Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer Guidelines


Welcome to the Entrepreneur Leadership Network! Each month, millions of readers visit our site in search of solutions, new ideas and inspiration. Sharing your thoughts, experiences and hard-earned problem-solving techniques is a great way to help others, make connections and strengthen your personal brand and stature as a business leader.

So let’s get to it!

Important to know:

1. No interviews or quotes (unless it’s Elon Musk)

We do not accept contributor content that contains interviews and quotes, or features products and services, from non-household name business leaders and experts. (More on this below.)

You are a member of ELN because you are an expert. We want your personal stories and lessons that you have learned first-hand. You’re an entrepreneur — share what you are seeing and experiencing with our community. Your successes, your struggles, your pivots. It makes for more engaging and, ultimately, more helpful content.

2. The timeline

We’re excited to read your stories — but there are a lot of you. After you submit a story, expect to wait 2-4 weeks for it to be published if you’re a premium contributor, and 6-8 weeks if you’re a free contributor. And we recommend you contribute no more than one to two pieces per month to avoid a backlog. (More on this below.)

3. Follow our style

Want your piece to be edited even more quickly? Some style preferences are found below, and we suggest reading our style guide before you write an article. The more closely you adhere to it, the better.

How to write a great Entrepreneur.com article:

Readers come to Entrepreneur.com for great advice — to learn what has worked (and not worked) for other entrepreneurs. Here’s how to craft a great advice-drive article:

Step 1: Think of a distinctive angle

After you have a subject in mind, it’s helpful to search our site (either through the in-site search function or by googling “Entrepreneur Magazine” in combination with a keyword – leadership, tech, sustainability, etc. – that will bring you to the relevant topic page on our site) for related pieces. That way, you can see how it’s already been covered — and how you can take a fresh approach. Think of it this way: Entrepreneur.com is having a conversation with our readers, so your goal is to advance the conversation. Go where it hasn’t gone before!

Step 2: Narrow your approach

At first, you may have a tendency to think big and broad: “5 Ways to Market Yourself,” say, or “Why Your Company Should Start Producing Content.” But before you start writing, dig deeper than that! The most successful stories are narrowly focused — because that enables you to offer specific, tangible advice. For example, here are hyper-specific headlines that attracted a lot of readers: “13 Fun Facts That Will Make Your 'About Me' A Lot Less Boring,” “8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business,” and “5 Things You Need to Know Before Investing in a Chick-fil-A Franchise.”

Step 3: Be useful — with examples!

The most successful stories in Entrepreneur offer information that entrepreneurs can use now. Be practical. Be instructive. Be clear. And be engaging! Generic information isn’t useful. Advice is always better when it’s accompanied by examples that bring your point to life, and detailed thoughts that help readers appreciate the nuance of your point. This is not a place to brag about your success, but to share your experiences with other entrepreneurs in the hope that they can learn from it.

What do we look for?

Trustworthy resources: Embed links to original sources of information (studies, stats, etc.). Ask your editor if you are unsure how to hyperlink text in our CMS.

Correct length: Pieces typically run about 800-1,000 words. Some exceptions are made for longer articles, but we rarely run articles shorter than 800 words.

Inclusion: Writers should be conscious of writing about topics relevant to all entrepreneurs and representing the diversity found in the entrepreneurial community.

Appropriate sourcing of information and quotes: If you include any information or quotes from other sources, you must acknowledge them. For example, if you cite something that someone said in the New York Times, include that attribution and link to it.

Other items related to your topic: Anecdotes, quotes, academic/think tank studies, data points. These must all be sourced or linked to their sources. Don’t make us search for your sources, please.

Proofreading and spell-checking the document: Spell check and grammar check before submitting. Articles that are in bad shape will be rejected.

Factual accuracy: Check the spelling of individuals and company names. Make sure to confirm facts using several sources.

An absence of formatting: This means no bolded text, no italics (except for publication titles), no all-caps words (unless referencing a company whose name is stylized), etc. We’ll just have to erase all your formatting and do it again in our own style.

Things that cannot be included in your article:

Overly promotional content: Articles are a way to bolster your credibility as a thought leader and expert. They are not a place to promote people, companies or services. Remember, our readers come to Entrepreneur for advice and tips on how to better run and launch their businesses.

Paid links or mentions: Referencing or otherwise using your ELN membership in connection with giving, promising or offering editorial coverage to a third party, whether on this website or any other media outlet, in exchange for compensation of any kind (including without limitation promotion on social media) is a serious violation of our standards and will result in termination of your membership.

Unacknowledged financial relationships: We discourage you from writing about anything you have a financial relationship with, or anyone you have a social relationship with. There may be rare cases in which mentioning friends or business partners is valuable to the article; in that case, check with your editor. If it’s approved, you must disclose the relationship in the story.

Profiles or quotes from non-household name entrepreneurs, experts or businesses: Unless the entrepreneur or business is well-known (think Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Google, Apple, etc.), we typically do not accept profiles, Q&As or quote roundups. We want YOUR expertise.

Previously published material: We cannot accept articles that were previously published, even if you’ve made some changes to them. We only accept 100% new pieces of writing.

Plagiarism or copyright infringement: Including a third party’s original or copyrighted material without their permission as part of any article you post as an ELN member is a serious violation and will result in termination of your membership.

Photos: We cannot publish images we don’t have rights to. Please leave all imagery to us, unless your editor instructs otherwise.

What to expect from our editing process:

Wait time: Premium members can expect to hear back from an editor shortly after submission during normal business hours. Publication time can vary — expect 2-4 weeks for premium members, 6-8 weeks for free members. Your editor may have edits or questions that you need to address, and the story may need to be revised before it’s published.

Number of posts: The number of posts you can upload depends on your membership level. Please check your account information. If you are a premium member, we again suggest aiming for one or two articles per month. You can write and submit at whatever pace fits your schedule best, but just bear in mind publication of numerous pieces may necessarily be staggered, and please do let your editor know if a piece is particularly timely.

Communication: Editors love writers who are open to feedback and take revisions seriously. If you’re interested, editors can provide more detailed feedback so that you can grow as a writer and most effectively serve the entrepreneurial audience.

Reposting: You can repost your story on your website/blog 10 days after it is published on Entrepreneur. We require a link back to the original article on our site.

Editorial judgment

Editors are here to help your writing shine, but they must also maintain the editorial standards of Entrepreneur.com. Entrepreneur reserves the right to edit all content submitted for publication, including grammar, formatting, headlines and length. We reserve the right to reject content for any reason.

We also reserve the right to remove any links or content for any reason, including that it’s offensive, harmful, not editorially sound, or overly promotional. Any violation of our policies can result in the termination of your membership at the editors’ discretion.

What are our style preferences?

  • No serial commas: apples, oranges and bananas — not apples, oranges, and bananas.
  • The dashes we use are em dashes with a space on either side: The CEO — whom the board tried to fire — addressed the scandal.
  • Commas and periods go inside the end quote marks. ALWAYS.
  • No double spaces after periods. To repeat: NO DOUBLE SPACES AFTER SENTENCES.
  • Single quotes belong only around quotes within quotes and in headlines and subheads. NOWHERE ELSE.
  • Put in your own hyperlinks. Don’t put URLs in parentheses or citations below the article and expect us to link them. Don’t link out to Forbes or Fast Company or Inc. They are our competitors.
  • Use one-sentence paragraphs sparingly. Too many will make your piece clunky. Two to three sentences is an ideal paragraph length.
  • Subheads should have the same, parallel format. If the first hed is a full sentence, they all should be. If one has a verb, they all should have a verb. Don’t use links in subheads. Use them only in your text. Don’t capitalize the words in subheads after the first word.
  • Don’t forget that women hold up half the sky. If you must use “he,” also use “she.” Get around this awkward construction, at least sometimes, by pluralizing your pronouns. Instead of “An employee has his job to do,” make it “Employees have their jobs to do.”
  • A company or organization or government agency is an “it,” never a “they.” For the possessive pronoun, when you refer to possession by a single person or company, use “its,” not “their.” Similarly, when you write about a company’s web audience, mention “the audience’s members” before saying “them.” An audience is not a “them.”
  • Be consistent: If you start with the pronoun “you,” stick with it. Avoid mixing “we,” “I,” “he/she” and “you” all in the same article.
  • Be consistent, Part II: Stick with the same verb tense throughout. Remember that the present perfect tense (“That company has followed the same policy for years”) expresses ongoing, habitual action.
  • Check for repetition of the same words, points and themes.
  • Numbers under 10 are written out (unless they’re percentages). Numbers 10 or higher are written as numerals (unless they start a sentence). Years are always expressed with numerals. Use “more than” rather than “over” with numbers. Use the % sign rather than spelling out “percent.”
  • Check quotes with reliable sources. Brainyquote and unedited blogs are not reliable.
  • If you must use jargon, particularly abbreviations and acronyms nobody else knows, spell these out on the first reference (followed by the abbreviation in parentheses). Avoid “SMB” altogether. We don’t like that one. In fact, we hate it.
  • Names: For the first reference, use the full name: Mark Zuckerberg. For subsequent references, use the last name only. Even if Mark Zuckerberg is your best friend, even if he was the best man at your wedding, don’t call him “Mark” in the copy.

What do we need from you up front?

  1. Submit a two- to three-sentence bio and your headshot (high quality only, please), and include a unique email address that will be used by the author (or publicist) to log into our content-management-system account.
  2. If you are a publicist who represents multiple people who write for us, we will need a different email address for each individual.
  3. For your professional bio, don't use superlatives or overly promotional or personal language. Provide the city of the company's headquarters and where the contributor is located, if different. Hyperlink your company name and any published book, if you’d like.

How does the process work?

After you submit the material requested above, and it is approved, Entrepreneur editors activate an account in our CMS for the author. You will then be prompted to update the bio in our system and submit the column.

Once your article is put into the CMS system, and some time goes by — because our list of articles waiting to be published is long, very long — it will reach the top of our editing queue and we will look it over. You will receive an email alert when your piece is being edited, when it is scheduled and when it runs.

If we need to send your piece back for rewrites, questions, etc., we will send you a note from the CMS, which automatically checks the article back out to you. Any changes you make (and “save” — don’t forget that step!) will be viewable on our end, too. Be sure to submit it again.

Want to pitch an idea? Send your brief pitch to your editor. If there is a time peg (a Christmas piece, for example), put a note to that effect on the subject line. We’ve had to kill a number of stories because we got to them too late.

Colors of the dots above the posts include the following: Yellow means the piece is a draft and you can edit it. Orange means it's been submitted for review. Light green with a checkmark means an editor reviewing it. A clock icon means it’s scheduled for publication. Green means it’s been published. Red and black means it's been rejected or retired.

Thank you for adhering to all the above, and we’re excited to have you aboard!

 

Interested in becoming a contributor on Entrepreneur.com? Learn more about Entrepreneur Leadership Network here!