We believe that product management is not an exact science — that each company and product-person refines their own bespoke tools and methods. Our aim with MindTheProduct is to share this broad range of information with the community, and while we write our own articles, we also actively seek guest contributions to www.mindtheproduct.com since more knowledge exists in the community than in the minds of the editors.
This document aims to provide some guidance for guest authors on writing content for MindTheProduct. We hope it helps to communicate our ethos and editorial criteria. Narrative style is the domain of the individual author but we want to ensure our readership and the community can expect a consistent learning experience from articles produced for MindTheProduct.
At MindTheProduct, we define product management as the intersection between Business, Tech and Design (IxD/UX). That means our topic spectrum is pretty broad. It’s important to note that MindTheProduct doesn’t specialise in anyone of these areas – and we tend to seek content that intersects with at least two of these areas.
Our articles tend to fall into two broad types:
These articles usually have a temporal relevance to something happening in the product industry. This might be a formal critique of well-known product’s redesign, or it could be an opinion piece on the current state of product management.
By their nature, these pieces are generally op-ed style articles and thus inherently subjective. The tone and perspective of the author is critical to communicating effectively with readers.
Please note: op-eds can be easy to write if you have the appropriate style, but quite hard to write if you don’t. The best approach here is to review some of the content on MindTheProduct and get a feel for how subjective pieces can be written in an informative way. The best guide is to acknowledge where you are being subjective and to avoid framing this subjective commentary as ‘the way it is’, but rather ‘how I see it’.
These articles are usually well-researched, informative and relatively timeless articles. They are usually a philosophical investigation into the roles and responsibilities of a product manager, sharing lessons learned and experiences straight from the real world, or instructive pieces of getting started with the core instruments of product management.
These articles might cover topics such as effective roadmapping, analytics and measurement practices, optimal team structures etc. You don’t need to be an expert and write about the very advanced topics; in fact, usually being a good writer and discussing some of the fundamentals is as valuable.
This is arguably the most important section in these guidelines.
Our absolute priority is to produce content from which the community can learn. It is essential to focus on what the reader gains, how the content teaches new methods, helps refine existing methods or helps broaden the mindset (and ultimately, ability) of our readers, as product managers.
Referring back to our topic types, the general pattern here is:
- Analyzing elements of a story following breaking news (ex: “WhatsApp – The power of product focus“)
- Education of current affairs and new standards in the industry (ex: “Beware The Dogma Of Agile And Lean”)
- Exhibition of how to constructively critique a third-party product (ex: “Data Driven: Your Bounce Rate and Time On Site are wrong”)
- An examination of best practices for a core instrument of product management (ex: “Better User Stories, Come Hell or High Waterfall”)
- Philosophical investigation into certain aspects of product management as food for thought and/or discussion (ex: “Product Focused vs. Customer Focused Product Management: What’s the difference?”)
- First-hand experiences and lessons learned in the trenches (ex: “The Week iPad App – Lessons Learned From A Product Manager”)
- Tools of the trade – reviewing applications and utilities that product managers use (ex: “Tame Your Roadmap”)
Any content published on MindTheProduct must be original work. We don’t syndicate other blogs or publish content which has already been published elsewhere (including your own blog). You may, of course, syndicate your own content back to your blog after a short exclusivity period on MindTheProduct. Please bear these conditions in mind when approaching us with a prepared guest post.
“Making The Cut”
While we really love working with guest authors and have had some incredible contributions to date, please be aware that we won’t publish just any product-related content to the community. We consider it important as editors and readers that published content has a high degree of integrity. After numerous iterations, if we can’t get it up to scratch – it shall remain a draft.
Please don’t take this the wrong way, it’s really painful for us to have to decline such a strong initiative from a community member, but it does need to happen from time to time. You still own your copyright so you can of course take the content back and post it wherever you wish.
We will reject a post if we feel it is simply an advertisement for a product or service.
We don’t currently enforce a strict style guide. We do expect you to follow some professional etiquette with grammar, title capitalisations, formatting etc. If you’re not strong on this, don’t worry – our editor can help you make the required edits. If this area turns out to warrant more guidelines, I’ll invest the time in providing a style guide. Otherwise, it is considered a low priority for now 😉
Sample Topic Ideas
A static list will be out of date fast, but we keep an internal spreadsheet of topics we’d love to see written about, so just ask us.
Here’s a few from it, just for example’s sake:
- Pricing Strategies & Testing Methods
- A Review Of Current Bug-Tracking/Feedback Systems
- What Does A Good Roadmap Look Like?
Want to talk about a rough idea you have? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do I write about?
As a rule of thumb, anything you find useful as a product manager, other product managers will also find useful. You can always ask in our public Skype chat (currently about 50 product managers) if a certain topic might be of interest to others.
Just been through a major redesign? Share some of the lessons you learned (honest and humble wins here). Figured out a nice time saver doing A/B testing? Jot down some notes and get in touch! Done some comprehensive research on the best user feedback tools? We all want to read that!
None of us are experts, we’re all here to learn from one another. Write it up.
Our Guest Post Process
We try and keep it lightweight and we’ll talk you through it at the time, but here’s a path you can expect.
- You email email@example.com and we chat for a while about your article ideas until we nail a title.
- We set you up on mindtheproduct.com as a Guest Author.
- When you’re ready with a draft to review, set the status to “Awaiting Feedback” and we’ll provide private editorial comments.
- We’ll probably bounce back and forth a few times on revisions.
- If we’re both happy, it gets fired around to the other editors and if everyone is happy, it goes to publishing.
- We’ll publish it at the next best opportunity, usually within the following week.
- You become instantly famous. Or y’know, mildly famous.
Hope this post gets the ball rolling…