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You Don’t Have to Respond to Solicitations For Guest Posts

guest postsOver in the forum several of us were talking about the recent barrage of offers of guest posts and advertising. The main complaints were these:

The email writer claims to love the blog or website, which becomes obviously untrue as they reveal their offer – a guest post or article they are sure will delight us. Some of the more clever ones will actually list two or three suggested titles.

The problem is the titles are so generic they could apply to almost any blog in the world. A newer version of this same pitch is the offer is to pay the site owner to put up a post. They don’t want to buy advertising because the post is an attempt to look like the links are organic rather than paid for.

In no case to they tell you who they want to link to, nor does the putative author offer a link to their own professional site.

I’m like many blog owners that recognize there’s an implicit approval that’s communicated to readers with links in posts. If the blog or site owner is so bold to query exactly what they will be linking to, they generally come back, at least in my case, to a ‘service’ that offers to write papers for college students.

Now I’m constitutionally opposed to such offers. It’s my, admittedly old fashioned. notion that students ought to do their own work, or at least attempt it.

Yes, I realize that students in the US who are non-native English speakers and writers have a difficult time grasping some of the intricacies of our language. I’m not opposed to working with someone and editing their work, provided (yes, I’ll shout it: PROVIDED) they do the bulk of the work including all the research and write a complete rough draft themselves. Then hiring an editor to help them get it into the right idiom only makes sense. But not the actual paying for the creation of the paper.

Besides, as I understand it part of the game is to fool Google into thinking they have substantial links back to their site. Google frowns on this sort of attempt to rig the game and so do I.

Many of us now just delete the email. Unfortunately some of the bolder ones will email again asking why they haven’t gotten a response!

But it feels so impolite!

Someone said they hate not responding because it makes them feel impolite. Like many of us, they grew up with the idea that it’s rude not to reply to a letter and this feeling carries over to email.

Pardon me while I channel Emily Post’s ghost

Maybe it’s the season, but I feel like I’m channeling Emily Post when I say there is absolutely no need to respond at all to this type of solicitation. It’s rude of those who send out such emails to do so. It’s even ruder when they don’t spell out exactly what they want – a link back to something.

This is the equivalent of the junk mail that still comes to our door almost daily. Just as you don’t feel required to respond, unless it’s to call their 800 number and ask them to stop sending you stuff, or unless it’s by throwing it immediately in a recycling bin. There’s no need, and really no expectation that you treat spam-my emailers with anything but disdain – with the delete key.

Yes, I suspect at least some of the folks sending the email are real would be writers who have gotten snookered into some promise of payment or other reward if they’re successful at placing links. If I’m right, the quickest way to assure they will leave that industry ASAP is not to respond.

If you happen to be someone who innocently has gotten involved, stop it. Right now! And if you want to write an expose I’ll consider publishing it. No pay, but probably some glory and links back to your professional site.

Write well and often.




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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • I have my own rule on this one. If my name isn’t on it then it didn’t make it past my spam filter. If my name it on it, then I’ll link to my article telling them I don’t accept guest posts in the return email, which is right on my main page if anyone’s actually visiting the site. At this stage of the game, the only writer on my blogs, unless I invite someone, is me! 🙂

    • Hi Mitch, yes, I’ve used that approach more or less. Can’t remember why I dropped it… maybe I should put it back in place.

  • Three things… It’s kind of long, but bear with me. First this,
    “Yes, I suspect at least some of the folks sending the email are real would be writers who have gotten snookered into some promise of payment or other reward if they’re successful at placing links.”

    I see ads saying that say they’ll pay $50 – $750 per piece per placement on Problogger, BloggingPro, and on all of the other supposedly reputable job search sites. Only those who have publishing privileges on sites like Mashable, Forbes, and the like. When I first started seeing these, I reported them to the site owners, who actually removed them because they agreed with me that the “job” was unethical at best.

    Afterwards, the same sites kept allowing the same ads from the same people – BloggingPro – well, I eventually gave up reporting the ads. I finally realized my time was more valuable writing something to publish, rather than writing emails and fighting site owners who are paid to post unethical ads, ignoring the reports that they’re unethical. I ignore the ads when I see them, and found other sites to find jobs. Funny, I’ve never seen these ads on Flexjobs…

    On guest post spam – the funny thing about the emails I get is that they come to an info@ email address set up for people to contact me about my portfolio. There isn’t a blog on that site, let alone a request for guest blogs. I automatically add the domain/IP to my Sucuri blacklist. One and done.

    Also – not so old fashioned, is this: “Now I’m constitutionally opposed to such offers. It’s my, admittedly old fashioned. notion that students ought to do their own work, or at least attempt it.”

    I write on at least one of my websites, and every work profile (for bidding sites – I still use them from time to time) that potential clients should absolutely NOT contact me for academic work. I specifically state I will ignore all emails that ask me to do academic work. If I get these emails on bidding sites, I report the poster. I did (and do) my own work. I believe everyone else should too.

    Plain and simple, writing someone else’s academic papers, homework, thesis – whatever – isn’t just plagiarism, it’s cheating, and we all know what happens when we get caught cheating.
    Thanks for a great post Anne!
    JC Torpey recently posted..Glad You’re Here @ JC Torpey’s PortfolioMy Profile

    • JC, I see the same ads… since I know you can post an ad there and pay for it without ever talking with a human I just ignore them – good for you for reporting, and I don’t blame you for stopping.

      Ah, yes, all my sites use wordpress so I assume they’ve at least looked – now that I think of it, probably not.

      Love it when folks are in agreement with me – and you summed it up nicely.

    • JC, I like your style. 😉
      Cathy Miller recently posted..Ten Terrifying Typos in Business CommunicationMy Profile

  • Thanks for this, Anne. It’s taken me a long time to get over my upbringing, but I’ve finally learned to hit the delete key on these. I get quite a few (at least 5 this week already) and I’ve found that any response only encourages them.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..The Fatal Flaws That Hurt Your Business [Slideshare]My Profile

    • You’re experience mirrors mine – no surprise, but I love the confirmation.

  • Ah, you’re playing my tune, Anne. I am one of those who struggled with not responding (at first) because of the way I was raised. As I shared with a newer freelancer, I got over that when my Inbox began groaning under the weight of these spammy emails. Jenn’s analogy of a telemarketer is excellent.

    The ones who come back at you with a nasty follow-up email boggle my mind. If that doesn’t tell you something about their character, I don’t know what will. What credible marketer insults the business they are trying to attract?

    I’m with you, Anne, I think even Emily Post would hit delete. 🙂
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Ten Terrifying Typos in Business CommunicationMy Profile

    • Yeah, those that argue with a no are amazing… I’ve gotten in those loops a couple of times before I remembered my delete key. E. Post would agree I’m sure – she was nothing if not practical as well as polite.

  • I’m with you 100% on this Anne. You absolutely do not have to respond to all of these guest post requests.

    I get at least two dozen of them every week for my writing blog alone (far more when you look at all the blogs I own). Of those, it’s rare more than two of them fall in the “worth a response” category. And even then, they’re rarely acceptable for publication.

    I set up email filters so anything going to a guest post email address or including related terms in the subject line get lumped into a single folder. It’s an easy way to keep from getting overwhelmed by them. Once or twice a week I go through the waiting requests. And it never fails. They almost all follow the formula you mentioned Anne — generic praise of your site and a link to some random article from it (sometimes an odd, obscure news post like a sale announcement — those are my favorite). They rarely follow the guest post guidelines. Heck, if someone I don’t already know emails my normal address instead of the one in my guidelines, their email gets deleted immediately. If they can’t take the time to read, neither can I.

    The real gems, though, are the ones that are clearly copy-paste form emails. The blog title and post title are usually a different font from everything else because it’s been imported from another document with their pitch list. These ones go right into my block list so I don’t have to see the two or three follow up emails that are bound to come.

    For people who are afraid that not responding makes them impolite, think of it this way: when a telemarketer calls you and leaves a voicemail, do you feel obligated to call them back? This is the same situation. If the pitches are clearly about benefiting them by helping them get links as opposed to them showing they care about your audience — the people they want access to, or if it’s clearly a case of mass pitching, they’re really little more than spammers. They don’t respect your time or your audience, and they don’t deserve any special consideration from you. You have better ways to spend your time.

    Oh, and Anne, I’m totally with you on those stupid essay mills. Most of the pitches I get these days are from them or freelancers working on their behalf. Even though I nofollow links so they won’t get that benefit out of me, I simply don’t want that garbage on my site. Not in guest posts. Not in links in blog comments. Not in job ads. On my site, that’s the easiest way to get banned from all forms of posting.
    Jenn Mattern recently posted..No. You Don’t Have to “Write Every Day.”My Profile

    • Ah, Jenn, not replying to telemarketers is a better metaphor than junk mail. Thanks for that one. I should work up some filters… good idea.

  • Tina

    Thanks, Ann. Great article!

  • My favorites are the ones who profess to love my site (which is about writing) and then tell me the topics of their proposed articles, which are about real estate or cars or something totally unrelated. Thanks for giving me permission to ignore them!
    Charlotte Rains Dixon recently posted..The Secret to Writing More Than You Ever Thought PossibleMy Profile

    • he he Charlotte – you certainly have my permission… you do know you don’t need it don’t you?

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