TechSoup Canada Blog Style Guide
What's in this guide?
Writing a guest blog post starts with reviewing your idea with TechSoup Canada. Please complete our Guest Post Idea form to submit a proposal for:
- Topic - What will your blog post be about?
- Goal - What will readers learn from your blog post?
We’ll review your idea and contact you via the email you provided in the form. If the idea is approved, you can move ahead with writing! If the idea is not approved, we’ll work with you to come up with something more relevant to the Canadian nonprofit sector.
Please read these guidelines and follow them in your post (and let us know if you have any questions or concerns).
NOTE: We do not sponsor posts or offer advertising space on our website (paid or unpaid). If you’re looking to promote your product(s) or service(s), you may mention them briefly if it’s relevant to your topic (like Peer Giving’s guest post), or include it in your author bio (like HiveWire’s guest post). However, promoting your product(s) or service(s) cannot be the focal point of your piece.
The TechSoup Canada blog is mostly read by staff, volunteers and consultants who work in the nonprofit sector in Canada (and a few in the US). We support a range of technical backgrounds, but the default is to write for the “accidental techie” who has basic knowledge of using computers (savvy enough to get to our blog!).
Depending on the popularity of your post, it might get anywhere from 100 to 1000 views. We share guest posts on our social media channels (~8,000 followers) as well as in our monthly newsletter, By the Cup (~13,000 subscribers). Of course you can help boost the views by sharing it with your own networks!
Your title should spark the curiosity of your reader. It must stand on its own and give people a clear idea of what the blog is about (e.g. in an RSS reader or on Google). It can be as creative as you’d like, as long as it relates to the post. A good, clear blog name will also help your post be found by search engines.
- Example: How Furniture Bank Used Innovative Technology to Increase Social Impact
The blog should be around 500-1000 words. Occasionally it will make sense for blog posts to be longer or shorter. Please discuss this with TechSoup Canada.
- Job Title
- Personal/Organization Website
- Short bio
The author can be focused on either the individual or the company/organization. See the blog for examples of an individual author or a company author (the individual is still named, but the focus is on the company).
If you have a website, we will link to it at the top of the blog (with your name) and again in your bio.
Your audience will be mostly nonprofit staff and volunteers, ranging from dedicated IT staff to “accidental techies” and others who use technology in their work - people in communications, marketing, fundraising/development, administration, finance, etc. There are also some nonprofit consultants and other individuals interested in nonprofit technology.
In most cases, assume the audience has a basic knowledge of technology issues. If the post is intended for a more advanced audience, communicate that.
Your blog post should answer questions such as:
- What is the technology topic/tool/idea this blog post is about?
- Why should I care? How does this apply to my nonprofit?
- What are some concrete guidelines on how to do whatever it is you are talking about (or a link(s) to where I can find this info)?
Examples of formats you can use:
- Case study/story from the field - sharing your experience. Example: Top 3 Tactics of Successful Year-End Fundraising Campaigns
- Information about a relevant topic. Example: How to Select a CRM for Your Nonprofit
- How-to instructions on a technology or process. Example: How to Integrate Google Analytics with Your Donation Page
- Template or worksheet. Example: A simple framework for identifying technology priorities
What to avoid:
- Posts that are promoting a specific product or service, especially in a biased way.
We (at TechSoup Canada) may make minor edits to your blog when we post if necessary, usually to fix grammar and spelling errors. If we want to change anything more significant, we’ll contact you to check if it’s ok.
This will depend to some extent on your personal brand (the image of yourself that you want to convey) and the topic. In general, your tone should be informative, engaging and approachable. Especially for “story/experience from the field” type posts, using a personal voice and being honest about your experiences will help readers to better relate to you.
A few notes:
- Avoid “techspeak” or tech jargon as much as possible
- Avoid authoritative statements (e.g. “Facebook is the best social media platform”), and instead speak from your experience (e.g. “We’ve had the best results in recruiting volunteers on Facebook compared to other social media sites”). Always be open to other possible approaches to solving a problem or dealing with the issue you are talking about, and offer your experience in that mindset.
- Using “I” or "you" is a nice way to add your personal voice into the blog. “We” can also be appropriate too if you’re writing from a company perspective and to clarify who you mean by “we” (e.g. “we at PeaceWorks Technology Solutions believe...”)
- Take a balanced approach to the topic being discussed; represent both sides of an argument (if applicable)
- It’s ok to be honest about pros/cons, and successes and failures! Technology is evolving so quickly that no product is perfect and no one figures everything out the first time. Your post will seem more authentic and trustworthy if you can be honest about the negative as well as the positive, in a respectful way.
Here is how we spell certain common words on our website:
- “nonprofit” (rather than “non-profit” or “not-for-profit”)
- “organization” (rather that “organisation”)
- “TechSoup Canada” (rather than “TechSoup”, “Techsoup Canada”, etc.)
- And remember to define acronyms the first time you use them!
Avoid links where the text is “here” or “click here”, as it’s bad for SEO and screen readers. Instead, use meaningful link text that reflects where the link goes, e.g. “on our website you can learn more about TechSoup Canada”.
The first time you mention a product that is in the TechSoup Canada donations program, link the name of the product to the product page.
If you are discussing a topic on which we have an existing article, blog post or set of content, link to it. (If you’re not sure, we can let you know and check with you that it’s ok to link to it)
We will always attribute two images to our blogs:
- 100 x 100 pixels thumbnail image
- 650 x 250 pixels header
This will liven up the blog and make your post more appealing when shared on social media.
If you’d like us to create an original header for you, let us know if you have a design preference or if you’re willing to leave it up to our artistic discretion :) Here are some headers we’ve created:
If you have your own image, please specify the image source so we can include a credit. Also include ALT text (a short text description of the image for screen readers).
If you have other media that is relevant to the blog post, share the link so we can add it in the blog post. Examples include videos, Storify, documents, etc.
We plan and schedule our content months in advance. As such, we ask all of our guest authors to provide a draft of their blog post at least one week before the publishing date, to allow time for edits and feedback.
Depending on your draft, we may decide to work with you to fine tune the article before we can publish on our website. This process can take anywhere from 1-2 days to 1-2 weeks (depending on the quality of the first draft).
You are welcome to submit blog posts that have already been published elsewhere. We only ask that you take the time to edit them to ensure they’re in-line with our guidelines.
All of our guest bloggers have volunteered their time to contribute to the blog - so thank you!