Want to write a guest post for Make a Living Writing?
Now’s your chance to land an assignment. It’s open pitch week around here (if you’re reading this Aug. 1-7, 2018).
Got something to say or advice to share about the business and craft of freelance writing?
Maybe you’ve had a breakthrough in your business, mastered a new marketing technique to generate leads, or learned to leverage social media to connect with prospects and clients.
Or maybe an epic freelance fail, bad-news client, or claw-your-way-out-of-the-content-mills experience taught you a few things that might help a fellow freelancer.
If you’re a mid-career freelance writer or even if you’re just starting out, there’s a good chance you have some insight, perspective, tip, or technique that can help someone else…make a living writing.
Got some ideas for a guest post brewing now? Good. Here’s what you need to know to succeed in pitching the Make a Living Writing blog:
Fishing for a guest post without a hook?
Chances are pretty good you’re not going to catch anything. And that can be pretty frustrating.
Think about how messed up a fishing trip like that would be. You spend the day scouting around for the perfect fishing spot. You cast your line hoping to get a bite. But without a hook, you get nothing. No bites. No nibbles. Not even a phantom tug on your line.
Sounds crazy, but it’s not that far off from what a lot of guest post pitches look like for Make a Living Writing. No hook, no assignment.
A lot of guest post pitches that writers send get deleted because they miss the mark, and some just totally suck. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are the top 5 reasons guest post pitches get rejected, and what you should do instead to land an assignment:
1. You don’t follow the guidelines
“Wait, what? There’s writers’ guidelines.” If that’s what you’re thinking, you need a crash course in the basics of pitching almost any publication.
Here’s an example from one guest post pitch that failed:
While surfing the internet, I stumbled upon your website Make A Living Writing, and I feel like your content is engaging and I like the different topics and stories you cover.
I’m an experienced writer, and I have been providing content to some of the most reputed websites. Is it possible to a submit a post to your site?
Hoping for your positive response.
On the Make a Living Writing guidelines page, you’ll find everything you need to know about:
- How to pitch a guest post idea
- Topics and formats we’re interested in (and ones we’re not)
- What your guest post pitch should include (and what it shouldn’t)
- Where to email your pitch
- And even a couple details about what will guarantee a no-response rejection
If you want to pitch a guest post for Make a Living Writing, read the guidelines and follow the instructions. Hint: We don’t think up topics for you and assign them out — we look to guest posters to bring us the fresh headlines.
2. You send your resumé and beg for work
I get it. You’re proud of your work history or go-to-college-and-get-some-writing-experience pedigree. I’m even one of those old-school journalists who went to grad school. There’s just one problem…
Nobody cares about your resumé
It might matter, if you’re looking for a 9-to-5 job. But in the world of freelance writing, nobody really cares about your resumé.
I’ve worked with lots of excellent writers over the years who didn’t graduate from college, or didn’t have a journalism degree. And that’s just fine.
As an editor, your resumé doesn’t really tell me anything about your writing skills, creativity, marketing hustle, or your ability to generate ideas, interview sources, track down information, or write headlines that would get this blog great traffic. Instead of a resumé:
- Show off your work. If you’ve already got a portfolio of work, providing a few clips is a better way to show off your skills than flashing your resumé.
- New to freelancing? If you’re just starting out, forget about your resumé. Just pitch a solid guest post idea about the business and craft of freelance writing based on the guidelines and let your writing show off your skills.
Don’t send me your resumé, or beg for an assignment like this:
I have a great taste in writing stories, and literature related reviews.
Please take look at my resumé and a piece of my work called: “Great Gatsby and Lacan.” I can write for Make a Living Writing?
How does a literary review relate to helping freelance writers earn more? It doesn’t. Which brings us to…
3. Your idea isn’t about freelance writing
I’m pretty sure most people who email me about writing a guest post get my contact info from the guidelines page.
Yet, I still get guest post pitches about topics that have absolutely nothing to do with the business and craft of freelance writing. Kind of mystifying (and can be a huge time suck). Isn’t the name of the blog Make a Living Writing?
In five seconds, it’s obvious we don’t publish guest posts about carpentry, home decorating, landscaping, opinion pieces on the POTUS, alien encounters, or the latest made-in-China widgets, and more.
Surprisingly, I get a lot of guest post pitches that aren’t appropriate for this blog in any way, like this one:
I would like to offer you a pitch on a topic of interest to me. I write an inspirational blog on meaningful life, raising children, friendship and faith.
Please see if this might interest you (if not, do you know who might be? Thank you):
The Divine Trick
Some people are luckier than others — when they hear of God as a Father, they have a positive image in their heads. I am not as lucky. No positive image. In fact, quite the opposite. But how do you get to know Him as the Father if you don’t know what it means?…
As if that wasn’t enough to illustrate the point, the email below gives you another example of an epic guest-post pitch fail. There’s nothing in this pitch that would help others master the business and craft of freelance writing:
I am both an upcoming writer & new to the world of blogging & I would also like to be getting paid as well for my post.
For I am a stay at home mother oftwo & am currently in need of an income of come kind. My main topic I talk about is both religion and cannabis. I also talk about being homeless, prostitution, drug use, and topics I find interesting like health problems.
Am I able to write my personal story about my life so other woman can know they are not alone?
If you want to write a guest post for Make a Living Writing, come up with a good idea that will help other writers.
4. You’re a link-bait scammer
Most freelancers hustling to make a living writing don’t make this guest post pitch fail.
But there’s a seedy underside of the dark web that does. They’ll pitch a guest post idea with “strings attached” to try and capture some of the traffic Carol Tice has spent years building, like this:
I’m a big fan of your website. I’m actually a writer myself and would love to offer you an article I think your readers would appreciate.
I’d like to know if you’d be interested in featuring one of my articles on your blog, which will cover some of the finer informational aspects of “Finance”.
A single link will be strategically placed inside the article (or otherwise my company’s name). I can provide contents or instructions, as per your requirements.
Some people even offer to pay for sponsored posts or to add links to the site. And it’s not going to happen…ever. “You can really skip pitching me,” says Carol. “Take me off your list now.”
5. You have English grammar challenges
We don’t really care where you live, or where you’re from. As long as you have ideas and experiences to share that will help other freelance writers, and you can write about in English, we’ll consider your guest post idea.
But we’ve rarely had international writers from countries where English is a second language write well enough to land an assignment. As is the case with this writer from India:
I am committed, dynamic, young, and easy to being taught. I’m very energetic and responsible, creative and ease of dealing with people and customers. I have great professional academic goals; ethic, as having international experience both working and studying. I’m very flexible and I like dealing with people. Can I write for your blog?
6. No headline = no assignment
Do you know what 80% of the success of a blog post hinges on? It’s the headline. No great headline means no readers.
Blogs rely on fascinating headlines with relevant keywords, to help Google send readers. Know how often we get headlines in a pitch? Not very.
Seeing the strong headline lets me know immediately that you understand how blogging works, and that this guest post could attract readers. A good headline also provides a heads-up on how the post will be organized, and what readers could learn.
Write a good headline, and you’re also 80% of the way to getting the assignment. Take the time to propose one!
Pitch your guest post idea
If you want to land a guest post assignment for Make a Living writing, here’s what you should do.
- Study the guidelines.
- Read a dozen or more blog posts published on the site.
- Develop an original idea about the business and craft of freelance writing, based on your own experience. We don’t accept any generic, researched-off-the-Internet writing topics we’ve all seen 100 times before.
- Write a pitch with a working headline, brief outline of the points you’ll cover in the blog post, and any personal experience or expert sources you’ll use to help teach other writers how to move up and earn more.
It’s open pitch week. Read the guidelines, send me your guest post ideas, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible, if it looks like a good fit.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline, or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultramarathon.