Rise and Shine

Guidelines for Your Writers and Bloggers Please

abc-article-guidelinesIf you contract or employ writers or bloggers it is always helpful to both parties if guidelines are created and shared from the beginning. This not only ensures that they know exactly what you want and expect, but that you get precisely what you need. A brief set of guidelines provided at the start can save you each a lot of time and aggravation as you continue to work together.

There are many items often covered in the advertisement you place or the casual communications with the writer or blogger before they are hired. For example, topic (technology, entertainment), style (review, informational), and payment details are normally known. But, what about the unknowns? That is where guidelines come in handy.

The guidelines do not have to be formal or take a long time to create. Sit down for a few minutes and throw together some bullet points and then update the document as it becomes necessary. The list below with questions you should ask yourself about each item should be a great start.

If you happen to be on the other side of the equation as the writer or blogger, it is good for you to have these items in mind as well. If you should come across a client who does not provide you with guidelines, these are the types of questions and items you should ask up front.

Assignments – Suggested or provided?

  1. If you expect your writer or blogger to come up with their own ideas then that should probably be part of the hiring process. You will want to see how creative they are and if their ideas fit your needs. Explain the process to them for sharing their ideas, for example, do you want them to send you their suggestions beforehand for review or simply go ahead and write the article or post?
  2. If you will be assigning the work instead, then explain that process. When and how will work be assigned? Will you use a tool such as Trello, will you email them, or do you have an online editorial tool where they can look for their assignments? How often will they be assigned work and when can they expect to receive it?

Submissions – What is the process?

  1. How do you want your writer or blogger to submit work to you? What method have you chosen? Do you have a WordPress site that you would like them to put their articles or posts directly into? Would you prefer they send you a Word document? Do you want them to put their articles or posts in Google Docs or use Google Drive to upload them? Make sure your process is explained.
  2. When do you expect their work to be delivered? Be clear on what the arrangement is, whether you need items daily, weekly, or monthly. If you need articles or posts by a certain time of the day, let them know that as well.

Formatting – How exactly do you want their work formatted?

  1. If you prefer the articles and posts be submitted in a Word document, you may want to touch on certain items you expect. Here are some examples:
    * Headlines and subheadlines. If you expect both, be sure to let them know.
    * If you will be copying their work from the Word document into another application, it may be more difficult with the way that Word formats lists. If you do not want them to use that feature, let them know.
  2. If your writers and bloggers will be entering their work directly into a site like WordPress and you have specific formatting set up, you should let them know. If you want headings to be a certain size or paragraphs to have extra space between them, fill them in. This will avoid any frustration on their part as they may try to use formatting not accepted by you or your theme.
  3. How do you want them to format the links to inside and outside locations? Do you want the text linked or do you want them to provide the URL instead? This is especially important if they are submitting a Word document and you are copying it to another source.
  4. Depending on the type of work it is, you may want them to format the actual article or post a certain way. For example, if they are writing a review you may want this divided into specific sections for: 1) App creator details, 2) Good points, 3) Bad points, 4) Availability, and 5) Conclusion. Basically, if you want the work to contain specific pieces and/or in a certain order, be sure they know this ahead of time.

Images – What are the specific details?

  1. Do you expect your writer or blogger to provide their own images? If so, what are the rules for the images?
    * Should they be screen shots, photographs, or self-produced images?
    * If they are allowed from outside sources, do you have specific providers they should use or not use?
    * How do you want the images attributed? What information should be included in the attribution?
    * What dimensions should the images be? Do you use different dimensions for different article or post styles?
    * What size should the images be? Do you have a size limit, for example, no larger than 1MB?
  2. How should they submit images to you if they are providing their own? Should they be emailed to you, uploaded to Google Drive, embedded into the Word document with the article or post, or placed directly into WordPress? Do you have a specific spot within the work where you always want the images located?

Reviewing and Editing – What is the process?

  1. Explain your article and post review process in the beginning so that the writer or blogger can know what to expect. After they have submitted their work to you, will you review it or will someone else?
  2. If edits are needed will you ask the writer or blogger to do the editing or will the edits be done for them? Will they be provided with the edits if you are doing it for them? When and how will they be notified if edits are needed or it is ready for production? Will you be providing them the production links?

Miscellaneous – What else do they need to know?

  1. Word count. Always let them know how many words you are expecting the articles or posts to be. Giving a range usually works best, but if you are strict on word count then be sure to let them know.
  2. Citing sources. How would you like them to cite their sources? Do you want them directly within the text or would you prefer them at the end in a list?
  3. Related content. If you would like your writer or blogger to create a list of related content at the end that will link to other pieces on your site, be sure to tell them to include it.

These are the basic guidelines that a writer or blogger would or should expect at the beginning of your working relationship. Making sure that these details are covered from the start will eliminate the risk of assumptions and mistakes, ultimately save you both time and energy, and will definitely make you both a lot happier in the long run.

Do you have any other items that you provide your writers or bloggers that should go on this list? Or, are you a writer or blogger who asks for other information not included here? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Sandy Stachowiak

Sandy Stachowiak is an Information Technology Project Manager and Freelance Writer living in sunny Northeast Florida. Her primary responsibilities are writing technical documents, in addition to managing projects and people. You can find Sandy at her blog.

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