Please welcome to the Editor’s Q&A corner HelloGiggles Features Editor, Rachel Sanoff. Rachel shares submission tips for the paying publication, content/topics she is looking for, how writing for HelloGiggles opens up opportunities to be shared in/by other TIME Inc. publications, and more!
Q: HelloGiggles describes itself as a positive online community for women and has celebrity connections. Tell us more about the site for those who may not know.
A: HelloGiggles was founded in 2011 by Zooey Deschanel, Sophia Rossi, and Molly McAleer. We publish 100+ news articles daily, covering everything from entertainment, health, politics, lifestyle, tech, and viral social media stories. We also publish numerous personal essays everyday — that’s where I come in!
Considering the state of the world and the overwhelming amount of terrifying news on the internet, we try to be a positive online community, for women especially. By that, I mean, even when we cover topics that are far from “positive,” we try to create a space where readers/writers can vent, or where upsetting news is reported along with information on how you can take action. Similarly, it’s important for us to represent the complexity of our readers — it’s possible to care about a body positive blogger and health care legislation at the same time.
Q: Tell us about your role at HelloGiggles and what a day in the life looks like for you at work?
A: I am the Features Editor at HG, so I edit personal essays from our contributors. I also edit our From Our Readers section and our Working Girl Diaries column, and I work with two writers daily for our lifestyle news section.
I assign, edit, and publish four lifestyle news stories everyday, and edit, format, and publish three essays everyday. Throughout the week, I am interviewing really cool people (which I still can’t believe I get to do), writing my own articles, answering lots of emails from fantastic writers who want to work with us, brainstorming with other editors, and sending out calls for pitches.
Q: What are some of the topics HelloGiggles looks for in submissions?
A: We love nuanced personal narratives, and that can obviously come from any aspect of a person’s life. But some topics we especially like to publish revolve around health, body image, identity, LGBTQ experiences, non-traditional relationships, and family relationships. It is extremely important to us that we publish work from diverse writers who can speak about race, gender, ability, etc. from their lived experiences.
We also love to see essays pegged to current events, political and pop cultural. We’ve published many essays, for example, related to the 2016 election and health care access.
Q: Your contributor guidelines indicate that you will accept either a pitch or a completed article. What tips can you give someone about what information to include (or not to include) in a pitch?
A: We have to see full drafts from new-to-us writers before we can formally accept a pitch, but writers are always welcome to email me first. That way, they can run ideas by me and we can tweak angles together (if necessary) before they take the time to write an entire draft. Tip: When sending a draft attached to your first email, please include a short and sweet paragraph (4-7 sentences) in the email body summarizing your essay and explaining why your angle is unique. If you want to run the idea by me first, please try to keep it to a paragraph! It’s easier for me to respond in a timely manner when the email is shorter. Our essays’ word counts range from 600-1400 words (with a few exceptions if the story requires more length), so please keep that in mind when organizing your ideas as well.
Multiple pitches in one email is also totally fine, but please no more than four!
Once a writer and I have a working relationship, that writer can just send me a pitch and upload a full draft directly into our CMS if the pitch is approved.
Q: As the Features Editor, I’m guessing there are topics you tend to see over and over. Any specific topics you’d love to see more of?
A: I’m always looking to publish essays dealing with family relationships, friendships, mental health, physical health, non-traditional romantic relationships, and the personal impact of our political climate.Write for HelloGiggles - here's how: Click To Tweet
Q: Can you share some links to articles on HelloGiggles that have been major hits with your audience?
A: I love every contributor essay that I have been lucky enough to edit, but here are four essays that did especially well among our readership.
I had to come out twice — as queer and as disabled — Alaina Leary
Write for the little girls who read books under their covers with a flashlight — Kate McCarthy
On being a mother without my mother — Africa Jackson
How I learned to love every part of myself after my PCOS diagnosis — Alivia Hatten
Q: Walk us through the submission process and how long we should be patient before hearing back.
A: After we communicate via email, if I approve your pitch/draft, I will connect you with our amazing office manager. She will get you set up with contracts, our payment program, and our CMS.
Our staff of brilliant women is also a small team, so I definitely advise patience while waiting for a response (and trust me, I know how frustrating that is as someone who was a freelance writer less than a year ago). I have hundreds of unread emails in my inbox at any given time, so it can sometimes take me three weeks to get back to writers regarding their pitches — so please don’t be shy about following up. I try my absolute best to give every writer an answer — whether it’s a yes or no — before a month has passed. If your essay is pegged to something timely, please indicate that in the subject line so I can be sure to review your idea quickly.
Q: Tell us about the benefits HelloGiggles writers enjoy including payment of course!
A: Since HelloGiggles is under TIME Inc., it creates opportunities for your work to be featured in the numerous online publications also under TIME Inc. — through syndication or through posts on official social media accounts. And yes, HG pays writers!
Q: Where are you headquartered, and do you publish work from international writers?
We are headquartered in a Downtown Los Angeles office, and we publish tons of work from international writers! Writers just need to be able to access PayPal in their home countries so that we can pay them for their work. So definitely pitch us, wherever you are!
Q: What about work that has been previously published on another site or a personal blog. Do you ever consider that, or does it need to be original for consideration?
A: Per HG policy, an essay has to be original to be considered (that means it can’t have already been published on a blog, either). But I’m thrilled to see your original ideas!
Q: What is next for HelloGiggles!?
A: There are a lot of essay topics I want to cover for the month of June! With Father’s Day approaching, I hope to receive pitches about writer’s relationships with their dads — whether they are positive relationships, negative relationships, or anything in between. I am especially interested in hearing from women who were raised by single fathers. Also, since we’ve recently published a lot of essays about graduating college, we’re hoping to see some personal essays that discuss why college isn’t the right path for everybody. Lastly, June is Pride Month, so we definitely want to publish essays from the perspectives of LGBTQ writers.