Have you seen our newly redesigned News home page? If not, take a moment and check it out today.

This page features all news articles written by Helium News Writers.  These writers are people who are passionate about writing current event articles.

Aside from the new (and awesome) layout, we’ve also introduced a “share” link, so readers can share the news story through social networks such as, Twitter, Digg, Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc.

The program is overseen by Helium News Manager Leigh Goessl. Interested in learning more, or joining this community of writers? Please apply today!

Members are part of an exclusive community on Helium and are identified by a News Writer badge on their About Me page.

You’re an online writer looking to improve your craft. How do you get your article read, noticed and purchased?

One key to success is to make sure you meet the publisher’s writing standards.

Helium’s Writing Standards have been updated and replaced with Helium’s Writing and Editorial Standards. Review these standards to ensure your article submissions meet Helium’s standards.

By meeting these standards and writing a great article free of spelling and grammatical errors, you increase your chances of having your article be chosen as the best piece.

Meeting these standards, writing to areas you’re knowledgeable about, meeting deadline, having a great bio and filling out your address on Helium are all great ways to get noticed and open yourself up to additional writing opportunities.

Helium Content Source publishers will have their own set of expectations and guidelines you must meet. These are typically much more extensive than Helium’s. By getting used to writing to and meeting guidelines, you train yourself as a writer for these future assignments.

Writing standards defined

  • Articles must be your original work
  • Helium follows AP style
  • Plagiarism is not allowed
  • Duplicate articles are not allowed
  • Do not include your name or references to your own company in your article
  • Do not repeat the article title in the body of the article
  • Solid research and citing sources is key
  • We delete articles that are mostly lists — develop your work
  • Use of third and second person is encouraged (first person is not allowed in some articles)
  • Subheads are encouraged
  • Write with an authoritative, unbiased tone — develop your voice and style
  • No adult content, hate content or profanity is allowed

Writing guidelines example

Write a knowledge-based, objective article in the second or third person that provides readers with insightful, useful information. Sources should be reputable and cited where applicable.

Helium Content Source guidelines example

The following is typical of what you might see on a Content Source assignment:

Please write an original 500-1,000 word article that includes the following details. Write to a homeowner audience about choosing the right contractor for this job. The article should educate the reader with consumer tips and information about the specific service.

Give the homeowner useful tips (bulleted lists are strongly encouraged); include items such as what to look for in a good contractor, questions to ask, professional associations, certifications, etc.; common problems, pitfalls to avoid; if they should ask for mechanic liens; Insurance; Bonding; etc. If that information is limited please expand by describing different materials and the advantages or disadvantages of each.

Write in the second person voice. Clear, simple sentences are easier to read than long, complicated ones. Do NOT editorialize by adding your own opinions or beliefs about an area. Instead, just present the facts in an informative and positive manner.

This should be an original piece. Sourced information must be rephrased. If you quote statistics or phrases, you must put links to your references listed at the end of the article, or put the information in quotes. This is done for fact-checking processes. If you do not put a list of references/sources at the end of your article, it will be sent back to you. This is required!

Please view this sample to get an idea of bullets, tone, style and layout [link not included to protect publisher’s identity].

As an online writer you’re constantly building your portfolio and getting your byline out there. You promote your work using Facebook, Twitter, and your blog, directing readers to your Helium.com articles.  But are you forgetting one important piece of the puzzle?

Your byline is a hyperlink directly to your Helium About Me page, published with every article. So, it’s imperative to keep the information professional. This will be even more important as Helium launches the Assignment System later this month with targeted assignments for writers.

Think of your bio & photo on this page as your online resume. It’s a place for readers and publishers to learn more about you. Novelists have a book jacket– you have your About Me page.

Biography guidelines

The bio should highlight your professional writing and/or editing experience. When completing the bio, keep in mind the following:

Do:

  • Include your full name or pen name (first and last) in the first sentence
  • Include the year you started writing and/or editing
  • Include areas of expertise and any publications in which you’ve been published
  • Stress why you’re a good writer in niche areas, such as pets (I’ve worked in a vet’s office and am working toward a degree), accounting (I’ve been a CPA for 5 years), or sports (I cover high school basketball and soccer for my local newspaper)
  • Include certificates, accreditations and/or achievements (awards, certifications, workshops) if applicable
  • Include education, including school and degree type and field

Don’t:

  • Include superfluous information, such as how many children you have, or the town you live in. You address should be filled out in your “Account Settings.”
  • Mention how many articles you’ve written for Helium. This information is clearly presented in your “My Stats” section of the page. Or that you “look forward” to writing for us.
  • Mention the titles of the Marketplace and Stock Content articles you’ve sold and the dates or links to them. This information can be clearly explained in a simple sentence.

Having a quality biography will open up more writing opportunities, including targeted writing assignments for Helium Content Source, or stock content sales, and even volunteer opportunities.

Good examples:

Nan Keltie

Nan was born with a pen in one hand, a legal pad in the other and has been writing ever since.  Published in local and regional magazines, she has also written her own curriculum for teaching creative writing, speech and debate.

For the past 32 years, Nan has also kept a daily journal.  These annuals take a prominent place on her library shelves and include personal travel diaries, current events, family memories and humorous reflections on life.

Fresh out of college, Nan worked part time as a freelance features editor for a local newspaper, The Florence Herald.  She covered the opening of a new mall and did feature articles about local artists, health care facilities and farmers.

The Herald, which began in 1884 as a weekly newspaper, has since become a publishing company and is no longer a news source.  Nan is grateful for the lessons she learned as features editor.  Interviews, deadlines and tight-writing requirements sharpened her skills and taught her the lesson that still guides her writing today – if her first sentence doesn’t snag you, she’s wasted your time.

As manager of Helium’s Education Channel, Nan works with a great team in maintaining that site.  She creates new titles, oversees articles that come into the channel, reaches out to new members, encourages veteran writers and contributes articles of her own. With her dictionary and thesaurus nearby, Nan gave up the pen and pad of years gone by and now writes on her laptop.

Susan Quilty

Everyone has something to share. Maybe it’s a review of a great movie that slipped under the radar. Maybe it’s advice on how to shop with a toddler in tow, or the experience learned through years of throwing children’s birthday parties.

Whatever I experience in life becomes a lesson learned. Some of my experiences are from trial and error, others have been learned in books and classes. Writing online is an opportunity to share my experiences with others.

When writing at Helium, I regularly contribute to a variety of channels. I have participated in various writing contests and have sold articles through Helium’s Marketplace and Stock Content programs.

I am also a member of Helium’s Editorial Advisory Board and participate as the Channel Manager for both the Board Games and Card Games subchannels in Hobbies and Games.

For more information about my freelance writing outside of Helium, please visit my personal blog (www.susanquilty.com). In addition to freelance writing, my career background includes computer systems administration working in Unix, Windows, and Novell environments.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments. I will respond as quickly as possible. You can also follow me on Twitter @SusanQuilty

Interested in learning more? Read our previous blog post:

Craft a professional Helium About Me that is sure to impress

If you want to establish yourself on Helium, your About Me page should be your online resume and a professional representation of yourself. As a Helium writer your About Me page is your homepage and a chance to create a great first impression. It’s where readers and publishers learn more about you, your accomplishments and specialties. Plus, having a quality biography will open up more writing opportunities — whether they’re targeted writing assignments, stock content sales, volunteer opportunities, or to help publishers form an initial bond with you.

A great About Me page helps you build credibility not only with publishers but with fellow Helium writers and those who read your profile. We’ve done the math and realized that 75% of all Marketplace and stock content sales are purchased from Helium writers who have a professional biography, image and real sounding pen name.

Don’t forget to double check your bio. Nothing turns off a publisher more than a typo in the first sentence.

We’re searching for you

Whether you’re a professional journalist or an enthusiastic amateur, you need to let the world know about your experience and expertise. We regularly search members’ bios looking for particular phrases that identify writers for Marketplace and Editorial Solutions assignments. If you’re an expert food writer who’s published a cookbook — share the great news! If you’re a regular columnist on gardening tips in your local newspaper — tell us! If you live in Minneapolis, MN, let us know! We’re always looking for writers for specific assignments. How are we supposed to know about you if you don’t tell us?

A photo is key

And don’t forget your photo! You do need to upload a professional looking photograph of yourself so publishers and Helium Editorial Solutions staffers know you’re serious about your craft. Need help uploading a photo? Check out the directions in our Help page.

Wording choices

Need some help crafting a better bio? Share your skills, talents and expertise. Use phrases like, “I have 30 years experience in knitting and crocheting.” Or, “I have written for the Local Times and My Town News.” Or, “I am an accomplished nurse and associate professor at News University.” Or, “I have extensive experience writing about travel to exotic locales like Borneo and New Zealand.”

If your pen name, photo and bio don’t meet the same high standards as your writing, you’re selling yourself short. Make your About Me page a winning assignment as well.

Helpful examples

Check out some examples of great About Me bios from fellow Helium writers:

Elizabeth Kelly

Nan Keltie

Josh Zywien

Helium has discovered a correlation between user images and Marketplace success rates.

Helium writers with a professional image, name and bio are receiving 75% of all Marketplace and stock content sales.

We’ve also been hearing from an increasing number of publishers who’ve said they are more likely to purchase articles and give byline credit to Helium members with a real name for a pen name and a professional looking photograph.

In our constant push for quality and for members to represent themselves in the best possible manner, we recommend that all of our members upload a professional looking photograph, use a real name for a pen name and write a professional bio on their About Me pages.

These are three easy steps that can help you pave the way to continued success on Helium.

Here are a few titles and articles here that will provide more information on making the most of your About Me page:

Still have questions? Feel free to contact one of your Site Stewards, who are featured on channel pages throughout the site.

Your bio pages are the most important public facing pages you own.  It’s a way for visitors to see all of your items, to get to know you, and to see your accomplishments (and therefore have a measuring stick for what you are saying).  Each user has 2 bio pages:

  1. Your articles page: the default for most pen name links.  Contains all your articles.  The URL being helium.com/users/[user_id]/show_articles
  2. Your biography page: contains all your personal bio information and favorite titles/articles.  The URL being http://www.helium.com/users/%5Buser_id%5D

These two pages share a lot in common.  Let’s dig down deeper into them, see what they have in common and how they differ.

For the screen shots the following users have graciously, and unknowingly, donated their about me pages:

Shared

Bio Picture

All the shared content is currently in the right column.  First, we have the bio pic, location, and the “contact writer” / “add to favorites” links:

bio-pic

It’s useful to have this filled out for several reasons.  One, unless you have a realistic bio pic you don’t qualify for some containers like featured writer.  Second, some publishers take this into consideration when purchasing content.  Third, it gives readers an idea of who they’re dealing with.  Finally, your location gives users input as far as your expertise on regional articles.

This is akin to the picture you see at the end of a novel.

Credentials

Next are your Helium credentials – all the little badges and stars you’ve earned as a result of your hard work:

credentials

Here again we’re building trust in the writer.  Obviously if a new reader on Helium comes to your bio page and you have 5 writing stars and multiple badges then it becomes easier for them to trust that you know what you’re talking about and are not just some anonymous person on the Internet.

Our professional badges will also help this moving forward.

Links

Helium allows you to post 3 external links.  This allows you to showcase other work you may have done like your blog, your art portfolio site, or your flickr photography.  This is also a useful way to build up some “link juice” to your other works:

links

Stats

An unappreciated area that lists how many articles you’ve written and how many writers have accepted your invitation and joined Helium.  A strong indicator of your contributions to Helium (thank you):

stats

Favorite Helium Writers

Similar to a blogroll this allows you to list up to 10 other Helium writers that you enjoy reading.  Give a little “link love” to those writers who you most enjoy reading:

favorite-writers

The gray links are just indicating that I’ve visted some of those bios recently.

Recent Articles

A simple showcase of your 10 most recent articles:

recent-articles

This has become a lot more useful and interesting since we started sorting your articles page via rank instead of recency.

My Channels

This is very similar to a categories list on a blog.  It allows a reader to filter the articles you’ve written by base channel.  This is especially useful on users who have hundreds or thousands of articles so that if you like what they’ve written in the Relationships & Family article you just read, you can find others in the same channel:

channels

Articles Page

The articles page consists mainly of… well… your articles:

articles

One noteworthy thing is the RSS feed link which allows you to plug it into your RSS reader of choice (I use and recommend Google Reader) and anytime they write a new article it will show up fresh and minty for your viewing.

Biography Page

The biography page is all about you.

About Me

First, you have an area to talk about anything and everything you:

about-me

We recommend being original but also keeping it professional – as publishers will look at and have access to this information.  Also keep in mind that if you use your real name, or a name associated with your “brand” that this information is crawlable by Google.

Briefly Me

For those that don’t know what exactly to talk about we have a rather infamous list of questions to pry out some information in quasi-reporter style:

questions

Helium Favorites

A place to showcase your 10 favorite titles and authors.  Originally imagined as a way to showcase works of others you’ve enjoyed unfortunately many users highlight their own works instead:

favorites

As bio pages tend to have some traction in search engine rankings it’s a good way to share deep links with your friends as well.

Featured Article

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is your Featured Article.  The default, unless overridden on your My Articles page is your newest contribution to Helium.  This is the area to showcase your best work or, perhaps, a personal favorite – either because it’s a high earner or simply because you like how it turned out:

featured

Remember that as a Helium writer this is both a showcase for your work and a resume outlining your skills and experience.  Use it to your advantage.

I hope that helps.