How To Write An Article For Inspiring Interns (Or Any Other Blog)
Every week, we receive up to twenty applications from wannabe blog contributors across the globe. While it’s amazing to see so much talent in one place, there’s also a downside: time and time again, we see the same writing issues cropping up. So we thought we’d address these problems, all in one place.
Here’s our definitive guide to penning an Inspiring Interns blog article.
It’s amazing how few people have perfect punctuation. Only 25% of writers who apply to our blog don’t need some kind of grammar/punctuation edit. That means ¾ of them aren’t up to scratch – extra work for us, less credit for you.
Commas are not birdseed; you can’t just sprinkle them over a sentence and hope for the best. Learn how to use them, or kiss goodbye to that writing career.
Semicolons cause more daily confusion than Trump’s hairline and chucking woodchucks combined! If you insist on using them, read how first.
Dashes – oh horror! What is the common-or-garden dash used for? You can find out easily online.
For us, minimum 500, maximum 1,000.
For other blogs – it can vary from 300 up to 2000, but generally they ask for 750 – 1200.
Big chunks of text
Break your paragraphs down into short 2-3 sentences max. This makes it easier to read.
Repetition of words
Basic writing rule: don’t repeat words unless you are forced to. If I use ‘friendly’ in one sentence, I will use ‘affable’ in the next, and ‘amicable’ in the one after that. You should be doing the same.
University is not spelt with a capital U
Unless you’re referring to a specific one by name, of course. Thus:
“I’m off to uni tomorrow!” is correct.
“The University of Oxford is famous!” also works.
“I love going to Uni!” = No. No. No.
Facts and figures
“Lots of graduates in the UK are currently unemployed,” writes a contributor.
Great stuff. But how many graduates are we talking? More, where have you picked up the idea behind this sweeping statement?
If you make a bold claim of any kind, back it up with facts and figures. The best way to do this is by using…
These nifty little beasts are perfect for connecting readers to studies/articles without ruining the structure of your piece.
At Inspiring Interns, we require a minimum of three hyperlinks per article. They are essential to positioning your work within a wider internet culture of research and discussion.
Don’t hyperlink whole phrases and sentences. Pick the most suitable three-five words. See my examples in the ‘punctuation’ section above, or the ‘streamline’ section below.
Don’t say something three times if you can say it just once. We’re always coming across sentences that could be half the length. Streamline.
Apart from being really hard to read, long and repetitive sentences leave more room for error. Research shows that 11 words is the optimum length for a readable sentence, and 25 the absolute limit.
Not proof-reading your article results in stupid, embarrassing mistakes. When you’ve finished a piece, take a break for a few hours before returning to check it over. In 9/10 cases, you will find grammar and punctuation errors that need correcting.
We may be a careers blog, but we’re still looking for interesting stuff! Our topics include:
- Careers advice
- Graduate jobs
- Any student-related or job-related news
- Fun, student-aimed topics. (These are only for writers who have already published one blog with us. They can be more Buzzfeed style, without hyperlinks, and can feature GIFs/memes etc.)
We want to publish content that is original and engaging. Avoid topics that have been covered time and time again. Avoid titles which are generic and boring.
The following titles are off-limits:
- How To Adjust To Not Being A Student Any More
- How To Follow Your Passion
- How to Nail an Interview
- How to Write a Great CV
We’ve had so many variations on the above three titles that, if your article is anything similar, we simply won’t have a need for it.
- Do not write anything overtly political or with a strong political angle. For various reasons, we will not be able to accept it. Gender politics in the workplace is ropey territory and, while it can work in some cases, it is best to avoid. If in doubt, leave it out.
We’ve had a few people now reference ‘Netflix and chill’ as a method of personal relaxation. Much as we’re tempted to let it slide, it’s probably not what you actually meant to say…
Seriously consider whether the content you include is appropriate for internet publication. We’ve seen contributors urge women to discuss future family plans in job interviews (illegal), assert that travelling is a solution to depression (erm) and even engage in slut/fat shaming.
Mental health is a particularly tricky topic. It’s not something to be mentioned in passing in an article, unless you are genuinely discussing a diagnosable illness. Sadness is not synonymous with depression. If in doubt, leave it out.
Short but sweet
Paragraphs should be short – three or four lines, five tops. In the world of online content, a huge block of solid text is nobody’s idea of fun. Just read some blogs; you’ll get the idea.
David Ogilvy once said that, to connect with a casual audience, one must speak in the vernacular. We are not an academic website; you are writing for people like you, who read quickly and without commitment.
Write as you would speak to a casual acquaintance. Contractions = good. Use don’t instead of do not, and it’s instead of it is. Save long words for your work reports; nobody wants to know your opinions on antidisestablishmentarianism.
We like the listicle format. All submitted articles should be listicles.
Intros and conclusions
If you’re writing a listicle, include a little intro paragraph at the start. It helps ease the reader into your topic.
A short, wrapping-up paragraph at the end can also help pull your points together.
Me, Myself and I
Ah yes. The biggie. Please don’t write in the 1st person.
Some other blogs like personal stories. We don’t. Unless you’re an industry expert, your opinion needs backing up with quotes from others and statistics from online studies.
If we ask you to correct something, please do so. We respect people who can take criticism on board and amend accordingly. It’s an essential writer’s skill.
We understand that everyone has to start somewhere, and editing this blog has shown us how much potential and talent young writers have.
This advice is to help all our applicants have the very best chance of being accepted – and to see their work showcased to the world!
So if you dream of being a writer, please do give us a shout. We love hearing from you – providing you use semicolons correctly!
Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate career advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit their website.