My Policy on Paying for Guest Posts is Changing - Here's Why - Make a Living Writing

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

Carol Tice | 117 Comments

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.

 

 

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

  1. Kai on

    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 πŸ˜›

    • Carol Tice on

      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…

  2. Michael Hicks on

    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 on

      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 on

    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 on

    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

  5. Sarah Russell on

    Yep – I agree with pretty much everyone else here that this is a smart move. My site’s just a baby, but I still receive a ton of junk queries for guest posting. I can’t imagine how many you have to deal with as a well-known site!

    Smart move, and I hope it pans out for you in terms of great posts and fewer time-wasters in the future.

  6. Jovell on

    Hi Carol,

    Your decision to make some changes in your guest post policy is totally understandable. This is your site and keeping with quality content should always be one thing site owners look out for all the time, if they want to keep their reputation as an authority blogger.

    I’m a Freelance Writer’s Den member but I’m just wondering, would you also consider members of A-list Blogging Bootcamps? Just asking since I’m also a member there. πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice on

      I’m just going to focus on these two places to pull writers from for now. One future possibility is to look at other possible programs…but want to see how this goes.

  7. Sophie Lizard on

    Carol, as someone currently drowning in a sea of guest post pitches and drafts, I can totally understand why you’re choosing to limit the flow! I’m starting to see just how many more pitches you get when there’s $50 up for grabs.

    And as a member of both the Freelance Writers Den and Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course, I think your decision will encourage more writers to invest in these high quality resources to improve their chances – that can only be a good thing.

    You will let us know how the change works for you, right? I’m very interested to hear how it goes!

  8. Donna Anderson on

    I have to say I’m disappointed. I just started following your blog and I was really finding some valuable information here. I hadn’t really thought about pitching you, because I have enough on my plate right now. But now I’m not even sure about following your blog.

    ProBlogger SHOULD have shut down guest posts. Have you seen some of the guest posts on his blog? I have. I’ve spent the last three months reading his blog from day one in his archives and I’ve read more than 1000 posts. Seriously.

    I’ve always come out against the guest blogging process. I think it’s being abused by both sides and I think it’s much better to hire a long-term paid contributor.

    Maybe I’m just jaded because of the niche I write in, but your decision to only accept queried posts from people who belong to two paid membership sites? Sounds a little like using exclusivity to create demand – in reverse.

    No offense because I believe everybody has a write to earn a living however they want to, and maybe that’s not your intent. But, if I DID want to pitch you, I wouldn’t, now.

    I also don’t mind if you don’t approve this comment. I’m trying not to be abrasive but it’s been a long day and I just saw your post after reading about 40 more posts on ProBlogger today. Very disheartening.

    • Jesse Lanclos on

      So…you’re mad because you can’t have something you don’t want? OK… just checking. πŸ™‚

      I didn’t think this would be so controversial. Almost every blogger I’ve talked to who accepts guest posts tells me it’s more work than writing them on their own.

      80-90% of people don’t follow directions. Another 10% turn in stuff that must be almost totally rewritten. That’s more work for bloggers who already have more than enough to do in the workday.

      But hey…maybe I only feel that way because I’m on the right side of the door that’s closing.

      And, if we all believed the same way about everything, there wouldn’t be any need for blog comments. Right? πŸ™‚

      • Donna Anderson on

        Hi, Jesse,

        No, I didn’t say I was mad. I said I was disheartened. And I believe I explained that it doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not I wanted to submit a guest post, it’s because to me it seems like she’s pushing her paid sites, which was mentioned by previous commentors, as well, and, being jaded by this industry, I was kind of hoping I’d found a blogger I could trust.

        Apparently the idea works because you now believe you’re “on the right side of the door that’s closing” and that’s all that really matters, right? πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Donna —

      As long as you keep it respectful, your comments appear here, if you’re a real person and your comments relate to the post.

      I think it’s a little funny that right after reading dozens of substandard Problogger posts (and as a regular reader there, I KNOW what you’re talking about), you object to my idea of tightening up who I accept posts from.

      My policy is less restrictive than Problogger’s new one, which is invite only…likely there are maybe 50-100 of us who make their cut (including me, I’ve posted for them) and have recently posted for them. I’m leaving mine open to 1,500 or so possible writers…seems like your beef would be more with Problogger in how limited they’ve made it.

      As I say somewhere in the comments above, I don’t really envision writers paying $25 to join Freelance Writers Den so they can pitch me a $50 post, and that’s definitely not why I made this change. If I wanted more Den members, I could just open the doors. 1,500 people are on the waiting list already. In fact, we are at capacity and need to work out some tech bugs and hire more staff before we can grow it further.

      I just find the caliber of writer who participates in these two programs is what I’m looking for in a guest poster. They follow instructions. They research to make sure they have a fresh topic. They execute well.

      I wish I could continue to run it wide open, but time-wise, I simply can’t. This is my next best thing.

      If you’re looking to learn about freelance writing here, I think this policy change will deliver more consistently high-quality guest posts…so see it as a benefit to the entire community.

      I knew not everyone would be thrilled with this…but it’s gotta happen.

  9. Michael Hicks on

    You’ve just made The Freelance Writers Den and
    Jon Morrow’s Blogging Class immensely more
    popular, Carol. The term “selective entry” seems
    to fit well here.

    With one stroke, you created an opportunity
    that’s broad enough to keep attracting a great talent
    pool but narrow enough to control. And the cool
    thing is that you managed to do this without
    stifling anyone’s creativity. From now on, you’ll
    be assured that anyone who submits a quest post
    will know what they’re doing because either you
    or Jon taught them. Less headaches, better quality,
    more traffic and increased blog membership for both
    of you. The wide open pipe has become a two-hole
    funnel.

    Wait a minute…that means the waiting list for the Den
    might get longer. And I’m still standing in line. Maybe I
    should rethink the wisdom of your latest master
    stroke in the interest of self-preservation…:-)

    All kidding aside, great job, Carol. Perhaps you can
    breathe a bit easier now…

    • Carol Tice on

      I guess I don’t think people are really going to join the Den for $25 just to pitch me a $50 guest post…and I hope they don’t. That doesn’t really pencil out. πŸ˜‰

      Writers should join the Den if they need to learn how to make it as freelancers. The blogging resources we have are in that context, of how to make your blog get you gigs, how to make your guest posts get you gigs. The fundamentals of that are the same…but I think most members aren’t just trying to build a blog.

      Jon’s course on the other hand, is something to invest in if you’re really serious about building your blog. You learn so much, it’s entirely focused on guest posting, and he has access to many bigger bloggers who are also doing the sort of selective entry strategy I’m embarking on.

      • Michael Hicks on

        I understand completely. And yes, the $25 Den price for a $50 guest post
        doesn’t pencil out. That’s very shortsighted. However, you did figure out a
        way to skim off the foam and keep the cream, so to speak. I hope you
        enjoy the less-stressed environment you’ve created for yourself, Carol.
        You definitely deserve it!

        • Carol Tice on

          Well, that’s my theory. Like everything around here, it’s an experiment and later I’ll report on how it worked. But for now this seems like the sane way forward.

          I definitely don’t want to cease to be a paying market…so trying this.

  10. Jodi Schumm on

    I think your revised policy is well thought through and reasonable. Readers appreciate the quality of posts you have on your site, yet that shouldn’t add an unreasonable burden on your end.

  11. Willi Morris on

    Oh, Carol! Almost forgot – a suggestion. You essentially have 2-3 different pages about guest blogging for you, both of which are buried in your “About Me” page. It made it challenging to find out the guidelines. Especially since you are changing it, I just wanted to make a suggestion to make them easier to find on your site.

  12. Rekha on

    Hi Carol,

    I’ve been an email subscriber of your blog for quite a while now. I’ve been wanting to comment on a couple of posts but never got around to doing it.

    Seems like a wise policy. After all, it’s your blog and you set the rules and standards. And, with rumours about Google cracking the whips on guest posts, it makes sense to avoid posters who end up downgrading your site.
    Sites like this one won’t be affected as the quality of guest posts and the links, if any, are good.

    I think most people, especially the ones who have opened up their blogs to free guest posts, and basically use those posts to keep their blog alive will face the wrath of the clean up squad, if it comes.
    A couple of bloggers I follow have already warned their readers to clean up guest posts and related links and some have gone to the extent of putting a temporary ban on guest posting.

  13. Jesse Lanclos on

    At the risk of offending some people (please take it in the spirit in which it’s meant) – if you have an idea you’d like to pitch to a blog, and you’ve been sitting on it – PITCH IT! You lose nothing by the attempt.

    My first guest post attempt was accepted by a blog of over 50,000 readers. Because I’m a genius? Hardly.

    I bet many have wanted to pitch that blog for months. Probably with more creative ideas than I have. But they’re scared. One day, that door will close, and their guest post opportunity will be gone.

    Don’t let that be you. You have nothing to lose, so don’t be afraid. Pitch like you know without a doubt that your idea is a winner. Pretend if you have to.

    You might surprise yourself. At least you won’t look back on opportunities you missed while you sat on your winning idea.

  14. Erica on

    Hi Carol,

    As I don’t fit either of those groups (yet), naturally I admit to being a little bummed. However, I understand why: you need to make the best use of your limited time. And, we’ll all still benefit greatly from the guest posts that you choose, just like we’ve been doing already.

    Besides, I’m not ready to pitch a guest post yet anyway. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for all you do on this blog. It’s helped me tremendously.

  15. Diane Dutchin on

    Hi Carol,
    I think your policy change on submission is the way to go. Though I am not presently a member, I want to say that if anyone is thinking about becoming a member – just do it, it will be the best investment into sharpening your writer’s skill (regardless of your niche).
    However, if you can’t afford it right now, then please, please pick up Carol’s ebook “Make a living writing”, it’s the best out there, and you will get your money’s worth and then some.
    I have personally read it 5 times, and will likely keep going back to it.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Diane — thanks for the plug — but the ebook is actually not for sale right now! It’s being updated and will be reissued as 3 separate ebooks this year.

      And cutting the guest post workload is one of the things that will help make that happen!

  16. Diana Bisares on

    Although I’m not YET a member of both programs, I think you just made a wise decision, Ms. Carol. If majority of your guest posts were coming from Den and Jon’s class, then it only tells us one thing: Jon and you are excellent mentors. I can’t wait to sign up!

    I’m saving some money so I can enroll once the Den or Jon’s class opens. From the look of it, I think your programs are all worth every single cent.

    Have a great day, everyone. πŸ™‚

  17. Willi Morris on

    Aw dang it! Does that mean I didn’t make the cut? Ah well. I think that really help you with your Inbox Zero plan! And yes, I eventually plan on joining the “Den.” πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice on

      If you haven’t been involved in either of these programs, for now, it does mean you’re out of the running. But you could always decide to participate in one of them in future. πŸ˜‰

      • Willi Morris on

        And I was so close to getting my geek on here. Haha. I’m sad, as this is the second time I’ve tried to submit to you, but I totally understand.

        Hey Jesse! Yes, once I get a more steady income, I will definitely be joining. πŸ™‚

        • Carol Tice on

          As I said above, if you have a pitch for me in process, send it over…allowing a short grace period for those who might have been prepping pitches before this policy change. Emphasis on short.

  18. Jesse Lanclos on

    Hi Carol,

    One of the first things I learned from you and my time in the Den is that more doesn’t always equal better. I scaled my personal blogging back considerably to focus on promotion, and it paid off… big time.

    The thing I hear from people that accept guest posts is that 80-90% of people don’t follow the directions posted in the guidelines. This means more work for the blogger – even if it’s only the time it takes to hit “delete.”

    Good for you that you found a way to continue walking the walk, while guarding your time AND protecting the quality of the blog.

    How do I feel about the decision? You’re in the driver’s seat, and it’s clear you put a quality product out there. Don’t listen to too much advice. Do what you feel is right for your blog, and you’ll be right on target.

    In other words… go girl! πŸ˜›

  19. Darnell Jackson on

    Interesting Carol,

    As I said before I was planning to pay for guests posts starting this year.

    I think I’m still going to try it and if they can’t write I’ll just send them your way.

    You know it’s funny that some of these ‘authors’ may make excellent youtubers or infographic builders.

  20. Alexandra Young on

    Considering I’m a member of both groups that suits me to a T!

    I think that’s a wise decision as it gives value to both your site as well as back to your community which in turn adds more to your site again. How many writing focused websites can say that they give back to their community?
    I’ve been studying your articles for a while. I look forward to pitching ideas to you soon.

  21. Steve Maurer on

    Hi, Carol.

    Just got your newsletter on your new guest posting rules (btw, I’ve read your posted guidelines as well).
    They look great except for one: only Den members or students from Jon Morrow’s class will be considered.
    You mentioned that this gives you a stable of over 1,500 writers.

    Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of other good writers out in the cold, so to speak.

    I am a former Denizen, but had to make some financial decisions in order to join AWAI and take their excellent courses.
    As you know, when a writer is serious about building a business, some tough decisions must be made both personally and financially.

    By the way, I’ve read articles that you wrote for their publications. Good stuff.

    As you can see in the sig file below, I’ve written for Linda Formichelli, Ali Luke and Anne Wayman.
    I’ve faithfully responded to comments, even months after publication.

    Sadly, it looks like I won’t be able to write for you and do the same.

    I will still continue to subscribe to your newsletter, however.
    I subscribed before I joined the Den and continued my subscription after leaving it.

    I’m just sorry that, while you don’t discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, country of origin, etc., a paying membership has become a prerequisite.

    Even so, here’s to your success.
    Steve Maurer, Maurer Copywriting

    • Carol Tice on

      That sort of IS an irony, isn’t it? I’d love to keep running this wide open, but it’s just not feasible time-wise for me.

      But as I mentioned above, I will look at pitches from former members/graduates of these two programs as well.

    • Lin Young on

      Steve,

      I had considered joining AIWA. But they are rather expensive. And, although they offer money-back guarantees on some of their courses if you aren’t successful after taking the course, I just really wasn’t sure. In addition, I just didn’t have their high upfront fee to take their coursed, so I hadn’t done so yet.

      Thank you for your post. Obviously, if you’ve joined AIWA and taken their courses and still aren’t earning enough money to pay to re-join Carol’s Freelance Writer’s Den, then it indicates to me that the AIWA training isn’t paying off for you.

      I appreciate that information.

      • Steve Maurer on

        Lin,

        Yes, they are not cheap.
        You do need to make a commitment.

        I would also suggest that you not make judgments on why a person does or does not do something. Not a good practice to start.

        Just a suggestion.

  22. Kathleen Curry on

    Carol:

    Maintaining the integrity of your brand requires the changes you’ve made.
    Otherwise, it easily turns into the Gong Show. For a Millennial crowd reference=the first few weeks of American Idol.

    I am curious–have you written a post with “5-10 pointers to creating a professional blog post submission”? Or, worded another way, how you could tell a “tight” blogpost from one that needed a lot of help?

    Thanks!

    • Carol Tice on

      Kathleen, I have an extensive guidelines page with links to past successful posts as well, linked above in the post.

      And then we have a ton of resources on blogging best practices on the tag ‘blogging’ — see the “We talk about” section in the sidebar.

  23. Daryl on

    As a devoted reader of your site (I check every day for fresh updates!), I can understand why you wouldn’t want to stress yourself about cutting out low quality posts. After a long think about the pros and cons, I realise that you probably *are* making the right decision here.

    However, just let me play devil’s advocate for a moment πŸ™‚

    I think that there are also quite a few reasons why you should reconsider changing your guest post policy.

    1. Unfortunately,not everyone is a member of the Den or John’s blogging class – which means that you are cutting out an absolutely MASSIVE swathe of high quality writers who may not be on either list – e.g. I didn’t know about John’s blogging class until you just mentioned it, and the Den is only open for a limited time to a limited number of members.

    2. You are eliminating a great platform for yourself to expand your readership and engage with others. You already have the ears of those who are part of the Den – but there’s still a massive group out there who I am sure would love to hear the thoughts from an experienced freelance writer, and these people will be easily reached when a guest blogger outside the Den/blogging class blogsphere sends readers to see his/her article being published on your site.

    3. You’re limiting the possible relationships that could be form, which may in turn benefit you. I’m sure for many of those who don’t meet your standards, you could easily then send them to the Den, or suggest other material that you or other trusted bloggers have produced to help them brush up their skills

    4. It just looks nicer πŸ™‚ The chance to get a paid guest blog spot, no tricks, no gimmicks, no need to sign up for any class or course, just seems so much nicer and genuine, if you get where I’m coming from!

    Again, just playing devil’s advocate here, because I really do think you have some great reasons for limiting your guest posts!

    • Carol Tice on

      I hear you on all that…but I just can’t run it wide-open anymore because it is taking too much time with too little result. The vast majority of good posts come from people from these programs, so I’m just going to look there. It’s just a sanity move for me.

    • Lin Young on

      Daryl,

      There are two major flaws in your logic.

      1) If Carol is swamped with pitches, she can’t possibly continue to read them all, which means she’s going to miss some great potential blog posts because of all the dross; and 2) Carol only uses a certain number of guest posts each month. If she can fill that quota with quality posts from a smaller pool, there is no need for her to spend extra hours at the task of assigning guest posts.

      After all, each of us only have 24 hours in our day. We have to spend our time wisely in order to make time for all the things we want to do in both work and play, along with all the things we have to do.

        • Lin Young on

          Carol, Keep us posted on that cloning project. There are days when I could use a clone of myself too. hahaha

      • Daryl on

        Hey Lin,

        I do agree with Carol’s decision! As I said, I was being a bit of a devil’s advocate. I do understand that there are limitations to running an open guest post policy, I was just giving my opinions on the reasons against the changes.

        With a large stable of writers to choose from, it does certainly make more sense to only accept guest posts from the Den/Jon Morrow’s class.

        However, I’m just wondering whether or not there was a bigger upside with regards to increasing readership and relations.

        Of course, if Carol literally does not have the time to go through even the pitches that she is sent, then the obvious choice is to limit the possible guest post pool.

  24. Debbie Kane on

    Makes sense to me. And as a Den member, former moderator & regular follower of your blog, thank you for weeding out posts that don’t work for your target audience. I absolutely prioritize what I read and I know others do, too.

  25. Alexis Grant on

    Interesting! Funny to see this note because I was thinking of pitching you a post — I also write a lot about how to make money from your writing. If you decide to deviate, ping me! [email protected] or @alexisgrant. (P.S. Feel you with the spammy pitches… It only gets WORSE if you manage several large blogs πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice on

      Alexis, as I said below, if you’ve got something up your sleeve, pitch it NOW…I’ll leave the door open a crack for a few days since this policy is new. But then, that’s it.

  26. Art Williams on

    I feel your pain Carol but I am also beginning to wonder if you actually have such a thing as a Writer’s Den. I’ve been a subscriber here for a few months now and really enjoy the content but you keep referring to the Writers Den and saying it’ll eventually open up again. But I’m sure wondering when. I’d like to be in it…if and when I can.

    Regards,
    Art

    • Lin Young on

      Art, that’s why I don’t let my Den membership go. Continuing my membership means that even if I go several months without using the information and resources (or without using it much), it is always available for me when I need it and do have time. I’m trying to get control of my schedule again. But I recently moved and also re-injured my back and knees, all of which destroyed my schedule.

      So my advice is, keep checking back and when Den membership opens again pounce on it.

  27. Vincent Nguyen on

    Hi, Carol. I was wondering if you would also accept guest post pitches from Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers course? You didn’t mention him so I’m assuming the answer would be no, but it’s worth asking. πŸ™‚

  28. Lisa Baker on

    Whew! I saw this headline and thought, Oh no! I should have already sent that post I pitched last week! Maybe she doesn’t want it now! πŸ˜‰

    So I’m relieved. And I think this is a great strategy. The Den is *so* affordable and valuable, I don’t see any reason why anyone who wanted to guest for you wouldn’t join!

    Now that I think about it, that’s pretty much the reason I joined. That and the fact that when I sent you an (awful) pitch after finding you in Sophie’s list of paying markets, your rejection was so kind — and so educational — that I decided it was well worth $25/month to learn from you.

    • Carol Tice on

      I do respond a lot…yet another thing I sort of need to cut back on. This policy will give me a stock reply I can use if it doesn’t seem like the author is in the ballpark…a vital timesaver I really need.

  29. Lois on

    I think its a great plan. Why put yourself at the mercy of all those writers if you don’t need to do so?
    I am also a ‘former Den Member’. I had to opt out for financial reasons. I do believe I am a member of John’s group, however. Correct me I am wrong, but isn’t it free to join his group? If that is the case, it should not be a hardship to anyone to join up if they have their heart set on pitching for your blog.
    I LOVE your blog, it is most definitely one of my favorites. I am still at ‘novice’ status for freelancing. However, things have gone very sour with my job. I have given notice with no new job in sight and no income coming in once the day of termination comes and goes. So, I know I need to market my skills. I am extremely frightened but some times fear is the best motivater.
    Thanks for all the exellent advice. I plan to rejoin the Den once I get my freelancing off and really running.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Lois –

      No, Jon’s blog-mentoring course is not free…maybe you’re a subscriber to his blog, Boost Blog Traffic?

      “Extremely frightened” sounds like a bad place to be…hope things improve for you soon.

      • Rob on

        Seriously, though, I’m kind of in awe of how you actually read and respond to all your comments. Throw in a few hundred guest blog requests and it’s hard for me to imagine how you keep up with your workload. I even sometimes feel guilty for commenting here.

        • Carol Tice on

          Well don’t! I love talking to my readers on the comments. πŸ˜‰

          I had no idea there’d be so much response to this policy change…really a fascinating discussion here. There’s no one right way to handle guest posts, but I’m just glad to come down on the side of continuing to accept them at all, when so many blogs are shutting them down totally.

          I think this new policy will make me feel empowered to simply delete more of the junk pitches I get rather than feeling I have to respond to them and explain myself, offer them resources for learning how to pitch me, etc. Now, they are clearly out of the running and I’ll just move on. I’ll go update my guidelines page today to reflect this change, and then consider my policy stated. And hopefully move on…since you all learned earlier this week about my problems dealing with email volume! This should also help that.

  30. Chris Weigl on

    Carol,

    Since I am a den member,of course I am biased, but I think you are doing the right thing. You are doing so much with your business and offering den members so much great quality content that you have to focus your attention there, and not on answering pitch letters from writers or having to do heavy edits all day. Keep up the good work, I look forward to all of your webinars.

  31. Karen on

    I think this is a great decision, Carol. It can only help quality control to only have pitches coming in from writers who have already taken the step to spend time, money and effort on improving their writing. Good luck with the new policy.

  32. Sarah Kolb-Williams on

    Carol,

    I’m sorry to hear that — I’ve been working on one for you for a week or so now that I really thought you’d like, and I was set to pitch it later this week. I’ll have to find a new home for it (which will be difficult, because it was definitely tailored to your blog, but not impossible, because it’s good information regardless of where it’s ultimately placed).

    Best of luck with your new policy, and thanks for your candor.
    Sarah

  33. Lin Young on

    Carol,

    I think your policy is a sane idea. I’ve worked as an editor for a weekly newspaper as well as for an online wire service.

    At the weekly newspaper, I had a bunch of legacy columnists who had been writing columns for years, but who had no formal journalism experience. They required a lot of editing.

    However, most of the writers for the online wire service required far more. The company started outsourcing work outside the U.S. It used many writers, and even journalists, in developing countries who did not speak (or write) English as their first language. They required extensive editing. If I sent something back for revision, they often didn’t comply with what I asked. That meant I often just completely rewrote their article myself if I was under a tight deadline and really needed it. It was always such a pleasure to get an article written by a U.S. writer because those articles required very little editing.

    So the editor in me hears you and applauds your decision to just not deal with garbage. Life is too short.

    • Miriam Hendeles on

      Carol,

      I enjoy your blog and benefit from all your common sense tips. So this post is just a sample of more stuff that we can all learn from. Thanks for continuing to offer opportunities for us as writers to work hard and shine.

      Miriam

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Lin — interesting experience you shared there.

      I do need taking guest posts to not take MORE time than writing them myself! Which is a big reason behind this change.

  34. Karen Lange on

    I understand completely! I recently stopped accepting guest posts as well. About two percent of submissions were done correctly, and dealing with requests was time consuming and frustrating. I am sorry to learn that you are only taking submissions from these two groups though, as I am not a member of either. I’ve had an idea I’d meant to pitch to you for a while; perhaps I need to look into joining them. πŸ™‚ I do think it’s a good idea to be selective – if I resume allowing guest posts I need to consider this. Accepting guest posts has given me a new appreciation for those I submit to; it’s so important to follow those guidelines!

    • Carol Tice on

      I hope I don’t hit the point where I feel I have to stop taking guests…I know so many are.

      I consider the variety of voices from my guests to be an integral feature of this blog nowadays, so hoping I can keep it!

  35. Amandah on

    Hello,

    I think it’s your blog and you can do whatever you want. If this means only accepting guest blog posts from Den members or from student’s from Jon’s guest blogging class, so be it. But here’s a question for you: What about accepting guest posts from former Den members? Sometimes, people leave a membership for one reason or another. Do you have a file with a list of current and former Den members?

    *I’m a former Den member, but I’m also a member of Jon’s guest blogging class. πŸ™‚

  36. Sarah Li Cain on

    I think it’s a good choice. It’s not a bad thing to expect high quality writers especially if you are paying them. Now if only your Freelance Writers’ Den will accept new members! I’m sure there are lots of people like me on the waiting list!

    • Carol Tice on

      We’re grappling with some tech issues right now, Sarah, and need to resolve them before we reopen…but there will be a couple opportunities to get in coming sometime in the next 60 days or so.

  37. Luana Spinetti on

    You have a good deal there, Carol. If a blogger wants to guest for you, they can join the Den, strengthen the basics and then submit a pitch.

    I can’t see that as a loss for any writer. There’s plenty to gain, actually! πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Luana —

      Well, there ARE a lot of resources in the Den that help with blogging, so hopefully it would be a win-win.

      I didn’t really do this to drive Den signups — we’re not even open to new members right now.

      I think people should join the Den if they need the support and learning for their careers (get on the waitlist if you want in! I sometimes don’t even mention openings except to that list). Being able to guest here should be a sort of happy byproduct.

      • Luana Spinetti on

        I agree. πŸ™‚

        In fact, I wasn’t thinking about sign-ups, but about how writers grow and hone their skills when they join the Den. All the courses and forum discussions can only positively influence the quality of their guest posts. πŸ˜‰

        I joined the waiting list, Carol. Thank you!

  38. Anthony on

    Carol,

    I see a lot of bloggers making changes to their sites and policies based on their experiences. This includes everything from updating guest posting policies to removing CommentLuv due to broken links. I think you have to do what works for you. On my old blog I published quite a few guest posts and if you’re not careful you can spend all day playing editor. I’m still deciding if I will use guest posts on my new blog when I launch or if I will do all of the blogging so this is an interesting topic for me. On the plus side, I’m glad I’m still able to be considered as a guest blogger here!

  39. Karen Cioffi on

    Carol, I can understand your reasoning, especially since you’re paying for articles. I at times use BloggerLinkup to find bloggers for guest posts and I’d say about 75% of what I get isn’t useable. And, about 90% of the bloggers don’t bother reading the guidelines. I don’t use it too often, so the time element in reviewing them isn’t too bad.

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Karen —

      That’s fascinating about leads you get through Blogger LinkUp — I used to check that on a regular basis when I wanted to do more guest posts.

      I guess there’s a reason courses like Jon’s exist — the art of pitching and executing guest posts is something many writers still need to learn. You set up guidelines and you think you’ve made the process fairly simple…but still so many don’t get it.

      And of course in my case, I have the special circumstance that I pay, unlike so many big blogs. So that attracts a horde of hungry writers…but they aren’t all ready to guest here.

    • Kristen Hicks on

      Pitching – both for magazines and guest posts – is so time consuming that I don’t understand the point of skimping on taking the 5 minutes or so needed to read the guidelines.

      If you’re taking the time to come up with an idea, do the preliminary research, find out the best contact to send it to, and write up a pitch, then you should go ahead and do it right!

      I’m already a den member, but you’ve made a strong recommendation for Jon Morrow’s blogging course. I’ll have to add that to my list of business indulgences to consider in the coming year.

      • Carol Tice on

        Yeah, me neither, but you can’t believe how many pitches I get with no headline or outline, which is the key thing in my guidelines.

        It’s just, “Hey, your blog is awesome, I would like to write some posts for you, I could write about anything, just tell me what!”

  40. Ed Gandia on

    Smart, Carol — very smart! I’ve faced the same challenge at Int’l Freelancers Academy (huge time suck + poor-quality posts), so I made similar changes about 18 months ago. I can’t tell how big a difference it’s made.

    My readers don’t want MORE content; they want QUALITY content only. Once I understood this, I started publishing less frequently. But what I did publish was better, meatier, more practical. Yes, that’s more work on my part now that I have fewer guest posts. But it’s worth it. πŸ˜‰

  41. Kevin Carlton on

    The success of your blog, Carol, is of course down to the regular stream of high-quality posts and the loyal community that you’ve built up around it.

    But, as we can all imagine, the trouble with a popular and high-quality blog is that it attracts the attention of too many people making low-quality offerings.

    It’s a shame that you’ve had no choice but to take this step, because some of your followers (including myself) aren’t members of The Den or Jon’s blogging class. Yet some of these are still accomplished bloggers with something to offer and, unlike many of the other people who pitch to you, at least know and understand your blog.

    I’ve never pitched anything to you myself, Carol, but I’ve always felt it would be something I would do at some stage provided the idea was right and it potentially contributed something interesting, useful and relevant to your readers.

    I personally don’t know what it’s like to be bombarded with junk pitches (I only get a handful each week at the moment). But I do wonder whether other active members of the Make a Living Writing community feel that you could be missing out on some really fab post ideas from these people.

    • Carol Tice on

      As it happens, I’ve had 4 junk pitches this morning. Which has been typical.

      And yes, I’ve no doubt that I will miss a few good posts with this change. But it’s a tradeoff I’m going to have to make to avoid the scads of substandard pitches and post submissions that come with leaving guest posting open to all comers.

      • Kevin Carlton on

        The reason I mention this, Carol, is that (in view of the other prolific bloggers you mentioned) this whole guest posting thing is going to eventually become a closed shop, where who you know is going to be far more important than what you know.

        The change to your policy also seems to go against the whole spirit of a blog whose mission is to help hungry writers.

        But if people keep on spoiling

      • Kevin Carlton on

        [Cont. from accidental/unfinished reply above]
        But if people keep on spoiling it by making it hard work for you, then I’ve no idea what else you (and other bloggers in the same position) should do.

        • Carol Tice on

          Believe me, I was excited to run it wide open, and it gave me many opportunities to mentor new writers. But I can’t be a free editorial school for new bloggers forever…it had to end.

          I have a ton of resources in the Den, and Jon’s course is great, and I think if you’re serious about blogging, you should look at getting some knowledge on how to do it.

          But the bottom line is I really looked at my data in making the decision. Good posts came from these two places, so I can save time by just looking these two places.

          Not saying this policy is forever…we’ll see how it evolves. But this is what it is for now.

          • Kevin Carlton on

            Carol, gotta say you do more than enough for writers with your blog alone.

            I also think the fact that The Den is rarely open to new members is such a good thing, as it says something about the quality of the service it provides.

            I’d love to sign up next time it opens, if only to pay back for what I’ve received here.

            Finally, I’m sure you were already fully aware of the considerations I’ve brought up here when you made the decision, but that was something you had no alternative but to do.

  42. John Soares on

    Carol, your new policy makes a lot of sense. As a moderator in the Den, I know that there are many high-quality members who can produce quality guest posts for you.

  43. Kerry Jones on

    Interesting to read about your reasoning behind your new policy, Carol. I like that it’s not invitation-only (too restrictive imo) but still casts a wide enough net without quality suffering.

    I have definitely noticed the quality suffer on sites that weren’t picky about publishing guest posts (Problogger comes to mind, but as you pointed out they’ve made changes).

    Looking forward to seeing how this works out!

    • Sandra Sealy on

      Carol,

      I’m a writer/ blogger from the Caribbean and one of your subscribers.

      This is the post I’ve been waiting for! On your FB page, there was no LOVE button, so I settled for LIKE. πŸ™‚

      BTW I’ve shared this with my wider community of Caribbean writers.

      I write on many subjects but I’d LOVE to find a blog that pays for food, entertainment and travel pieces, in particular.

      Would appreciate your help.

      Thank you so much!

      Sandra Sealy

    • Carol Tice on

      Yeah, I think Problogger had some real challenges and the quality wasn’t always there when they were wide-open.

      I’m hoping this policy will achieve my goals and keep the great guest posts coming.

      Appreciate everyone’s feedback on the changes!

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