We know there’s a lot to process in our guidelines, so here’s the TL;DR version:
- We’re looking for unique and original ideas — not generic platitudes we’ve all read 1,000 times before.
- You should back up your points with a mix of personal anecdotes, examples from well-known companies and published research, with links to your sources.
- Articles must be original and exclusive to SAShares.co.za Self-plagiarism is still plagiarism!
- You cannot accept payment for mentioning a person or business in an article. If you have a business or financial relationship with any individuals or companies you mention, that must be disclosed in the article.
If you’re serious about contributing, please read through the guidelines and expectations in their entirety before submitting an article.
Send your article to firstname.lastname@example.org
I. Before you write: What we look for
Length: Pieces typically run about 700 to 800 words, though longer is OK. More than 1,200 words, however, usually is not.
Topics: Our content educates and motivates. Our editors are looking for articles that inspire, give insight into current trends and offer actionable takeaway tips.
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. You’ll discover what topics our
readers enjoy and what we’ve already written on a topic. Make sure the article
you pitch offers something our readers and editors haven’t seen.
b. Consider your personal experience. What problems have you overcome? What unique perspectives can you bring? Tell that story.
c. Look to current events. News events and industry changes might spark an article only you can write. Consider if you have insights into how a change might impact current practices and how business owners can be prepared.
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.
Trustworthy sources: Be savvy about the sources you cite. Rely on primary sources as much as possible. And remember — Wikipedia crowdsources information from the public and doesn’t always offer the most accurate information. In general, we like to see writers weave in at least a few links to outside websites (not SAShares.co.za or their own company) where readers can find more information or additional resources on the topics discussed.
Help snagging interviews: SAShares.co.za editors are happy to help approved contributors line up interviews with relevant sources. However, please run potential interviewees by your editor and get approval before scheduling an interview on your own, particularly if the person is well-known or notable. It’s possible an SAShares.co.za staff writer may have already reached out to the person, and we want to avoid duplicate coverage.
Please note: While contributors may say they are working on an article for SAShares.co.za when they approach public relations professionals or potential sources, contributors ARE NOT members of the SAShares.co.za staff and should not represent themselves as such at events or in communications with sources.
II. Before you submit: Steps to take
For your article:
Proof your article. Sloppy work won’t be accepted by our editors. If your piece is riddled with typos and/or factual errors, it will not be accepted.
SAShares.co.za has 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 out to your source. This will help readers learn more about a topic and bolster your writing. Additionally, not having these links could slow the publication of your article. Don’t expect that your editor will do your legwork for you. Please link to the original source.
If you interview someone, please say so in the piece. Your editor and the reader will want to know that you have conducted original reporting.
Disclose any financial relationships. Please acknowledge financial relationships, if any exist, with the companies or individuals you write about or link to. This disclosure is very important to us and our readers. Violating this rule could lead to your article being removed from the site or the end of your ability to contribute to the site. If you have questions, please talk to your editor.
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 or companies. Contributors found to be violating these policies will be barred from publishing in our network.
Support your argument with multiple examples: Prove your argument. Please use more than just one example (of a company, study, SAShares.co.za, etc.) to illustrate any point you make. We tend NOT to accept articles about a single person or company, unless that person or company is very well-known (e.g. Bill Gates or Apple).
Tell us if it’s timely. Articles with a time peg can move through the queue more quickly. If there is a time peg (a Christmas piece, for example), put a note to that effect on the subject line so an editor can see that more easily.
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. (Know that we usually spot these, and they make us very, very unhappy).
Make sure your article isn’t overly self-promotional. Mentions of your company, book or skillset should be used to demonstrate your expertise on a topic. The effect should serve to educate, not advertise. Articles that excessively promote your brand, company or product likely won’t 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 to your editor:
Submit a unique email address that will be used by the author (or publicist) to log into our content-management-system account. If you are a publicist who represents multiple people who write for us, we will need a different email address for each individual.
III. After you submit: What to expect
- Due to the large volume of submissions we receive, contributors should expect to receive a response within 1-2 weeks. If you have not heard from us after 4 weeks, your pitch/article was likely rejected.
- If the article is accepted, a SAShares.co.za editor will create a profile for the author in the Content Management System (CMS). Once you receive an onboarding email from our CMS, you will be asked to upload a two- to three-sentence bio and your headshot (high quality only, please) in our system, along with the social media handles you would like to include. For your professional bio, don’t use superlatives or overly promotional or personal language. Provide the city of the company’s headquarters and where the contributor is located, if different. Hyperlink your company name and any published book, if you’d like
- Accepted articles will likely require revisions. Your editor will likely have questions or suggestions. If your piece is sent back to you for rewrites, questions, etc., an editor will put it into check-out mode and send it to you as an email link. Any changes you make (and save — don’t forget that step!) will be viewable on our end, too. Be sure to submit the article again when you are finished and an editor will review.
- Submitted posts are colour-coded in our CMS.
— Plain yellow: The piece is under review and you can edit it.
— Orange: The piece has been submitted for review and you can no longer edit it. If you need to make further changes, email your editor.
— Yellow with a check mark: The article has been accepted.
— A clock icon: This piece has been scheduled for publication
— Green: This piece has been published
— Red or black: The piece has been rejected or retired.
- You will receive an email alert when your piece runs.
IV. Style guidelines
- No serial commas: apples, oranges and bananas — not apples, oranges, and bananas.
- The dashes we use have double hyphens and spaces: The CEO — whom the board tried to fire — addressed the scandal. We don’t use em dashes or, heaven forbid, hyphens for dashes.
- Commas and periods go inside the end quote marks. ALWAYS.
- No double spaces after periods. To repeat: NO DOUBLE SPACES AFTER SENTENCES.
- 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 and expect us to 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.
- Subheads (copy that breaks up long chunks of text) should have the same, parallel format.
- If the first hed is a full sentence, they all should be. If one has a verb, they all should have a verb.
- 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 or organization or government agency is an “it,” never a “they.” For the possessive pronoun, when you refer to possession by a single person or company, use “its,” not “their.” Similarly, when you write about a company’s web audience, mention “the audience’s members” before saying “them.” An audience is not a “them.”
- 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. That’s just poor writing.
- 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. Use “more than” rather than “over” with numbers.
- Check quotes with reliable sources. Brainyquote and unedited blogs are not reliable.
- If you must use jargon, particularly abbreviations and acronyms nobody else knows, spell these out on the first reference (followed by the abbreviation in parentheses). Avoid “SMB” altogether. We don’t like that one. In fact, we hate it.
- Names: For the first reference, use the full name: Mark Zuckerberg. For subsequent references, use the last name only. Even if Mark Zuckerberg is your best friend, even if he was the best man at your wedding, don’t call him “Mark” in copy.
Send your article to email@example.com