We love guest authors on CSS-Tricks! It’s always a win-win-win-win! Good for our readers. Good for you the writer. Good for our community. And bonus: good for our website.
We want you to keep a few things in mind
- Write the article you wish you found when you Googled for it. (Chris’ tweet)
- Deliver a
sensation of lived experience and professional acumen. (Frank Chimero)
Would you be happy landing on this article? Are you speaking to me, developer-to-developer, from experience?
We prefer if you are motivated because you have something you very much want to share. And, that you have a deep knowledge on this topic. You are excited about it. You’re ready to tell people about it.
If that’s all true, then exactly what you write about can be within a wide range of topics as long as it’s about the web.
We prefer pitches that are referential and instructional rather than editorial. More “How to reverse and restart CSS animations” with lots of demos, videos, and code samples and less “Design tools make us lazy” with only personal opinions.
- Think utility: How-tos. Let me teach you something. I just learned this cool trick, now let me teach you.
- Think small: Your story does not have to be lengthy but it does need to be written in an approachable tone and be handy, helpful, practical, and/or pragmatic. We’d much prefer a short and to-the-point article over a sprawling novel.
The audience of CSS-Tricks is front-end web designers and developers of all skill levels. We welcome guest posts at any skill level. We can help set the expectations for the reader early in the article itself.
- Beginner articles have the highest bar. Topical 101 articles are easy to find and have a tendency to be not-so-great. We’d rather not add to that, but instead, if we do a beginner article, make it better than anything else on the internet.
- Advanced articles are great, so long as they are approachable by someone at the intermediate level trying to level up. These articles achieve a high level of clarity, step-by-step instructions, lots of reference material, working/annotated demos, minimal jargon and lots of plain language… that kind of thing.
The Vibe (Voice & Tone)
Friendly. Authoritative. Welcoming. We’re all in this together. Flexible (non-dogmatic in expression of ideas). Minimal jargon and lots of plain language. Reverent, thankful, and grateful for the reader’s time and attention.
Payment and Trade
We pay! But there are two approaches to how we compensate.
Approach 1: We pay you for a published article.
We have a budget so we pay flat rates for an article and link posts. It will vary from article to article based on various factors including the amount of time and research needed, as well as authority and the size of the author’s audience.
All articles and link posts must survive our editing process and be published to be eligible for financial compensation.
We pay via PayPal, with very rare exceptions. If you can’t accept PayPal, I’m afraid it’s unlikely we can pay you.
Approach 2: We trade.
The article is intended to promote something. In that case, no money changes hands. In this scenario, your pitch must be different from a sponsored post in that you aren’t just straight up pitching your product or service and that you’re writing a useful article about the web; it just so happens to be something that the promotion you’ll get from this article is valuable to you.
This is not a cheap way to advertise. We will not accept a pitch that is a blatant attempt at cheap advertising. Every piece of content on CSS-Tricks must be useful. This is our commitment to our audience.
Your article can’t be overly promotional, but it can be something like these: “I also wrote a book on this topic, check it out!” or “I’m writing about this because of my experience in building this product.”
- Sara Soueidan wrote a great well-researched in-depth post on SMIL. Tim Evko wrote about solving a problem he was having in WordPress surrounding responsive images, and built an entire plugin for it.
- Zell Liew wrote a book about Susy, so wrote a tutorial on re-creating the CSS-Tricks layout with it in part to promote that book. Joni Trythall did similar with her book release.
- Tobias Günther wrote about a common problem in Git, a problem he’s solved pretty well in building his own app Tower.
Authors have their own dedicated page on the site. For example, Scott Fennell.
We use Dropbox Paper as a collaborative writing environment. We find it comfortable to write in and easy to share using Markdown-ish markup that works nicely into our editing/publishing flow. That said, if you have a strong preference for how you write, we can figure out a way to work with just about whatever. Bonus points if your concept is so good we change our workflow to yours.
Ultimately, articles are published in WordPress-y HTML. Typically, we handle the final formatting into the HTML format for you. So don’t worry about that part.
Always good: a healthy amount of images, code examples, and demos. Video when appropriate. Our readers love posts with lots of demonstrative visuals.
Generally, the concept-to-editing workflow goes a little something like:
- You pitch the concept through our form.
- We approve your idea and send you an email.
- You write an outline or something outline-like.
- We approve your outline.
- You write the article.
- We edit your article for technical stuff, tone, grammar and spelling.
- We publish.
- We send you money.
Like any process, it’s malleable and we make adjustments to fit each story.
Item #2, the pitch, should be something like this:
- Potential headline, concept
- Who is this for?
- What would someone be searching for on the internet and be glad they found this?
- A paragraph or two (or an outline) introducing the idea and plan. Or a URL to a Dropbox paper that contains your rough outline.
Remember, the things we want the most are strong reference material. You’re a developer, you know exactly what you want when you land on an article. Create that. Good code examples, live demos, and images illustrating concepts.
We now ask everyone to fill out this form. Everyone, no matter if you have written for us before or if you are new writer. We promise: We will never share your private information without your expressed permission. Thank you in advance for taking the time. We look forward to reading each of your ideas.