Welcome to Elephant Journal.

We’re independent media. That means no fat cats own us and 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. Our mission: to share the good word beyond our core or choir to those who don’t yet know they give a care.

We’re about “the mindful life”—yoga, organics, sustainability, conscious consumerism, active citizenship, ecofashion, the arts, non-new agey spirituality, enlightened education—anything that helps us to live a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet.

We love to write and share because it’s our passion…and we expect that to be your passion as well. We share you, you share us, everyone benefits: it’s a win-win-win.

Elephant Journal 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.

Note: Elephant‘s 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, come back the next day for another two free articles, or pay about $4/month for unlimited reading. Our paygate only affects the three percent of our most loyal and avid readers who read the most, and enables Elephant to get sustainable and focus on editorial instead of advertising.

We encourage readers to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or best of all, get our weekly, daily, or monthly email newsletter to get links to our favorite articles.

Why are writers asked to pay to read?

Elephant‘s paygate is just four bucks a month for everyone, including staff, interns, and columnists. 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. There’s no catch. It’s a delight—and, even better, it’s genuine.

Want to join in? Send us your article, photos, art, poetry, recipe, or a favorite video you’ve seen recently.

Writer’s Guidelines.

Elephant Journal isn’t a bulletin board—we’re a publication. We only publish original work. Share your work on Elephant before Instagram or your site—this has the added benefit of making sure your community will react and share your Elephant work, helping it gain steam to reach beyond the choir.

It takes work to get the good word (these articles) out beyond the choir. That’s how we’ve built such a large community—5 million Facebook fans, 2 million readers/month, 555K on Instagram on four accounts, #1 on Twitter nationally twice for #green coverage.

If no one sees your article, it can’t be of benefit. You must be psyched to share your article to your communities via: Facebook, Facebook messages, your newsletter, individual emails, Twitter, Instagram posts, and Instagram Story swipe ups.

This is a partnership. Before we can promote your article, your previous promoted article (if you’ve written previously) must connect with 108 readers.

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.

Write: It’s simple, but not easy. Open your voice up, and your heart shall follow, and you may find your experience is of service to the greater good.

You must read and adhere to the below style guidelines and use agreement before we’ll consider your work.

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1A. Wanna Write an Article or Contribute a Photo/Video Feature? 

>> Submit your article via our submit form.

Suggested word count is usually in the ballpark of 800 words, but shorter (video with a unique intro or personal take) or longer is always fine as long as you feel you’ve kept the readers’ interest. Guideline for poetry: it has to be accessible, understandable, and there must be a point or message that’s worth sharing.

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, you must update your article with a new title and approximately 20 percent new and different content in the body. This allows Google and other search engines to pick up the article as a unique article. Better for your article, better for Elephant‘s cred.

As we mentioned, Elephant Journal isn’t a bulletin board. Rather, it’s a community, and we each need to do our part to get the good word out beyond the choir. If this is something you feel inspired by, we’d love to move forward, but if Elephant is only one of many publications to share these articles, it’s not really a two-way street. Please submit original work!

Images should be well under 1mb and be relevant to your article. You must have rights to use the image. Images must adhere to our community guidelines. Images will be deleted and users blocked if inappropriate.

>> Include a brief, fun, third person bio here.

Include your email or web address, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Note: All of our articles require a real first and last name, as well as a headshot. This keeps us accountable for our words and also helps Elephant Journal maintain its integrity.

>> After publishing, please feature your Elephant work.

Feature it on your website, Instagram, Facebook, and in your portfolio—the more you feature it in your personal sphere, and email it to friends, the more traction and readers it will get.

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1B. Tone & Edits:

>> Reading Elephant before submitting work will help you write to our audience.

>> Write for ele as you would write a letter to your best friend.

Use a personal story to draw the reader in. (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 that the reader is already familiar with the topic of your story. 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. Include a call to action that benefits the life of the reader.

>> We try to refrain from publishing you-oriented articles in Elephant Journal in favor of more personal, experiential, less to-do-list-like work.

This practice stems from the Buddhist principle of “experience it for yourself.” Furthermore, using “you” in an article or title tends to separate the writer from the reader and can appear preachy or bossy. Instead, try to think/write in terms of “we” and “us,” which unifies the reader and writer. It becomes a journey that we’re on together rather than an expedition that only you are qualified to lead.

>> If you have submitted for editorial review or if your Instant post is promoted, expect edits.

This doesn’t mean that your article isn’t already great—but we may need to tailor your work (including the title) to our audience and style guide, for clarity or flow, and to fit our layout, particularly if your submission is on the long side.

>> Editors will select images for your article.

Editing includes images! We want to include your images where possible, but we reserve the right to choose what we use for final publication, for aesthetic reasons, and/or copyright issues.

You may upload your own personal images (see here for content and image agreements). As mentioned above, an editor may replace or select images for your piece on your behalf. If you’re not in love with the images we’ve chosen, we’re easy to work with and we welcome personally owned images or suggestions on other copyright-free image choices.

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1C. Reviews/Interviews/PR/Advertorial Articles:

>> We don’t do it.

>> 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, or your website.

>> We will publish dedicated coverage, however, for non-profits and for-profits whose missions we and our readers believe in

We will share this on our site, Facebook, and Twitter. We retain editorial oversight and will intro the blog 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 for free.

>> To learn more about our sponsored blog opportunities, take a look over our media kit.

>> For interview consideration, please email [email protected] for an opportunity to be on our Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis video series.

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1D. Acceptance, Payment & Rights (Oh My):

>> We can’t pay per article.

We do, however, offer writer incentives for our best writers.

We 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, but we do our best to have our readers and community voices heard.

>> Important! Please check in with yourself honestly before you submit your writing.

Ask yourself, “is this something I’m willing to have on the Internet for eternity?” Because we do not un-publish promoted articles, even if you change your mind years later.

>> By submitting, you give Elephant Journal “use rights” in perpetuity.

That’s a fancy word for “forever,” or until 3D holograms flying out of your contact lenses are a thing. That said, you can use our edited and published article with credit and link in any publication that you own or control—i.e. your personal site or a gallery exhibition. You can re-publish your Elephant article elsewhere online only if: 1) you change the text by 20 percent; 2) you significantly change the first paragraph; 3) you change your title meaningfully; 4) you do not use our edits (use your draft), and 5) you link back to where it initially appeared on Elephant. If in print, you can publish our version with prominent credit if you ask for permission by emailing [email protected].

>> We prefer original articles. 

However, you may republish your work from any publication that you own or control (your own website) with no changes, or if republishing from any other website or blog (such as Medium), please change the the title and the text by 20 percent to satisfy the SEO powers that be. Duplicate content may be penalized by Google in their search results.

>> We do not delete published articles. 

As explained above, we publish in perpetuity. That means that with the exception of rare cases—matters of personal safety, for instance—we do not unpublish articles. We are happy to edit your article to make it something that you are more comfortable sharing.

Grassroots articles that have not been published by an editor may be edited or removed at your discretion. Log into your account, visit your profile here, and any articles that may be edited or deleted will have a trash and pencil icon next to the title. (Note that editors may review new edits if the article has been previously reviewed.)

>> Some of our ads are adult-themed. We are pleased to work with our partners on mindful intimacy. 

However, if the ads are preventing you from wanting to share the article with friends, family, or a younger audience, please let your editor know. We can turn these off per article in that case.

>> If you agree to our writers’ terms, you will be required to honor our investment of time and care as editors.

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1E. The Elephant Journal Stylebook: Please follow these guidelines.

>> Elephant Journal should be upper-case and italicized.

>> Start a new sentence only one space after a period, not two.

>> We use M Dashes, which are “—,” not “- -.”

>> Any number over nine is written numerically: 10, 32, 108, three, nine. (Unless it is a series of numbers or the first word in a sentence: Eighty years ago.)

>> Please use the oxford comma. (The comma after the last item in a list and before the “and” or “or.”)

>> 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 keep the name in the same paragraph as the quote.

>> B.K.S. Iyengar not BKS Iyengar; a.m. not am.

>> Put a period at the end of every title.

>> Always italicize and explain first use of foreign words. Ex: “It’s a difficult asana (yoga pose).” Exceptions: if in common usage (yoga, karma, Buddha).

>> 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, search on Elephant before linking outside. Linking to older blogs, for example, is like turning compost—it gives air to old stuff and helps keep it alive in the Googlesphere, which helps all of us.

>> Do not put words in ALL CAPS or bold for emphasis, please italicize.

>> Spell out the word “and” in the article. Do not use &.

>> Screamin should be screamin’…any slang like that, put an apostrophe on the 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).

>> Read up on libel—we take this seriously, and you should too.

>> Read up on plagiarism—we take this seriously, too.

SPJ defines plagiarism here. From CJR: “I’m not sure we have a strict operational definition of plagiarism at Slate,” he added in an email to CJR. “To me, plagiarism involves not just using someone else’s research or ideas without credit, but also taking passages of prose and distinctive language.” Hiatt cited a similar definition in an email, calling plagiarism “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”

>> If you want to quote, excerpt, or source direct information at any point ever, read more about fair use here and here.

>> We’d like submissions to be free of typos and grammatical errors. Please proofread your article before submission. Have a friend read it over or ask for a peer edit in one of our writer’s groups. Waylon uses a good analogy of filling your car up with gas. If the writers can take responsibility for making sure their gas tank is full (the typos are taken care of before submission) the car (Elephant Journal) will run more smoothly. So we’re not asking writers to be perfect. But we’re asking them to care. To read their work more than once when submitting. To check in with a friend. To give it their all. Thanks for your help.

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Once you’ve written your post, you’ll want to make sure that people actually read it.

>> Check out Waylon’s writing tips. May your writing help Elephant Journal to be of benefit!