Please welcome to the Editor’s Q&A corner the founder and editor of Just BE Parenting, Kathryn Hively. Just Be is approaching its one year anniversary and is looking for both original and republished content to their site. Our discussion includes the type of content they love, what makes them different in the land of parenting websites, republishing, and future goals to pay writers.
Q: Tell us about Just Be Parenting including how the site differentiates itself from other parenting sites.
A: Just BE Parenting promotes nonjudgmental parenting and celebrates families in all forms. As such, we need contributors with unique voices and unique points of view. We cover everything from special needs parenting, to marriage equality, to honest reflections of parental imperfections.
Contributors are essential to the site’s mission. I believe that every parenting relationship is unique. What works best for you and your child might not be best, or even practical, for someone else. Where you invest your time, money, and energy may not be where I choose to spend mine. That doesn’t make me a worse parent, or you a better one. It just makes us different.
Just BE Parenting supports a purposeful approach to life with children: Simply BE there. How you define “being there” varies from parent to parent, and even from child to child within the same family.
Each post offers a glimpse into someone else’s experiences. While each story is unique, we hope the commonalities readers find will inspire compassion and a sense of connection.
Q: How many pieces are you publishing each week?
A: 2 to 3
Q: Can you describe the type of content you are looking for?
A: Just BE Parenting encourages submissions that support nonjudgmental parenting and varied definitions of family. We look forward to sharing stories that expand our view of parenting and our compassion for others. We love a good laugh as much as a good cry, but our passion is for great writing and the power of words to change the world (or at least our minds).
We cover general parenting topics as well, but each piece has a certain vulnerability and openness. The site is organized into the following sections:
Just BE Open Parenting outside the box: Celebrating family in all forms.
This portion of the site often contains posts on controversial or taboos topics. We’ve covered everything from “non-traditional” families to rape culture. Two of my favorite posts are Kara Zajac’s Who’s Your Daddy and Sara Robinson’s An Honest Conversation: Marriage Gets Tough When You Have Kids.
Just BE Flawed It’s Ok. No one’s perfect.
Ironically, most of these posts are mine. I’m a hot mess, but I also hate to categorize any of our fantastic contributors as “Flawed”. Storm Ellyatt’s I Said What We Should Never Say and Rachel Bowers’ Sleep Deprivation Lies are both fantastic examples of posts that share “flaws” to encourage parents to support one another.
Just BE Funny When all else fails…
We cover some pretty serious topics on the site, but I love a funny parenting post as much as the next reader. Brenna Layne’s The Bikini-Clad Truth about Family Vacations and Susan M. Gelles’ What No One Tells You About Parenting Twins are hilarious while providing an honest look at parenting challenges.
Just BE Inspired Golden Parenting Moments: Tissues or glitter sometimes required.
This section was intended for everything from “Wow, that’s a good idea” to “Wow, that’s some good parenting.” If I read a contributor’s post and bawl my eyes out, it’s probably going here. Stephanie Tait’s Mama Has Lyme exemplifies the type of post I had in mind when I started Just BE Parenting. The piece touches on parenting children with disability, mom guilt, and why it’s so important to reserve judgment.After reading Hayley DeRoche’s The Heavy, Lovely Invisible Chainmail Called Motherhood and Marisa Svalstedt’s The Summer of Two, I went and hugged my kids. I’m guessing readers did as well.
Those were the tissue pieces, now on to the glitter. When I look at parenting magazines, I feel so inept. I can barely cut in a straight line, but most activities my kids enjoy are so simple and cheap. I’d love to feature posts that offer activities for kids, especially special needs children (Crafts for Sensory Kids, etc). Parents sometimes worry too much about how snapshots of their activities look on social media. It doesn’t have to be perfect (or expensive) to be fun.
Just BE Practical Advice from parents who’ve been there, done that.
I love parenting advice. I love reading it, I love hearing it, and I love sharing it. Being a parent is HARD. I’ve never felt so underqualified for a task in my life. I’m constantly trying to up my parenting skills, and I’ve already learned so much because of Just BE Parenting.
Shari Eberts’ Let’s Add Earplugs to the List is a fantastic resource on hearing health. I interviewed a local lactation consultation for Barriers to Breastfeeding: Are My Boobs Broken to add some practical tips to my personal narrative. I talked breasts with everyone I knew for about a month afterwards. It was enlightening and led to two guest posts on another site.
Q: If someone reading has something to submit, what are their next steps?
A: Please submit via our submission form. Contributors will typically receive a response within a week (and usually much sooner). I personally respond to every submission. Since I’m also a writer, I know how terrible waiting can be, so I try to keep the turnaround time as short as possible. The acceptance email will include the scheduled publication date, and I will email the writer again once the piece has gone live.
If only minor edits are needed, such as spelling or grammar corrections, that’s it. If the edits are extensive, I will run them by the writer prior to publication.
Q: What benefits do you offer to writers?
A: The site is still in its infancy, so unfortunately submissions are unpaid (for now). We are pleased to syndicate posts and promote your work however we can.
Q: Do you accept previously published work?
A: Absolutely! We’re happy to syndicate, especially from personal blogs. Contributors must certify that the content submitted is original work, and the author holds the right to republish it on Just BE Parenting.
Q: Where is your headquarters, and do you accept work from international writers?
A: We’re headquartered in New Jersey (with strong Virginia roots) and feature international writers.
Q: What are your expectations as far as how you would like writers to promote their post?
As we continue to expand the site, we’re asking all contributors to please help spread the word. We love to see posts promoted on the author’s social media platforms. What I haven’t seen, and would love to see, are more shares in writing groups like Beyond Your Blog or other online writer’s group. If writers participate in online parenting groups, we encourage them to promote their pieces there as well.
Q: As far as rights go, are contributors able to republish something you have published previously?
I would recommend to any writer that unless someone is paying for specific content, you better hold the rights! If the piece first appeared on Just BE Parenting, a brief attribution is appreciated. We include attributions for all previously published work on the site with a link back to the publication or blog.
Q: What’s next for Just BE Parenting?
A: Since we launched in January 2016, the site has far exceeded my first-year expectations both in the quality of work submitted and the level of readership.
Short-term Goals: We’ll continue to do everything we can to expand the platform through social media advertising and borderline obnoxious self-promotion. The heart of this site—the desire to foster kindness—will always be an inspiration to me. Many of our contributors share the same drive, and I’m sincerely grateful for everything they have done to help the site grow.
Long-Term Goals: I believe writing is work and, as such, writers should be compensated. For now, that compensation comes in the form of exposure to new audiences, but paying contributors is, and has always been, a future goal of the site.
Our intention is to grow the site large enough to appeal directly to advertisers and generate revenue to pay writers. For now, all passive ad revenue is used for site and post promotion.