Editorial Guidelines

Below you’ll find editorial guidelines on how I set up my posts. Please take the time to read through each section carefully. If you have any questions at all, feel free to get in touch with me.

Image Guidelines

  • Each post must have a minimum of one picture, at the very beginning of the post.  Anything long enough to scroll down so that you can no longer see the top image should have 2 or more images.
  • The image width needs to be 600 pixels wide.
  • The first image should be a horizontal image.  Any other images in your post can be vertical but they also need to be 600 pixels wide.
  • All images should have “none” selected as the alignment option, rather than left, right or center.

Image Use

  • If you’re posting a recipe or diy post, please take and use your own image.
  • If you’re sharing a post on any other topic, feel free to use images from Flickr Creative Commons search.  These are all images that can be used as long as you credit the image author.

To credit an image, write directly underneath the photo:

Image by dominiq

The credit should be in a heading 6.

The words “dominiq” should be linked directly to the “photo” page for that flickr user. For example, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dominiqs/.

Titles

The best titles are the most straight forward ones. Readers want to know what to expect when they begin to read a post.

Here’s an example:

Bad Post Title: Here’s To Sweet Dreams

What is it about?  Sleeping well?  A soft bed?  A new pillow?

Good Post Title: Get To Sleep Naturally: 5 Real Foods To Help You Sleep

The first words are SEO-friendly and will rank high on Google and the sub-title clearly tells you that we’re talking about real foods to help you sleep so you know whether you want to read on or not.

Make titles SEO friendly by thinking about the types of words that someone might use to search for a post like yours.

My post on rendering lard brings me the most traffic via search engines and is ranked #1 on google search.

How to Render Lard the Right Way (Snow White, Odorless)

Heck yes I’m proud of that!  Here’s what I did.  I knew there were TONS of posts on rendering lard.  I had to set it apart when it hit the search engines.  I set it apart by clearly stating in the title that this is the right way to render lard.  When people view all the posts that come up, they’re quickly drawn to my post because it states, “IT’S THE RIGHT WAY!”  Get the picture ;)

Of course, content is king…. so the content must back up the title ;)

Title Case

All titles should be written in title case i.e., only using capital letters for the principal words.

Headings

In the menu above you’ll see a dropdown menu that says paragraph.  When you click on that it will show you options of Heading 1 – 6.

  • By default all of the titles created will be a Heading 1.  So you will not use this in your posts.
  • To separate your content, making it easier to skim, use Header 3.

Please visit this post to see an example of how I use Header 3 to separate my content.

Content

This is just fact.  Web users don’t read.  They scan.

It becomes pertinent that we understand how to properly write for the web.  Before I go into what good web writing looks like, let’s talk about the bad.

What Does Bad Web Writing Look Like?

  • Overwritten.  It’s full of long, rambling sentences and nonessential information.
  • Lazy about spelling and grammar.
  • Scattered.  It lacks focus, and doesn’t seem to have a driving purpose.
  • Hard to act upon. It leaves a reader uncertain about what his next steps should be.
  • Full of complicated terminology. It forces a reader to search for context, and can make her feel excluded or talked down to.
  • It overwhelms a user with information.

What Does Good Web Writing Look Like?

  • Is useful.
  • Is usable.
  • Is engaging. Write to make your reader feel smart (not to make yourself feel smart). That doesn’t mean “dumbing down” your copy. It just means serving up the information in a direct and no-nonsense way.
  • Is Personable.
  • Is Authentic (Genuine), not overly authoritative.  You’ll show your an expert by presenting information in a simple and straightforward way that doesn’t talk down to the reader.

Rules to Make Your Copy Easy to Scan

One of the easiest ways to make your content easy to scan is by dividing information into nice bite-sized chunks.

  • Paragraphs should be 60 words or fewer
  • No more than 3 sentences per paragraph.
  • Use your header 3, subheadings to strategically help guide the reader through the page
  • Use Bulleted lists
  • To make important points stand out (other than headers or titles), use the bold feature as a way to emphasize those key words or sentences. You may have noticed that throughout my posts (and even on this page!), I will often have sentences or perhaps half a sentence in bold so that it will be caught by those skimming the post and help them to know what the key points of the post are, or alert them to a sentence that is especially poignant or important.

Take Away

One of the most important concepts I learned through writing for other blogs such as Simple Bites and Keeper of the Home is that Take Away is KEY!

Alway’s think about what the user is going to gain from reading your post.  They need to leave with something.  Is it a recipe to try at home?  Is it a cooking tip?

This is a reason why numbered posts are so popular.

For example…

Top 5 Handmade Gifts for the Holidays.

The user knows right away what they are going to take away from the post.

Links

Maker every single outgoing link on my blog set to open in a new window.  Make sure to insert the url and that the “Open link in a new window/tab” is checked.

Recipes

All of my recipes are micro formatted.  As soon as I have time to explain how to properly add recipes into a post, I’ll share the tutorial.

For now, please insert your recipe into the post and I’ll format them when I edit.

End Question

End every post with a question to the readers in a blockquote.  This opens up communication and helps grow a community.

To insert a blockquote, highlight your text and click on the quote icon in the post toolbar.

Spread lots of link love.

Posts with links to other relevant posts (either from within the Spain in Iowa archives, from your own blog, from other blogs you read, or simply useful or informative websites) are very valuable. Readers love to be pointed to information that they can read themselves, places to go for further study, sites where they can purchase products we write about and more. So link liberally!

If you have products of your own that you would like to promote (perhaps an Etsy store, or your own ebook, for example) just let me know. I am 100% happy to help you promote your products!

:: If there are any other stylistic or writing guidelines that you are unsure of, please do not hesitate to email me and ask! Thank you so much for contributing to Spain in Iowa!