The Best Methods for Rejecting Guest Post Submissions
This is a guest post by Broke Professionals. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
You open your email and see a guest post submission. You get excited because you recognize the submitting site or the person. Maybe it is another blog whose work you respect, or an alleged “fan” that has commented on your blog several times. However, your excitement quickly turns to fear, when you open the word document and are faced with a difficult situation: the guest post is no good. At this point in time, you need to go into your arsenal, and dig out the most appropriate method of rejection you have. If you are anything like me, you should have a vast menu to choose from, having been on both sides of the equation at various times.
Cyber-Rejection v. Real-Life Rejection
In my “real” job as a young professional, there are times when I am tasked with “firing” current clients or “rejecting” prospective clients. Being put in such a position is never easy, but I always manage to get through such occasions because I know that such decisions are at the behest of competent and experienced partners and rendered almost entirely outside my sphere of influence.
“I am simply following orders”, I tell myself, and then I try to let it go. It is easier to reject or fire someone in my job because there are almost always clear reasons why such a decisions had to be reached, such as the client would not cooperate or stopped paying their bills.
With my blog, it is different. When I receive a request for a guest post, I cannot “hide behind company orders.” I am the company. What makes things even tougher, as pointed out in this prior ProBlogger article , is that the decision-making process is oftentimes so subjective. Sure there are times when I receive guest posts that are easy to reject, such as guest post submissions that are clearly spam or not aimed at my niche.
However, there is an even larger contingent of guest post submissions that fall into a nebulous gray area, the type of area where as a blogger you are left with no other choice but to make a tough call. Sometimes, that means having to tell people “no.”
Different Types of Guest-Post Submission Rejections
A. The Semi-Rejection
If the submission is close to being acceptable, perhaps you may want to make some suggestions rather than starting out with an outright rejection of a submission. The benefit of this is that in the end you will hopefully receive a decent article for your site, without having to possibly burn any bridges along the way.
The downside is that in most instances you will not be in love with the article despite the tweaks. Worse yet, you will likely be forced to expend valuable time and energy trying to bring the submission up to your standards.
B. The Formal Rejection
As a failed novelist, I can tell you that just about every major publishing company has virtually the same rejection letter. A publishing companies’ catch-all cover letter is brilliant in its muted, institutional simplicity. The benefit to implementing such a letter is that you will save time.
However, such a letter is also impersonal and not likely to win many fans. It tries so hard to be innocuous that it is almost offensive. Unless you have a large site with many guest blog requests, it may be better to move on to option “C”, the Informal Rejection.
C. The Informal Rejection
The Informal Rejection is the most honest form of rejection. If done correctly, it can also be the most beneficial, to both blogger and prospective guest blogger. In my day job I am taught that the rejection of a client should be honest but not personal. Another tip is to stick to somewhat easily correctable and if at all possible, factual reasons for the rejection. Nobody wants to hear “your blog is awful,” even if it is hidden beneath flowery language.
For example, when responding to a recent guest post that I ended up rejecting, I mentioned that the post was too political for my site. This was an honest assessment of one of the reasons why I rejected the submission. I did not mention that the article would have been rejected anyway because it was poorly written.
For one thing, I do not want to potentially shatter another person’s dreams. Nor do I have the time or ability (judging from my success as a “novelist”) to assist another person in greatly improving their writing ability. I am not usually a fan of white lies, but there is a difference between being honest and outright hurting another’s feelings. A lot of it comes down to putting some “spin” on the rejection, and focusing on using the proper language.
Most people respond favorably to an honest tailored rejection. You may even receive a thank you note down the line, letting you know that your advice made a positive change in the course of their blogging careers. I know that I think back favorably on the two or three editors who took the time to give me a tailored letter of rejection. I appreciated the advice and it felt good knowing that the submissions were actually read by somebody.
Of course, there is the chance that engaging another person in such a way may lead to you getting the other individual’s hopes up, which could lead to more communications. There is always a slight chance that you may offend the submitter, no matter how delicate your response. Unfortunately that is one of the hazards of blogging.
Finally, it should be noted that even if multiple communications do not often occur as a result of this method, the semi-formal rejection method will take up a lot of time compared to more automated rejection methods. Therefore it may not be feasible for a blog that receives a lot of traffic and guest post submissions.
D. Total Silence
In my opinion no response at all is the worst blog submission rejection method, unless you have already rejected a submission and the applicant is getting pushy. It is important to respect the fact that the blogger is waiting on a response so they can pitch it to another site or post it on their own blog.
One of the benefits of being a blogger is that to some extent it can simulate problems found in management or business ownership that an individual may not otherwise have a chance to experience. I one day hope to have my own office as a professional, and I know I will be better at handling some of the human resource type tasks that go along with running a small business because of my experiences as a blogger.
Although setting up an area on your blog where you list your Guest Post Submission Guidelines can help reduce the number of ill-fitting submissions, the fact remains that at some point or another you will have to reject guest posts or risk adding less than stellar content on your site. At this time, it is important to review the situation and apply the appropriate rejection method.
You won’t be able to make everyone happy no matter what methodonable people, and at the end of the day you can’t ask for much more then that.
About the Author: Most other Bloggers in the field of Personal Finance discuss their “Goal of obtaining one million dollars” or their “journey to financial independence and freedom.” After seven years each straight of “higher” education (and all the student loans that go along with it), our husband/wife blogging team goal is to simply get back to broke. Join us on our journey at BrokeProfessionals.com.
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I am yet to reach to that level to reject a guest post. But it was an interesting read learned how to tackle a few of the difficult situations like “rejecting” someone’s work.
I think an informal rejection with a brief reason (as why it is rejected), may help both the publisher and one seeking guest post.
I often use informal and total silence. Most guest posts I receive are too promotional and I reply to them the real reason why I reject their submission although I point out to them that correcting this and resubmitting their article might help it get published.
I use total silence when the articles submitted are non-compliance of my submission guidelines, it only means they are not reading what should be read. I am also a guest blogger and I see to it that before shooting an article thru the email, I make sure that I comply with the submission guidelines.
All methods are acceptable apart from total silence, i find it arrogant. You do not need to say much at the rejection anyways, couple of words are enough.
If the guest post is good – but needs editing, I make that a condition for posting.
Always run the post by the original author.
There is a school somewhere which has a teacher who seems to make getting published on a blog a condition of passing a class. Wish I knew who it was.
I got at least one post a month from his or her her class. Most are really off my topic – and mostly pretty lame.
I do answer these telling them they don’t fit. I hope she or he counts that they at least tried.
If I hear back from the blog I submitted to, then I am elated. Not responding to someone who submitted, in my opinion, is simply wrong.
Truth is, getting guest posts rejected is a part of the submission process and every blogger who does guest posts often *should* be pretty immune to it.
Hmmm…. interesting tips here. I’ve had a few handful of people ask to guest post on my blog but I always told them I’m not currently accepting guest posts at this point, so I haven’t had the opportunity to go over any actual posts.
I agree that silence is the worst form of rejection. No matter how bad it is, the writer deserves an answer.
Thanks, going to keep this info in mind for future reference.
Nice tips . I think the total silence is not the good way to reject guest post submission.
“Thank you for your unsolicited post. I will not be publishing it at this time.”
Unless you want to cultivate someone to publish future posts, I don’t see any reason to explain a decision to reject one.