read that. If something is worth covering, we need to shine a new light on it and that can only come from talking to people, preferably several people.
Posts must be suitable for one of the seven portals: Cities, Mayors, Tourism, Business, CEOs, NGOs and Stars. Among the many topics of interest to GoGreen Portals members and the larger global sustainability community are initiatives that address climate change, energy, water and resource conservation; sustainability in an age of budget cuts; the home and office environment; sustainable workforce development; developments in higher education, nonprofits and the private sector; personal stories from stakeholders; cause-related news and events from organizations; book,documentary and product reviews; and sustainable agriculture and food programs in the news. We welcome case studies of actual interventions by individuals and organizations and are not fans of top tens, list posts, or ultimate guides. Ideally, every post should contain some actionable advice, at least one takeaway that the reader can apply to his or her own sustainability strategy. And why not end each post with a question that encourages comments? The trick is to compel readers to comment without asking for comments.
Posts should be submitted in Microsoft Word format, in American English, from 1,000 to 2,000 words in length, with large blocks of text broken up with subheads, and on deadline. Please provide a four- to eight-word headline and a fifty-word deck. All posts received will be checked by the editor to determine whether it is properly prepared, fits the scope of the particular portal for which it is intended, and contains adequate original content to significantly add to the topic under discussion. Be sure that every word in your post is original and hasn’t been published anywhere else.
Copy Approval by Sources
It is acceptable to agree to let sources read over a story prior to submission for accuracy and context, but this does not give the source the right to change quotes. Writers should use their best judgment in each case: if agreeing to allow a read-back of the entire piece makes an otherwise hesitant source more comfortable, it’s probably the right thing to do. Avoid using terms like ‘off the record’ and‘anonymous’ that will result in unverifiable information in the post.
Telling a story is the best way to capture the reader’s attention, perhaps even teach, persuade and change. We believe it’s all about stories, and the best ones are a bit ‘personal’. Sure, we need the who, what, when, where, how and why, but a nice touch is how this has changed me, what I’ve seen and done, what I’ve learned. The oral tradition of storytelling is one of the things that make us human and we have finally bid goodbye to the ponderous, formal style of writing we were taught in school and returned to a conversational language using our own natural voices. It’s the fastest way to establish rapport with your reader and the best way to get your message across. This is why it has become the language of the internet. Chances are that your target audience is largely comprised of people very much like you, which should make it easy to find the appropriate conversational tone.
Nevertheless, while we are putting our heart into the piece, we also need the facts, details, metrics, charts, graphs and of course photographs. Throughout the writing process, think about great graphics to illustrate the story, and be sure we have permission to use them with attribution, whether hi-res images (PNG or JPGs) or video or infographic embed codes. When submitting tables, figures or excerpts of more than 400 words, illustrations, graphics, or other material from an outside source, we will assume that the author of the post has obtained the necessary written permission from any owners of the copyright. And please provide headers and/or captions for illustrations.
Keywords are the way your post will be found by the people you want to read it. Keep in mind that the top 10,000 keywords comprise less than 20 percent of Google searches – the rest are made up of keywords in the long tail. These are longer – from four to six words – and very specific, which makes them searched far less often and only by people who really know what they’re looking for. Therefore, rather than ‘green tourism’, try ‘ecofriendly hotel Virgin Islands’.
We ask that writers try to link their posts where appropriate to related content on GoGreen Portals, as well as any resources, recommended or sources cited for statistics. We do not encourage however links to other similar sustainability websites.
- The Editor