I have been working as an editor for the last couple of years and I currently handle editing duties for multiple sites. While I truly appreciate the time given by writers and their hard work, there are some writers out there that just don’t get it. They don’t understand what editors want, what is expected and what they need to do to help improve the likelihood of success when their article is published on a particular site. There is really so much writers need to know to be a really good guest writer.
I am going to break down some of the common issues I see on a daily basis.
The Basics All Guest Writers Should Know
If you think you should be a guest writer and you don’t know the following six things you need to stop even considering writing and start learning first.
- You should have clear goals for why you are writing and have some form of measurement to determine if your guest writing is accomplishing your goal(s).
- You must research a site before you write for it!!!!!! Read articles and see the style of articles that are published, look at the topics discussed, look at the quality of the writing and look at the guidelines the site has in place for guest writers.
- Do NOT write something that is not relevant AND helpful to the readers of the site you are submitting the article to. ***** (many stars means really important!)
- Not everyone is or should be a writer. If you suck at writing and submit an article it can hurt your reputation. Guest writing may not be a technique that will be effective for you or your business.
- If you are new to guest writing ask multiple friends to read your articles and accept all feedback given.
- Editors want quality, helpful information for their readers and they have guidelines they must follow.
Goal: Avoid Getting Rejected and Hurting Your Reputation
Editors have a lot to do and being an editor is not an easy job. There are several things that make the editor role frustrating and I am going to break some of these things down for you because I want you to avoid rejected articles. If you are hoping to build authority or improve your branding the last thing you want is to get all the editors in your field thinking you don’t know what you are doing.
Important Note: Editors know A LOT of people that are important in their industry. Attacking or insulting an editor is not wise and attacking others in your industry in an article is not wise either.
5 Common Issues That Cause Editor Stress and Result in Rejection
1. Points 2 and 3 from the Basics List Above
It is PAINFULLY obvious when a writer has not researched a site and submits an article that is in no way relevant or helpful to the readers of a site (editors are looking for helpful information). Receiving these articles is very irritating to an editor because they result in a lot of wasted time.
This time would include reading the email with the submitted article, downloading/opening the article, reading the article and then writing up a rejection of an article to the writer. Imagine that these things take about 15-20 minutes and the editor receives 20-30 articles like this a week. You can see how much wasted time is added up.
There is, in my opinion, no better way to wreck your reputation than to ignore points 2 and 3 in the basics list above.
2. An Inability to Write Well
As I said before, not everyone is a writer and that is perfectly okay. Sometimes people submit articles with fairly decent information, but an editor would have to spend an hour or more interpreting and rewriting an article for it to be acceptable. Editors don’t have time to do this all day every day.
The common writing issues I see are:
- The inability to create flow in writing. One paragraph should lead to another in some way.
- The inability to properly explain one’s thoughts. Writers, don’t ever assume the reader knows what you mean; they don’t. You have to explain exactly what you are thinking, because no one can read you mind.
- The inability to tie everything together.
- Incomplete information – the reader cannot fully understand what the writer is saying.
- Random and terrible grammar and spelling. Please take 5 minutes to use a grammar and spell checker.
If an editor is confused about what you are trying to say in an article then you need to assume some further clarification is needed. And honestly, this is perfectly okay! All writers make mistakes and an editor is there to make sure your article does well.
3. Articles with Inaccurate Information
No matter what industry you are in there is a learning curve. You may not know everything you need to know to compare, quality wise, with other guest writers.
When you are writing about a concept you really need to make sure you are looking at things from all angles because if you miss one angle or factor it could void all the claims you make in your article. This is another reason why it is good to have someone else read your article first to make sure you haven’t missed something important. An editor is there to insure that inaccurate information is not published, so please don’t be angry with an editor if they point out what is wrong with an article. They are trying to help you.
4. Articles That Attack Others
It is perfectly fine that you disagree with people or their practices. However, if you write an article slamming other people or accusing them of doing something you cannot be upset when a publisher declines your article. Most popular blogs will not participate in “attack” posts because they offend people. Most blogs or news related sites want to avoid the fallout from articles like this. Editors cannot isolate their readers.
Writers need to be very careful when condemning others. Articles like this can cause a group of people to band together and attack the writer and honestly, it is just not worth taking that risk. Even if you have what you think is data that will prove someone is “in the wrong” you could be missing several factors that would, in fact, make you wrong.
Writers should never blame a publisher/editor for wanting to avoid problems and/or anger from their readers. I have had one writer attack me for declining a post like this and I will never forget him.
5. Regurgitated Articles
Some people call these types of articles “spun”; I prefer regurgitated. No one wants to read a recap of stuff they have read elsewhere UNLESS there is a different perspective or an addition of factual information provided. Factual does not include your opinion, FYI.
Create something new, different and helpful. If you do this, and you are unique in your approach, you have a better shot at creating a successful article and also building some respect in your field.
In Summary, How to Do it Right
If you want to write for a site you can always look for writer’s guidelines or email an editor and ask them what they are looking for. This is a great way to avoid stressing an editor out or wasting their time. Remember to set goals and do your research first. And make sure you do the following:
- Make sure your information is unique and factual.
- Fact check, fact check, fact check.
- Make sure your article is relevant to the audience of the site.
- Make sure your article is helpful to the readers – something they want to remember/bookmark.
- Make sure your article flows well and focus on good spelling and grammar.
- Make sure your article is not attacking others.
- Make sure your article is not just a summary of another writer’s work.
- Make sure you are polite to the editor.
- Be open to an editor’s suggestions on changes.
If you cover these basics you have a better shot at not stressing out an editor and getting your article published.