I don’t know if I got on some list or something, but I get emails and pitches ALL THE TIME from these “freelance writers” and “professional bloggers” who ask me if I’d be interested in hosting their guest post. Sure, yes, of course I would be. I love community and collaborating and guest posts as much as the next blogger, except that these “totally free, completely original guest posts” always contain a link to a website that this writer or blogger is trying to promote. And I’m not talking about their personal blog or their Twitter account or their Facebook page. These are for business websites, e-commerce websites, websites for profit. This is marketing.
I know, I’ve pitched these before.
The difference, however, is that I (and plenty of others) recognize that these posts use a blogger’s established credibility with the objective of promoting a website for business (marketing), and the clients I’ve worked with in these efforts know that they’d better pay my bloggers something for their work, and that my bloggers are going to want to disclose this relationship either in the post itself or by including a disclosure on their about page that explains their relationship with advertisers and sponsors.
This post navigates how to respond to these pitches in a way that not only shows that you value your content (you do! you should! you’re amazing!), but also in a way that might mean the start of a relationship with a potential sponsor.
These pitches start something like this:
“Hi, I just spent time looking around your site (http://doniree.com), and I have to say that I am really impressed with your content! I found it to be very interesting. I also see that you accept guest posts. I would like to offer you free, quality, original content that your audience will enjoy. I look forward to your response.”
These vary, in that sometimes they don’t even name my blog, which can be confusing, since I have more than one. Sometimes they reference a recent post of mine (this is rare, and usually separates the this-is-sneaky-marketing people from the Actually Looking for a Partnership people), and sometimes they go on to tell me what they want to write about (traveling to France, hosting a party, etc.).
The catch is that obviously, these “free, quality” posts are going to include some sort of link back to a site they’re working to promote. It’s SEO. It’s a business move. They’re not offering me “quality content,” they’re providing me with exactly the context and keywords they need in order to build these links.
I used to just roll my eyes at these and delete them, but then I decided to start testing my limits in pursuit of a working relationship (oh, and cash).
I started replying and asking if there would be a link included. Of course there was. At this point, I replied, telling them politely that while I’d love to work with them, these types of posts are promotional and I have rates for these. I threw out big numbers, and some would say, “Never mind, no thank you, we don’t have a budget for this,” and we’d all move on. Sometimes, one would stick and we’d have a deal. I’d publish a blog post about wine travel tips in France (totally relevant to a food and travel blog!), and they’d pay me for promoting their website in the process.
Recently, however, one of these folks told me that I was “audacious” and that it was “bold” of me to request payment to publish her guest post.
No, no, no, no, no.
Repeat after me: It is not audacious or bold to request that you are somehow compensated for your work.
One more time, for good measure:
It is not audacious or bold to request that you are somehow compensated for your work. [click to tweet this]
And even if it’s your personal blog, even if it’s not something you do “for profit” or for business or for anything other than yourself, you pour your heart and soul into it. You’re good at it and you’re doing something right (because people want to be associated with you!). A response to the pitch I quoted above might sound something like this:
Hi! Thanks so much for your email. I’d love to talk with you about publishing your guest post. However, the inclusion of a link to anything besides a personal blog or social media account, such as the business website you mentioned linking to, makes this a sponsored post. My rates for these are below, and include options for both publishing something you’ve provided, or creating original content myself.
All published posts on my blog come with social media support from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and will be shared with ___ followers. Please let me know if you’re interested in moving forward! Thanks so much, Doni”
Sometimes, the response is “Sorry, we don’t have a budget for this.” Sometimes it’s, “Yes, we’d like to know your rates.”
No matter what, be polite, be firm, and be clear. Your content is YOUR content, and when businesses want to use your content to promote their product, service, or website, that is marketing.
But I urge you, do not let people promising “free, quality” content take advantage of you and the brilliant work you do by trying to tell you that you’re “audacious” or “bold” or “unreasonable” for requiring that in order to use your site for their marketing efforts, you’d like to receive compensation for that, thank you very much.
Now, if we’re talking about bloggers who are trying to get their name out there, reach a wider audience, share something of value with my audience, and are linking to their very own websites, blogs, social media accounts, and new ventures? BRING IT ON FOREVER AND EVER I LOVE YOU AND I LOVE HELPING YOU GET YOURSELF OUT THERE.
Obviously, I do not charge guest posters to publish awesome, original, relevant, personal content on my blog. Community, FTW.
Make sense? Any questions? Leave a comment below or reach out to me directly.