While anyone can self-publish and share online, Blogs for Brands provides exceptional content for some of the world’s most revered companies. Our writers create novel and connective pieces that impact readers in meaningful and lasting ways.
We focus on creating top-notch content, and this Stylebook is your back-pocket guide to make sure we’re all on the same page. While we have some styles of our own (such as saying “yes” to the Oxford comma and “no” to passive language), we expect writers to have and use a copy of the AP Stylebook when they have questions other than what we mention on this page.
– Blogs for Brands Editing Team
RESEARCH & PREWRITING
The beginning of any article is a question—asked or answered. Where should I go on vacation? Six Destinations for Foodies. What’s it like to be a professional climber? An Interview with Tommy Caldwell. The simplicity of this approach drives focused, relevant writing by committing the author to finding or expounding upon a specific answer to their question or that of their readers.
Narrowing the field of possible topics can be extremely difficult. Our selection process for pitches is based on the standard of newsworthiness: Is the article important, timely, novel, and/or emotional? A great article answers all four in the affirmative. Lesser submissions meet only a few criteria.
For reviews, DO NOT contact companies for free items. You may only review purchased products or those received as personal gifts. Covering gear as a part of an agreement with a company puts us in some gray areas that we don’t want to get lost in.
Write to Your Experience
Research takes time. It’s an essential part of the writing process but personal experience with your subject can replace that effort with previously collected knowledge. If you need a new idea, go have a new experience.
There’s no room for tangents or digressions. Articles range from 450 to 1200 words and each one should be on point.
As editors, we spend an unnecessary amount of time writing introductions and conclusions for articles that are otherwise well crafted. Articles should flow from an introduction, through each point, to a conclusion. Without these components, readers are easily lost and ideas are buried.
We don’t accept repetitive or derivative work. From concept to word choice, creative writing requires constant innovation. Stay up-to-date on recent trends then do something else. It’s that easy.
We often get virtually the same or similar pitches from different people. Unless there’s one clearly better than the others, it’s first come first served so pitch early and, most importantly, find a creative and relevant perspective.
Take a look at this picture. If you model your emails after it, our lives will be much easier.
Unless your email client is physically incapable of making new emails, please send a new one each week; when months’ worth of emails are stuck under the same email it can get difficult to find a particular part in the email.
Try to put the publication you think the article would fit best on. We might move things around anyway, but it helps give us an idea of the direction you thought of taking the article.
Generic ideas (6 Travel Destinations) should be narrowed to an interesting and focused concept (6 Must-See Waterfalls). That can be taken too far, however (The Best Waterfalls in NW Arkansas’ Buffalo River Watershed hits too small of a market). Find a happy medium.
Pitch With Purpose
Fluff pieces, politically charged ideas, and unsubstantiated science make for rejected pitches. A great article will catch readers’ attention without gimmicks and hold them through the conclusion. Your pitch should do the same.
Remember, also—interviews are gold.
The main words of the title should be capitalized—If This Were a Title, It Would Look Like This.
90% of your articles are for brands selling products. While not every lifestyle article has the perfect spot to mention products, some pieces will. Take/create the opportunity in unobtrusive ways. If you want to shamelessly plug something, then go for it—our clients won’t argue.
Introductions & Conclusions
Please remember these important bookends. Build up the anticipation and lead people into the magic of your words. Don’t add a space between the header and the subsequent content.
Don’t leave readers hanging either—wrap it up. Even a single sentence can help a lot.
Are you Canadian? Go ahead and spell things the British way. If you’re American, use American spellings. We’re fine with either, but make sure you stick with one or the other throughout the course of an article.
You know the “by zombies” trick. (Look it up if you don’t. Important.) No room for zombies in our blog posts. Cut it out.
Grammarly did a great post on this whole thing, which is totally worth a read.
Here’s a trick: Type “ly” into the “find and replace” feature. Delete all words attached to it.
“Actually” is condescending to the reader (and is an adverb). Don’t use it.
To borrow advice from the great N.H. Kleinbaum (as performed by the late and also great Robin Williams):
“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women—and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays [sub: blog posts].”
Write Like You Speak
The easiest things for people to read are written in a conversational voice. Use contractions, add random interjections, be natural. No one wants to read something that was written by a robot, so don’t be a robot.
But Remember, We’re Professional Writers
Addressing the reader as “you” is casual and conversational, and appropriate in many cases. But a blog post saturated with “you can” is neither interesting nor authoritative. We’re not going for a Pulitzer here, but we want to be taken seriously.
Since we write for brands and not personal blogs, any use of the first person is reflective not of the writer, but of the brand. Personal experience is welcome and important, but avoid using first person wherever possible.
In interviews, the brand interviewed the subject. You did not.
If you’re doing a listicle or your article covers multiple points under a single topic, use headers. It’s pretty and convenient.
When you use headers, make them Bold. Not italicized. Not underlined. NOT CAPITALIZED. Just bold.
Also, be consistent with how you make your headers. If your first one is a short sentence with a period, make them all the same. If it’s a short phrase, make sure you capitalize each important letter in it.
Have 6-10 points per article with enough content to support each one. If there’s not a full paragraph for a point, replace it with something more inspiring. If you have a shorter list but there’s a lot of content for each point, you may have an exception on your hands…give it a shot.
Don’t use bullets or numbered lists because:
• They awkwardly break up the article
• They’re ugly
• Writers tend to add fluff to extend list
There are exceptions for needing lists, but try doing without it at first and see if it works.
With readers’ attention spans shrinking, so should our paragraphs. Stick with roughly 2 to 5 lines. If the content’s longer, try to find a good point to break it up.
Stop it. Unless you’re using a typewriter, double spacing is totally unnecessary.
Use them. Citations, outside research, etc. should all be linked back to their source.
If you’re linking to a site outside of the brand’s website, make sure the link opens in a new tab. This way the reader still has the blog page open and will hopefully keep reading or go to the store.
Clear Word Processor Formatting
If you don’t clear the formatting, then when you copy/paste your content from a word processor it will probably look like crap. Sometimes it doesn’t look like crap in the Visual editor, but the Text editor (HTML) will look absolutely disgusting and overly crowded.
The easiest way to get rid of all formatting is as follows:
1. Take the text from the word processor and copy it.
2. In your WordPress article, click on Text in the top right of the big typing box.
3. Paste your copy into there. (Forewarning: all bolds, underlines, italics, Hyperlinks, and awkward leading will be erased).
4. While in the Text tab, make sure your returns are correct (these will carry over in the next few steps, making your life easier).
5. Grab everything in the Text tab (Ctrl/Cmd + A) and Cut (Ctrl/Cmd + X) it all.
6. Go back to the Visual tab (which should be completely empty), and paste your article.
7. Go through the copy applying bold, italics, and hyperlinks.
The only times we need you to find photos are for interviews and event coverage. This is because it’s difficult for us to find the images for those topics, photographers are a pain to deal with, and you will have an easier time getting useful images as the writer. Make sure to obtain a model/photographer’s release and cite everything.
With all other articles (roundups, tips ‘n tricks’, etc.), we’ll take care of imaging. If you have images of your own you’d like to use, feel free to submit them—we’ll almost never deny the extra help.
Use them…correctly. This goes back to the need for a voice. Contractions help relax and personalize writing. Make sure to use real contractions (not personal shorthand) and to use them in ways that help the tone and flow of the piece.
Clarity & Sentence Structure
Don’t waste words. Fluff, poor word choice, wordiness, and meandering sentences lead to rewrites. This may not seem like a grammar issue per se, but any misuse counts. Our editorial team will fix the minor ones that slip through but we’ll return articles that require extensive work.
Hyphens & Em Dashes
We use hyphens (the little key by the 0 on your keyboard) in compound adjectives (like blue-eyed) and phone numbers (like 867-5309).
Em dashes are being used to replace all sorts of punctuation these days—parenthesis, commas, and colons are going the way of the dodo.
If you want to use big dashes to break up a sentence, do it right. Use the em dash with no spaces around it—like that. To make it on Mac, it’s Alt+Shift+Hyphen. On Windows with a numpad, it’s Alt+0151.
Unless it is absolutely necessary to carry the meaning or was clearly contained in a quote, don’t ever use exclamation points. If your words are weak, fix them; punctuation is not the answer.
Our editors personally love using the Oxford Commas. This might make your AP-lovin’ skin crawl, but we can’t help ourselves. It helps reader’s brains split up information better, since commas are supposed to be read with a slight pause. Whenever you have a list, put a comma after the penultimate item.
For all other grammar and punctuation rules, see AP Stylebook.
Articles should be uploaded to the assigned blog no later than one week after the assignment was made unless an alternate deadline was previously discussed. As pitches are reviewed on Mondays, in most cases, your deadline will be the following Monday.
Rewrite assignments will be treated as a reassignment with an assumed deadline of the following Monday.
If an article is not usable following the rewrite, it’s likely we’ll kill the article. That discussion will take place on a case-by-case basis.
Upon your acceptance as a Blogs for Brands writer, you should have entered your PayPal information on our Writer Pay Sheet. It’s your responsibility to keep that up-to-date.
Payments go out at the beginning of each month for the previous month’s published articles with the exception of special assignments which will receive half up-front and half on publication as per usual.
Pay is on the 4th of every month through PayPal. After four consecutive deadlines met (discounts on 200 outdoor brands), you’ll qualify for our Pro Deals.
As you get closer to $600, we’ll send out a W-9 for tax purposes.