Being a guest author for blogs/online reviews: why and how
How does one become a guest author for Nobel Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation? One of our alumni, Mariasole Forlani, can tell you all about it.
Last July, after the end of my Advanced LLM in Public International Law, I wanted to find new tasks to prove myself on topics related to what I studied during my stimulating master in the Netherlands. In the impossibility to work “on the field” as I was busy for my bar exam in my own country and I was waiting for a course on Law and Diplomacy to start, I tried to find some opportunities to work remotely. The best solution when you need flexibility it is to become author for blogs or online reviews related to the topics you have knowledge about.
Finding opportunities to become guest author for a blog/ online newspaper is not difficult, if you know very well what you want to write about. I would suggest, before starting the research, to write a list of possible topics in which you could be interested. In fact, it is important to be sure that you really believe in first person in what you are writing. I consider passion and motivation the keys to deliver a good piece of work.
After you have drafted your own list, the phase of research can start. If you already know possible websites that could fit for your case you can immediately go to search for them, but if you are not sure about which could be the website suitable for you, I would advice simply too google the topic and then to see what is coming out. Despite the lack of “scientific” basis, this method could work! The phase of research could be either very fast or very long, it all depends on your needs and on the specificity of the topic you want to write about.
The phase following the research is definitely the most important one, as you have to contact the responsible of the blog / review and to ask for a collaboration. It is fundamental to present your skills and your competencies in the relevant field in the best possible ways. I would suggest to work on your CV and your motivational letter underlying very well your experiences and knowledge in the specific subject you are going to write about. Even if not required, I believe it is important to send a paper / your thesis, eventually related to the topic to prove your level of English and your interest in it.
Following this, the moment of exchange of views with the person responsible for the blog / newspaper is equally important as it allows to him/her to deal directly with you. I would suggest to discuss openly about your ideas and your editorial projects for their website. I believe this moment is really important for the author to be as well, as it gives you a clearer idea of what the website is looking for.
Once you have agreed on what you will write about, on deadlines and other technical aspects (as the format, the number of words, the style and so on) you have just one thing to do… give it a try!
The successive phase of researching doesn’t differ that much from the regular activity you perform as a student when working on a paper. However, writing does not always correspond to what you were used to as a student. In certain cases, in fact, especially talking about blogs, their needs are different. It could be necessary, for example, to abandon the academic style and to use a more direct and simple language, depending on the final aim of the blog. Talking about style, it is also important that what is a clear idea in your mind is a clear idea on paper; this implies you have to read your piece multiple times to verify it is clear, keeping in mind the public to whom the article is addressed.
It is evident that the amount of work is high and in some cases it could overlap with other tasks and with your job. However, writing for a blog or an online review is a great chance for three reasons. First of all, you can keep in cultivating your interests and increasing your knowledge in the topics you are writing about. Secondly, you are offering your time for a noble aim, such as sharing scientific information in a simple way, allowing to non specialists the chance to get informed in a precise, but at the same time, simple and accessible way. Finally, writing in English is always a good opportunity to meliorate your skills, especially if you are not mother tongue – this is valid for other languages too!
Coming back to my own experience I can testify that all what said before it is true. After having drafted a list of interesting topics, I tried to find websites that could match with them. I have to admit that I was lucky and I had my chance very soon. Once checked the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation
website, I noticed there was the possibility to volunteer for them in different ways, writing blog included. After I found the email of the referent in the website, I emailed him. The answer was prompt and kind and I was offered the precious chance to write for them. We discussed the topic and the outcome was that I wrote my first article on the activity of the first twenty years of ICC, which was published last August 2nd. I recently finished my second article about migration and Europe, which is hopefully going to be published soon.
I can just conclude saying that I’m extremely satisfied of having started a collaboration with the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation, a milestone in the battle against rape as a weapon of war and recently prized with the Noble for Peace. Even though I’m just an external contributor I feel proud of being part of such as challenging project.