July 8, 2013 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Let’s say you’ve reached publisher status on a blog. Congratulations! You can instantly post any article you want, and you don’t need anybody’s permission. You are your own master. You control your own fate. Well, you control what you can publish, at least. Right?
Sorry to break it to you, but unless you created the site yourself, the only thing you can claim to control is your bladder. Being given the privilege (not the right) of having a contributor account carries a lot of responsibility with it, and the blog admin won’t hesitate to take away your access if your articles cause a loss in readership or damage their brand.
The relationship you have with the admin is just like any other: there are certain expectations. As long as you satisfy those expectations and avoid these eight mistakes commonly made by careless contributors, then you’ll enjoy a lengthy and mutually-beneficial relationship with that blogger.
Publish anything that doesn’t fit with the program, and you’ll be removed faster than a wax strip. The visitors and loyal followers of any blog have certain expectations of what topics they’ll be reading about when they enter the site. If they want to read about the latest trends in the Wookiee hair-styling industry, but you give them an article about the exploitation of the Mon Calmari people, you’re going to ruffle some feathers. Never mind how important to society you think your article may be, you’ve got to give the blogger’s audience what they came for.
Don’t insult the visitors’ intelligence by thinking you’ll be able to get away with posting an article that has a 3rd grade reading level. The audience is used to a certain content quality, and you won’t be forgiven for providing them with a piece that falls short. As a contributor, you should put your best foot forward in order to both please the admin and make a good name for yourself.
I’m not talking about plagiarism. If you’re considering plagiarism as an option, get off the Internet right now and don’t come back.
“Unoriginal” in this context refers to a topic that has already been covered by a million other websites or a topic that has already been published once before on the blog you have access to. Create something of value. The modern reader wants to come across an article with a fresh perspective, something they haven’t read before, something they can share on their social networks because they believe it’s useful or will boost their reputation for having shared it. Create sharebait. The blogger will love you for it.
“I love spammy links,” said no one ever.
Maybe you’re a struggling freelancer and you’ve taken on a client that wants you to place links to their site in your articles. If that’s the case, be transparent about it. Talk to the blogger and let him or her know what’s up. You never know, maybe they’ll be okay with it because they’re happy to receive the free content you’re offering. But if they’re not okay with it and they gave you a contributor account – which you spammed – there’s going to be a major falling out. Anger the wrong vindictive blogger, and they can make it so your reputation is forever tarnished.
There’s a big difference between controversial and offensive. Controversial? Good. If you do it well, then it captures attention, creates a debate or a dialogue, and can bring more traffic to the blog. Offensive or abusive? Don’t do it (unless, of course, the blog is supposed to be an offensive one). While the “any publicity is good publicity” attitude might work for Hollywood D-listers, it doesn’t cut it on most blogs. A site’s success hinges on its reputation and readership. Offending the blog’s followers will guarantee that your post receives comments – but not the kind the blogger wants to see.
The fastest way to lose credibility as a writer is to create articles filled with grammar errors and spelling mistakes. Almost everyone occasionally makes a typo that even Spell Check doesn’t catch, but various errors littered throughout are inexcusable. Instead of becoming a source of inspiration, your content — and the blogger who allowed it to be posted on his or her site — will be the subject of ridicule.
If the blog is geared towards college boys, don’t write the way you would for soccer moms. Your post should fit the tone and writing style of the blog you’re contributing to. Do they have a lot of crass humor inserted into their posts? Do the same. Do they lean to the right or left politically? You know what to avoid. If you read the site’s posts and they all sound professional then step up your game as well. Maintaining a consistency of tone and voice is important for bloggers and their readers in order to avoid confusion, so don’t make your article stick out like a sore thumb.
It’s incredibly important to share your posts. This shows the blogger that you’re invested in their site’s success and that you’re using your social leverage to try to bring in as much traffic as possible. This is a simple move that will be greatly appreciated by the blogger. It also benefits you, because you’ll get more people checking out what you write, and it’ll build your reputation. Bloggers are extremely wary of writers who don’t share their own posts, and it might cause them to second-guess their decision to add you as a contributor.
You have a great relationship with a blogger, and being an official contributor to their site is a stepping stone for bigger and better things. Give it your best, follow the blogger’s guidelines, don’t make the mistakes mentioned above, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful Internet writing career.
Do you have any other mistakes you’ve made that ruined a relationship with a blogger? Or are you a blogger who had a negative contributor experience? Share your story in the comments below.
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