As you may have noticed--assuming our content and layout haven't changed dramatically between when I'm writing this and when you're reading this--we've got a "Submit a Guest Post" link at the top of the blog, alongside some other neat stuff that we recommend you at least skim through. Little did I realize how much trouble such a simple link would cause.
If you're been following us long enough, or if you've been digging through the archives, you're almost certainly aware that we get excited about occasional guest posts, which have traditionally been written by close friends, family members, superfans, and coworkers. We like guest posts because they give us fresh perspectives, greater reader participation, and a day off when we don't feel much like writing. When we started having trouble meeting our regular, self-imposed posting deadlines, I began to publicize the fact that we do accept unsolicited guest posts, if anybody would like to participate and help us out.
Guess who responded? Two freelancers, within minutes of each other.
Now, we've got no problem with freelance writers. We're freelance writers, or at least we have been at one time or another. But we wanted fans, not freelancers. Our guest posting guidelines, as they were originally written, only conveyed the letter of the law, not the spirit; it simply hadn't occurred to me that anyone outside of our readership would care about posting with us.
Yet there it was, an e-mail request from a complete stranger with a beautiful prewritten post that followed our directions to a T, plus a hyperlink to some discount furniture website. I was not comfortable with posting this, but there was nothing in our directions that forbade it, and the freelancer was an honest-to-goodness person who responded tactfully and eloquently to my requests to establish credibility as a legitimate freelancer and not some spammer.
Revisions were made to the guidelines. Three more freelancers responded. Freelancers who, from the sound of it, didn't look too closely at the updated guidelines. Perhaps I was being too subtle. Also, looking back on it, my annoyance with how this guest posting plan was persistently backfiring was clearly visible in my writing. Another update.
Now, our guidelines look like this, which more accurately conveys exactly what we do and don't want out of a guest post. Assuming we haven't updated them again, in which case I have no idea what I'm linking to.