October 28, 2016

Expert Author Program Guidelines

Thanks for your interest in contributing articles to Small Business Trends!

We’ve put together the following guidelines to explain what readers are looking for and what makes a successful contribution under our Expert Author Program.

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FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Does Small Business Trends accept article contributions that have been, or will be, published elsewhere?

A: Contributed articles under this Expert Author Program must be original content, not published elsewhere.

Q: May I promote my site, service, published content, product or book within my articles?

A: No. Articles published under the Expert Author Program are for the benefit of readers, and as a secondary benefit they demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership. Readers want to read valuable information, advice, tips and insights — not a sales pitch.

We review every submission by at least two Editors. We reject self-promotional articles or those that are advertorial in nature.

Q: Do I get a byline?

A: Yes, of course! Each guest author receives a byline, including a short “About the Author” bio that appears at the end of each published article. You can list up to six social media profiles, to encourage readers to connect with you. These include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, BizSugar, YouTube and Google Plus. We strongly encourage all expert authors to have an active Google Plus account that links to their Small Business Trends profile page.

Your “About the Author” section should be informational in nature, and cannot include a call to action — your article will have more authority that way. Below is an example:

anita murphy bio

Profile Page: Each contributing author also receives a full page author Profile with an expanded biographical profile. Here is an example of an author Profile page.

Q: I’ve written another article somewhere else. Can I republish it on your site?

A: No. Under the Expert Author program we take original contributions only.

Q: May I republish or reproduce my article after publication on Small Business Trends?

A: Article contributions cannot be republished or reproduced after publication. Small Business Trends is granted all publishing rights to submitted articles and contributing authors are not permitted to republish article contributions unless special, written permission is granted, according to this site’s Terms of Service.

Q: May I just submit a single article?

A: We take a long term view, and are not interested in one-off articles. We vet each expert carefully. We emphasize ongoing relationships between our Expert Authors and our community. As well, we strongly encourage Expert Authors to actively engage with readers and respond to reader comments on an ongoing basis. We look for those with an intention to share their expertise and converse with the community over the long haul. Some of our Expert Authors have been with the site nearly 10 years.

Q: What about article length, topic and so on?

A: Here are some suggestions for writing your articles:

Style: Readers want to hear YOUR voice come through in your writing. Try to write like you talk and let a little personality show through.

Topics: We have been blown away with how creative the topics have been. Below are some topics that have gotten excellent results in the past:

  • business lessons
  • how-to articles
  • tips on running a business
  • solving practical problems small business owners face
  • trends on a given topic or industry
  • in-depth is better than broad and general

Product Lists: At this time, we are no longer accepting contributed articles for product roundup lists or product reviews. We’re looking for tips, advice and thought leadership.

Article Length: 

  • We accept articles with a minimum of 400 words, up to 2,000 words. (For comparison, the Article Contribution Guidelines page you are reading right now is over 1200 words.)
  • Long articles will be accepted, but need to be detailed to justify the length.

Paragraph & Sentence Length:

  • Keep paragraphs to 3 sentences or fewer. Shorter paragraphs are easier to read on a computer screen.
  • Keep sentences short.
  • Bullet points make articles easy to scan.
  • Consider bolded subheadings for long articles. They break up large expanses of text.

Images in Articles:

  • We add images to articles — you do not need to worry about placing images.
  • Due to copyright issues, our policy is to use only images that we purchase the rights to, screenshots, official product images intended for media use, photographs our journalists have taken themselves or images in the public domain (i.e., government images or older images where copyrights have expired).
  • We do not use Flickr or other images from social sharing sites, absent rare circumstances.


  • We frequently make minor edits, such as fixing grammar and spelling, revising introductions for better emphasis, and breaking up long sentences or paragraphs.
  • We also may suggest revising the article to better hit the mark with readers, from a content perspective.

Link policy:

  • Our Editors scrutinize every link contained in contributed articles, to avoid abuse of author privileges.
  • Editors may require links to be removed or edited. Our policy is to keep all content of the highest quality. If placement of links is your goal, then Small Business Trends is not a good fit for you, and it will save time for everyone if you look elsewhere.
  • Please don’t take any edits personally. (It’s easier for another person to edit, than it is to edit our own work.)

Copyrights: Our Terms of Service say that when you submit a contribution, you grant Small Business Trends the right to use that column and redistribute it in RSS feed syndication, in newsletters, in compilations, etc. — provided that we always give you attribution as the author.

Q: I notice that some authors on Small Business Trends are marked “Staff.” What is that all about?

A: Small Business Trends provides original news coverage of small business matters. We also deliver special features such as the book review series. Our paid staff covers news and special features.

Today, the majority of the content on Small Business Trends is created by our paid staff. We designate our writers and editors with the word “staff” so that there is no confusion.

There are a number of differences between “thought leadership” pieces contributed under this Expert Author Program, and our news and features coverage. Typically our staff focuses on pure news or special features. Each has an assigned “beat.” Our Editors assign topics that we consider newsworthy through our in-house assignment system to paid staff each day. Staff must meet our publishing turnaround times and deadlines.

Thank YOU for sharing your expertise!

P.S. If you arrived on this page from somewhere else, and would like to know the process for becoming a guest author, please read: How to apply to become an Expert Author.

Updated April 15, 2016

Looking for templates, checklists or guides? The Small Business Resource Center has them!