We are not accepting submissions without an explicit invitation. Unless you have an established relationship with Charlie, please do not send us an unsolicited guest post query.
If you’re reading this, you’re one of the few people we’ve asked to be contributors to Productive Flourishing. This means two things: We trust you, and you’re a good writer who has ideas that our readers will enjoy or find valuable.
We’ve written these guidelines in the hopes that they help you write rather than keep you from writing. The guidelines may change as we co-create better ways to collaborate and share your work.
Suggestions for Your Posts
These suggestions are just that — they’re not set in stone. You’re a good writer, so you know that rules generally help you express yourself, but sometimes they get in the way.
If you’re looking for examples of content on our site, here are a few (most from other guest contributors and a few examples from Charlie):
- How to Be Creative and Productive in Every Stage of a Project – Cath Duncan
- 3 Growth-Oriented Ways to Explore Your Creative Edge – Larry Robertson
- How to Recover from 10 Types of Demotivation – Cath Duncan
- The 3 Tribes Within Your Tribe – Marissa Bracke
- Why You’re Undervaluing Yourself (and How to Stop) – Ali Luke
- How Being Busy Means Not Being Creative – Ali Luke
- Launch Fatigue and How Not to Be an Infomercial – Marissa Bracke
- 12 Simple Ways to Be Present – Charlie Gilkey
- 7 Ways to Write Better Action Items – Charlie Gilkey
- Get Up and Take Care of Your People – Charlie Gilkey
If you’d rather, you can just download this PDF with all of these example posts AND all of our guidelines.
Here are a few basics:
As much as you might like us to say “between 300 and 1,000 words,” you can probably guess that we’re not going to. Some of our most well-received posts are around 300 words, yet others are 2,500 words. The best thing we can say is, write to the topic and make sure that every word counts.
That said, posts that are in the 700-1500 word range tend to do best. That seems to be the sweet spot of enough to flesh out a thought but not so long that it’s a serious commitment to read the post.
If your post is more than 2,000 words and can be split into a series, we might suggest it. However, sometimes you just need more space to finish the thought — and finishing the thought is more important to us and our readers than keeping it short.
On the lower end of the length scale, if you’d like to try your hand at meditative, reflective pieces, give ’em a whirl. Those account for the shorter posts, and they can be just as insightful, meaningful, and well received as a “normal” post.
We encourage you to write in your natural voice. We want to hear your voice and your ideas, so don’t feel like you have to write like someone else.
You don’t have to be super blog-friendly. If writing in a blog-friendly way comes naturally to you, great! But don’t feel like you have to write a list post if you’d much rather write discursively.
If your post touches on something you’ve written before, feel free to link back to your blog. In fact, please do — that’s one of the reasons we’re asking you to contribute.
That said, please don’t write a post that someone can’t understand without reading your blog, and don’t outlink excessively. Two or three links in an 800-word post is cool; eight in that span is probably pushing it.
While we’re talking about links, please do not use affiliate links in your posts, because following FTC guidelines would require us to have a disclaimer about the links and it can get awkward to disclaim someone else’s use of affiliate links. We’d prefer that you link back to a post of yours that talks about the product or service you’re referring to.
Generally, any content you submit in your guest post should not be submitted or posted anywhere else unless you’re republishing the post you submit here elsewhere with a canonical link. An exception is content that comes from one of your products, but we ask that such content be a part of your post and not the post in its entirety. (If you’d like us to promote a product, it’s best to discuss it with Charlie directly.)
Productive Flourishing owns the copyright for any post you submit and we may re-use and re-purpose the content in other formats, including ebook compilations, republication, and so on. In the unlikely event we want to use the content in a for-pay product, we’ll discuss it with you beforehand. Our goal is to always find the ways to share your work that builds the most abundant set of possibilities for us all.
Feel free to include a picture in your post by submitting it through the editing panel. Be sure to include proper attribution as necessary.
A Quick Note About Critiques
We are fans of reasoned critiques, but we ask that you be charitable to the person and position you’re criticizing. Begin from the position that the idea you’re criticizing is coming from a smart and well-meaning writer like you. Do the best you can to respect the original author and his or her ideas; this might mean that you need to strengthen the person’s position or provide additional context that makes it more plausible, rather than dismiss it completely.
More important, though, we ask that you advance a valuable, positive alternative. It’s easy to point out the problems in someone else’s ideas but really challenging to come up with something on your own. Include your alternative even if you haven’t fleshed it out completely — we learn more through continual expression and revision than from waiting for an idea to come out perfectly.
More Info About PF Readers
More important than what you should write is whom you’re writing for. PF readers are Creative Giants — smart, compassionate, and creative people who have shown that they’ll give you the space to finish your thought.
PF currently has about 50,000 subscribed readers, with the majority of them being email subscribers. Our reach is in the 8 million range by the time you count our friends, influencers, and other promotion channels that may pick up your post. That can be motivating for some people and scary as hell for others. Our best advice is to focus on writing to the specific Creative Giants you know.
Writing for them can be really easy and really difficult at the same time. It’s easy because they are very charitable; it’s difficult because they have high expectations. We’re hoping this guest post will give you a chance to push your limits as a writer.
We’ve had a few more-influential bloggers say (positively) that Productive Flourishing is one of the few places where authors can get away with writing really long posts about seemingly unrelated topics and have people read and enjoy every word. It’s absolutely true.
PF readers typically want or like several things:
- They want to become more effective and productive.
- They want to channel their abundant creativity better.
- They want to be able to pursue multiple interests and embrace their multi-dimensionality.
- They want their creative businesses to be successful.
- They like to be inspired.
- They like to read posts that make them think.
- They like to have complex stuff explained to them in a way that makes it clear and relevant to their lives and businesses.
The point of the content here at PF is to help people think more clearly, ask better questions, and do the things that actually matter. If your post passes one of those tests, you’re good to go. Even better to hit all three!
Step 1: Getting Started
Before we begin, let’s start with who this “we” is:
- Shannon is our master scheduler and communications expert. She’ll be your main point of contact while you’re deciding what to write about and when we’ll be publishing your piece.
- Josephine (Jo) is our blogrunner. She will be the one actually publishing your post AND will be your point of contact once you submit your piece.
- Erin is our editor. She is who you will see pop in to make edits and suggestions on your post. If she has more in-depth questions for you, you may see an email from her, too.
- Jess is our digital media producer. You may see her pop in to your Google doc to cross-link to other PF posts, add a Click-to-Tweet, and/or add a lead banner. She’ll also be creating social media content to go along with your post.
Our goal is to do the best we can to help you have a smooth process (Shannon & Jo) to amplify the brilliance of your ideas (Erin) and promote your genius to the world, starting with our audience (Jess).
Here’s the process for first-time contributors:
- We’ll setup a login and password for the PF site, but we do the editing and collaboration via Google Docs because, let’s face it, WordPress is terrible for editing and collaboration. Jo will get this set up for you.
- If you don’t already have a Gravatar account setup, please do so here. WordPress pulls your photo from Gravatar, that way if you ever update it there, it will automatically update on all your posts for us.
- Shannon will reach out with topic ideas and a rough deadline so that the blank screen and someday/maybe’s don’t get in the way.
- When you have a draft you’re ready to share, jump to Step 1 in the Drafting and Editing section below.
Here are some (very) rough guidelines on which categories we discuss on which days:
- Monday – Productivity; planning; and action-oriented creativity and innovation
- Wednesday – Small business; thought leadership; strategy and leadership; entrepreneurship; and more theoretical creativity and innovation topics
- Friday – Inspiration; character or personal development; relationship insights; mindfulness, meditation, or spirituality; success mindsets; and story-based reflective essays
If having someone provide topics for you is helpful for your creative process, let Shannon know. We get it — if someone asks Charlie to “write a guest post,” they may get it in a year, but if they ask him to “write a post about X” or ask him to answer a question, they’ll get the post within a couple of weeks.
If you need your post published on a certain day or at a certain time, let us know — we’ll do what we can to accommodate your needs, if at all possible.
Step 2: Drafting and Editing
- As a contributor you will be expected to have a post drafted and ready to edit 1 week before your publish week (earlier is better).
- Shannon will send you a reminder email 2 weeks before publishing if we haven’t received a draft from you before then.
- When you’re ready for us to review your draft, email Shannon with the link. Please make your sharing settings such that anyone with the link can edit the post.
- During the editing process, you may receive emails from Jo or Erin with editing queries. Please respond promptly so we can publish your post on schedule.
- Once your post is edited, we will move and format your post in WordPress and Jo will confirm the publish date.
We believe that creative people should have the space to create without having other people look at what they’re doing while they’re creating unless the person doing the creative work specifically asks for feedback. So we’ll stay out of your way while you do whatever you need to do to get your post drafted.
Please note that our editorial team expects to see your final draft before we start editing. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t feel comfortable posting the piece you submit to us as is on your site, it’s probably not quite ready to be submitted to us for review. Again, if you need a creative partner on this, email us and we’ll do the best we can to be good midwives for your idea.
Editing and SEO
We’ll review and edit the post and add metadata. Be aware that all posts will go through an editor (Erin) who will occasionally send email queries to clarify points or ask questions about significant edits to your piece. There is the potential for heavy edits and we’ll correspond via Google Docs to get your approval before we make significant changes.
We offer this service so that we can add value to your overall writing experience with PF and so the piece that gets published is well-received by our audience. Although this process can sometimes be time-consuming and add additional back-and-forth, it makes you look better and ensures that we get your piece in front of as many eyes as possible.
You don’t have to worry about keywords, tags, or categories, but you’re welcome to offer suggestions.
As far as editing goes, here’s what we’ll be looking at:
- Headlines – We are likely to edit your title or subheads, mostly for SEO purposes.
- Link anchors – For SEO purposes, we’ll try to edit your links so that they’re Google- and people-friendly.
- Formatting – We’ll just be making sure the format is in alignment with the blog posts typically posted on PF. Avoid over-linking, super long paragraphs, and long chunks of text without subheadings.
- Image formatting – We do this just to make sure the post looks pretty! We also might have our designer create a custom image for the post.
- Copyediting – If we catch typos or grammar goofs, we’ll edit them. We’ll also be making sure the post fits within our own editorial guidelines for the blog (ex. We put a space on either side of Em dashes)
- Line editing – If your intended meaning isn’t clear, Erin will send you a query within the Google doc.
- Developmental editing – If we think your post needs developmental editing, Erin or Jo will reach out to you directly via email to start a conversation.
If you’d like, you can read more about the different types of editing here.
Step 3: Promotion
On your publish date, Jo will send you an email with the link to your post.
PF will also share the post on Twitter and Facebook (Jo will email you separately with all of the posts we plan to make on social media).
We ask that you share your post as if you were sharing your own blog post on your own site.
We also recommend that you schedule social media posts in advance for up to two months (if you have the capability) to keep eyes on the piece after the publish date.
Responding to comments is encouraged and we’d appreciate your efforts in replying to thoughtful responses (and to every comment if you can). We want this conversation to be as much yours as it is ours.
What Did We Miss?
If we missed something or you have questions, please let Shannon know.
And one more thing: We’re very excited that you’re contributing your insights here. Thanks for helping our readers start finishing the stuff that matters!