How to More Effectively Write a Proper Mind Cafe Article
Written in the style we’re looking for.
Just the other day, I was hanging out by the virtual water cooler, and I overheard some chit-chat regarding Mind Cafe. “It’s getting harder and harder to publish a story there these days. It’s practically impossible to get in.” one passerby said. “They’re not accepting any of my work. I’m going to just stop trying.” another defeatedly announced.
Disheartened by these thoughts, I wanted to write a short and sweet update about our submission guidelines. While we are getting increasingly more selective as a publication as we place the utmost value on quality writing and storytelling, we do not wish by any means to discourage you from being a valued contributor to this publication. After all, you have grown Mind Cafe to where it is today! You are the reason we are getting more selective! Your writing just keeps getting better and better, and we simply cannot publish everything! Believe us, we’ve tried…
So, I wanted to share a few updates that will hopefully reveal that sure, it is getting a bit harder to get published in Mind Cafe, but it is nowhere near impossible. I hope this update inspires you to continue writing, submitting, and being a part of this amazing publication you have helped us build.
At Mind Cafe we strive to be unique, different, and original, so instead of just sharing a bulleted list of publication guidelines, as Mind Cafe editor and as a contributor, I am going to share the following piece written in the format we’re looking for to the best of my ability, so you can see how we’d like you to submit your posts.
Your Topics Remain the Same
What can you write about at Mind Cafe? This really has not changed. We share relaxed essays about happiness. This is personal growth with an emphasis on the growth. We are always trying to help the reader in some way with every piece we publish.
We do not wish to publish anything (with maybe a few exceptions) about finances, sex, writing, programming, design, or personal reflections.
Your Headlines and Subtitles Should Impress, But Not Falsely Advertise
We are trying our best to stay away from clickbait and false promises. No more are the days where you can tell somebody that “This One Simple Trick Will Give You Unlimited Energy, No Matter the Time of Day.” Instead, we’re looking for a little more specificity, and a little less absolutism.
For example, “Wim Hof Breathing Can Enhance Your Morning Energy” would be a better fit. It does not draw the reader in with the psychological trick of “This One” and it does not guarantee that the reader will receive unlimited energy. Rather, it reveals a particular method that has the capacity to help a reader if applied correctly based on the context of the article.
Headlines should be properly capitalized with correct spelling and grammar of course. Try to focus on sharing a title, like what this article is called, that gives the reader the hope that the advice presented will make a difference in their lives.
When it comes to subtitles, think of them as an extension of your headline. The same criteria apply, and use them to draw in the reader even more, but without any glaringly click-bait-ish claims. Treat the subtitle like a sentence with no capitals except for the first word and a period at the end of it.
Your Image Should Fit in with the Mind Cafe Brand
I’m not an aesthetics guy, Adrian is much more suited for this conversation than I am, but the image is important. However, it’s not overly difficult to submit us an image we will not change. Take a look at the color schemes of past pieces. Notice the light, breezy feel, the coffee shop vibe, the people in each photo. We tend to use the same colors consisting of brown, black, white, gray, even orange. Think about autumn when you choose your images.
Your Structure and Formatting Must be Consistent with Past Pieces
This piece is following the rather simple structure we strive for at Mind Cafe. We adore an enticing, engaging intro with longer, more in-depth paragraphs. In fact, we always adore longer paragraphs of 4 and 5 sentences or more. We are in awe of carefully separated sub-headings with content within them all of essentially equal length. We love it when you close out your piece with a concluding remark, a final thought, or a summary of your points.
We have been rejecting a lot of pieces lately for structural reasons alone, and the most common error is a lack of depth. We do not wish to see intros or conclusions that are too short. We prefer when your paragraphs are full and hearty, as opposed to 1 and 2 sentence chunks. We always appreciate a significant amount of content when you create a new sub-heading. Above, a section like Topics or Images would be considered too little information to be a complete sub-section.
This sentence right here is not enough meat to fill an entire sub-heading.
And oh yeah, try to limit your grammar and spelling mistakes. This goes without saying, but in your eyes, your piece should be ready to go when you submit your draft.
Your Sub-Headings Should be Eyebrow Raising
We want readers to receive insights they have never seen before, or at least, we want them to see it in a way that they have never seen before. Try to be as original as possible with your sub-headings.
Instead of just writing “Gratitude” as a sub-heading, try going deeper. “A 3x Per Day Gratitude Practice Can Keep Your Mood Consistently High” would be more appropriate, even though the message is still about gratitude. Work as hard on your sub-headings as you do your headlines.
Also, try to put them in an order that the reader will enjoy most, and consider read time as the metric to focus on here. We want readers (for your and our sake) to stay on a page reading for as long as possible. So, try to set up your points so that something unfamiliar appears first, so the reader wants to learn more. If you put something common first, the reader may assume they can already predict what it is you have to say, and they will click off the page.
Your Content Should be Rich with Research and Evidence
In the last few months, the most common expression I have written to you all in some way, shape, or form if your piece was not published, is that it was lacking external support and an evidence backed approach.
Really try to gain some expert insight by looking up research studies, quoting psychologists, doctors, or professors. Great resources are places like Psychology Today or Healthline, in addition to academic papers and research. Don’t be afraid to use that embed button, which looks like a paperclip in your tools options, which will link to an external source. And by the way, try to minimize the number of links you send to your own website or other articles. We aim to do as little self-promotion as possible.
These do not have to be master’s theses, but they should have a certain degree of evidence that is not just your own personal opinion. We are stepping away from personal reflection and stepping more into expert insights supported by your thoughts and experiences on the subject. Your experience alone is not viable enough to distribute to our readers (there are always exceptions).
Does Length Matter?
Well, both no and yes.
When it comes to your articles, no. However, we do tend to see that shorter articles typically lack the depth, research, and thoroughness we’re looking for in order to satisfy curation guidelines.
Length does matter when referring to the length of time you should expect to wait before hearing back from us. To be totally clear with you, we publish 3–7 pieces per day and receive upwards of ten submissions per day, so we try our best to stay on top of things.
Please give us 3–5 days for pre-existing writers to get back to you before messaging us or pulling your piece from our queue.
Please give us 10–14 days for new writers looking to become a Mind Cafe writer.
Oh, and also, don’t email us your submissions. As our guidelines state, directly-emailed submissions won’t be considered for publication. If you’ve been sending your articles in only to wonder why it’s so hard to get published with us, perhaps try going through the form instead.
I hope the conversation around the virtual water cooler changes after this post. We want to be known as a publication that is a challenge to get into, and one that helps you grow as a writer, but we don’t wish to be so selective to the point where it deters you from trying.
If you have any questions, please let me know. My email is right here: email@example.com. I try my best to build a personal relationship with each and every one of you, and I truly consider you all friends. I’d be honored to chat with you all by phone, email, or private message. I want to hear from you!
Thank you again for your contributions and dedication to Mind Cafe. We would literally be nothing without you. Keep writing and keep inspiring!
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