Guide Prep is a self directed step by step program for developing one of their mini sites. It includes an orientation forum with questions from previous guides. It’s helpful to read the questions and answers but some of the information is outdated. Keep in mind that it’s meant to be a self directed program.
Signing up for consideration is relatively easy. You’ll find the link on the bottom of their homepage. It may take a few weeks for them to contact you so don’t fret if you don’t hear anything right away.
It would help tremendously if you looked at the guide prep as a learning experience and by all means, have fun. Some people are stressed out when first reading the emails. Do yourself a favor and do your best but look at it as a learning experience too.
The guide prep is 17 days with four deadlines. You’ll be in competition with up to five other guides that have applied for your topic. I started late on a Friday afternoon with the deadline for the final eval occurring on a Monday.
My acceptance letter was received approximately three weeks before starting the competition. They’ll give you a start date and tell you to expect another email with the details. They’ll remind you that the prep is competition based and will emphasize that it’s a competition. Just a heads up for you!
Use this time to brush up on keyword search and site promotion. Write a few articles, a complete glossary and frequently asked questions related to your topic. You’ll be a step ahead of the game and you can always edit them later in order to meet their guidelines.
About has their own language – using brackets instead of arrows for their code like other forums you may be familiar with. Their blog which is hosted by Six Apart uses regular html.
Research the best way to word link descriptions for SEO purposes- it’s a big part of their site. Every page has keywords and meta descriptions. If you’ve written SEO content for another site it will be easy for you. If not, a few hours of research will have you prepared in no time.
They prefer “Top 10” or question and answers for their articles. Read web references for writing on the web: short paragraphs, paragraph headings, simple sentences and language. They prefer content that is offering specific advice, motivates a reader to take action or answers a specific question.
Top 10 Tips to Win The Guide Prep Competition
1. Prepare – After you’ve written them regarding one of their open spots do some preparation. Write a couple of articles doing keyword research. Research keywords appropriate for your subject. Compile a glossary and frequently asked questions list. Keep note of links for your content. Each original article should link to 3-5 sources and your glossary.
2. Practice and become familiar with uploading images with a FTP client. I use Filezilla and it’s free and easy.
3. When you receive the welcome email the competition begins. I received mine about three weeks after the acceptance email. You’re encouraged to take a few days to become familiar with their guide prep site.
Look over their lounge and pay attention to their tools. They have preferences for the kind of content that goes in each. Their site building interface has some bugs in it so when you publish make sure that it posted.
4. Plan your site before you enter categories and content. You are required to have 10-15 categories with a piece of original content or a link to websites in each.
5. Glossary tool – Each definition is typed in separately on a form. What you type in first is at the bottom and each additional entry is above the first. If you type in your glossary starting at “A” – the content will publish with “Z” being at the top of the list. Anything added later will be out of alphabetical order because it will publish on top. There is no way to insert items.
Compile a complete glossary before you begin and start typing from the bottom of your glossary. It will then be in alphabetical order.
6. Read the information in the lounge, the Q & A in the orientation forums and the guide prep before you start. Pay attention the the description of the content that goes in each tool. There is a lot of information in the lounge if you look for it.
7. Don’t expect much help nor ask for it. You’ll just be frustrated waiting for an answer. Use your judgement based on what you’ve read and the site description they emailed you.
8. Make sure what you publish is ready for prime time before the site is live. You can’t delete content later. Only support can do that.
9. Plan your schedule to reduce commitments during the competition. You’ll spend quite a few hours planning the site, writing articles and finding the best links. Learning to use their tools is one of the most important functions of guide prep.
10. Make sure the content is in the correct tool. Thoroughly read through each tool before entering content because the instructions can be confusing.
Write a bio of your qualifications, education and a message to the public. Look at a few About.com guide sites to get ideas. While you’re at it, read as many sites as you can to become familiar with the content.
When I received the welcome e-mail, I did a search for information about guide prep and found nothing on the internet. It would have been helpful if I knew what to expect. I hope this helps you and good luck!