In the ancient world of print publications – for example, in any academic or professional journal – when you send an article to the editor, you receive an acknowledgment of receipt.
Scratch that. In any time – past, present, future – professional publications (print and electronic ones) confirm receipt of your piece.
That is, you are going to get an email telling you somebody knows you submitted an article.
In the olden days (you know, like ten whole years ago), you would get a real, physical letter in the mail.
But not hard.
The process isn’t difficult; there are professional standards. You submit your piece. You get an acknowledgment. Later, you get notified that you’re accepted for publication, or that revisions may be required, or that the article is denied. It’s not hard to do or understand.
But in the blogging world, these standards haven’t really developed. We all know people who’ve submitted pieces to another blogger and heard nothing.
Hell, we are those people.
And that disturbed Dave enough to email Kelly, informing her “I have a huge rant building on guest posts.”
Kelly’s response: “Bad for brand. Do this, instead: write a piece *encouraging* bloggers to create guest-post submission channels with less friction. That’s useful. Ranting about this isn’t.”
Kelly is right (this time -d). There are more productive things to rant about.
And while it might not be productive to rant about the guest post process, it’s certainly productive to talk about it. And improve it.
As bloggers, we graze on both sides of the fence – we accept guest posts for our blogs, and we guest post on other blogs.
So all of us know that guest posting can be hard. Hard on your nerves and hell on your courage. But worth it – because it can be a real honour to have your work published on another site, especially a popular, authoritative one.
That’s something both of us hear from our people, again and again: how do you land guest posts on other, bigger blogs? And how do you get the courage to even submit them in the first place?
Well, you just do. You do things to bolster your courage. You do your research.
- you check to see how the other blogger prefers to receive pitches. Does she want to develop a concept, together? Or does he want a finished piece?
- you read all the recent pieces and poke around in the archives. Where is the gap? What piece do you need to read? Then go write that piece (or pitch).
- you check to see if the blog you want to submit to has guest post guidelines. That helps you understand what the other blogger wants – so you can deliver it.
- you check to see if there is a copyright statement – because you want to know who owns the piece after it is published. (Or at least we do. Because we get paid from our hot ‘n sweaty ‘n hopefully profitable content – and you do, too. So this is important.)
Doing all of these things will increase your confidence. You might even get brave enough to, you know, submit it.
To the other blogger. The blogger who will receive, read, and accept or reject your piece. The blogger who will hopefully publish your piece.
(And, being a blogger, sometimes you are that blogger – the one receiving and publishing guest post submissions.)
Since you know how stupid-hard it can be to get the gumption to send a piece in, don’t you want to make it a little easier for others to summon the courage to submit a guest post to you? Don’t you want to honor the submission effort?
Yes. You do. Really, you do.
And so, to that end, this is what you, the publisher, could – and should – do:
- have a dedicated e-mail address to which to submit guest posts (and an autoresponse confirming receipt)
- have someone checking it and responding regularly
- have a submissions guidelines page
- have some language about copyright (who gets it?) and guest author expectations (respond to comments, tweet, etc)
- have a worksheet to evaluate the guest post and return that worksheet to the guest author so that they’ll know what was working/not working
- have incentives such as a dedicated biographical box with a photo and keyword-anchored backlinks, or even better,
- allow the guest author to use their own affiliate links or Adense codes.
- consistently comment on your guest author’s blogs, consistently promote their articles by retweeting, etc.
- if you use a plugin such as CommentLuv, promote your guest post authors before promoting yourself
- if your guest author provides a service or has a product of interest to your readers, allow your guest author to pitch congruently to your readers.
And you should do that because receiving guest posts, graciously, is just good business (and relationship-building) practice – not to mention honorable.
In fact, we should all do that because we all know that submitting your best stuff – and it does need to be good – to other blogs is hard.
The whole damn trying-to-get-published process is hard. It can be
hard to create a guest post
hard to part with it
hard to wait for an answer
But most of all, submitting a guest post is hard because you’re risking rejection.
So we – bloggers who publish guests posts – aka “publishers” – need to amp up our game, act like professionals, and honour the submission effort.
And that’s not hard at all.
About the authors: Kelly Diels writes Cleavage, a blog about the three things we all want more of: sex, money and meaning. Dave Doolin blogs at Website In A Weekend, where you can learn how to blog. Together they founded the top secret (sssssssh!!!) where you’ll learn to have writing, blogging and business superpowers.