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Blog post submissions

Have you you been asked to write a post for the UWaterloo Stratford Campus blog?

If so, read the guidelines below that will, hopefully, answer any questions you may have about writing and submitting a post.

Or do you have something that you would really like to write about for the blog?

If so, please contact Stephenie Koerne to discuss your idea.

Writing for the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus blog

Easy as π

It may seem like some magic art, but it's pretty simple.

Why? Because you don't need to make it sound like a school essay, a business report, or even like a news article. But remember that people are choosing to spend their time reading our blog, instead of the 1000 distractions pushing for their attention.

And it's kind of incredible that written communication still has its place in the internet's warp speed madness. But it certainly does. What can you do to make your blog posts better? Consider what's special about reading something. Is it a more intimate connection with the writer? Simply a faster and more efficient way to gather information?

Let's explore these two options, though a whole lot of others are possible as well.

1) A more intimate connection

If you're covering an event or writing about a new tech startup, be sure to give your audience enough information, but also insert yourself into your post. What do you think? How might this affect a person like yourself? Let yourself shine through in the stories you tell. This way, you can develop a connection with your reader. Have someone in mind when you're writing, so it's almost like a letter. Or an email. But not an email 4matted n speld lyk this, rather an email that's formatted and spelled like this. In other words, no text speak - user proper grammar and punctuation, please.

2) Faster and more efficient information

TL;DR. Too Long; Didn't Read (also know as Teal Deer). If you're like Charles Dickens and believe you're being paid per word, writing for a blog is going to be a bumpy ride. While people are looking for a nice way to connect with others, remember that this is the internet, and the internet is speed-dating on steroids.

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Etch this quote by The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint Exupéry into your computer monitor.

If you're wondering about an exact number of words, generally somewhere between 250-500 works well. But, based on your topic, don't hesitate to break that suggestion, as some topics need more room to breath. If you write 1000 words, but the post is riveting and incredible, nobody will hold that against you.

Sharing is caring

Once you've finished your blog, ask yourself: is this something sharable? That's what the internet is all about, right? If that person you have in mind when you're writing, reads this, will they post it to Twitter? What sorts of things might make them want to? Maybe your post talks about some new trends that will make them feel very worldly and futuristic by sharing? Make sure they have a reason to spread it. A quick and easy trick: mention another person or organization in a positive light and there's a good chance they'll spread the word. If you were written about on our blog, wouldn't you be flattered and want all your friends 
to know?

Using images and sounds

Photo of typewriter keys.

QWER...
©Stephenie Koerne

This is pretty close to a necessity. Images are a nice way to lend some extra dimension to the story you're telling. A snappy caption can go a long way also. Remember that blogs are competing with all the engaging media online, and having images in a post appeals to the senses in a nice way. However, when including images, make sure that they are used with the proper copyright permissions and attributions. If possible, go that extra step in making your post more meaningful by taking your own images. Images for the blog should be optimized for the web at 72dpi, be between 10x10 and 3000x3000 pixels, less than 10 MB, and saved as .png, .gif, or .jpeg.

Do you have any additional media? A sound recording? Include it! Whether you're covering an event or demonstrating a tutorial, having recordings, audio or video, puts an even higher sensory value on your blog post.

Last but not least, keep your recordings short. Edit them down to 75 seconds 
or less and should be saved as a .mp3.

Please note: The University of Waterloo website content managment system template does not support iFrames embeds. So, when sending media, please be sure to send the actual files or links to the files, not code for embedding.

Tagging

Our blog will be searchable with tags, so when you submit your blog, be sure to include approximately 5 tags for your post. If I were to submit tags for this little guide, they might be:

blog         technique        writing        images        tutorial

As you can see, they don't have to be perfectly accurate, but they'll help when people want to search our blog. Help 'em find your excellent work.

Editing

Never submit a blog post without revising it. On the other hand, never try to write a blog post that's so perfect it doesn't have to be revised. This isn't a matter of finding spelling errors (though it's good for that also), but of making it easier to start working and getting that doubtful voice in your head to shut up. It's also useful for making you aware how your work feels to others. If you have the opportunity to be away from the post for a day or even a few hours before revising, that can really help. You might even shock yourself at what a good writer you are.

Who are you?

When you submit your post, include a short bio of yourself (3 or 4 sentences) saying who you are (name, job title, company), what keeps you busy, and some things you're proud to be involved in. If you have a website or Twitter handle you'd like to share, or some other social media or form of contact, this is a great place to do so.

Formatting and style

The best advice here is to experiment and know that there's almost no rules on how a blog "should" be. In this guide I've used headings, and that can sometimes be useful, especially if it's a post that you want to be easily navigable. If you're writing a tutorial this can be a nice style to try.
Keep your writing family-friendly, and make sure you don't have any typos. This is a University that you're writing for, after all! But you can definitely say "I" and your style can be chatty and casual. Above all, consider this question: is it easy to read? If you answered Yes, then you're probably on the right track.

Get posted!

Once you're done with all this, how do you submit your work? Simple. Just go to the submission web form, and fill in the boxes with your polished post along with a title, your tags, your bio, and any additional media (images, recordings, YouTube links, etc.). Please be sure to submit the text in a standard word processing document, such as Word (.doc/.docx), Pages (.pages) or .rtf, and upload all content in a single folder as a compressed .zip file.

When contacted to write a post, you should've negotiated a submission and publishing date. Please be sure to keep those dates in mind and submit your content accordingly. If for any reason you have a need to change the dates, let us know as soon as possible.

If you have any questions regarding the blog or your submission, please email Stephenie Koerne at your convenience.

And FYI, once the post is published on our blog, it will then get shared out via our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.). So, if you want us to include you in the sharing, make sure to let us know your contact information for the various sites.

Have fun

This just has to be here. But really, if it's a chore to write it, it'll probably be a chore to read it and very quickly YouTube will start looking like a good alternative to your readers. Let yourself explore and experiment. If you can make yourself laugh while you're writing, that's usually a great sign.


In general, if you've been asked to write a post, then a topic has already been discussed. But in the case one hasn't, here are a few suggestions to get you thinking.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What expertise do you have that you can share?
  • Is there a topic that you would like to learn more about? You can do so by researching and writing about it.
  • Do an interview with someone in an industry of which you are interested or a part of.
  • Share an exhibition or project that you've worked on, or a presentation or talk that you've given.
  • Relate a current event or news.
  • Do a round-up of other posts on a particular topic or industry.
  • Use a topic generator for ideas.

And for more tips on writing blog posts, check out the links in the right-hand side-bar.


Information provided by Stephenie Koerne and Jordan Mandel.