Call For Submissions: What I Learned


by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor

As I mentioned earlier this week, working for APW often means taking the things I’m learning here and applying them to my real life. It’s a little like having a few thousand big sisters to help me navigate both the practical and philosophical next steps of my life (no pressure). So as wedding season starts to wind down (well, the first half at least. Part two starts in a few weeks, depending on where you live) and the school year starts up again, we’re harnessing the lessons learned within this community and focusing on:

What I Learned

In September, we’re talking about what we’ve learned, from the hard knocks to the unexpected lessons to the pleasant surprises. Particularly for those of you who just got married, now is the time to share the knowledge gained this year with those currently in the trenches of planning. And for the married folks? Well, I just hope you run with this one.

As you consider what to submit, here is a quick reminder of some helpful tips and tricks when submitting your story:

  • First, while we are always in the market for personal essays, don’t forget you can frame your story around a Wedding Graduate post or a Wordless Wedding. And please, send us your Reclaiming Wife stories! We want to hear your thoughts on relationships, marriage, feminism, careers, and everything else in between.
  • Next, one of the primary characteristics we look for in submissions each month is a connection to a universal idea. We’re all writing from our personal experiences here, but if you can take that experience and make it something that other people are going to relate to, then we’ve got magic. But that doesn’t mean every post needs to have a big moral or overarching theme. Sometimes the most universal stories are the simplest ones.
  • As always, our themes are meant to serve as a guideline for submissions, but they aren’t rigid. Do with them what you will! For example, if next month’s theme is “What I Learned” but you really need to talk about the things you’ve realized you don’t know at all, then we want to hear what you have to say. We’re always after diversity of experience here, so the most important thing is that you write something that is authentic to you (particularly if it’s a perspective we haven’t heard from in a while or at all).
  • Also, when you’re submitting for the monthly theme, we don’t want you to feel as though you have to frame your story around the theme itself (i.e., “In life, I’ve learned…”). Heck, you don’t even have to include the name of the theme in your writing at all. Just write what you would normally write, and we’ll figure out if it’s a good fit for the month, or if maybe it would be a better fit for later in the year.
  • Lastly, if you have something you just have to get out there into the world, but it doesn’t fit with the theme for the next month, please send it in anyway. Our top priority is always strong content, regardless of the topic.

And that’s it! So if you have a story to share about what you’ve learned, send it on in!

Cheers and happy writing,


Photo by APW Sponsor Emily Takes Photos

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  • Lela

    Can you provide info on what you pay to writers?

    • All submissions are voluntary, there’s no compensation aside from a good comment discussion :-)

      • Lela

        Really? They expect writers to contribute pieces for free? That’s crazy.

        • meg

          Not crazy, sadly, it’s way too common online these days because we, the collective lovely readers of the internet, don’t pay anything to read content. Trust me, there is no one in the world who want’s to pay every person who writes for APW more than I do.

          The basic way things work is this: about 3/4ths of APW content is created by our paid staff. The final 1/4th is sourced from voluntary reader contributions. One of our goals is to be able to pay writers for pieces that are selected, but I’m committed to paying my staff living wages, so until I can pay them what I feel they are worth, and insure them, I can’t work on my goal of paying guest posters. (I haven’t gotten a raise since I started working for APW full time, even though my expenses for running the site have skyrocketed—hey, daycare—so I’m not part of the equation, persay.) The internet is a level playing field, however, and I write for free for other websites on a regular basis.

          In the final analysis, we can’t pay guest posters, but all members of the APW community get to enjoy this website (which is expensive to produce) for free, and that’s a balance I’m comfortable with, at least until I can improve it.

          • Lena


            Unfortnately I can’t afford to work for free.

          • Anon

            Lena: You’re not working for free. Guest blogging drives traffic to your website and makes you more visible on Google.

            That Gawker article is a little off base. Van Gogh was supported by his family? Well, T.S. Eliot languished in a daytime job as a banker, and Einstein had a government job as a patent clerk. They supported themselves and devoted their time to their passions when they could. Creativity isn’t a luxury for the rich.

            If you want it, you have to hustle.

          • Lexipedia

            I also don’t see submissions to APW the same way as articles submitted by freelancers to news sites or other professional media. This blog is about a community of sharing, and posters send in submissions because they want to share a personal story/experience/lesson and contribute to a discussion. Meg isn’t sending people out to cover events, or assigning pieces as an editor, I believe that journalists should be paid for the type of work. Blog communities with guest submissions tend to work like APW does, and readers do benefit greatly from its existence. No one is forced to contribute, but I think that most posters are excited to share their thoughts and be part of the APW project. I had read the Gawker piece, and although I agree with it in the context it was written I wouldn’t draw parallels between the experience of an underpaid freelancer and a contributor to this blog.

          • meg

            You seem to be missing the fact that most of the APW budget goes to paying professional writers to write for APW. We don’t depend on reader submissions, though we think that the diversity of experience shared in them makes the site stronger. We’re also not allocating our budget to things OTHER than paying writers, like major media outlets do sometimes. We simply don’t currently have a large enough budget to pay everyone.

            That said, if you can’t afford to write for free and feel that strongly about it, you probably should also stop consuming the content this website pays to produce for free, and go somewhere else. Buy a magazine. Pay for your content. Magazines can pay writers partially because you pay them. Since you’re not paying APW, you don’t have a ton of room to complain without being a hypocrite.

  • merryf

    finally, I’m going to get off my “too scared to submit because maybe it will suck” horse and do it, now that there’s a topic that I can totally write about…

    • Abby Mae

      DO IT!