One of the pillars upon which TechCabal was founded was getting the community to contribute. Since inception, we’ve been super open to submissions from experts in the ecosystem, to the point of going out way to get them sometimes.
The feedback we’ve gotten from some of these contributions show that we were not wrong. The people that live and work in a space are smarter, often more articulate than and definitely have better, deeper insights than your average blogger to share with the rest of the community.
In time, people got the idea and started sending submissions in. Which was all well and good, we loved it, and so did you. What we didn’t count on was the processing overhead that comes with getting these submissions to what I term “broadcast quality”.
It seemed trivial to copy-edit a few submissions at the time, but it didn’t take that long to become a drag. On some posts, I would spend hours, days and even weeks in back and forth collaborative editing on Google docs with a would-be contributor, trying to get their pieces to be more writerly.
Some of those projects, most of which I felt had the potential to spark interesting conversations, I regret having to abandon, because I realised that it was an activity that doesn’t scale. At the same time, it was causing me to devote less time to researching and creating original content for TechCabal.
I had to choose if I wanted to be a blogger or a copy-editor for our esteemed community. I can’t be just the latter, for obvious reasons, and trying to be both means that the quality of both outputs will suffer. So by all means, bounce your ideas off me. I will reply as I am able. But for the health and sanity of the one and half humans that power TC, we’ll only publish contributions that make it past our broadcast quality filter on first look.
This filter is not scientifically derived, there is a lot of whim and caprice involved, depending on if I’ve had a KFC burger to eat by noon or not. But I’ll try to demystify. There are three layers to it, I think.
1. An interestingness filter, or why this contribution is important in the first place.
2. A logic and flow filter – we don’t have to agree with your opinion, so long as it is communicated lucidly, clearly.
3. A mechanical accuracy filter – the less typos and grammar fauxes, the easier our lives here are. We like easy.
Hit green on all three, and you’re good to go. Get ready to be TechCabal famous.
A few more pointers
It needs to be useful to the community. We accept contributions that offer analysis, context, lessons learned, interesting observations, that kind of stuff.
You can plug your startup, product or company. By all means, go ahead. Your contributions don’t have to be a neutral perspective, people are free to write about their startup/business experiences, so long as they offer useful insights and are not just a “look at us, we’re so awesome” report card post. That’s the catch. Bald pitches that offer no useful insight will simply be sent off to the editorial slush pile where they can try their luck. These posts by Fritz Ekwoge and Mark Essien are good examples of how to get published and get mileage for your venture on TechCabal at the same time.
UPDATE: if you’re indeed gonna plug your startup, the lessons/insights to plug ratio needs to be skewed at least ten parts to one in favour of insights. Also, said insights need to be set forth clearly and be the most obvious thing about the post. Nobody likes an unabashed shill passing their merchandise off as useful info.
Brevity is the soul of wit, but we like long reads, provided the prose is tight and keeps us on the edge of our seats.
Write for humans. The more lucid your thoughts and logic are, the better the chances we’ll publish. If you feel the need to write about something arcane like skeuomorphic design, explain like its to a five year old. Dazall.
Original content is king. In plain english, we are not above preferring content that has not been published elsewhere prior.
That’s all I can think of right now, I hope they help. In case you didn’t know you could contribute, not only do you now, but you also know how. I’ll update this guideline as circumstances demand. We look forward to hearing from you. Please send in your ideas, tips, growth hacks, gadget obsessions, rants and omniscient startup wisdom to firstname.lastname@example.org. The contact form works very well too.