How to be a Good Guest Poster from a Site Admin Who Kind of Cares

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Tough love, honey. That’s how we roll.

Here at Indies Unlimited, we literally get dozens of emails each week from people trying to “trick” us into running their guest posts to advertise products, publish links to their sites, and more. Clearly, those articles would do nothing for our readers, so, those emails are deleted. We love the delete button.

The best guest posts are a mixture of educational and entertaining. For this site, they should include tips to help authors improve their writing, sales, book publishing procedures, or other aspects of their career. This can be done through recounting personal experiences, providing a tutorial, and more. That’s what readers want.

But what do site admins want when you contact them in hopes of writing a guest post? Yes, that’s right. Site admins have feelings, too. Alas, who cares, really? Well, Ben Steele cares, and he has some great advice on how to pitch a guest post here. Ben’s guidance is polite and sensible. Today, we’re going to hop on the snark bus and go for a ride down Guest Post Lane.

How to Query for a Guest Post

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You know I want to push it real good!

1 – Read the freaking guidelines. If the guidelines state to include the subject about which you wish to write, include that. Don’t send us an email saying you want to write for us and say nothing else. That will be deleted. Yay, delete button!

2 – Know the site for which you want to write. No, IU does not want your article on fashion or dog-walking or sketchy medical procedures. Why? Because we’re a site for WRITERS. Pitch something that fits the site’s content and demographic. Or, you guessed it… delete button! Woot!

3 – If you haven’t done 1 or 2 above, then for the love of all things chocolatey in this world, don’t waste the admin’s time following up. Yes, we have received emails like: “did you get my email? I want to write for you,” “why haven’t you answered me?” and more. One recent follow-up included a multiple choice question so we just had to choose A, B, or C, and respond. The answer was actually D – guidelines weren’t followed and subject matter did not match our site. Seriously, if people can’t read guidelines and follow them, can they really write an article?

For every intelligent query we receive, about 20 come in that ignore 1, 2, and 3 above. And you wonder why Kyle and I are cranky? Ha! But seriously, for a moment – those queries that do follow the guidelines stand out and they are appreciated.

For those who follow the rules – make sure your queries are typo-free and grammatically correct. Just like your book’s description and cover, you’re giving the reader a glimpse of what’s in store for them. A poorly written query sends the message that your article will require editing, and most sites don’t want to deal with that and will probably say “No thank you” before ever reading your article. We state right in our guidelines that articles which require editing will be rejected.

“But it seems you have two sets of guidelines for guest posts,” you say. Yes, that’s very observant of you. We have general guidelines on the site. If it’s demonstrated that the person querying can follow those, then we send the next, more detailed set of guidelines. We don’t want people just sending in articles. We’d be inundated. So, that’s how we screen to see who makes it to the next level.

Speaking of the next level: for those who follow the rules and have further guidelines sent to them, here is some advice which will help you get an A+ as a guest poster.

1 – Whoever told you that size didn’t matter was lying. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about images that go with your guest post. A large photo makes the page load slowly. Most sites will ask for smaller jpgs. If you don’t know how to resize images, these articles will help. Remember, if the admin has to resize the image, you’re making more work for him/her.

2 – Send the right type of file. If you’re asked for a jpg, don’t send a pdf. If you’re asked for a word document, don’t send something else.

3 – Make sure your article is well edited. No admin wants to have to reply to you and tell you that your writing is awful so they can’t use your article. Remember – admins have feelings too, and they don’t want to hurt yours.  Well, Kyle might, but he’s not an admin.

4 – Many guest posters try to hide product plugs in their articles. I guarantee you that’ll get you blacklisted from the site.

5 – Don’t use fancy formatting. Many blogs need to strip the formatting to remove ugly code and having to recreate that in their blog will be a lot of work. Remember – don’t make more work for the admin.

6 – If you are asked to make changes to your article, when you do, resend EVERYTHING – your headshot, etc., so the admin doesn’t have to go digging for the original email to find the other attachments.

7 – Here’s a tip: Name your photos “your name here” author headshot. That will get picked up by search engines and will give your article extra exposure. Not only that, it will make it easier for the admin to find when uploading. And guess what? It just looks way more professional than having a headshot titled “BeforeGettingArrestedinVegasJune2016”. (And have a good headshot ready. “I prefer to use a book cover” or what-have-you is not as professional.)

8 – If you are asked for a bio in the third person, send it in the third person, not the first. And make sure to include the number of and the type of links you’re asked for! If you’re asked for an Author Central link, send that. Don’t be all like “Well, I want people to come to my Twitter page AND my blog, I’m not giving the Author Central link.” Blogs ask for specific links for a reason. Don’t be rude – give them what they ask for.

BONUS TIP: Provide backlinks to other articles on the site if you really want to shine.

That takes you through submitting your article. If the admin is all happy happy joy joy over it and sends you back a confirmation of when it will run, congratulations! You’ve done a good job up to here. Now, part three, which is very important:

KNOW when your article goes live! (At IU, we always tell you in advance. Because we are run by volunteers, we don’t have the bandwidth to remind you – so mark your calendar!)

Make sure to monitor and respond to comments, even if it’s just to thank someone for taking the time to read your article and post a comment. If the admin has to hunt you down to let you know you have comments, you’ve just committed an epic fail.

What does it really all come down to? Basically, be courteous, conscientious, thorough, and above all do not make more work for the site admin! Those things will be greatly appreciated by the admin and you’ll be asked back whenever you’d like.

Got questions? Ask away. I have chocolate, so all is well.

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director and administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is currently a photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two NE Washington newspapers.  She teaches self-publishing and writing topics for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page.

14 thoughts on “How to be a Good Guest Poster from a Site Admin Who Kind of Cares”

  1. Ooo thanks for the mention!

    I love this post. It’s so great to get some insight into what runs through an admin’s head.

    I’m guilty of some of these infractions (sorry!) and have had my fair share of rejections. I think that taking rejection well is something that I’ve struggled with before. When you get a rejection LETTER, it’s very one-sided, and you’ve only got your friends and cats and whatever’s in the cabinet to work out your frustrations with. But when you get a rejection from someone on the other side of a computer, well, you’re a mouse-click away from giving that person a piece of your mind. It’s nowhere near the same scale as having a query rejected, but it still smarts. These days, I force myself to wait until I’ve slept to reply. I actually find that accepting a rejection from a site owner the right way can open up an opportunity to try again.

  2. GREAT reminder for those who *cough cough* don’t care to read the instructions. It’s hard to believe that a WRITER would pitch a WRITING site about things other than WRITING. Do they really think we won’t notice? Do they really think their typos don’t matter? IU is the best writing resource on the web, so our standards are high, and will stay high, thank goodness. Keep up the good work, admins. We love you and appreciate the work you do. Keep IU a top-notch site!

    1. We get so many posts that are thinly veiled attempts to advertise “term papers for hire” sites. Crazy!

      And thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  3. If you ignore the guidelines you are sabotaging yourself. That one understanding alone ought to make you sit up and take notice. Is that what you want?

    Great post.

    I miss things sometimes, too, but if I’m asked to fix them I eat humble pie and am grateful for that second chance.

      1. Yeah, you’re preaching to the choir, here. But we appreciate it. Those of us who post regularly probably need a hint to treasure our Site Admin a bit more. 🙂

  4. -giggles- Oh dear, the inbox has been misbehaving has it? Here’s a freshly made gruel cookie…to go with the chocolate. 🙂

  5. I’m a bit late to the party, but what a great way to start a Friday reading this was. (Except now I’m wondering what I messed up, since I seem to have misplaced my second set of guidelines. Umm…) Anyway, thanks! And have some more chocolate…

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