New Contributor On-Boarding Checklist

Welcome to Our Family of Contributors!

checklist iconWhat follows is our on-boarding process.

Please note I did not receive this list on tablets of stone written by the finger of God. This is simply me putting into writing the ever-evolving list I tell everyone who accepts my invitation to write for us.

That verbal list can be a bit overwhelming to remember. I’ve written all this out so if you forget something I’ve told you along these lines, you will have a written checklist to work from. Unlike the US Constitution, this is a living document which will evolve as the blog develops and our list of contributors grows.

Any written list items can be created in MSWord and sent via email as an attachment. I can take it from there.

Here we go!

1. Send Me a High-Quality Color Portrait of Yourself

Here are some guidelines:

  • Most importantly by far, it should capture your personality as much as possible. At the very least:
    1. You should appear friendly.
    2. You should not look like you’ve just smelled a skunk or hate having your picture taken.
  • It should be recently taken.
  • You should be the only person in the photo.
  • It does not have to be a portrait taken by a professional photographer, though it can be.
  • It can be formal or casual, indoor or out.
  • Preferably, it should be a head-and-shoulders image. If not, I can use Photoshop to crop such an image from a larger photo, assuming the image has sufficient resolution for me to do this.
  • It should be as high a resolution as you can manage, with a minimum 600×600 pixels
  • It needs to be saved in a standard Photoshop-editable format. Either PNG or highest-quality-setting JPEG is preferable.
  • If you have any technical questions about any of this, call me and I will answer them!

I will handle color-correction, visual enhancement, and cropping — I simply need the raw material to work with. BTW, please do not try to do this yourself!

2. Create a Gravatar

This is a thumbnail portrait of yourself which is one-third of your byline at the bottom of every article you write. This thumbnail should be the same image as the one you sent me for #1 in this checklist. After I work over the initial portrait as described above, I will return a smaller version of it to you for your Gravatar, usually 200px x 200px.

Sadly, creating a Gravatar is a task you must perform personally because I am not permitted by WordPress to do it for you.

Here is the step-by-step procedure:

  1. Log into Miscellaneous Ramblings as a user using this link.
  2. Scroll down the left column until you find the menu item labelled “Users”.
  3. Find your name in the user list, then click on the “Edit User” link next to it.
  4. Scroll down to the item labelled “Profile Picture.
  5. Click on the Gravatar icon. This will take you to WordPress’ Gravatar website. Once there, click the “Create your Gravatar” button.
  6. You will then fill out a brief webform with fields for your email address, username, and a password. Please use the same username, email address, and password associated with your user account on the blog. Then click the “Create your account” button.
  7. You will then be permitted to upload the thumbnail photo and associate it with the information you just entered.
  8. Click the save button
  9. You’re done!
  10. When you return to your user profile at the blog, your photo should now appear next to your Profile Picture.

3. Write a Short Byline Blurb

This brief verbiage, along with your name and Gravatar image, forms your byline for every one of your articles published on the site, so this is extremely important.

  • It can be as serious or as tongue-in-cheek as you like.
  • It can be as long or short as you want but typically should be no longer than 50 words or so.

For example, this is mine:

Ardent Christ-follower, passionate teacher of God’s Word, merciless slaughterer of sacred cows, equal opportunity offender of religious pomposity, counselor for the hurting, loving husband, punster extraordinaire, fanatical cat lover, proud grandfather, cancer survivor, raconteur, and all-round great guy (well, that last one is somewhat debatable!)

For another example, this is Ron Merrell’s:

Follower of Jesus, blessed husband and dad, pastor, sheep herder, sidekick, wordsmith, bodysurfer, and low-level comedian. Usually hungry.

4. Write an “About Yourself” Article

The purpose of this is to acquaint our readers with who you are, what you stand for, and where your heart is regarding Jesus and your ministry, a “what makes you who you are and what makes you tick spiritually” kind of thing.

This builds credibility with your potential readers because they can get a glimpse inside your head and heart, thus giving them confidence in what you have to say. Since we are all relatively unknown outside our own personal spheres of influence, this is crucial in building your reader fan-base on a broader stage.

Whatever you write should reflect your own writing style and mode of expression. In other words, it should sound like you when read aloud. BTW, no one is standing on the sidelines holding up scorecards for technical excellence and artistic impression.

This article should consist of 2 parts:

  1. A personal biography
  2. Your ministry philosophy/focus

My own bio is about 600 words and my ministry philosophy section is just over 1,000, but there is no hard-and-fast minimum for either.

Whether you include an optional factoids section in your bio as I have is strictly your call. If you do have one, whatever you want to include in it is also your call.

This bio will appear on a dedicated blog page accessible:

  1. Underneath the Who Are We? item on the site’s main menu
  2. Our Table of Contents

Feel free to peruse the bios of other contributors for examples and inspiration.

5. Send me a list of at least 4 significant books

As you may already know, we have an online bookstore. We participate in the Amazon Associates program which means every time someone buys a book through our bookstore, we receive a small commission for that purchase. All commissions go into the “keep Miscellaneous Ramblings running” kitty to defray the website’s operational overhead and future growth.

Within the bookstore, each of our contributors has a dedicated personal picks page. On that page is a list of 4 or more books that contributor feels are the most-significant, major-life-altering message(s) for them personally outside the Bible itself. In other words, these books rocked their world, changing the course of their walk with Jesus so drastically they would not be the Christ-follower they are today apart from them.

Additional Selection Criteria:

  • Can be fiction or non
  • Can be Christian or secular
  • Must be currently available on in at least one format (hardback, paperback, Kindle, and/or audiobook)
  • If secular, a book should not have any content overtly antithetical to our faith. In other words, you didn’t have to weed through and reject a bunch of secular humanist horse-hockey to receive the book’s benefits.

Include the following information for each:

  1. Its title
  2. Its author(s)
  3. A brief 1-3 sentence blurb describing its significance to you and your walk with God.
  4. Optional: the page link to the book

Once I receive your list, I will create your personal picks page. I will obtain the cover images from Amazon and resize them to our specs, so you needn’t bother with that.

Here is the standard we advertise to our readers in the bookstore:

We have carefully curated this selection of writings using the following criteria:

  • The Christian titles are Christ-centered, biblically faithful, and doctrinally sound.
  • The secular titles present nothing which conflicts with the Scriptures.
  • All are written by reputable and topically authoritative authors.
  • They are spiritually constructive or otherwise uplifting.
  • They are valuable for building healthy relationships with our families and fellow Christ-followers.
  • They are useful in honing our witness to the lost.

Feel free to recommend any other titles for the bookstore which you have found to be valuable to your walk with God, but haven’t had the impact of your personal picks list.

Again, welcome aboard!