NextBillion is always looking for new voices to feature. Our original content is contributed by guest writers, including entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and others whose work focuses on business in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We make these articles available as a knowledge resource for the LMIC business sector: We publish them free of charge — and free of paywalls.
We do not pay guest writers, but their articles can serve as valuable tools to draw attention to their business or organization’s work, or to establish themselves as thought leaders. Over half of our readers are business owners or executive-level leaders at their organizations, so we reach many decision-makers in the LMIC business/development sector.
Guest writers/organizations can submit up to four articles per calendar year. We only accept fully original content: We don’t republish articles that have already been published on or offline.
The guidelines below describe each step of the publishing process in detail, from deciding on a topic to promoting the article after publication. The following checklist can help you focus on the most essential elements.
- Your article hasn’t been published on or offline.
- Your article is relevant to LMIC business, and written for knowledgeable readers.
- Your article falls in the 1,000 – 1,500 word range (or doesn’t exceed 2,000 words)
- Your article is written in the first-person (I/me, we/us).
- You’ve avoided industry jargon, or briefly explained it (or linked to an explanation).
- You’ve disclosed your relationship to any organizations discussed in the article.
- You’ve included links (not footnotes) to sources for all statistics/key assertions.
- You’ve checked your linked sources to confirm they support your stats/assertions.
- You’ve focused more on sharing actionable insights than on promoting your own work.
- You’ve submitted your article as a Microsoft Word or Google document.
- You’ve provided brief bios, headshots and social media handles for the article’s authors.
- You are prepared for a multiple rounds of rigorous editing and a ~1-month editing queue.
- You’ve told us when an article is time-sensitive or must be published by a specific date.
- You (or your team) are prepared to help promote the article on your social channels.
- You will wait at least 10 days before republishing the article (with attribution and a link).
Finding a Topic
Editorial Focus: The vast majority of our coverage is focused on enterprises tackling development challenges in LMICs, though we sometimes cover businesses and initiatives serving low-income communities in the United States. Guest articles may explore public sector, nonprofit and philanthropic issues and approaches, especially if they utilize a business model or benefit for-profit companies. But most of our content is focused directly on enterprises working in LMICs.
Writing an Article
Authorship: All NextBillion articles must be written by a named guest writer, or a set of named writers. We do not accept anonymous commentary or article submissions attributed to an entire organization.
Readership: Most of our readers are directly involved in LMIC business and/or global development more broadly. Please take this into account when choosing a topic and writing an article: You can assume a high degree of reader familiarity with common business, investing and global development concepts, so you don’t need to explain the basics. However, it’s better to avoid industry jargon, and to briefly explain (or link to an explanation of) high-level concepts that may be confusing to readers outside your specific sector.
Word Count: Most of our articles fall in the 1,000 – 1,500 word range. We generally try to keep articles under 2,000 words maximum. If an article draft is longer than that, it may be edited down — and if it has under 900 words, we will usually ask for more detail.
Style: NextBillion encourages a first-person writing style (I/me, we/us). Authors should not refer to themselves in the third person (he/she/they) unless the article has multiple co-authors providing different views/analysis. Feel free to be conversational and express your opinions in your articles. We follow Associated Press style, so we may make some adjustments to an article’s punctuation/grammar. However, we don’t insist on American spelling or idioms — though we may suggest more widely understood alternatives if you use regional terms or expressions. We try to avoid excessive use of acronyms: We generally include them only when the term in question is used multiple times in the article.
Disclosure: If you’re involved in the organization whose work you’re describing, or if you or your organization have worked with or received investment or other support from any of the organizations you’re mentioning, please make that clear in your article.
Headlines: You are welcome to make headline and sub-head suggestions in your draft, but we may alter these in the editing process. We will run our intended headlines and sub-heads past you for your input and approval prior to publication.
Sources and Links: Please provide links to sources for all statistics mentioned, any reports cited, and any key assertions you’re making. Research reports are ideal sources, but books and mainstream media articles can also be used, as long as they specify the source of the information they cite. Your organization’s internal research or “sense of the market” can also be cited as a source — if it’s proprietary information, you don’t need to link to it. You are welcome to link to any companies and/or organizations mentioned in your article as well. Please DO NOT list any citations as footnotes — include these as links instead.
Originality: As mentioned above, NextBillion only publishes fully original content. We don’t publish articles that have appeared anywhere online or offline, including on publishing platforms like Medium or LinkedIn, or on the websites or social media pages of the guest writer or their organization. We also don’t accept articles with content that’s copy/pasted from other articles or reports, unless it’s presented in quotation marks with attribution and a link to the original source. Similarly, if your analysis is substantially informed by other articles/reports, please mention that up-front with attribution and a link.
Self-promotion: We are happy to provide publicity to the businesses and other organizations that contribute guest articles. But articles are much more effective when they keep the focus on the issues an organization is addressing and the challenges/solutions it has encountered, rather than the brand attributes and qualities of the organization itself. So “marketing language” should be kept to a minimum. As a rule of thumb, content focused solely on the organization should comprise no more than about 30% of an article’s word count – and you should avoid starting a piece with a lengthy explanation of your organization or mission.
Submitting your Article
Guest writers are welcome to submit either pitches/outlines for potential articles, or completed drafts of articles intended for publication, to our editor via email. If you’re interested in discussing a topic for a potential article, or submitting a draft, please contact our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our editor will review articles/pitches, and if they’re approved, we will move forward with the editing process.
Format: You can send completed articles via Microsoft Word email attachments or Google Docs (if you use Google Docs, don’t forget to share editing access with our editor at email@example.com).
Author Information: Each NextBillion contributor has a writer profile that includes their name, title, organization, a brief biography and a headshot photo. If you would like readers to be able to contact you via email or social media, such as LinkedIn or Twitter, please include those links with your bio. You can send this information (or updates on an existing NextBillion writer profile) when you submit your article.
Images: You are welcome to send photos and embeddable/linkable video to illustrate your article, as long as you own the copyright to them (or they are in the public domain or Creative Commons). Please include the name of the photographer and/or organization we should credit for these images, and if possible, information for use in the caption, including the location, description of the scene, names/titles of people in the photo, etc.
The Editing Process
NextBillion rigorously edits all our original articles. That means:
- We will request links to sources if they’re not already included (see above).
- We will check all linked sources to confirm that they include the cited numbers/assertions.
- We may ask you to provide further context, details or examples for your assertions or analysis.
- There will be at least two rounds of edits, possibly more, as we provide our initial feedback/questions in the first edit, review any revisions/responses you make, then offer any additional thoughts.
We will not publish the article until you have signed off on the final version.
Timeline: We have a small staff, and an ongoing content backlog, so it can take several weeks to get a submitted draft online. We try to edit articles in the order we receive them, but if there are any scheduling considerations we should take into account (like an upcoming report release date, or a registration deadline), please let us know when you submit the piece. In most cases, we can accommodate requests to speed up the editing process (within reason).
Promoting Your Article: We promote our original articles extensively on social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’d like us to tag you or your organization on these platforms, please send us the correct handles. The support of you and/or your organization can greatly help to maximize traffic to your article, so please also notify your comms team to arrange for tweets, retweets and other social media mentions once the article is online.
Reader Interaction: It’s possible that readers might respond to your writing, either on social media or in the form of a “counterpoint” article published on our site. We are always open to informed disagreements with the viewpoints we publish, and are happy to publish alternate perspectives. We ask that our guest writers be prepared to accept this potential commentary, and we welcome you to engage with it online.
Republishing Articles: NextBillion reserves the right to republish any article originally produced for NextBillion on other sites, and we have relationships with a number of outlets that syndicate our material. We do not demand exclusivity on content, except in rare cases that are discussed in advance of publication. That means in most cases, guest writers are welcome to cross-post their NextBillion articles to other sites after they appear on NextBillion. However, if an author would like to republish their NextBillion content on any other site (including their own organization’s website, organizational or personal blogs or Medium/LinkedIn pages, and all other online publications), we request that they:
- Wait at least 10 days before republishing, unless there is a mutual agreement prior to publication.
- Notify our editors of their intent to cross-post the article, and the media outlet where it will be republished.
- Include attribution and a link back to the original piece – e.g.: “This article was originally published on NextBillion.”
Thank you for your interest in publishing with NextBillion, we’re looking forward to working with you.