MOTHER EARTH NEWS
Frequently Asked Questions
Blogging Best Practices
Application to Join Our Blog Squad
Terms of Our Agreement
How do I join the Mother Earth News Blog Squad?
We welcome anyone with expertise or passion about sustainable living topics to apply to become a blogger. Just contact our blogging coordinator, Kale Roberts, at kroberts[at]motherearthnews[dot]com, to receive a blogging application and more information.
After your application is approved, we will publish your bio page and first post on www.MotherEarthNews.com. For more information, see our Blogging Best Practices.
We especially welcome book authors who have become experts on their topic(s). You can “Blog your book” by submitting posts with a short intro or update to selections from your book, along with a link at the bottom of each post to your website or to our online bookstore. In most cases, our online bookstore will carry your book if you blog regularly for www.MotherEarthNews.com.
How much traffic will my posts receive?
Mother Earth News has a very active website, with more than 4 million visits every month. Most blog posts are seen by thousands of visitors every year, and we will teach you how to choose topics and titles to increase the traffic your posts receive.
We feature the best blog posts in our newsletters (about 250,000 subscribers) and on our Facebook pages (1.5 million likes on the main page, plus we also maintain pages for each state and province).
What topics can I write about?
We want posts that our audience will find helpful, entertaining and inspiring. Ask yourself what you like to read about on our website, and then match that answer with your own area of expertise.
Mother Earth News covers nine main categories, and we ask that you blog on topics that relate to one or a few of these categories:
- DIY Projects
- Organic Gardening
- Real Food
- Homesteading and Livestock
- Renewable Energy
- Green Homes
- Green Transportation
- Natural Health
- Nature and Environment
What do you expect as far as writing style?
You don’t have to be an experienced writer. Find your voice and let it shine. Every blogger will develop his or her unique voice and identity. A how-to post or recipe will have a different style than a well-researched natural health piece. You are encouraged to offer your opinion on whatever subject you’re blogging about. However, don’t confuse opinion with fact — your style should be clear about what you are presenting as opinion versus factual information.
The most important thing is to make your posts useful and entertaining.
For more help with writing style, see our Blogging Best Practices.
How often do I need to post?
We ask that you aim to submit posts of about 500 to 1,000 words (longer is fine), roughly every other week. If you can post weekly, that’s even better.
We realize there may be periods when you are not able to post this often; this is OK.
Will you be editing or fact-checking my blog?
No. Your content will likely be published as submitted. With that in mind, please always edit, proofread and run your computer’s spell check and grammar check before you submit each post. We may do some light editing for clarity or correct obvious typos and formatting errors if we see them, but it is your responsibility to provide well-written and accurate information. You might find it helpful to read your draft post out loud to someone, and invite their feedback.
The following statement will appear online at the end of all Community Blogs:
“All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.”
How does Mother Earth News pay bloggers?
At the present time, your compensation is the opportunity to connect with our highly engaged audience. If you have a website, organization, books, workshops or relevant products that you want to promote, you can include this information on your bio page and in a few lines at the end of your posts.
Can I link to my company or organization’s website?
Will I get any visibility in the magazine? Will blogging help my chances of writing for the magazine?
Potentially, and yes. The Blog Squad is a vital part of the lively website we maintain. We promote you and your posts in various ways in print. Editors select blog posts to feature in newsletters and on our various social media channels, and we sometimes mention relevant bloggers in our magazine departments and/or feature articles. Consider blogging as a proving ground where you can show us your ideas and your writing skills.
Will you do anything else with the material I submit?
We might reprint posts in Mother Earth News magazine or in other Ogden titles, or use them in other ways to promote the Blog Squad.
Will I get credit if you publish the blog somewhere else?
Yes, you will always get a byline with your copy and a photo credit for any photos you provided.
Can I use material I’ve used other places, such as in books I’ve written, for my Mother Earth News posts?
Yes, if you hold the copyright and posting the material on our site doesn’t conflict with any of your agreements with other publishers. This does not include content already published online — see next question.
May I reuse posts from my personal blog or website in my Mother Earth News posts? Or, may I reuse my Mother Earth News posts on my website or personal blog?
No. Search engines prefer unique content. If you post the same content in two locations, search engines will penalize your blog and our site for “duplicate content,” and your posts will not rank as high in search results.
Can I link to my Mother Earth News posts on Facebook, Twitter, my personal blog, etc.?
Yes, we would love for you to do that. Ideally, you would include a short teaser, such as the introductory paragraph, and then a link to the post on www.MotherEarthNews.com.
Can I respond to readers who post comments on my blog?
Absolutely, we encourage interaction with your audience. Please always keep conversations productive and respectful. After your post is live, there will be a box at the bottom of your post that you can check to receive emails when someone comments.
What about photos?
Including at least one photo (more are welcome) is a requirement for our blogging system. Photos must be uploaded to our system, not simply pasted into your post. Whenever you use a photo, please include a photo credit, and be sure you have permission to use the photo (see below). At the end of the post, please list photo credits using this format: Photos by Name
Where can I get photos?
The best and easiest option is to use photos you took yourself. If someone has given you permission to use their photo, that’s fine, too, but always include the correct photo credit. (For example, you might get a photo from a family member or close friend.)
If you’re savvy with digital photo rights, you can search these sites:
Select “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” and “Find content to use commercially.” It’s best to check the license on each photo (look for “License” in the right column.)
Directory of U.S. government public domain photos
“If you use a free Image on a website, you must place a text hyperlink on that website to the Image creator's portfolio page on FreeDigitalPhotos.net. This includes forums, blogs and social networking sites.”
Can’t I just get photos from other websites?
No. There are too many copyright issues. (See above for where you can get photos.)
Can I include videos in my blog post?
Yes! Our blogging platform allows you to embed YouTube videos in your blog posts. Check with us for details.
Also, please use common sense and don’t post YouTube clips where it’s obvious that whoever put up the video on YouTube doesn’t own it. (For example, many clips from a TV show or movie are copyright violations if they were not put up by the copyright holder.)
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1. Be very clear; blogging is different from other kinds of writing. Many people will find your posts via automated search engines, so it’s important to be as clear as possible about what your topic is. Use the headline and first two sentences to summarize what the post is about; keep your personal story, if any, lower in the post. This is purely for practical reasons: Nobody searches for “Once, when my Aunt Clara visited my mother,” they search for “delicious chocolate chip cookies.” So use your headline and first few sentences to highlight your main points and pull your readers into your personal story. Here are a few examples of effective titles:
Good example: DIY Chicken Coop
Bad example: Cornelius Gets a New Coop
Good example: Solar Panel Installation, Part II
Bad example: I Got PV!
Good example: How to Plant Potatoes
Bad example: Time to Plant ‘Taters!
2. Optimize your posts for the web. You want readers to be able to find your work. Search engines scour the Internet to match people’s online searches with the most reliable and relevant articles and blog posts. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process by which you are able to “optimize,” or tailor, the blog posts you write so that they show up high in search results lists and thereby bring you more readers. Optimization includes choosing a topic that has an effective target keyword, writing good headlines, using strategic language, and inserting effective keywords.
Some posts on www.MotherEarthNews.com get a few hundred or thousand views per month; others get more than 20,000 per month! The difference is usually in the search engine optimization done by the blogger. If you join our Blog Squad, we will provide you with a copy of our handy SEO Guidelines and a link to an SEO how-to video, tailored to our bloggers.
3. Be personal. People love to engage with bloggers, and being intensely personal — in a casual way — is one way to engage readers. If you’re telling a personal story, be sure to write in first-person. Useful information is always preferred, but occasional more philosophical pieces are OK, too. It’s great to offer your opinion on whatever subject you’re blogging about. However, don’t confuse opinion with fact. Try to avoid making statements of fact that are actually your opinions.
YES: “I think Bob’s Red Mill products are the best things since sliced bread.”
NO: “Bob’s Red Mill products are the best thing since sliced bread.”
Be careful of time references — using them may limit your blog post’s life span. Mother Earth News editors often choose blog posts to feature on our website landing pages, in electronic newsletters, and on social media, but by including seasonal or time references, you reduce your post’s chances of being featured.
4. Be consistent. We understand that your contributions will ebb and flow over time, but the more consistent you can be, the better, because it will help you build an audience. Frequent posts encourage readers to follow you. Aim for a fresh post every two weeks. If generating that much material seems difficult, occasionally invite others to do a “guest post” for you. A few more suggestions for quick/short blog posts:
- Write a short post and ask a question to start a conversation among readers.
- Post a photo or series of photos with some brief comment
- Paraphrase a section of a book you’ve written.
- Review one of your favorite wiser-living books or magazine articles (and link to it).
- Make a list post of X (My Seven Favorite Mother Earth News Articles; Five Great Website sites to Help You Do XYZ; etc.)
- Interview someone on a topic that you’re interested in, and post the interview.
5. Attribution rules. Give credit where it’s due. If you picked up an idea or info from someone else’s press release, blog post, print article, book, webpage or anywhere else, give them credit. Whenever you quote from a source directly, you must ID the source. In serious cases, not doing so can be deemed plagiarism, which is illegal. (Learn more: Charles Seife, journalism professor at New York University, describes the 5 main types of plagiarism.)
When referencing an online source, link to the source. A good practice when linking is to avoid phrases such as “click here” and instead hyperlink the title of the webpage or headline of the piece you are linking to. For example:
“In my first post on passive solar design (Retrofitting Your Home for Passive Solar), I discussed one option: installing windows on a sunny …”
6. Be especially careful about making any health claims. Unless you’re citing the original, credible science that supports your allegations of health benefits, avoid making such claims. This is especially important for health and herbalism topics and food bloggers who write about special diets, such as low-fat, raw, gluten-free, Paleo and others. If you write on these topics, please see Special Guidelines for Food Bloggers and Special Guidelines for Natural Health Bloggers for more detailed information for food and health bloggers.
7. Engage with your readers. Follow comments on your posts and respond to comments, whether positive or negative. Here’s how to do that: After your post is published and live, be sure you’re logged into our website, then scroll to the bottom of your post. Check the little box “Get free email alerts…”. You will get an email whenever anyone posts a comment. Remain polite and curious, and if a commenter criticizes you, acknowledge the commenter’s right to his/her opinion in your reply. If you discover something you posted is simply wrong, have the courage to change it — in this event, our blogging coordinator, Kale Roberts, can help you update your post. Email Kale at Kroberts[at]motherearthnews[dot]com.
8. Be honest. If you’re affiliated with a product that you’re writing about, always make your connection clear to your readers. If you’ve been given a product in return for blogging about it, acknowledge that you’re blogging on behalf of the company. In general, carefully consider such offers as potential conflicts of interest before agreeing. Realize that such conflicts can diminish your reputation. If you have questions, contact us.
9. Promote via social media. If you use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Google+ or any other social media platforms, let your friends and contacts know about your posts. Don’t be shy about this — it’s a great way to help readers find you! If you keep a personal blog, feel free to cross-promote — mention your personal blog in your posts for us, and your posts for us in your personal blog.
10. Every blog post must include at least one photo or video. The best and easiest option is to use photos you took yourself. If someone has given you permission to use the photo, that’s fine, too, but always include the correct photo credit. There are a number of “open access” photo websites that allow you to download free photos to use. For a list of websites that offer free, open-access photos, see Photos and Videos, above. If you want to include a video in your post, check with your blogging contact, Kale Roberts, for directions.
The more closely you follow these guidelines, the higher your post is likely to rank in search engine results.
Always title the recipe clearly. Use a specific headline that will help guide readers to your recipe.
Act like a pro. Professional courtesy dictates that you must credit someone else if you’re using their recipe. If you wish to reprint someone else’s recipe, from a book, magazine or another blog, give credit to its developer. If you have changed at least 3 ingredients and one process step, the new recipe is yours; but it’s still gracious to say something like, “Steven Raichlen’s recipe for bourbon-peach grilling sauce inspired my take, which substitutes tequila for the bourbon.”
List ingredients in order of use, and always check that all ingredients listed are accounted for in the text of the recipe. Are you telling the reader to add yeast to a bread recipe, but no yeast is specified in the instructions? Or have you specified yeast in the ingredients, but not given a clue about when it’s supposed to be added to the recipe?
Write a headnote for every recipe. A headnote is the text at the beginning of the recipe. It can be about the recipe’s history, a special technique involved, storage directions, suggestions for substitutions, or a personal story about a time this recipe was served successfully. The yield goes at the end of the headnote, and appears in italics in this format: Yield: Makes X servings.
Use American cooking measurements, oven settings and ingredient names. We are delighted to have bloggers from all over the world. But if you’re a British or Canadian blogger and you ask for “aubergine” and “courgette,” most American readers will not know that you’re asking for eggplant and zucchini.
Format the recipe correctly. Sue Van Slooten’s recipe for oatmeal bread is an example of a blogger-posted recipe that’s formatted correctly.
Include at least one photo. If you will only use one photo, the finished dish is preferred. Your readers can pin photos and recipes to Pinterest, and finished-dish photos are more likely to be pinned there.
Always be extra careful with health claims. There is a great deal of incorrect information on the internet. Whenever you make a health or healing claim in a post, you should quote/cite reputable research or other expert sources to support the claim. Expert sources could include major newspapers such as the New York Times or medical sites such as the Mayo Clinic. For herbs, top sources include publications from The American Botanical Council, Commission E monographs and university studies.
Include footnotes so your readers will know where you got your information. Blogger Kathleen Jade does an especially good job of this. See one of her posts, here.
Try not to rely on a single source; search the topic on the Internet and watch for potential conflicting opinions.
Write from your own experience. You can always say what you do, why you do it and what you believe the results have been. But you should not promise results unless you can include solid evidence to support the promise.
Treat every post as if it’s for beginners. Not everyone knows how to make an herbal tincture, so if you’re asking readers to do something procedurally that is not commonplace, be sure to explain that step — or provide a how-to link.
Avoid writing about homeopathic remedies. We are unaware of credible evidence that they are effective.
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To apply for the Mother Earth News Blog Squad, please fill out and return the form below to our blogger contact, Kale Roberts, at Kroberts[at]motherearthnews[dot]com. Don’t forget to include your bio page information and photo, as well as your first sample blog post with accompanying photos.
What topic(s) would you like to blog about?
Please write a brief description of your experience and current projects that relate to your proposed blog topics.
In general, how often do you anticipate you will submit new blog posts? (weekly/biweekly/monthly/unsure)
Do you have a personal blog or website, or have you written for other websites, magazines or newspapers, or written any books? Please provide links to online material that is available.
Have you ever used a blog interface such as Wordpress, Blogger, etc.?
Do you use Facebook, Twitter or other social networks?
Bio Page Information
All blog posts must include a byline which links to a bio page about you. Please provide the information below, and feel free to remove any fields that don’t apply, or add fields if you want. This bio page is a great space in which to promote and link to your work, your website, your business, etc. If you work for a company or organization that will in any way influence your writing, please be sure to disclose your connections here.
Sample bio pages can be found at the following links:
Oscar Will III, Editor-in-Chief of Grit magazine
Steve Maxwell, DIY expert
Roger Doiron, real food and organic gardening expert
Place of Residence:
Background and Personal History:
Other Fun Facts:
More Places to Find Me on the Web:
Bio page photo. Please email your bio photo(s) along with this form as .jpg images attached to the email.
Sample Blog Post
Please write or paste in a sample blog post below. If everything checks out OK, this post will double as your first post on www.MotherEarthNews.com.
Summary (1-3 sentences):
(Include your state/province and name as tags, along with the broad topics of your post. When someone clicks on one of your tags, a list appears with all the blog posts on www.MotherEarthNews.com that contain that tag. For example, when someone clicks on your name tag, all posts tagged with your name will appear in the list.)
Text of post:
Photos for the blog post: Attach a photo or two directly to an email to accompany your sample post.
Thank you for completing your application. Submit this application, bio page photo, sample post and post photo to your blogging contact, Kale Roberts at kroberts[at]motherearthnews[dot]com.
You can view the collected Mother Earth News blogs here. We recommend that you also sign up for our newsletters to see featured blogs, and like our Facebook page so you can see the blog posts that are included there.
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By submitting posts to Mother Earth News you are agreeing to the following:
You will read and follow our FAQ and Best Practices.
You grant Mother Earth News and our parent company, Ogden Publications, the right to edit and publish your posts and photos.
You retain shared rights to reuse your posts as you choose, except that we strongly discourage you from reposting your Mother Earth News posts on other websites, as this practice can cause search engines to penalize both you and us for posting duplicate content. Content can be similar, but should not be identical to what you submit to us.
Mother Earth News reserves the right to refuse or remove any content which we deem objectionable.
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