When A Guest Post Just Doesn’t Make The Grade

Guest blog posts
13 December 2010 Post Author:
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Editor’s Note: The following is reprinted from the Global Bloggers Network newsletter, with the gracious permission of Janice Waugh.

I was asked recently how I manage a guest post that just isn’t the quality that I want on my site.

And from there, the discussion expanded. We discovered that there are many issues around guest bloggers that can be tricky to manage.

Guest bloggers have been a real asset for Solo Traveler.

So this article is about:

  • How I manage guest bloggers.
  • What I offer guest bloggers.

Editorial guidelines.

There are two categories of guest bloggers; those I invite and those who ask if they can write for my site. The former is easy. Having chosen them, I already know the quality of post I will receive.

However, I accept proposals for posts as well. When a request comes in, the first thing I do is check their site. If it they can write decently and their subject area is appropriate for Solo Traveler, then I send them my Editorial Guidelines.

The Editorial Guidelines have two fundamental purposes:
They let guest bloggers know what is expected.
They give me a way out if the blogger doesn’t meet the Guidelines.

What’s in the Guidelines

In the Guidelines I try to encourage quality by making it clear that I expect people to take care with their work. At the same time, I try to give allowance for the fact that not all bloggers are writers and English is not always their first language. So, without copying them out verbatim, here are the basics.

According to my Guidelines, a post…

  • Must be based on first-hand experience.
  • Cannot promote a location or product.
  • Must be original.
  • Cannot contain embedded text links.
  • Must include at least one picture that is XXXpx wide and that is taken by the author.
  • Must include 100 word bio that I can adapt to introduce the writer.
  • This is what I say regarding quality:
  • If English is not your first language, I am happy to help out with proofreading and editing.
  • If English is your first language, I will edit, however, if the article has many errors I will return it to you for review.
  • I have only once lost a post due to poor quality that the writer was not willing to fix.

What I Offer Guest Bloggers

Despite my strict guidelines, I really appreciate guest bloggers and want to encourage their participation. I don’t pay for posts but I do offer value in other ways:

~ I write a personal introduction for each guest blogger which I run at the beginning of the post – not the end which some readers may not get to.

~ I offer up to three links in the introduction. These can be to their home page, twitter account and Facebook page.

~ When I have a relationship with a high quality blogger, I will support them in their effort to get sponsorship for a trip by providing an assignment letter based on Solo Traveler numbers.

Guest bloggers have been a real asset for Solo Traveler. I hope some of this information helps you gain similar benefits.

~ Janice

How do you deal with guest blog posts that are less than what you expect? Share your advice!

9 Responses to “When A Guest Post Just Doesn’t Make The Grade”

  1. Trisha Miller
    Twitter: TravelWriting
    says:

    Great post Janice! I’ve been very lucky to have some wonderful travel writers contributing to this site (including you!), but I have also on some very rare occasions received a post that needed some work…..or maybe even a total rewrite.

    For the most part I encourage guest bloggers to propose a topic or title first, before writing the actual post….then I can offer some suggestions for what I think they should include, or the perspective that I think they should take, that would be of most interest and benefit to our readers. That way I’m pretty certain to get back something that will be a good fit for TWE.

    And of course I also often reach out first and ask people if they would be interested in contributing a guest post on a specific topic too – that helps to reduce the “bad post blues”!

  2. Wendy
    Twitter: WendyVH
    says:

    Great post. Like Trisha, I have had good luck with contributors. A couple of times I have had to ask for a rewrite before I publish it.
    However…as an editor for a regional magazine in northern California it is simply amazing to see the shape some articles are in when we receive them.

    Thanks for a wonderful reminder for us all!

  3. pam || @nerdseyeview
    Twitter: nerdseyeview
    says:

    Wow,these are great guidelines, thanks for sharing them.

    I do guest post runs a few times a year. It’s been hard for me to turn down free work, it feels wrong and ungrateful, but I have done it. Usually I write a super polite note that says, essentially, thanks but no thanks because XYZ.

    I try to be clear about the reasons, the least I can do is be honest about why I’m saying no.
    .-= pam || @nerdseyeview´s last blog post: Passports with Purpose Builds a Global Village =-.

  4. Janice
    Twitter: solotraveler
    says:

    Thanks to everyone for their comments. If you’d like a copy of my complete guidelines, I’m glad to share them with other bloggers. Just email me at info@solotravelerblog.com. Then you could give me feedback and maybe we can all get better guidelines.

  5. Dave and Deb
    Twitter: theplanetd
    says:

    Great post Janice. We have had really good luck with our guest posts as well. We do the same; give them a set of guidelines that we would like them to follow. Seems to be working so far…knock on wood.
    .-= Dave and Deb´s last blog post: 20 Best Moments in Travel of 2010 =-.

  6. Katie
    Twitter: kgoingglobal
    says:

    Interesting post. My first attempt at guest posting was rejected and it was never clear to me why – I had been invited to do the post after an email exchange on a topic. I shared links to my blog posts on that topic and I assumed the person inviting me to do the post had read those posts and was familiar with my style of writing, etc. I also was very careful to adhere to all of the guidelines that were given to me. Being new to blogging and excited about the opportunity to guest post, I worked my tail off on my post only to have it rejected with a 2 word email! Absolutely no explanation given. It was really discouraging and it was a long time before I had the courage to try to submit a guest post again. Luckily, my experiences since then have been very positive.

    I guess my point is, from a guest blogger’s point of view, even if we adhere to all of the technical guidelines, but for some reason a submission isn’t going to cut it, a brief, polite explanation would be very helpful.

    • Janice
      Twitter: solotraveler
      says:

      I totally agree Katie. Everyone should have the courtesy of an explanation.

    • Trisha Miller
      Twitter: TravelWriting
      says:

      I agree also – they really should have given you a better explanation.

      If it’s not been that long, you might try asking them if they could tell you more specifically why it was rejected, but definitely in the future don’t hesitate to ask – they may not give any further explanation (most editors I know are exceedingly busy) but then again, they might.

      In any case, I’m glad you didn’t give up guest posting!

  7. Brankica
    Twitter: LiveUrLove
    says:

    I am glad I ran into this blog and post. I was interested in writing a guest post on a travel blog and you explained the guidelines in an easy to read and understand manner.
    I often read posts that are, sorry to say, bad! And those writer actually write posts all over the place. Most of those posts are what I personally don’t like “wikipedia type articles”.
    I love writing about my travels and if I want to read an encyclopedia-like article, I will know where to find it.
    Anyway, just want to say that your guidelines are great.
    .-= Brankica´s last blog post: Bellagio fountains dance in Las Vegas =-.

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