I’m the editor in charge of guest posting for a site that gets quite a lot of traffic. Also, every week we select one guest post to feature in a newsletter that gets distributed to several thousand people.
I respond to everyone who inquires and we publish a lot of the submissions. When I don’t think a submitted article is good for the site, I respond with some comments and I always tell the writer what needs to change to make it suitable. Sadly, I’ve had some unfortunate responses to my suggestions over the last couple of weeks.
Twice recently, potential guest bloggers – after I’ve suggested the direction they could take their articles – have asked me to do the editing and rewriting for them!
Why guest post?
I don’t know what they were thinking except that if I made the changes, there would be no question that we would publish the piece. But this is very short sighted and the wrong way to go if you want to:
- Get published, and
- Create a good working relationship with an editor.
The second point above is really the important one. On the site where I serve as editor for guest posting, we have several good writers who submit articles to us on a regular basis. I know they understand what we’re looking for and I’m confident that I can drop their articles into the site with just minor proofreading.
Here’s the big idea that writers interested in guest posting need to understand:
When you submit a guest post to a site, you should be making their job of creating and maintaining a popular site easier. If you’re making their job harder, you’ll get rejected.
Guest posting symbiosis
Let’s face it, the guest posting relationship is self-serving on both sides. The website wants good content for free and the writer wants good publicity by riding on the reputation coattails of someone who has achieved greater stature on the interweb.
I hope these two individuals aren’t the shock troops for a whole new generation of wannabe guest bloggers. If you would like to go the guest posting route to help you establish your authority, learn the lesson here: You can’t be lazy.
Writing for publication is easy as long as you remember and adhere to the main rule: Write for your audience. When you’re playing the guest posting game, your first audience is the editor who serves as gatekeeper. These editors will have two questions in mind as they review your proposed content:
- Is this article a good fit for our readers?
- Is this article “ready to go” as it has been submitted?
When the answer to both of those questions is “yes,” you’re on your way to guest posting success. If the answer is “no” to either of those, you have more work to do. You need to study content on the site to know you’re message fits and you need to be sure that your writing is good enough to stand beside what has already been published there.
Edit, edit, edit
Let me make one more point before I leave this topic. The reason I rejected the articles that prompted me to write this piece was that they attempted to cover too many topics. They lacked focus. My advice to both writers was the same: I pointed out what I thought was the most compelling point they made and suggested they take that point and make it the sole focus of their pieces.
The “rewrite” wouldn’t have required much more than a handful of changes and a new introductory comment or two. But alas, they didn’t seem to want to make the effort. If they submit something for guest posting in the future, what do you think my attitude will be?