Freelance Writing Guidelines

We’re Glad You’re Interested in Writing for SAGE Scholars!

At SAGE Scholars, we want to hear from writers whose beat covers trends in higher education, college campuses, college admission, college funding, and a variety of other topics regarding higher education. Writing for SAGE Scholars is your chance to explore topics that matter to you, become a part of a new SAGE Scholars project, and curate a great freelance relationship with a company with over seven million members.

Here we’ll cover most of what you need to know about writing for SAGE Scholars, but if you have any other questions, please feel free to get in touch with us at newsroom@sagescholars.com.

Who We Are

From financing college and application essays to choosing a major and getting a “real-world” job, a lot happens between high school and the day you get your degree. SAGE Scholars is here every step of the way.

Since 1995, SAGE Scholars has bridged the gap between students who want a quality private college education and colleges that will work closely with member families to ensure affordability — all at no cost to the student, family, or college.

As the nation’s oldest and largest private college preparation and funding organization, Tuition Rewards® provides families a guaranteed tuition reduction of up to 25%. In the last year, Tuition Rewards has guaranteed families savings of over $98M in tuition costs.

SAGE Scholars is a consortium of approximately 455 member colleges and universities. We offer comprehensive college search, career planning, and funding solutions for students and families preparing for college—including college calculator tools, a newsletter, an educational fund, tailored member college marketing, webinars, and a growing place for articles and blog posts. You can learn more about our company, publications, and other services at SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards, visit our student platform Ready Set College, and view our Market Cap and Gown Newsletters.

Your Audience

SAGE Scholars readers are you—your community, colleagues, and others looking for ways to fund and navigate all things college! Our audience includes two groups. The first, primarily college-bound and enrolled students, typically between the ages of 13 and 22, wanting to know all about finding the right college, paying for it, doing well as a student, enjoying campus life, and getting a great job after graduation. The second, parents and grandparents looking to maximize the investment in their child or grandchild’s education by learning how to navigate college applications and finances.

Your Writing

Most of our articles and blogs are between 500 and 750 words. (But if a topic merits more words, you’re welcome to reach out to us to arrange a longer format piece.) Topics need to be approved before you start writing to ensure complementary information across our platform and avoid duplication of assignments from writers.

Sources and/or interviews must support any research-based writing. You must also identify your interviewees and/or link to your sources in your writing. (On very rare occasions, we will allow an anonymous source if they’re discussing sensitive material. These pieces will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.) As for what “style” of citation you should use, you can use the method you are most familiar with if you like. If you’re not using an official style, include essential identifying information. We will edit your work and format citations as necessary in-house (see “The editing process” below).

If you’re writing a more personal blog post or opinion piece, you can rely on your experiences. Just remember, you want your readers to learn from and relate to your writing.

The tone of your writing should be “informative but conversational,” not as serious as your typical news site but not as casual as a personal blog either. We want your unique voice. If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to explore the articles on our website to get to know our style and how you can add to it! We welcome creativity, and encourage you to deviate from our conventional formatting if it enhances your work.

Formatting Your Articles

We typically use the following format for articles and blogs:

  • Title: A clear and descriptive title
  • Author: Your first and last name
  • Introduction: 1 or 2 paragraphs that introduce the topic and what the reader will learn
  • Body: At least three paragraphs (each section labeled with Header 2s and/or Header 3s)
  • Conclusion: 1 paragraph to wrap everything up
  • Call to action: Bold line at the end of the article directing readers to another part of the website (will be written by the SAGE Scholars editorial team unless otherwise discussed)
  • Related Links: Relevant internal links that appear every other paragraph starting after the first body paragraph (will be written by the SAGE Scholars editorial team unless otherwise discussed)
  • Embedded Links: Links to relevant content embedded with appropriate anchor text. (These can be internal links or approved external links such as sources; some external links may be removed or prohibited.)

Finally, and most importantly — when in doubt, give credit! You will be removed from the program if you plagiarize or submit anything with misleading or false information.

Videos/Vlogging

If you would like to record a video for our SAGE Scholars YouTube channel in addition to or in lieu of any of your regular blog posts, we’d love to see it! Just let us know ahead of time so we can prepare accordingly and help you plan the video(s). Remember: It’s a lot harder to change a recording than a blog post, so make sure you check in with us first.

Basically, everything that applies to writing for SAGE Scholars applies to videos/vlogging: topics, tone, audience, research, etc. But instead of writing about your top application essay tips or campus visit advice, you can record it. You may also delve into more “standard” YouTube fare like tours of your dorm or a Q&A. However! Please ensure that you're not recording anyone without their permission and that your video follows the aforementioned guidelines. If anyone besides you appears in your videos, we’ll need a signed media consent form.

Most videos should be two to five minutes long. If you feel like the subject deserves more time, let us know, and we’ll explore alternatives. You'll need to submit the file as an mp4 via Dropbox, Google Drive, or Wetransfer.com. (We’ll send instructions on how to submit with these tools when your video concept is accepted). All accepted vlogs will be posted to the SAGE Scholars YouTube channel and could be featured on our website or social media channels.

Beyond that, have fun with it! As long as people can hear you and the background isn’t too distracting, you can record however and wherever you’re most comfortable. You can also wear whatever you like with one exception: no big brand names or logos, whether they’re on your clothing or in the background.

Submitting Your Work

You will be sending in your work according to the schedule you select on the writers’ survey. For example, if you opt to submit one piece per month, you should send in a manuscript every 30 days or so. You can consider that your “deadline,” but you don’t need to stick to a specific day (unless you want to). You can also work with us to submit more or less frequently if your schedule changes.

Once we’ve corresponded with you and decided on a submission schedule, it's your responsibility to send in your work in a timely manner. We will not come looking for it. As for formats, we prefer a Word Document or shared Google Docs; if either is inaccessible, please let us know.

Lastly, when you send us your work, please make sure the document name includes your last name and the title: Lastname_Title.docx. Also, please include your full name and the title in the document itself. (Title by Your Name at the top of the page is perfect!)

The Editing Process

All articles, blogs, and videos appearing on SAGE Scholars platforms pass through our editing process, where we check for grammar, consistency, clarity, accuracy, and more.

If your writing requires minimal editing, you probably won’t see it again until the piece is published. We may reach out to you for polishing if we have more substantial feedback or questions. However, just because we edit your posts doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. We expect our writers to submit their best work. Please edit and fact-check your writing before sending it in.

Also, please note that it takes several weeks to review and process the high volume of content we receive. Articles and blogs are typically posted within six weeks of when they are accepted as final and after they have gone through our in-house editing process. However, that time frame may fluctuate depending on our editorial and scheduling needs.

Pictures

You are welcome to send in pictures to accompany your writing. Keep in mind that you must have permission to use the image first. This usually means pictures you have taken personally, but you can also look at free stock images online (labeled for reuse). Otherwise, we will add stock photography to your work as appropriate. If submitting one of your own photos, please specify in the image title that you took it. Ex: studentsstudyingonquad_yourname.jpg.

Author Page

Each author will get a page on our website showing all their contributed work to the website. We would love to have a picture of you (usually a headshot) for your author page, along with a short bio (under 250 characters) and one external link to your chosen website/platform. We will link all your SAGE Scholars related published work to your author page, which is a great way to not only get a back link to your website from our domain but also offer a link for your online portfolio.

Reuse/Reprints and Permissions

We ask that all submissions be original and exclusive to SAGE Scholars. Should you wish to repost a submitted piece to your blog, YouTube channel, or website, we appreciate notice and request that you include a link to the original post.

SAGE Scholars holds publication rights for up two calendar years from the date of publication after which publication rights revert to you.

Social Media

We encourage you to share your work on social media—we sure will! If you haven’t given us your social media handle(s) yet, and you want to, feel free to send them to us. Our primary social media accounts are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

If you have any questions, let us know! We’re excited to begin working with you.