Please don’t share this page link with others. It’s a private page meant only for the authors of The Curriculum Choice. Thank you for ministering to the homeschool community by writing curriculum reviews! The information below should answer most of your author questions. Please contact Tricia with any additional questions you may have – [email protected]
Your author box/profile: If you don’t have one already, please create a Gravatar account. It’s free and easy and links your profile photo to your posts. Simply go to www.gravatar.com and follow the instructions. But be sure and use the same email address tied to your profile at Curriculum Choice. That is how we will tie your photo to your profile. http://en.gravatar.com/
Next, be sure to update your profile to let readers know about you, your website and more: Once logged in, click on My Profile in the left hand side bar. Add your 3-4 sentence bio. You will also notice you can customize your author box with a link to your website, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. These new fields are ready for you to fill in. You will have to scroll further down the My Profile page to find the website and social media button fields. Click the tiny button beside each of the fields to activate what you’d like to appear in your author box. If you need any help just email [email protected]
- You have agreed to submit one post per month. Only write reviews of products you have actually used and loved. It’s okay to talk about things you wish were different or points you don’t necessarily love, but try to keep your reviews positive. If you don’t like something, don’t review it.
- Please have your post saved “as pending” no later than the last day of the previous month. (For example: A post for September would be due NO LATER than August 31st.) Tricia will go in the first of the month and schedule all posts for that month. Please don’t make her beg you for a review!
- If your review is not ready to be scheduled, save “as draft”. Only save “as pending” when it’s ready to be scheduled.
- All reviews should be concise. People don’t want to read too many words.
- All reviews should be visually pleasing. Short paragraphs. Bold phrases or sentences occasionally. Bullets or numbering when appropriate.
- Add at least one photo. Photos should be of very good quality. Give photo credit when not using your own photos. For site security purposes, you MUST upload photos directly from your computer into the photo manager.
- Add at least one link to the publisher’s website. Please link directly to the publisher, not an online retailer that sells the publisher’s product.
- It helps to develop a rapport with the readers. Let them know about your homeschool, your passions and your struggles. When you write about similar items, link them together.
Ex. By now, most of you know my children and I love logic. (Add links to previous posts.) As Charlotte Mason homeschoolers with a flair for classical education, logic is one of our favorite add-ins and today I’m going to share yet another great logic product with you.
- Add a bio at the end of your review in italics.
- Check the appropriate categories in the right sidebar. Add appropriate key word tags – be sure to add a tag “written by _______”.
- Can I write a review of a product that someone else has already reviewed on TCC? Absolutely! Our readers love to see varying “takes” on the same products. Try to link to the other reviews somewhere in your post so your readers can easily find them.
Ex. I’m not the only author here at The Curriculum Choice to love ________. See ________’s review too.
- Can I write several month’s posts ahead of time? That would be wonderful! You’ll see a “note” section in the right sidebar as you write your post. Just leave a note as to which month the post(s) should be scheduled.
- Can I write more than one post a month if I want? Sure! Just let Tricia know so she doesn’t assume you’re writing posts ahead of time.
- Can I offer giveaways in my posts? Yes, as long as you handle all the details. Our readers love giveaways! In your post, you will need to list the following clearly (You may add these details to the ‘notes’ field in your post and I will add it to the rafflecopter widget):
- dates for the contest (try to limit it to around one week only),
- requirements for entry,
- whether or not those outside the US can enter, and
- how long the winner(s) will have to claim their prize.
- Can I post the review on TCC and the giveaway on my own blog? No. Reviews and giveaways are held together on Curriculum Choice.
- Should posts be written from a Christian perspective? While you don’t have to write from a Christian perspective, you must not write from a perspective against Christianity. Any posts that are negative toward Christianity in any form or fashion will not be posted. On issues of divisiveness, please choose to not give an opinion – facts only. Ex. You will notice illustrations of women wearing head coverings, but even though the content is conservative, most families will not be offended in any way by the material presented.
- My post was changed slightly (or more than slightly). Why?All posts are edited for content and length. In all cases, the purpose is simply to make the writer look better and/or the reader more comfortable. You may notice the editor will occasionally:
- fix grammar mistakes,
- cut out some parts of the post if it’s too lengthy or too wordy,
- cut out/replace/add graphics when it benefits the post,
- add bullets, bold font or other things to boost the visual appeal, or
- otherwise make additions/deletions/corrections as she sees fit.
- Can I post my TCC review on my blog, too? The short answer is no. You are encouraged to post “teasers” on your blog sending your readers to The Curriculum Choice, but please don’t post entire reviews on your blog. Occasionally, an author will ask to repost a review on TCC which she has previously published on her own blog. That’s okay IF it’s done sparingly and IF the original post is changed at least slightly so as not to be the exact same review.
- Are disclosures necessary on my posts? Sometimes. We have a very broad disclaimer policy located in our menu bar that should cover many situations. There is no need to add any sort of disclaimer if you have purchased the product yourself. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued updated guidelines for disclosure in March 2013. You can read them in detail here http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/03/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf In a nutshell, what it means is that we must disclose at the beginning of the review/post if you were given product in exchange for a review, if the review contains affiliate links and/or if you are paid to write the review.
Some great examples:
Example of disclosure near top of post: http://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/
- Example of disclosure for sponsored post: http://www.thecurriculumchoice.com/2013/04/review-we-choose-virtues-homeschool-kit/
- Our Curriculum Choice blanket disclosure policy (prominent in top navigation bar) http://www.thecurriculumchoice.com/disclosure-policy/
- Should I use a template to create my review? To make having a disclosure in your post easy for you I have created template for you to use. This is not mandatory. If you choose to use a template, the wording is automatically placed in the post for you. You can delete whatever you don’t want to be there (like my prompt for you to place your tag line at the end of your post.
- How to Find the Templates:
When logged in:
In left hand side, click Templates
You will see three options listed 1. Review Template and 2. Review Template product in exchange for review and 3. Review Template with Affiliate Disclosure. Chose the one that is applicable and that you would like to use by clicking the New Post button in the far right hand side.A new post will open. You will see an outline of what a typical review looks like. This is a guideline and a reminder for you. You will be deleting most of it as you write your review. I set it up this way to make it visually appealing for our readers. But each of you have your own style and that is also what our readers appreciate. I am not trying to squelch your voice at all.
- Does Curriculum Choice have a policy on affiliate links? We do have an affiliate policy. Basically, if you are an affiliate of a homeschool product – great! Use your direct affiliate link to send our readers to the homeschool vendor. That is a win-win situation. However, we do not use Amazon affiliate links. This is an inherited policy that my husband and I are sticking by. The Curriculum Choice does have an Amazon widget in the sidebar and I believe (but am not positive) that any Amazon links placed on the site will automatically be replaced with TCC Amazon links. If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to discuss them with [email protected]
Button For Your Blog
If you are an active author, you are encouraged to add this button to your blog or other website:
The code for the button is:
Be sure to replace the “your-name-here” with your Curriculum Choice login name.
Making the Most of Writing Reviews
Most of us consider writing reviews a ministry of sorts, meaning it isn’t necessary to “get anything” out of the work. However, it’s okay to make your time more worthwhile when opportunities arise. Below are some hints, as well as some “on the honor system” requirements.
- *If you are part of The Old SchoolHouse (TOS) review team – or considering being a part – please know that there is a Curriculum Choice guideline about not writing for both. This is what we say at Curriculum Choice and it is not coming from TOS. The guideline is simply for the protection of authors (you) and Curriculum Choice. We’ve found that if you write for both teams that there is a high rate of burn out. And that both you and Curriculum Choice suffer. You will need to decide to write for one or the other but not both.
- Advertise your blog or business with each and every post. At the bottom of your reviews, feel free to add a mini-bio linking things that are important to you.
Ex. Cindy West is an eclectically Charlotte Mason mom of 3 from Central Ky. You can find her blogging at Our Journey Westward and find her NaturExplorers studies and other creative curricula at Shining Dawn Books.
- Let Tricia know if you want to be an administrator of TCC’s Facebook page. Once you become an admin, you are free to link your monthly reviews to draw more attention to them. You are also free, occasionally, to link to your blog or other website when there’s something extra-special to “toot your horn” about.
Ex. One of our authors, Cindy West, has a giveaway of logic books going on right now on her blog. Go enter!
Ex. Cindy West, one of our authors, just posted her curriculum plans for the new school year.
These posts are pertinent to the goals of The Curriculum Choice – to help homeschoolers learn about and enjoy curriculum. Please don’t abuse the “toot your own horn” posts.
- Request review materials for free. If there is a particular item you’ve really been wanting to use, it’s okay to ask for it! Please follow these steps to make sure we don’t over ask any particular company.
- Check first to see if the same product has already been reviewed at TCC. Simply type a search in TCC’s search box.
- If it has been reviewed before, contact the other author to ask if she requested the product.
- If she did request the product, please do not request it again.
- The same goes for companies in general. If you see that someone already requested a different product from Institute for Excellence in Writing, for example, please don’t request any additional products from them. The only exception is if it has been at least two years since the last review was posted.
If we are to maintain integrity as a great curriculum review website, it’s utterly important that we don’t send request after request to the same companies.
If you decide to request a product, develop a professional letter of request. Here’s a sample I’ve sent in the past. Feel free to change it in any way you see fit.
My name is ___. I write for a wonderful homeschool product review website called The Curriculum Choice. (http://thecurriculumchoice.com)
Currently, The Curriculum Choice receives well over 57,230 page views per month and we have been consistently growing that number from the inception of the website in early 2009. All reviews are publicized via our media outlets. Several of our reviewers also have popular blogs from which we bring readers to The Curriculum Choice as well.
I’m writing because I’d love the opportunity to review ______________. There is no cost for my review. I simply ask that you send me the materials so I can use them with my children. I’m currently scheduling reviews for (season or month). I always let you know when the review is posted and you are welcome to link or quote whatever you like from it.
All reviewed products stay on the website’s front page for at least a week, usually two, and can be accessed again through an author search, product search or topical search. Your company’s website will be linked in the review, as well as at least one picture of the product.
Additionally, I will link the review to my personal blog and The Curriculum Choice’s Facebook page.
I very much appreciate your consideration.
Address, Phone Number, Websites
*I ALWAYS do what I say in the letter! I send a link to the review directly to my company contact. I link it on TCC’s Facebook page and I link it to my blog.
*Also, be timely in your review. Don’t hold a product for more than six months without writing a review.
- Whether you receive a product for free or not, always send a link of your review to the publisher. You might be surprised when other review offers come your way! On occasion, my reviews have been linked to publishers’ web pages, meaning more exposure to me as a reviewer and more potential exposure to my blog/business.
- In the rare case there is no publisher’s website available for you to link to in your post, feel free to link to an affiliate’s site with which you are associated. For example, when I reviewed English From the Roots Up, I found that the publisher doesn’t offer the curriculum for sale on their website. I ended up linking the products to Timberdoodle instead. Although I wasn’t an affiliate of Timberdoodle at the time, it could’ve been slightly lucrative for me if I had been and used my affiliate link in the post. Please try to link to the publisher’s website first – only use affiliate links when all else fails.
- Just to clarify for Curriculum Choice and affiliate links. If you are an affiliate of the company you are reviewing a product for, then use an affiliate link. It’s a win/win situation. We, however, do not want Curriculum Choice to become a site full of Amazon affiliate links. That’s what we want to avoid. We want to support fellow homeschool publishers as much as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Comments on Your Posts
You should receive an email notice when comments are made on your posts. Please reply to as many comments as you can in a timely manner. Also, feel free to delete any comments that look like spam or are inappropriate. If you aren’t able to delete a comment yourself, let Tricia know. She doesn’t get notification of all comments that are posted. Don’t hesitate to contact me with additional questions or ideas you might have that should be added to this page! [email protected]