For those of you who don’t know, my name is Lauren Tharp and I was the Be A Freelance Blogger official Community Helper for quite a while. (And I’m trying my very best to not let my moderate amount of power go to my head…)
Basically, I helped answer comments and questions on the blog and social media, and I was in charge of guest posts/writers for the blog. That’s right: I’m the one who made sure your guest post got uploaded into the BAFB backend, didn’t have any typos or weird grammatical errors, included your author bio and appropriate links, and was otherwise magnificent. 🙂
I was also the person you had to pitch your ideas to.
Anyone who wanted to write for Be A Freelance Blogger had to write to me first with their pitch. From there, I made the decision to reject your query outright or send you along to Sophie (the gal you really have to impress). I was the first gatekeeper.
I loved my job. But sometimes it made me a little sad. Out of all the writers who pitch, only 10-15% of them actually made it to the next step. I had to reject a lot of pitches.
9 Reasons Your Guest Post Pitch Got Rejected
1. YOU DIDN’T FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES!
Wrote this one in all caps because —yes!— I am yelling at you. Also, it’s just that darn important. Never underestimate the importance of following a blog editor’s guidelines.
Some publications will want you to send in your entire post right off the bat, others will require various phases of outlining before you’re invited to send in your first draft. How do you know what they expect? Read their instructions!
Can’t find the guidelines? You’re a writer. Researching your work is part of what you do. Go out there and do the digging to get the information you need to succeed.
2. You included far too many “samples” of your work.
Including a sample or two of your work isn’t a bad thing… if they’re relevant to the topic at hand. Don’t share a white paper you wrote for a copywriting client if you’re pitching a fun article on “20 New Ways to Eat Cheese.”
Don’t give us your entire portfolio. Just show us what your writing style is like; especially if it meshes well with our own. And, please, if possible, share your samples as links rather than attachments.
3. Your e-mail was intensely poorly-written or confusing.
You don’t need to speak/write in perfect English. We understand that everyone has to start somewhere and many emerging writers are ESL. That said, you do have to be able to write well enough to communicate your ideas without us scratching our heads.
There’s a big difference between a minor grammatical/language error and the bigger “what the heck is this person saying?” head-stumper.
Bottom line: If you have a solid idea and can communicate it to us, we let the little stuff slide–if you can’t do that, you’re going to get rejected.
4. Your style didn’t mesh.
Don’t write in a highly-technical style to a casual, slightly sassy blog. Best way to avoid style issues? Read the publication you’re attempting to write for.
5. You called me “Sir.”
Let me say one thing right off the bat: I have no problem with being thought of as a man. Men are great. Not to mention I had short hair for 22 years, I’m wide-jawed, and my fabulous boobs didn’t decide to show up until I was nearly out of high school. I’m used to being mistaken for a dude. The gender mis-identification is neither here nor there for me.
That said, when a potential guest poster writes to me with “Dear Sir” as their opening line… I know they weren’t paying attention.
If your opening line is already making me think “Oh no… I’m going to have to reject this person, aren’t I?” that’s not a good sign!
It’s not necessarily the kiss of death for your pitch; however, you never want an editor to go into your pitch with a negative mindset. And, while I like to continue reading to see if the rest of your query checks out, many other editors won’t. (The biggest bloggers/magazines tend to look for any reason to say “no” as there are just too darn many writers all vying for the same slots–don’t let their excuse for rejecting you be your greeting; that’s just silly).
6. Your idea was too generic.
If you write in saying you’d like to write about blogging, but don’t explain what aspect of blogging or what unique perception you will bring to the table… you’re going to get rejected.
This is your time to shine! Be unique. Be specific. Be you.
7. You were too mysterious.
Who the heck are you? You don’t have to tell us your life story, but it’d be nice to hear your elevator speech. Let us know who you are, what you do, and why you’re the perfect writer for the blog!
8. You gave me déjà vu.
Sometimes I’ll think, “Wait. Didn’t I just see this post?”
If you send in an outline based on an article that’s already on the site, you’re going to get rejected.
Send in fresh ideas! Day old bread is cheap for a reason: It’s not as valuable. No one wants it. Same goes for moldy old blog post ideas. It was great when it was new — now it’s time for a fresh batch!
9. You have no idea what guest posting is.
I’ve had several people write in thinking they were applying for a job.
Guest blogging is wonderful, but it’s definitely not the same as a traditional career. (Unless you’re specifically told otherwise by the publication).
In the case of BAFB, each post is accepted on a one-time basis with the invitation to write more as the want/need arises. It’s not a permanent position. But you’d know that if you read the guidelines.
7 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Getting Accepted
1. FOLLOW. THE. GUIDELINES.
No matter what blog you choose to write for, follow their instructions precisely. And never assume that all blogs have the same guidelines (they don’t!).
2. Wait before nudging us.
It can take up to a week to reply to a potential guest poster. Please be patient.
I only had one guest poster end up in the Spam folder. And I always checked, each time I logged in for work.
If you addressed your pitch correctly, we got it. (And this goes for every publication/editor, not just BAFB).
3. Provide a killer headline.
And if you can provide sub-headers and sidebars–even better. Basically, the easier you make it for us to visualize your article as a reality, the more likely it will be a reality.
4. Share your sources.
What research have you done? Got any cool quotes? We don’t expect you to give it all up in the pitch (please don’t), but it’d be nice to have that subtle hint that you know what research is and that your article is going to have value.
5. Don’t make assumptions.
Longtime guest posters still send in pitches like they’re newbies. And that’s the way it should be. The process goes a little faster for them because we already know they’re good, but we still need to know what they’re planning.
I also worked as a columnist for The Writer’s Bucket List and every month I have to pitch my ideas to Dana Sitar before I could write them up. And that’s perfectly normal.
Even if you’re a guest posting “regular,” never assume your guest post will be automatically accepted. Everyone has to pitch, always.
6. Be nice.
Guest posting is a privilege, not a right. You’re not entitled to anything. We don’t take crappy treatment from clients who pay us, so why would we stand for it from you? Be nice.
7. Have a great idea.
In the end, it’s all about the bottom line. If you have a truly great “oh my God we must have this on the site!” guest post pitch… You’re going to be ushered toward the next step: Sending in your first draft.
Just make sure you proofread your writing before you turn anything in. 😉
For 6 additional tips on how to construct a perfect query/pitch e-mail, check out my article “Q is for Querying.”
Ready to Pitch Your Guest Post?
If you’d like to pitch a guest post for Be A Freelance Blogger, check out the guidelines HERE and follow the instructions accordingly. We look forward to reading your outline! 🙂
Don’t want to write for BAFB? That’s okay too!
There are plenty of other blogs out there who are willing to pay you for your writing expertise! I recommend downloading a FREE copy of Sophie Lizard’s Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs. It contains over 500 blogs that pay guest posters $50 or more.
Just remember: No matter where you end up pitching… FOLLOW THEIR GUIDELINES!!