Guest Blog Guidelines
We've borrowed most of these guidelines from one of our favorite personal finance blogging sites, Get Rich Slowly.
CalendarBudget welcomes compelling guest posts from all sorts of authors. These are a great way to share what you know about money with others so that they can improve their financial situations.
Some readers think guest posts are a way for the CB staff to be lazy, to take time off. That’s not the case. We put as much work (or more) into guest posts as we do into writing our own stuff. It’s just a different type of work. And the guest posts are an important part of what makes CalendarBudget a great place to learn about money.
To maximize the chances that your Guest Post will appear at CalendarBudget:
- Who I Accept Posts From: I only accept authoritative writing from established, authoritative authors with a Google+ author identity. I DO NOT accept posts from SEO companies or SEO writers. If you aren’t an expert in your field who can write with authority on your subject then don’t bother submitting.
- Write in a “bloggy” style and format. This isn't the Encyclopedia Britannica. Be conversational. Write like you're writing to your sister or brother. You don't have to be rude or hip, but don't be stilted and formal either. And don't submit one long, unbroken essay. Most people scan when they read blogs, so make your article as scannable as possible. Use headings to break posts into sections. Use numbered points or bullet points when you think it will help. Bold your important points. (But don't go overboard. Too much bold is worse than none at all.) Suggest photo ideas or even include images with the post. Anything you can do to break up the page will make it easier to read.
- Be original. Reporters always want "new and unique ways to save money", etc. They want the unusual because the unusual sells. Well, personal finance doesn't work that way. In fact, if it's new and unusual, it's probably a problem. But that doesn't mean you should just re-hash the same old topics. There are only so many times we can post an article about how to save money at the grocery store. If you want your article about saving at the grocery store published at CB, it's going to have to be original; it can't be yet another list of 20 tips like "shop the perimeter, clip coupons, buy in bulk". Find a unique spin.
- Tell a story. While we do publish news-y pieces from time to time, most readers want to hear stories. Don't just write up an article describing the different types of life insurance; tell us how you use life insurance, or how your father had the wrong kind when he died. Don't just give us ten tips on buying a used car, but explain which ones worked for you and which ones didn't. Remember to emphasize the personal in personal finance.
- Have a point. If you want to write about the recent changes to student loans, do it. But be sure you're explaining why CB readers should care. Simply summarizing the news isn't enough. Instead, tell us why we should care about student-loan reform. What should we do with this information? If we can't do something with your story, why even share it? Tell us how to use the news.
- Don't be spammy. Yes, you can include some links back to your site. That's a fair exchange for you giving me an article. But if the entire purpose of your post is to promote your product or to sneak in affiliate links to the latest Viagra substitute, we're not going to publish it. Save everyone trouble and don't even bother sending it in. (And yes, we will add links to relevant CB articles, sometimes even replacing your links — though we try not to do the latter very often.)
- Cite your sources. If you make a claim, back it up. Don't just say, "Debt is out of control in America!" Give us a link to a study or story to support your claim. Give us stats. (And make sure your stats don't contradict each other) Your article doesn't have to be filled with numbers, but try not to make claims you can't support.
- Leave the politics at home. We try to keep CB as agnostic as possible. Sure, we have some strong opinions, but we try to keep those out of the blog. And we try to open CB to other viewpoints. But unless the political slant is necessary to your article, we'll yank it out. It doesn't matter how much you hate government employees or how great you think President Obama is — that's not what this site is about.
- Proofread. And proofread again. Most CB articles are proofread five or six times (and even then there are plenty of mistakes that escape us). The more you proofread, the fewer stupid errors will creep through. Plus, you'll get a feel for which sentences and phrases work, and which don't. If we send an article back to you and tell you to polish the grammar, that's a flag. If you re-read your piece and aren't able to find the problems, then ask somebody you know (somebody who is a good writer) to look at it for you.
- Read your post aloud! This is an essential step. It is not optional. And don't rush through your reading. Read your article as if you were reading it to your sweetheart or to a kid. As you read, note anything you stumble over. Watch for repeated phrases or words. Try to imagine you're a stranger reading your story; does it make sense without further explanation.
- Think like a reader. When you re-read your stuff, pretend you're just learning about the topic and have no idea what it's about. Does your article still make sense? What would a new reader want to know? You need to be careful that this doesn't lead to over-explaining things (which is a trap), but with the web, you have shortcuts because you can link to other articles as supporting material for those who need it. Some writers just assume their readers know what they know, and this leads them to use a lot of jargon or leave out important bits of information. There's never a reason to use jargon!
- Use as much space as you need. There aren't any length requirements at CB. Your story should be as long as it needs to be, but no longer. If it's 100 words, that's great. If it's 1000 words, that's fine too. But be sure every word counts.
- Be willing to take the heat. If you submit something that's a little controversial or out of the ordinary expect to take some flak. Re encourage our readers to comment and they may not agree with you. Be gracious and thoughtful when answering replies - use persuasion rather than hot words.
When you don't do these things, we have to do them. But while you're dealing with just one guest post, we're dealing with dozens. As frustrating as it may be to work so hard with one article, imagine what it's like to go through a stack of them. The easier you make things for us, the more likely your article is to appear on this site.