Write for Better Humans
Table of Contents
- What makes Better Humans different
- What we’re looking for
- Proposing articles
- Submitting your accepted article to the publication
- Avoiding rejection
- Contracts and Payments
1. What makes Better Humans different
When readers come to Better Humans, they expect more. And we deliver.
We only publish articles by writers who have personal experience with the advice they’re giving in their articles—advice that have the power to change lives.
What we don’t accept is just as important as what we do. We don’t accept thought-pieces, philosophy, or news. We don’t accept listicles (lists of advice or tips). We don’t accept summaries of other people’s advice. We don’t publish inspirational essays.
We don’t publish “why you should” articles. We publish “here’s exactly how you can” articles.
All articles should be inspiring but include clear, detailed advice. More details on the particulars can be found in the Style Guide.
We’re looking for specific advice that takes into account the real challenges that the reader is going to face. That advice must be evidence-based. Typically that means pointing to primary research—but the author’s personal experience counts, too. Great articles usually combine both science and personal experience as the basis for evidence that the advice works.
The average word count for our articles is about 2750 words.
Every writer for Better Humans is paid. We’re the first publication to be 100% on the Medium Members platform.
Writers are paid a lump sum for original commissioned articles that have not been published elsewhere. We pay a flat fee — usually $500 — for professional-quality articles, when they are published.
(In some cases, we may reach out to authors to republish outstanding articles on a pay-for-performance basis.)
We especially invite Coach.me coaches to contribute relevant articles to Better Humans (If you’re not a Coach.me coach, you can still sign up, but you will need to convince us you’re a good fit.)
Important: Your readers are Medium Members, and your article is the product the reader is paying for. We do not want articles that are actually advertising for some other product. You may not include calls to action in your article. That means you can’t ask readers to sign up for mailing lists or other offers, and you can’t ask for claps or donations. The Member Content Guidelines provide more detail and recommendations for best practices.
2. What we’re looking for
The first fundamental rule is personal expertise. That’s the core of making a trustworthy article.
The second is that the goal of the article is to change the reader’s life for the better. We don’t care about curiosities or philosophy. We want inspiration followed by clear, direct instructions that anyone could follow.
If you can follow those two fundamental rules, then we’re interested in almost any personal development topic.
This field doesn’t have one-size fits-all advice, so we love diversity of viewpoints. You must provide supporting evidence to base any claims made in the article. (Often this means linking to primary research papers. Data/evidence you have collected in the course of self-experiments is another form of evidence. Links to pop-culture articles are the web are NOT supporting evidence.)
We mainly publish empathic tutorials that have a dose of motivation. If the reader is inspired, we want them to be able to apply the steps in your tutorial in order to improve their own life.
Our Style Guide gives more details, especially on what we mean by the empathic tutorial style of writing. Read it to be sure you understand what your article should be like, and useful tips that will help get your article accepted for publication.
We’ve also created this guide to give you a sample structure for what we mean by empathic tutorial: The “Bones” of a Good Better Humans Article. While you don’t have to follow this structure strictly, the vast majority of articles are rejected because the are not in-depth tutorials on doing something specific.
Along those lines, here are some article types that work well for Better Humans:
Personal accomplishment turned tutorial
This is for authors who have experience trying the advice on themselves only. For personal success stories, we want to cover famous topics and systems, not your own personal system. Example: I lost 50lbs from 5:2 Intermittent Fasting.
Promising personal experiment turned tutorial
Perhaps you tried something radical and tracked the results. We’re looking for something that would work as a quantified self-talk, but written instead with a goal in mind and a tutorial to get there. Example: How to use fasting to increase your energy level.
How to do X to achieve Y
First, these articles need to be based on the idea that a lot of people want to achieve Y. The best version of these articles come from someone who knows the subtleties of how and where the reader will struggle. You can write the tutorial you would give your client — but please make sure to back up your own advice with expert citations. Example: How to Configure Your iPhone for Productivity.
Complete guide to the science of…
Are you an academic? Help us understand what science is saying about how to improve our lives. We like academics because they know the breadth and the subtleties of current research. For many academic writers, the challenge is framing their research for the goal-oriented readers of Better Humans. Example: Complete Guide to the Science of Procrastination.
Complete guide to achieving…
Do you have deep experience with a topic and love doing research? Often there are many ways to achieve the same thing. Use your experience to help people understand their options. These articles require a lot of research. Example: Complete Guide to Developing Grit
3. Proposing articles
To propose a commissioned article:
- Read the Better Humans Style Guide and be sure your article will fit.
- If it does, use this form to request consideration for it as a commissioned piece. We highly recommend that you include a link to a draft of the article whenever possible.
If your article is accepted as a commissioned piece, you’ll receive a contract and be asked to add it to the publication as a draft. Sign the contract and submit the article to the publication (see below for more on submitting to the publication).
4. Submitting your accepted article to the publication
If your proposal is accepted, you’ll need to add the article to Medium and submit it to the Better Humans publication. To do that, first of course you’ll need to have your own account on Medium.
Then submit your draft. The “Add to Publication” feature is available in the three dots menu, when you’re editing your piece; it looks like this:
If you don’t see Better Humans listed there to submit to, it just means that we need to add you as one of our writers. Drop your editor a note and ask to be added—include your Medium @ name (eg. @coachdotme).
Once you deliver the draft, it goes through three rounds of editing.
- Author revisions: We work with you to produce the strongest possible article, so in this step we’ll make comments and ask for specific work. Sometimes we have lots of comments — generally this is a reflection of a good piece that we happen to have a lot of knowledge on. Sometimes we have no comments and will just leave a note to let you know that the article is moving on to Content Edit. If your images are not properly credited or if links are broken, you will be asked to fix them (here’s an example of an article with proper image credits). Once you have finished making the requested changes, you drop us a note to let us know it’s ready for Content Edit. At the end of this step, you should NOT attempt to make further edits on your article — your work is done!
- Content edit: An editor then does a pass to tighten up your piece. This might sound threatening if you are new to publishing, but the goal here is to really make your article shine. Experienced writers routinely thank us for the quality of editing on their articles. Mostly we’re just looking to cut extraneous words and sentences for tightness — read William Zinsser, especially On Writing Well, if you want to really understand this. Occasionally we will do a heavy rewrite — removing sections and adding framing. Sometimes we will add structure or reorganize content. Almost always we will improve your title to ensure your article gets the attention it deserves.
- Copy edit: A second editor reviews the article for grammar, punctuation, and other proofreading checks.
Then the article moves into published mode right away.
Once your article is published, it’s “locked” and an audio version is created. We can’t make further edits or corrections at this point without making a special request to Medium.
5. Avoiding rejection
The biggest mistake we see among prospective authors is that they submit material that doesn’t align with the Better Humans Style Guide. This is the number one reason why articles are rejected.
Please read the Style Guide and be sure you understand it. In particular, your piece needs to resonate and sound trustworthy—usually because you’ve tried the advice in the article yourself, and because you offer the reader the additional value of the insights you gained in applying it to your own life. Your article should contain advice that you have personally applied, on yourself or others (usually through coaching). Remember, we want personal expertise, inspiration, and clear, direct instructions that anyone could follow.
What if your article isn’t a how-to based on personal experience — for example, if it’s an opinion piece, an article about current research being done by experts in the field (and not you), or a summary of tips or advice? In that case, it may indeed be a fine article — but it’s not a good fit for Better Humans.
6. Contracts and Payments
When your first article is accepted, we’ll need for you to sign a contact and complete some tax forms.
These differ on whether you are a US taxpayer or not.
If you need your contract to be in the name of an LLC, or if you are not a US taxpayer, we can save some back-and-forth if you let us know that when you proposal is accepted.