Writing guidelines are a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” prepared by a blogger, publisher, or organization, which writers follow when preparing material for that publisher.
They’re also called “Submission Guidelines,” “Contribution Guidelines,” “Contributor Guidelines,” or “Author Guidelines,” or “Writer’s Guidelines.”
If you've got a blog, lead a nonprofit or ministry, run a publication, or operate a business, then there's a good chance you'll have people reach out to you and ask to write a post or article. Decide ahead of time how you'll respond, whether it's "Sorry, we do not accept submissions" or "Yes, we'd like to see your content and here are our guidelines."
Even if you're a sole proprietor and only publish your own content, your writing guidelines will help you build traffic and readership. Here's why.
Consistency. A clear list of expectations allows your publication, organization, or business to be consistent in its written communications and avoid the danger of mixed messages.
Time savings. You can point staff members or outside contributors to your list of guidelines. Anyone who writes for your organization will know to follow the guidelines as they prepare their content. You won't have to repeat yourself!
Focus. A clear outline of appropriate or favored language
and style allows your publications to communicate a focused message. Well thought out guidelines can even help your organization target its mission, values, and programs.
It's a really good idea. They don't take much time to write ... and you can always modify them. And as you create guidelines, you'll identify key language that's distinctive to your blog, organization, or business. Guidelines help focus those themes and terms. In the process, you'll likely find you even streamline the way you communicate your mission.
Even if you’re the only person writing for your organization, you’ll return again and again to a style guide in order to write with reliability and focused purpose.
If you have staff members contributing to your newsletter, website, or social media posts, then a clear list of standard writing procedures saves editing time.
If you accept submissions from contributors, writing guidelines are invaluable. Writers routinely follow guidelines as they put material together. By providing a good set of guidelines, you greatly increase the likelihood that a contributor will submit articles that fit your needs.
Once you create your guidelines, post them on your blog, your biz website, and even in your employee manual.
What you publish
Format and style
If you’re a contributor, follow guidelines carefully – that is, if you want to be published. In doing so, you show editors and leaders that you respect their wishes. They know their readers best. Your role as a contributor is to help them fill their publication with material that meets readers’ needs. By adhering to their guidelines, you greatly enhance your chances for publication … and you may even become one of their regular contributors.
More about Blogging and Publishing
Content by award-winning content writer and author Kathy Widenhouse, who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
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