My Editorial Guidelines For Blogging Online

A set of writing standards I follow for myself and at The Research Nest

Write without fear. Edit without mercy.

Create content that reaches your audience’s audience.

Note- The perspectives I share here can evolve continually as I learn from my experiences as well as from others. These are neither absolute nor applicable in all cases, for all people, or in all contexts. I hope you can take these as additional information and devise your own strategies and guidelines, which you feel will work for you.

I have written 100+ blog posts across the internet and these are some insights from that journey.

Choosing a topic to write on

How do I know what I want to write about? Here are a few things I consider to figure it out.

  • Is there a useful experience/memory that I want to share with others?
  • Is there something I want to remember by documenting it online?
  • Is there anything I want to learn? Should I write my learning process so that it can help others?
  • Is there something I want to tell/teach the world?
  • Is there something I want to write about because I really like to? (My poetry, for example)

Most of the things I write fall into either of these categories. Write to put forward an idea, an experience, a memory, or learning. Write about the things you want to express to the world at large.

Here is a short recommended read that can give you insights on improving your general writing style: Features of Narrative Writing

General Protocol For Quality Check For Articles

When I write and publish something, I understand that I am asking a part of my readers' time and attention. It is not to be taken lightly. At the same time, you would want to ensure that your article is accessible to the people who can find value in it. Here are a few things I check for and follow (most times):

  • All articles must have compelling titles and subtitles. Always ensure to draft engaging headlines. Here are some resources you can go through to understand the dynamics behind making viral headlines:
  • Use the Grammarly plugin for grammar checks. It is a pretty awesome tool.
  • Use a plagiarism checker to find any unintended plagiarism and rectify the same.
  • Understand Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and clever usage of keywords. (I will leave it for you to google and learn about it)
  • Facts must be hyperlinked to their original sources in the article. It is a good habit to never state a fact without evidence, especially when you are talking about contemporary topics.
  • Keywords can be hyperlinked to their Wikipedia pages. You always want to provide your readers with open doors when they want to explore more on something.
  • Proper nouns can be hyperlinked to their official websites. In the case of people or organizations active on social media, you can hyperlink to their most active account (say, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Pay attention to article formatting, the use of headings, quotes, italic text, etc. Format for elegance and do not take it lightly. The way it is presented heavily influences how it is perceived.
  • Always ensure images are inserted at relevant places of the articles and due credits to them are mentioned. Also, make sure you have a good cover photo for your article that fits within the standard social media dimensions.
  • Prefer simplicity over complexity. You may want to write something everyone can easily understand. You can use tools like the Hemingway app to increase clarity and consistency in your lines.
  • Duly attribute all contributors (if any) to the article. Have a section called “Editorial Note” if required, at the end of the article.

General Guidelines For Drafting Social Media Content

  • Social Media Content (SMC) includes short and crisp content posted on FB, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp Status, etc. along with a poster, article link, etc.
  • Ideally, SMC must be short and divided into simple paragraphs summarizing and pitching to the reader why they should click on the post or care about it. SMC must include tagging of key people, organizations, and other proper nouns associated with what is being shared.
  • Always include relevant hashtags at the end of the SMC to gain additional traction. SMC can optimally have three paragraphs, the first para addressing to ‘What this is?’, the second para to, ‘Why are we doing this?’, the third para to, ‘Read on/ Find out more at ’. All of this can be packaged into fine-tuned lines while keeping point 3 in mind.
  • Have the creative freedom to draft as per the context. Drafting SMC may not be easy, but it is important, as that’s what makes a reader care about your post. Depending on the context, you may include quotes/facts in SMC that can be eye-catchy to the readers.

Protocol for editing guest blogs and content at The Research Nest

At The Research Nest, quality >> quantity, any day. We take time to edit our articles and ensure that we do everything we can to get the best outcome published (but yeah, we are not the hardcore grammar-centric people).

Here are some guidelines I recommend to all our editors to follow. Feel free to suggest new ideas and improvements to the same.

  • First and foremost, check for plagiarism. If the article is more than 1000 words, check for parts of the article until you cover the full article. If there is anything found that cannot be justified, see if you can rephrase it differently. If not, revert back the draft to the writer and inform them to correct the same.
  • Check for the cover photo and if the articles have enough images as required. Use google image search with the “free to use” filter, or websites like Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash to get additional copyright-free images. Other informative images from public entities can be used by giving due credits to them (Say, for example, an image released by NASA).
  • Proofread the articles for any grammatical errors or complexities. You can use the Grammarly plugin and the Hemingway app to quickly identify such places. See if you can simplify them or remove any unwanted content. If more edits are required, you can inform the writer to do the same. Try to keep the language as straightforward and as simple as possible.
  • Add hyperlinks to keywords and proper nouns whenever possible, if the writer forgets the same. These hyperlinks can lead to official websites, Wikipedia pages, etc. Also, ensure that all critical facts in the article are hyperlinked to their official sources.
  • Once the article feels to adhere to all the above quality checks and you as a reader feel satisfied with it, you can inform the Editorial that the article is ready to be published.

A version of this article was first published here.

We are preparing a special style guide for our Hashnode blog. #StayTuned.

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