Contributor Guidelines

Explorers are in. Are you?

Hidden Compass is an award-winning online publication that showcases the frontiers of human exploration and knowledge through powerful storytelling.

We publish stories that blend travel and discovery with science, culture, art, history — anything our contributors are passionate about. In other words, this is a place that celebrates the nerds of the world. And everyone is a nerd about something.

If you have an original, compelling, and true story — told in words, photos, artwork, or a combination of media — consider submitting to Hidden Compass.

We are a publication that wants to partner with you! That means that if your pitch or submission is assigned, you’ll be joining us on a journey. That journey involves editing, fact-checking, and promotion — though not necessarily in the ways you may be used to. Read on to learn more…

Is your story right for us?

We’re not looking for listicles, service pieces, or promotional material. We love literary stories, yet we also require research and reporting. And while we know you’re very excited about your upcoming trip, please understand that we are not driven by destinations. We are driven by stories.

Your story should convey a strong sense of place, connect a journey to a broader issue or conversation, and capture our distinct, cinematic voice.

If you’re pitching or submitting a photo essay, your images must also convey the feeling of the place, reflect the story arc, and be thoughtfully processed and composed.

Are we right for your story?

At Hidden Compass, we celebrate journalists as heroes. So we’re going to challenge you. Be ready to work through several rounds of structural and stylistic edits with us. Be ready to submit a list of sources for fact-checking (hooray journalism!). After going through our editorial process, you should feel your story is the best it can possibly be — that it’s so good, you’ll want to shout about its publication from the rooftops.

Which is what you’ll get to do! Every Hidden Compass story is published alongside a patronage campaign that benefits both of us. Once the 90-day campaign is over, 50% of proceeds will support Hidden Compass, and the other 50% of proceeds go to you on top of our rates (see below for rates). These campaigns allow us to focus on the quality of the pieces we publish, rather than compromise the story in the name of clicks.

As a Hidden Compass journalist, you’ll be introducing yourself to our audience via pre-recorded video and promoting your campaign within your network. You’ll also get to showcase your work and personality on your journalist profile page.

If this seems intimidating — don’t worry! We’ll be partnering with you on all of it. We’re in this together.

Our Stories Are a Little Different

We publish stories told through words and images. Every story runs roughly between 2,500-3,500 words, and fits into one of our five unconventional themes:

Quest: Take us on a journey alongside characters in pursuit of elusive truths. Bring our readers into extreme landscapes, to far reaches of the planet, and into the unknown.

Portrait: Introduce us to extraordinary characters around the world — individuals, cultures, places, creatures, and even objects.

Human and Nature: Investigate the relationship between humankind and the planet. Bring us face-to-face with nature as an unpredictable danger, a wise teacher, and a precarious organism.

Chasing Demons: Delve into the dark and difficult aspects of a place, even (especially!) when the darkness exists only in the narrator — investigative pieces, historical exposés, and tales of narrators immersed in danger.

Time Travel: Inhabit the past, present, and future of a place. Unearth layers of ancient legends and traditions; probe the transient nature of the current moment; adventure out into prediction, peril, and possibility.

*Photo Feature: One story in every issue is a story told through the arc of 8-10 photographs and an accompanying narrative. The word count for these pieces is also 2,500-3,500 words. We’re looking for rockstar photographers willing to weave in the written word. We promise it’s not as scary as it sounds.

What We Pay & What We’re Licensing

Photo features: $1,000 + 50% of fundraising proceeds.

All other stories: $550 + 50% of fundraising proceeds.

Custom artwork: $450.

Photos (excluding photo features): $75/image.

Excited? Submit!

A good Hidden Compass pitch is one that shows us the arc of your story, the role of your narrator, and how this piece contributes to a larger conversation.

Once you have that, simply email your pitch or submission to If you would like to be considered for artwork commissions, please send us a link to an online portfolio of your previous work.

Please include your submission in the body of your email — no attachments, please. (Please!) For photo features, also send low-resolution jpegs (via Dropbox or similar file sharing service).

We consider every submission thoroughly and we wish we could respond to everyone, but due to an overwhelming number of submissions, we simply cannot. We welcome follow-up emails, but if you have not heard from us within four weeks, you can safely assume that we have passed on your story this time around.

Thank you for your interest. We look forward to your story ideas.