My Policy on Paying for Guest Posts is Changing — Here’s Why

Carol Tice

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.

 

 

116 Comments

  1. Kai

    I’m another one that has been waiting for the Den to open up again; I had a spot and canceled, kick myself all the time. To date it has been one of the best groups I’ve found.

    I completely understand and agree with your decision, as I have often been shocked at the quality of writing around the web. I can only imagine the headaches you’ve had throughout the process.

    However, it raises a question I often have: is writing for reasonable rates generally an insider’s club anyway? I frequently see the same people posting for each other, the same bloggers promoting each others’ products, the same writers getting assignments for major magazines, etc. Even in freelance writing, is success more about who you know than what you write? I don’t know.

    Your post highlighted some reasons people restrict their pool of writers; obviously you can most trust those you’ve worked with before or trained yourself. Still, I can’t help feeling for reasonable outsiders like myself 😛

    • Carol Tice

      It is…but obviously you can break in. Two years ago I barely HAD a blog!

      You should check out the free event in my sidebar right now if you want to learn how to get yourself a circle of celebrity-blogger friends…

    • Kai

      Will do, thanks for the reply Carol 🙂

  2. Michael Hicks

    As someone who literally is still waiting for the doors to open,
    I feel compelled to offer some followup commentary.

    It’s always good business — and plain old common sense —
    to stop doing things that create more work than they’re worth.

    In terms of quality, substandard guest posts are a boon for
    the author and a bust for the blog owner. The author gets someone
    else to rewrite copy and create the illusion that his work is
    better than it appears. Meanwhile, the blog owner does all of the
    heavy lifting and remains in the background.

    This process is nothing more than glorified ghost writing gone bad.
    And to add insult to injury, the blog owner STILL pays the author.
    Talk about rubbing salt into a wound…

    If it were up to me and an author tried to submit shoddy work,
    I’d give him two choices: a) Rewrite the post so it meets the blog’s
    standards, or b) I’ll rewrite your post, keep the $50 and claim the
    submission as my own because…well, it would be. And I would get
    everything in writing to prevent any legal blowback.

    When we submit a guest post, that’s exactly what it sounds like.
    We are a guest in someone else’s home. Their rules, not ours.

    My last comment is this: just because we disagree with people
    doesn’t mean they suddenly become untrustworthy or expendable.
    Surrounding ourselves with folks who only say or do what we want
    stunts our growth and is the ultimate expression of self-indulgence.

    Let’s not be so quick to kick Carol or anyone else to the curb for
    decisions we don’t like. After all, this is a blogging community –
    not an echo chamber.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, thanks for coming to my defense Michael! But really, I’m OK with it. Knew it wouldn’t be a 100% popular decision.

      And I didn’t want to not pay writers because they had a bad post…I don’t like that. Or asking for 5 rewrites for a $50 assignment.

      I’m hoping things will go more smoothly with this system.

  3. Allie Conner

    I think this is a great idea. It assures that you only receive quality guest posts and it makes people like me even more eager to join the club knowing that you have so many resources for blogging.

  4. Alycia Knauer

    As a reader with very little time in my day, I get really irritated with posts that are off-point (with the subject they claim to be enlightening me about), disjointed in structure (which is distracting), or all about the writer and not about the reader (in which case, why am I reading this??).

    So thank you for saving us readers from boredom, tedium and aggravation from writers like this! Your decision is an excellent one.

    Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Alycia

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