SR Guest Contributors – Welcome to the Community!
If you haven’t spoken to Jared, please submit one previous Writing Sample and three topic ideas via email.
Upon receiving this document, please submit one writing sample (non-academic) and three article ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org within 5-10 business days.
Make sure each topic falls under one of our columns – please refer to the navigation menu for subcategories and related tags.
What topic should I choose?
Ultimately, we want our contributors to write about topics they know best.
If you are writing for Sustainable Review directly, choose a topic you love. If you are writing for an SR client, write about something you feel comfortable researching and analyzing.
Be creative about the article topics you choose – make sure they loosely fit under one of the above content buckets and align well with our mission or client scope of work.
After you send us your three topics, our Editorial team will pick one based on our upcoming content calendar or client work. When choosing a topic for our blog, consider that Sustainable Review’s target audience is Gen-Z and Millenials – from casual observers to sustainability experts.
Be conversational. Be sure to present your ideas, and make them fact-based and accessible to a broad audience. Write to your friend rather than your professor.
Please let us know if you are unsure about a topic or feel stuck and want some guidance! We have a library of potential topic ideas and can make suggestions for you based on your general interest in a sustainability theme – i.e., clean tech, economic development, etc.
We are committed to giving you the creative freedom to produce the best content.
What we expect from your first draft
Articles submitted to Sustainable Review should range from 500-1200 words (there are exceptions) and be organized with subheadings. SR provides readers with quality information faster about sustainability topics that matter.
If your article is under 750 words, include graphic visuals (ideally original) to enhance your talking points.
Write effectively and efficiently, and make complicated subjects easy to digest. Short paragraphs and bullet points are helpful to readers. Every article is required to have an abbreviated version and a secondary title.
Use images (1000px+) and video (if relevant) in every article. Videos should be submitted as Youtube links. Short videos (30 seconds or less) can be shared as a .mp4.
Every article should include a secondary title and a summary.
- Check out our homepage for how to structure your summary.
- Do not use links in your summarized version.
- A secondary title is one sentence that grabs the reader’s attention and provides further context for the article’s topic or argument.
Every article should have a call to action.
For example, include some discussion questions to prompt a reader to think differently about a particular topic. Provide a real-world, practical tip for the reader so they can change their life. Or, share some links to events or organizations that directly impact your topic.
We are informing readers to be more conscious of their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors around the environment and help them make better decisions to build a better planet.
If your topic covers a current event, leave the reader with talking points or opportunities to contribute to the conversation/event beyond the article itself.
Thank you again for considering contributing to the SR community and, ultimately, the sustainability movement. We look forward to potentially working together, growing together, and seeing what powerful ideas you choose to share with the world!
Note: Sustainable Review reserves the right not to publish an article if it violates our community guidelines, lacks quality, or is misaligned with our mission.
We will never publish content without crediting the author, but we do not publish all article submissions. Contributors may have the opportunity to review the final draft before publication. All decisions are at the discretion of our Editorial team.
The rest of this guide will refer to writing best practices to get your article approved. Many of the below principles apply to quality writing in general, not just writing for Sustainable Review!
Below are some simple guidelines.
There are three things every post needs if you want to succeed in content marketing:
- Valuable: Can readers take your post and DO something with it to improve their current condition?
- Interesting: Does your content make the reader want to keep reading from beginning to end?
- Unique: Does your content stand out from other content about that topic?
Approach the topic in a way nobody else has: “I’m an Environmentalist, and I hate the Green New Deal. Here’s why.”
Pick a side. Being contrarian is OK. Just defend it vigorously. Please make sure you believe in what you are saying and can back it with facts and reasoning.
Captivate Readers Early
Using a captivating opening statement within the first couple of sentences is critical in keeping a reader interested. This means writers must focus on making an article’s first paragraph excellent.
We require SR Writers to provide a subtitle, the first attention-grabbing sentence beneath the main title.
Create A Great Title
There is so much content on the Internet; a catchy title can quickly grab a reader’s attention. Most people browsing articles will decide within seconds whether or not to click on an article.
Use MonsterInsights’ Headline Analyzer.
Be Your Unique Self
What makes your writing special? It brings your unique voice and passion to our community.
Do not be afraid to write in a style that is bold, sarcastic, funny, or educational. Don’t be scared to write from the heart and share personal experiences or anecdotes. Articles are not required to be drafted in a fashion that would suit a scientific blog.
Write as if you’re talking to a friend, speaking in front of a group, or any way that is authentic to your voice. People prefer articles with real-life experiences and stories.
Insert A Video From Youtube
Writers contributing to the Sustainable Review community are welcome to insert a YouTube video into the article when it is relevant to the content. YouTube videos are a great way to better connect with readers and can improve the quality of a post.
Choose Reputable Sources
When a writer references data, statistics, or other information from research studies, it is critical to choose reputable sources.
Scientific journals, credible newspapers, and other verified sources should be chosen when referencing data or stats.
We request that a link to the data source be included in the content. Please link phrases, not single words, and Similarly, do not link complete sentences.
Example: Globally, governments spend over $500 billion in annual subsidies.
Please take a moment to proofread the content before submitting it for review. That means making sure spelling is correct, grammar looks good, and the article’s tone is what you want it to be.
READ YOUR WORK OUT LOUD. IF IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE TO SAY IT, IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE TO READ IT.
Remove extra words or phrases that don’t add to the clarity of the sentence:
- in order to vs. to
- I realize that I went to the park vs. I went to the park
- choose a keyword and mention it in the title, opening paragraph, and roughly every 150 words.
- no internal links in the opening paragraph
- short paragraphs are mobile-friendly
- provide a meta description for search engines
- your keyphrase should be 3-5 words max
- H2-H5 headings in the text
- Use internal and outbound links in every article
We are widely flexible and open-minded about the types of content we produce and publish. Our publication firmly believes no sustainability perspective is stupid or unwelcome (especially if it’s rooted in data, good intentions, and rational thinking).
With that said, SR will not submit content that contains the following:
Overt Partisanship – Make it subtle if you have to.
SR does not endorse any political party and expects its contributors to respect that.
When discussing political issues, make assertions, not accusations. Don’t insult the reader’s intelligence with evident sentiments about a particular topic. Provide the truth, and let the reader decide for themselves. Anyone who is reading SR already cares a little bit about the environment, so let’s not be redundant.
NOT APPROVED: Naturally, the Trump administration made another awful decision to destroy the environment and support the fossil fuels industry. Boy, they suck.
APPROVED: The Trump administration rolled back EPA regulations last week, leading experts to predict an 8% increase in fossil fuel production by 2025 (fabricated statistic). Fossil fuels are harmful to the environment because of xyz fact.
Here at Sustainable Review, we believe that the most impactful arguments are based on logic, fact, and reason.
Alarmist language is distracting and too often not factually accurate. SR wants to make a severe case for sustainability by sharing real-world data and information inclusive for all walks of life.
Let’s teach and welcome new perspectives rather than intimidate them. Refrain from sensationalist or alarmist tone in your writing.
Bad Example: If you buy products with palm oil, you are responsible for destroying the Amazon Rainforest.
Good example: Palm oil products severely harm natural habitats in the rainforest. By choosing not to purchase these products, you are actively protecting critical areas in the Amazon rainforest.
Plagiarized or Published Content
Any articles submitted to Sustainable Review must be original content… not shared anywhere else. No plagiarism!
This also means that submitted articles to our site have not been published or submitted to other online publications, including the writers’ personal blog.
If you are caught submitting plagiarized content, it puts our reputation and organization at risk. As such, serious legal consequences may be taken against you.
The SR Writing Manifesto
Generally speaking, we want you to write in your voice. Writing is a creative endeavor, and you deserve the freedom to convey your thoughts as you see fit.
That said, we want to underline specific guidelines that usually reflect good writing. Again, these are guidelines, not rules, so if you feel inclined to deviate from these guidelines and can defend your reasoning, we welcome that!
We want you to have fun and enjoy this process. As we like to say, young people have the moral authority on environmental issues, and we hope you cherish the opportunity to share your perspective with the world.
Writing for clients
Think about your “why” when writing for clients. Who is their audience? Are they B2B or B2C?
Write to provide value to that audience. Speak to their needs, and hit on their problems. After demonstrating value, you can prove why our client is the right product or service. Be subtle and authentic when getting salesy.
Add a CTA at the end of each article.
Check out a product, or you can cleverly sneak it into the text like… “sustainable packaging saves x trees from rainforest every year, like this product x.”
Don’t overprovide context for climate change.
New writers tend to over-provide context, primarily when covering sustainability.
Don’t waste sentences saying, “the climate crisis is here, and we need to act now before it’s too late.” No need to set the scene. Just get straight to the point.
Cite sources by linking in the text itself.
Use active voice instead of passive voice whenever possible.
Passive voice usually makes your writing appear weak and unclear. In contrast, an active voice conveys a thought forcefully and directly. Passive voice is familiar in academic writing, but active voice is almost always the preferred method in blogging.
Below is an example of active vs. passive voice:
Passive: The teacher was taunted by the student.
Active: The student taunted the teacher.
Passive: Coronavirus spread is mitigated by social distancing and frequent hand washing.
Active: Social distancing and frequent hand washing can mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Edit yourself ruthlessly, looking for opportunities to reduce your word count without diminishing the quality of your writing. We’re not here to write novels; we’re here to inform our readers quickly.
SR aims to provide factually accurate, comprehensive content. But, first and foremost, it must be skimmable, or no one will read it.
Beyond those two guidelines, which we consider the most important keys to good writing, below are some additional tips to consider:
Sentence/phrase variety. Try not to overuse easy umbrella terms like climate change, eco-friendly, sustainability, etc. As a writer, it is a good challenge to mix up your vocabulary throughout a piece.
Ex. Fight Climate change = take climate action
Avoid anthropomorphism of the planet -“the planet’s cry for help.”
We’d rephrase this to – the planet’s warning signs.
The planet = the Earth – that giant billions old thing that will outlive all plants, animals, and humans… the natural environment = a vulnerable part of that big old scary Earth. You can watch this hilarious video from George Carlin on why I don’t like the concept of “saving the planet.”
Explain it to me like I’m five-years-old
Sustainability has lots of complicated jargon, and that’s why they’re reading about it… to learn more. Assume your readers have minimal understanding of many concepts in your article.
Assume your most fragile grandparent is reading your article. Sometimes, you must quickly explain something you might find obvious or well-known.
The context will help each reader fully grasp your article without stopping to question themselves… or you.