Key Info for BetterU Bloggers

Many of these points are key to good writing and reporting in general.

 

  • All BetterU blog posts must have value to school administrators. Be clear about your audience; is it health educators/administrators in high school, or in college/post-secondary? Posts should not simply restate a familiar problem without demonstrating its relevance and suggesting a specific, actionable solution. If you are a student, themes and ideas that may be new to you may be very familiar to school staff; think about how you can bring a fresh perspective.
  • Pitch your ideas first. You are not restricted to the ideas described below. It is always worth running your blog idea past us before investing time in it. If we get the opportunity to say “please include [whatever aspect of this topic],” you’ll submit a stronger piece. Similarly, we may say “Sorry, but we can’t cover this because [whatever];” then you can use your time more rewardingly. In general, pitching ideas to editors is more successful than submitting a finished piece on spec.
  • Write lean. Shorter posts are more likely to be published and read. Keep your submission succinct. Review and tighten your work several times before submitting it. We suggest 250-400 words per post, but it depends on the piece. We can potentially run longer pieces as two or more posts, in the (probably rare) event that this is merited.
  • Fact-check everything. Carefully fact-check your post before submitting it. We may request sources. All names, titles/positions, quotes, and paraphrasings of other people’s work or arguments must be accurate. If you quote an unpublished interview or correspondence, please confirm the quotation(s) with the relevant person. Always ask someone you’re quoting how they want their comment to be attributed. (E.g., if it’s a professional, check the spelling of their name, their degrees, and their job title or description; if it’s a student, ask whether you can use their full name and college or major, or whether they’d prefer first name only or a pseudonym.) If anyone requests a pseudonym, flag it to us and include their real name and email address (these will not be published).
  • If you don’t have relevant professional qualifications, avoid assuming expertise or declaring solutions. Instead, draw on your own experience and observations to illustrate the issue you’ve addressing, and suggest a potential solution.
  • Find your voice. Blog posts can be formal, informal, or light, as appropriate to the topic. Whatever the tone, they should always be well written. It’s fine to use the first person (“I”). If you use technical language, please explain it.
  • Consider reworking your introduction. Go back to the beginning and think about whether there’s a more accessible way in. How can you catch the attention of readers who have a whole internet to explore? Maybe you can ask a question, present a startling scenario or idea (that you go on to explain or qualify), or summarize a research finding. Avoid starting with “According to…”; it’s more engaging to present the newsy finding, then attribute it (e.g., “College students are graduating at the highest rates in a decade, according to researchers at Whatsit University.”)
  • Review for rhythm and readability. Read your piece aloud to yourself listening for awkward phrasing etc.; fix those before submitting it. If you find yourself changing the wording as you read it aloud, pay attention; often, those spontaneous revisions are improvements.
  • Tell us how you want to be credited. Your post can be bylined with your full name, school, position, and headshot, or not. Let us know how you want to be identified.
  • Follow up with us. The SH101 editors are usually working to tight deadlines. If we don’t get back to you within a few days, (a) forgive us, and (b) send us an email nudge.