Paw Prints in the Sand Contributed Article/Blog Post Guidelines
Thank you for your interest in submitting a contributed article or blog post to our web site. We are a group of volunteers who are busy saving lives, working full time jobs, and taking care of our families and our rescue pets. We greatly appreciate you donating your time and talents to our cause and helping us educate and inform our audience on all things pet and animal rescue related.
PLEASE READ BELOW BEFORE YOU SUBMIT:
Please submit all blog posts and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should be sent as sharable file with edit permissions turned on via Google Docs or Dropbox. We will not accept a post that is part of the text in an email or that’s an attachment. This ensures for easier formatting on our end.
Just a note: All contributed articles are done so on a pro bono basis. We do not provide any monetary compensation for any contributed content. Of course, we welcome sponsored content that is submitted with a donation. All donated funds go towards our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome abused, abandoned, stray and neglected animals.
I. What we look for
Length: 700 to 800 words. Longer is OK, but no more than 1,200 words.
Topics: Our content educates, informs, and motivates. We only accept content that is related to pets, pet ownership, pet care, pet training, health or behavior, or animal rescue related. Any other content will not be accepted. We do not promote, recommend or endorse products (such as leashes, collars, dog beds, etc.) that your company sells unless it is sponsored contend. We do allow the mention of products that are generally known for a specific purpose, ex: Benedryl is known to help with allergies and calming.
Distinct message: We’re looking for fresh perspectives on topics our readers care about. To ensure you’re offering an original idea:
a. Search the site to get an idea of what we’re about and what we’ve already written about. Make sure the article you pitch offers something our readers haven’t seen.
b. Consider your personal experience. What unique perspectives can you bring? Tell that story.
c. Look to current events and pet holidays. News and industry events, or a trend might spark an article only you can write. Consider if you have insights into how something might impact animal welfare or pet owners.
Actionable advice: Stories that don’t give readers actionable advice or takeaways likely won’t be selected for publication. To us, advice means usable, numbered tips readers can put to use right away. Tips should be clear enough for a reader to put into action right away. The best tips are often ideas our readers haven’t seen before, but offer them a new solution to a common problem or education.
Trustworthy sources: Be savvy about the sources you cite, especially for statistics. Rely on primary sources as much as possible. In general, we like to see writers weave in at least a few links to outside websites where readers can find more information or additional resources on the topics discussed. We will NOT accept links to products or sites with whom you are a sales or marketing affiliate.
II. Style Guidelines
For your article:
Proof your article. Sloppy work will not be accepted. If your piece is full of typos and/or grammar or factual errors, it will not be accepted.
Check our style guidelines. We have special guidelines for things such as capitalization, terms and punctuation. This guide is listed at the end of this document. Check your article against it before submitting.
Link to your sources. If you quote someone or cite a statistic, link to your source. This will help readers learn more about a topic and enhance your writing. We will not do your legwork for you. If the link is not included in your submission, it will not be included at all.
If you interview someone, please say so in the piece.
Disclose any financial relationships. You cannot receive money from a business or person in exchange for writing about them. It is also against our policy for contributors to sell links in their articles to people, products, or companies.
Submit original work. Work you didn’t write is not acceptable. Warmed over posts (something you published previously with just a few new tweaks added) are also unacceptable.
Keep your article neutral. Mentions of your company, book or skill-set should be used to demonstrate your expertise on a topic. It should serve to educate, not advertise. Articles that excessively promote your brand, company or product will not be published. Excessive links to your products or initiatives will likely be deleted. (One or two links are fine. 10 are not.)
For your author profile:
Provide the following with your submission:
· Full name of writer
· Brief bio of writer (no more than 3 sentences long)
· Name of company, organization or affiliation
· URL of company, organization or affiliation
· Link to main social media page
If you submit an article without this information, it will not be included once it has posted on our site. No exceptions. We will not go back and add it later.
III. After you submit: What to expect
Due to the large volume of submissions we receive, contributors should expect to receive a response within one-week. If you have not heard from us after 2 weeks, your pitch/article was likely rejected.
If the article is accepted, it could take up to one-week for the article or blog post to be posted to our site. PLEASE BE PATIENT! As mentioned, we are a group of volunteers with fulltime jobs. Our spare time is very limited.
Accepted articles will likely require revisions. We reserve the right to make any edits or revisions we see necessary for accuracy, correcting grammar mistakes and typos, or if we have information or knowledge that we feel will enhance the post.
IV. Style guidelines
Commas and periods go inside the end quote marks. ALWAYS.
Appropriate sourcing of quotes: This means that quotes should be attributed to a source, e.g.:
“Blah, blah, blah,” Warren Buffett told me in an interview -OR-
“Blah, blah, blah,” Warren Buffett said in an interview with the New York Times.
Single quotes belong only around quotes within quotes and in headlines and subheads. NOWHERE ELSE.
Put in your own hyperlinks. Don’t put URLs in parentheses. We will not link them.
Use one-sentence paragraphs sparingly. Too many makes your piece clunky. Two to three sentences is an ideal paragraph length.
Percent is used as a word. Never use %, except in charts.
Don’t use links in subheads. Use them only in your text.
Don’t capitalize the words in subheads, after the first word.
Don’t forget that women hold up half the sky. If you must use “he,” also use “she.” Get around this awkward construction, at least sometimes, by pluralizing your pronouns. Instead of “An employee has his job to do,” make it “Employees have their jobs to do.”
A company, organization or government agency is an “it”. It is never a “they.” For the possessive pronoun, when you refer to possession by a single person or company, use “its” not “their.”
Be consistent: If you start with the pronoun “you,” stick with it. Avoid mixing “we,” “I,” “he/she” and “you” all in the same article.
Be consistent, Part II: Stick with the same verb tense throughout. Remember that the present perfect tense (“That company has followed the same policy for years”) expresses ongoing, habitual action.
Check for repetition of the same words, points and themes.
Numbers under 10 are written out (unless appearing with the word “percent.”) Numbers 10 or higher are written as numerals (unless they start a sentence). Years are always expressed with numerals.
Check quotes with reliable sources.
If you must use jargon, particularly abbreviations and acronyms nobody else knows, spell these out on the first reference (followed by the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses).
Names: For the first reference, use the full name: Cesar Millan. For subsequent references, use the last name only. Even if Cesar Millan is your best friend, even if he was the best man at your wedding, don’t call him “Cesar” in copy.
Paw Prints in the Sand owns the rights to any content submitted or contributed and published on its website or social media pages. We reserve the right to publish, republish, transmit, sell, distribute and otherwise use the Contribution in whole or in part in all languages and in all media of expression now known or later developed, and to license or permit others to do so. For the avoidance of doubt, “Contribution” is defined to only include the article or blog post submitted by the Contributor for publication on the Paw Prints in the Sand web site.
VI. What to avoid
Clickbait headlines: e.g “These 5 Things Will Make Your Dog Perfect”.
Heavy self-promotion: talking about your business is OK but don’t go overboard. Our goal here is to educate and inform people about pets, rescue, the issues we deal with, etc. Of course, if your product can enhance the life or safety of a pet, then feel free to mention it. It needs to add value to our readers’ experience.