It’s been more than a year since I began paying for guest posts here on the blog.
I’d like to report on how that experiment has worked, and how guest posting is going to work on this blog in future.
First off: I’m proud to say I paid $1,600 to guest posters last year!
It feels good to be paying other writers. Paying for posts also has many other benefits.
Going from free to paid posts meant I attracted more quality writers and great post ideas. I’ve loved the fresh success stories and strategy posts I’ve been able to present by guest posters.
I don’t know everything about freelance writing, especially about what it’s like to break in today. So I think it adds to the value of this site to present success stories, tips, and techniques from new writers.
Paying for posts is a marketing bonanza
My blog has been mentioned on many popular blogs in roundup posts about paying markets — like this one and more recently, this one.
The paid guest posters also tend to become big fans of this blog. I see them retweeting this blog all the time.
I’ve met many fascinating writers and formed some new friendships.
This year, I will probably accept more guest posts than last year. I usually published two a month last year, and now I’m striving to put up three or four a month.
So that’s the good news. Paid guest posting has been a successful strategy for my blog. I consider every dollar I’ve paid out to be money well spent.
But there was a downside
That said, there are some real challenges to accepting guest posts.
I get many junk pitches daily from link-seeking websites, riddled with basic English errors.
Few writers can manage to follow my guidelines and submit a headline and outline.
I do tire of explaining that I am not going to read or publish the pre-written post writers have sent me. (I’ve since learned these submissions are often duplicate content anyway, so that was a good instinct on my part!)
Even when writers can do the pitch process right and get an assignment, I’d often receive posts that needed substantial editing.
With a few submissions, I ended up refusing to publish their submission because it either wasn’t what I assigned, or would have been more work to get in shape for publication than writing a post myself.
I felt bad about saying “no” to these writers. But I’m committed to the quality of what I present here.
The idea of having guests is partly to save your own writing time, but it often doesn’t work out that way.
I’m not the only one who’s getting tired of playing editor to all comers — Kristi Hines of Kikolani recently made the decision to stop accepting guest posts on her blog and write them all herself.
On Problogger, you can now only pitch by invitation.
I thought hard about it, and decided I don’t like either of those options.
But I have to make some changes to make the guest-post process less time-consuming, and also to make sure I get quality posts.
My new rules of guest posting
Here’s what I noticed about guest posts as the year wore on: The vast majority of the pitches I accepted were either from members of Freelance Writers Den, or from students in Jon Morrow’s blogging class.
The ones that were more work — or flat-out hopeless — came from writers who were not part of either my community or Jon’s program.
So that’s my new policy: I am accepting guest post pitches only from members of one of those two programs.
That leaves the field open to over 1,500 writers to pitch this blog. I think we’ll still see plenty of fresh, useful tips on how to earn more from our guests.
And hopefully I’ll save a lot of time in the editing process, which will allow me to work on projects such as ebooks that will benefit readers, too.
There’s an art to pitching a popular blog and to guest posting, I’ve learned, that few new bloggers understand.
Taking a quality training program that teaches you how to do it can be well worthwhile, if you’re serious about blogging.
I’m looking forward to seeing more great guest posts as we go through this year.
What do you think of my new guest post policy? I’d love your feedback in the comments.