Style Guide for Guest Posts

Tips for Writing a Successful Article

Who Can Write Guest Posts

At this time, we’re only accepting guest posts from:

  • published authors
  • CEOs or executive staff
  • college graduates with a commitment to writing authoritative, detailed, and insightful guides

Additional Requirements

We require guest post authors to share a 1-paragraph bio, headshot, and LinkedIn profile link. Submissions that don’t meet these requirements will be rejected.

If you have any questions after reading this guide, please email our content manager.

The Big Picture

Audience

Deliberate Directions publishes Success Guides.  Business owners and executives turn to these guides for actionable advice to help them grow their business and advance their careers.

Actionability

By the time a reader finishes your guide, they should have a clear idea of how to follow your advice and how to overcome challenges they’re likely to face. To accomplish this, consider structuring your piece as a step-by-step guide with each H2 header discussing a different step.

Here are some examples of what we don’t want:

  • Filler: “Business ownership is full of twists and turns…”
  • Platitudes: “In business, few terms ring true more than ‘communication is key’.”
  • Obvious facts: “You might consider yourself a jack-of-all-trades, but biting off more than you can chew can turn your business upside down.”
  • Tired topics: “Without goals, your business has no direction.”

Your guide should be a practical resource, not a lecture on basic business principles.

Length

We recommend 1,600+ words so you can provide detailed information on your topic. This length also correlates with high SEO keyword rankings and social media shares.

Use this word count to provide depth. Here are some ways you can deliver exceptional value.

  • Teach a skill. (Don’t just explain why it’s important.)
  • Create templates our audience can use.
  • Provide a list of ideas on how to implement a solution.
  • Share a brief case study.

Focus

We encourage you to dive into one topic and spend 95% of your guide on that topic. If you refer to another subject, you can give a sentence or two of background information. If you want to provide context about a related topic, just link to other article where readers can get more information.

Original Text

It’s ok if your text is a summary of ideas you’ve expressed elsewhere online. However, all text must be written by you. To avoid copy/paste drafts, we check content before publishing.

If you’re writing about a subject you’ve researched, a general rule of thumb is to read 5 sources for every 500 words you write. That means a 1,600 word article should have at least 15 sources. (Be sure to link to each source.)

Headers

H2 Headers

We suggest using phrases for your H2 headers. However, if you choose, you can use sentences or questions. If your article consists of a list, typically each item on your list will be an H2 header.

Please capitalize H2 headers following APA title standards. (If you could use assistance, we recommend CapitalizeMyTitle.com.) 

H3 Headers

Please add H3 headers (subheaders) to guide readers through each section of your article. We suggest using short sentences that summarize the body text below each H3 header.

If the H3 header is a sentence, just capitalize the first letter of the first word and then add an appropriate punctuation mark at the end. If the H3 header is a phrase, capitalize the words in the phrase following APA title capitalization standards.

H4 Headers

We generally only use H4 headers for questions. Simply write a frequently asked question and capitalize the first word. (If you do keyword research on your topic and determine that people are often asking a few associated questions, this can be a great way to potentially get the article ranked in Google’s Answer Box.)

Style Concerns

Author Bio

We begin each guest post with a 1- or 2-paragraph author biography. Typically bios include your name (with a link to your LinkedIn), your role at your company (with a link to your company website), and information about how your company serves others. You can also include a book you wrote (with an Amazon link), a couple personal details about yourself, and a few ways people can follow you (with links).

Conclusion

Consider labeling your last H2 header simply “Conclusion” and using this area to summarize your article’s key points. Studies show that many readers scroll to the conclusion as soon as they open an article to decide if they want to read the rest. Given this, we want your conclusion to be informative and impactful.

External Links

We encourage you to link to 5 or more outside sources in your guide. Link to sources when…

  • referring to a statistic
  • including an infographic
  • referencing an author’s book, research, or original ideas (either link to an article or Amazon book)

Interviews

Getting input from other people can increase the credibility of your infomration.

  • You’re welcome to write a roundup post by asking questions to a set of specialists and reporting back on their answers.
  • You can also include information from podcasts, videos, and more – just be sure to link back to the original source whenever you quote an interview.
  • You can also share quotes or from your colleagues, clients, or others in your network.

Pictures

Please submit a headshot with your post. You can pull this from your LinkedIn profile if needed. Ideal image size is 1,000 x 1,000 although smaller images will also work.

Your article will include a cover photo and a photo to accompany each H2 header. You can choose whether to submit your own photos or have us source photos for you. If you submit your own photos, please label them (use-words-of-matching-h2-header.jpg), and put them in a Google Drive folder or zip folder. 

An easy way to source stock images is to visit Unsplash and download images in the Medium size (usually 1920 pixels in width). You can also share photos from your life or office with us, and we’re happy to add this personal touch so long as the images fit thematically with your guide.

Opt-In Lead Magnets

At the end of your guide, we recommend linking to an an opt-in lead magnet on your website. This can be a checklist, cheat sheet, template, video tutorial, or follow-up article that will help readers implement what they just learned. If you don’t have a fitting lead magnet yet, you can email us at a later date and ask us to add one.

Pronouns

We suggest writing with the words “you” and “I.” This gives readers the feeling of having a conversation with you. However, if you prefer, you can write in a more formal third person style.

Other Details

  • Please do not double space after sentences.
  • To share concise suggestions under an H3 header, you can use a bulleted list or numbered sequence.
  • We have a bias toward writing numbers in our articles (like 4 or 20%) to make information easier to read.
  • We’re fine with contractions.
  • Italicize book titles and publication names like the New York Times.
  • You can bold words for emphasis.
  • Spell out abbreviations and acronyms in the first instance where they’re used. For example, write Search Engine Optimization (SEO), then use the shorthand SEO for the rest of the article.

Sample Guest Posts

What to Expect

Our Publication Process

  1. You can optionally share your H2 headers with us in advance. This will give us a chance to make sure your content plan aligns for our audience before you commence writing.
  2. Submit your article in a Google Doc (or Word doc). Send images via a Google Drive folder (or a zip folder).
  3. We’ll generally publish your guide within 3-4 days of receiving it.
  4. We reserve the right to do light copyediting if we find repetition, tangents, or errors.
  5. We’ll send you a link to your guide once it is live on the website. You can request changes to our copyediting or formatting if needed.
  6. If you would like us to update the guide in the future, just email us your new draft in a Google Doc.

Social Sharing and Promotion

We hope these guidelines help you deliver an outstanding guest post that will rank well in search engines, increase your authority, and generate traffic for your business.

We look forward to sharing your post with our 4,000 email subscribers and our social media followers. We’ll also include at least one do-follow backlink to your website. If there is anything else we can do to support your business, please let us know.