Have an idea for a great guest post? Here’s what you need to know

Updated 5/31/14: We’ve updated our policies on guest posts, and the new summary of how we approach guest posts can be found here. Short version: we no longer accept unsolicited guest-post pitches from PR agencies or corporate PR departments, but we still accept guest posts under the listed conditions, and many of the same tips listed below still apply. Please read the update first before reading the rest of this post. — Tom Krazit

While most of the pieces  we publish on Gigaom are staff-written, every week we run a handful of posts by guest contributors. The authors are at the center of the industries and trends we cover – they are corporate executives, technologists, VCs, entrepreneurs and thinkers – and they offer fresh and timely insights about emerging technology topics. These pieces are an important part of what we offer readers, and they often stir up great discussion on and off the site.

So how do these guest posts come to be? Every week, we get dozens of emails asking us that very question. Some of the emails include story pitches, others simply want to know more about the process for contributing articles. So we’ve provided answers below to the most commonly asked questions. Take a minute to read through this – hopefully it will clear up any confusion. We look forward to seeing your submissions.

The purpose of guest posts

Similar to op-eds, guest posts are unpaid, bylined articles by our readers. They’re a place for you and other industry experts to discuss what keeps you up at night and gets you going in the morning. What are you most optimistic or concerned about right now? What do you find yourself excitedly talking about over beers with your colleagues? Which new technologies do you think will change the world? And how will they have this impact? This is what we want to hear about.

CEOs, VCs and startup founders look to our guest posts to have their own ideas challenged, to discover new technologies or better solutions to their business problems, and to learn something that they couldn’t learn elsewhere. They’re not interested in hearing the conventional wisdom on well-covered issues (no matter how masterfully crafted the piece is). So stop haranguing your spouse and co-workers with your brilliant idea, and share your contrarian viewpoints with us.

What to include – and not include – in a guest post

Aim for about 800 words. That’s not a lot of room, so stay focused on one main idea. Clearly make your case in a sentence or so in the first or second paragraph. And then back it up throughout the rest of the post, with examples, data points, anecdotes or other evidence. To put it bluntly, our readers have a really high bullshit detector. So your article needs to provide fresh, well-articulated insight into a topic that is important to them.

Guest posts should not be overly formal. Avoid jargon, acronyms and highfalutin words.  Cut out the middleman (sorry, publicists) and write in your natural-speaking voice. It’s your name in the byline, so it should sound like it was written by you.

No self-promotional posts

We want to hear your insider take on things, but we won’t run anything that is either explicitly or implicitly self-promotional. Guest posts aren’t a platform to tell us how great your company or industry is. The purpose of the posts is to enlighten readers and provoke them to think about important and topical issues/questions in new ways.

We’re very strict about all potential conflicts of interest. If you (or the company you work for) have had any relationship – paid or unpaid – with any company mentioned in the story, you need to clearly disclose the nature of that relationship within the post and in the two- or three-sentence bio at the end of the piece. This includes (but is not limited to) partners, customers and advisors.

We prefer to receive guest posts as .txt or Word docs, with any links to outside sources pasted below the relevant paragraph.

Is there an editing process?

Yes, guest posts go through our regular editing process. We’ll add comments and questions to your first draft. We might move a few paragraphs around, so that the ideas flow better, or change the wording here and there to add clarity. We will send you the final text before we publish the piece to make sure that we didn’t alter your meaning in the edits. We never publish an article without getting the author’s approval first. Please note, however, that we do not fact-check guest posts, so you are solely responsible for the factual accuracy of the post.

After we get your okay, we will slate it for publication. Gigaom retains all publishing rights to contributor posts, and we ask that the content not be published elsewhere – either before or after we publish it.

But your role doesn’t end when we hit publish. Like all posts on Gigaom, our guest posts are meant to be part of an ongoing conversation. After the post is published, we expect you to jump in and engage with readers.

How to pitch a post

Send your pitches to [email protected]. If your guest post is connected to a news story, or is time sensitive for any other reason, please say so in the subject heading. Because of the volume of pitches we get, we can’t respond to all of them. If you don’t hear back from us within two weeks, you can assume that we won’t be taking the piece, and we’ll understand when you run it with a different publication.

If you’ve already written the post, of course, include it in the pitch. If you haven’t, please include the following information in your pitch email:

  1. A sentence or two, or short paragraph, explaining the point of the piece.
  2. A sentence or two outlining how  you will tell your story or prove your thesis.
  3. A sentence or two telling us why now. What is the larger context for the article? What is happening in the industry that makes this post particularly important to our readers today?
  4. A sentence or two with your bio, including where you currently work and your relevant background. Why should people listen to what you have to say about the proposed topic?