Welcome to elephant. We’re independent media. That means no fat cats own us, we say what we want to say.
Or, more precisely, we say what you want to say—we’re grassroots, created by, for and of the people who read us. And so while we can’t pay for you to say what you want to say…you’ll be gaining good clips, publicity, twitter and facebook followers, google renown and some good karma.
Note: elephant’s new paygate—a weak “paywall” on elephantjournal.com, allows readers to read two free articles a day, every day in addition to our Front Page. If they’d like to read more, they can come back the next day for another two free articles, or pay about $1/month for unlimited reading. Our paygate only effects the 5% of our most loyal and avid readers who read the most, and enables elephant to get sustainable and focus on editorial instead of advertising.
Why are writers asked to pay?
elephant’s paygate is just a buck and a half a month for everyone, including staff, interns and columnists…that said, if you don’t want to pay that’s perfectly alright, just let us know and we’ll give you a password. Just read this if you can first and let us know—either way is awesome. It’s really just symbolic that we’re all on board, committed, and appreciate the platform of elephant—a community-created vehicle for ordinary enlightenment and community dialogue. ~ ed.
elephantjournaldotcom is only as relevant and helpful as our local and national community makes it—this is a web site made up of, by and for the community it serves. We therefore welcome contributions from anyone, on anything remotely ‘mindful,’ from anyone at anytime. If you’d like to contribute, you have two options:
1A. Wanna Write an Article or Contribute a Photo/Video Feature? Query Guidelines:
>> Email a short paragraph with a few details on what you’d like to write about—be sure to include specifics—to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get back to you with a word count (usually ballpark 800 words) and suggested angle.
>>Submit your article to email@example.com in standard font & size, as a ‘Word’ attachment (we prefer .doc to .docx, please don’t send in text of email itself)
Note: If any part of your work has been published previously, you must inform us in writing—or you legally guarantee our right to publish. If your work has been published previously elsewhere online, please update your article with a slightly new title and/or intro. This allows Google and other search engines to pick up the article as a new, unique article. Better for your article, better for elephant’s cred.
>> Subject bar includes 1) title of work and 2) your name.
>> with brief, fun (one to two sentences) bio (include email or web address).
>> with any relevant artwork (non-copyrighted photos only—please use wikimedia, Flickr Creative Commons or another source that allows photo sharing) and headshot photo of yourself (emailed as jpg, no bigger than 120 x 120 please) attached. If you have more than five photos to accompany your article, we can include a lovely photo slideshow along with the text.
1B. Tone & Edits
>>Reading elephant before submitting work will help you write to our audience. We do not publish infomercials, advertorials or glorified press releases. Articles are not a substitute for advertising. Your bio may, however, contain info re: programs, products, web site etc.
>> Write for ele as you would write a letter to your best friend (a personal style, however, doesn’t necessitate that the substance is casually researched). If you like something, be detailed. If you are negative, be fair. Always begin from the ground up: who, what, where, why, when. Keep it accessible—don’t assume knowledge on the reader’s part. Don’t dumb it down—feel free to go in depth—just define and explain as you go, and keep it fun or serious as appropriate.
>> Expect edits. This doesn’t mean that your article isn’t already great—but we may need to tailor your work to our audience and/or to fit our layout, particularly if your submission is on the long side.
We love reviews that are personal, specific and honest. Whether you’re overwhelmingly positive or negative, we’ll trust you more if you can back up your opinions with details.
The specifics: reviews should be between 100-300 words. Please include an image of the product being reviewed, as well as a bio and bio photo of yourself (so that our readers can get to know you).
If you’re reviewing something you received for free, you must include:
Note: elephantjournal.com received this [review item] for free, in return for a guarantee that we would review said offering. That said, we say what we want—good and bad, happy and sad.
If you are reviewing an event:
We love coverage of fun and mindful events. If you would like to review an event, please send a query ahead of time.
Also note the following:
1. If you are receiving free admission in exchange for your review, this needs to be clearly noted as it would with a product review.
2. Please do a “preview” article at least two weeks ahead of time with details about the event.
3. If it is a multi-day event, please plan to submit one post per day, and please have all posts submitted no more than one week after the event ends.
4. Any photos you can contribute from the event are welcome and encouraged!
1D. PR/Advertorial Articles
We don’t do it.
We will publish dedicated coverage, however, for non-profits and for-profits whose missions we and our readers believe in, on our site, facebook, and twitter: $250 ($125 non-profits). We retain editorial oversight and will intro your PR saying whatever we want. We guarantee the specific day of media coverage you request. You provide the content.
Or, if we love the cause, we’ll edit, post and promote your PR for you for free if you consider us an official media sponsor for one year. We’ll send you our logo, let us know when it’s up on your site, with link (to your article, so it’s a win-win for you). Our conditions: we ask that our logo be posted on your home page, above the fold, reasonable size, and your article on our site be featured prominently in your newsletter (“look, our cause has been featured in elephant!”, and your article on our site posted to your Facebook and/or twitter—if you’re willing to do those three things, we say hell yes, we’ll feature it up on our home page on Bulletin Board for free.
1E. Acceptance, Payment & Rights (Oh My)
We can’t pay. We do, however, hope that you’ll consider the publication of your work the best publicity money can(‘t) buy, a good link/clip for your journalist’s portfolio, a contribution to your community and something to email home about. We may not be able to respond to or publish your work immediately—we have a long line of articles, reviews and features waiting their turn.
elephant reserves all use rights to anything we publish in any form—but, with permission, we’re usually happy for you to sell your work elsewhere, provided we’re credited and linked to.
Please feature your elephant work on your web site, in your portfolio, etc.—the more you feature it in your personal sphere, and email it to friends, the more traction and traffic it will get. If you would like to republish your work elsewhere, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We ask that you include a link back and language at the bottom indicating that readers may find the original piece on elephantjournal.com.
1F: ele:Stylebook: please follow these guidelines, or we’ll send your post back to you.
>> elephant journal should always be lowercase
>> Start a new sentence only one space after a period, not two.
>> M Dashes are “—,” not “- -.” (for a Mac: option+shift+ – dash) (for a PC: three short dashes in row (—) with no spaces between dashes and no space between the two words on either end of the M Dash)
>> Any number over nine is written numerically: 10, four, 32, 108, nine years, 10 apples. (Unless it is the first word in a sentence: Eighty years ago.)
>> When using commas in list, do not use a comma after the last item before the “and” or “or.”
>> Indent using the block quote button in the WordPress toolbar, rather than only italicizing long quotes (from scripture, for example) within articles.
>>Do not credit a quote by placing the person’s name at the end of the quote with a dash before it. Use a ~ and leave a space before the name on the line below the quote: ~ Joseph Campbell
>>B.K.S. Iyengar not BKS Iyengar; a.m. not am.
>>Put a period at the end of every title in the title.
>> Credit a photo like this: Photo: [name] (Again, make sure to use non-copyrighted images found through photo sharing sites like Flickr Creative Commons or wikimedia)
>> Always italicize and explain first use of foreign (Sanskrit, etc.) word. Exp: “It’s a difficult asana (yoga pose).” Exp: “It’s a difficult asana, or yoga pose.” Exceptions: if in common usage (yoga, karma, Buddha, etc.).
>>Vocabulary: in order to spread the good word beyond the close community, from the choir to the masses, make sure new terms are linked back to elephant articles, or if an elephant article on the topic does not show up in your search, link to a site that you find by doing a google search. Linking yoga terms or Buddhist vocabulary to elephant articles, for example, will be easy to do. The link does not have to define the term, but can portray the meaning of it through articles telling a story involving, say vipassana. Just remember—you can’t assume that everyone knows what you’re talking about!
>> speaking of links, (generally, not always) search on ele before linking outside. A recent great post by Shakti of Hula Hoop fame linked to Wham-O products and Lewis Carroll. We have blogs already on both of those subject, which she could link to (I changed links, Shakti). Linking to old blogs is like turning compost–gives air to old stuff, helps keep it alive in googlesphere, which helps all of us.
>> Do not put words in all caps or bold for emphasis, please italicize.
>> screamin should be screamin’…any slang like that, put apostrophe on end. (Waylon uses that a lot, ’cause he’s always talkin’ like a cowboy or Huck Finn.)
>> Online, it’s best to break up long paragraphs. It makes longer posts easier on the eye and less intimidating.
>> Always include a subtitle (makes your post more searchable on google).
2A. Wanna Be a Regular Blogger/Contributor?
If you’d like to become a regular contributor to elephantjournaldotcom, we can show you how to blog directly. You will have to commit to contribute at least one post per week, or four a month, for at least a year.
If that’s too much, you can just email us your query or article and we can post it for you (see 1-1c, above).
Most bloggers stick to one topic-of-interest, such as ecofashion or politics, while occasionally writing on whatever strikes their fancy, whatever they find themselves blabbing excitedly to good friends about. To familiarize yourself with the tone and format of our blogs (they are generally shorter, and more personal than articles), scroll through the first few pages of blogs at elephantjournal.com.
You can blog about anything that falls under “the mindful life”—living a good life that happens to be good for others, and our planet. More specifically (but not limited to), we generally focus on yoga, organics, non new-agey spirituality, active citizenry, sustainability, adventure, conscious consumerism, wellness and the arts. Basically, good blog material is any article and video you find yourself getting emailed by friends, or stumble across on the internet, or any new products that you discover—anything interesting enough to chat about to a friend at a café or bring up over dinner.
If you’re interested in blogging, we ask would-be columnists to email four sample blogs over the course of a month, along with information about what topics you’d like to cover to us at email@example.com. It takes us time to set you up as a contributor on our site—so you must first commit to post at least one blog per week.
Once you’ve written your post, you’ll want to make sure that people actually read it. ele star columnist Chris Courtney has shared a few tips on How to Attract Readers to Your Blog—we highly recommend that you take a look!
May your writing help elephant to be of benefit!