Performancing Metrics

Rejection Etiquette For Guest Posts

There’s no doubt about it.

It’s a groovy kinda’ feeling when another blogger requests to share his wisdom and his fan base by doing a guest post for your site.

I mean, let’s be honest here: who doesn’t like a quality “freebie”?

It’s the ultimate compliment for most bloggers, other than being paid.

But unfortunately, “all that glitters ain’t gold!”

In fact, a blogger buddy of mine experienced this situation first hand, and issued a 9-1-1 for me to help her to handle a recent incident.

This “damsel in distress” found herself being placed in a very awkward situation when a blogger approached her with a potential post. Unfortunately this piece almost appeared to have been written by a 5th grader.

Initially my friend attempted to correct some of the grammatical and spelling errors to make it salvageable and to save face. But the task became so monumental that she just as soon had written the post herself from scratch!

What should she do? She asked me.

Well, this could get sticky.

Of course no want wants to alienate a fan, nor risk wounding someone’s ego.

Most of us have been on the other side of rejection, whether it was a Dear John letter from someone who was dear, or a biting rejection from an editor regarding our creative work. And it’s not a pretty place.

On the other hand, allowing someone to post something that’s sub-par on your site is a kiss of death for both parties. That’s a no-brainer.

Lucky for her, I have a little experience in this matter as the former Senior Editor of a regional magazine, and someone who’s had more than her share of rejections too. 

Here’s what I recommend.

• Remember that it’s not always what you say but how you say it. Be kind.

• Start off my finding something positive and redeeming. Thank the person for his time, or for being a follower of your site, or for his creative efforts.

• If it’s possible, try to offer some constructive criticism that might help this person in the future.

• Although it may be tempting, don’t refer this person to G.E.D. class locations.

• Depending upon your personality and communication style, it may even be a good idea to do a pre-formatted rejection letter that simply states, “Sorry, but your submission does not meet our editorial needs at this time.”

Just keep in mind that the cleaner the break the better.

After all, you never know how life will develop. The same dimwit that you “diss” may end up being someone you work for one day. You just never know!

How about you? How do you deal with rejection—either as the giver or the receiver?

Is there a proper protocol for putting someone down?

Categories: General

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  1. Nikola ) says: 4/21/2010

    Hey Jen,

    This is why I’m a loyal follower! Your posts are always “spot on” and I always come away feeling like my time was well spent.

    I think I’ll take your advice on formatting a “nice” rejection letter, sprinkled with a few helpful comments. Hopefully this will avoid hurt feelings and maybe offer encouragement to try again. Though, rejection, in any format is still hard to take.

    Thanks for once again, coming to the rescue with another insightful post.
    Your “Blogger Buddy” :)


    • Jennifer Brown Banks ) says: 4/21/2010

      Thanks, Nikola. It’s folks like you that make blogging a “bodacious” experience for me!


  2. chrisd says: 4/21/2010

    Relevant advice. A writer friend gave me some good advice about giving critiques, which is relevant to this article. He uses the sandwich method.

    Say something positive, give the critique, honestly and kindly, followed by something postive that you may have liked about what was written. This works if there is a lot of honesty.

    Rejection is not easy but you can always learn something from it, especially if the reject-or gives some helpful comments for improvement.


    • Jennifer Brown Banks ) says: 4/21/2010


      I love this sandwich approach you refer to. Very useful info.
      Thanks for your comments today.


    • Marcie ) says: 4/22/2010

      I’m with Chrisd The sandwich method with honesty is definitely best. In this case, the person should be encouraged to keep practicing because it appears to be something he or she wants to do, and may be actually successful with practice.

      Mark is right about the blogging guidelines. That would save face for future submissions which would alleviate such uncomfortable situations.


      • Jennifer Brown Banks ) says: 4/22/2010


        Good clarification on these points. A combination of different methods can definitely work well.
        Thanks for your valuable input.


  3. Mark Thompson ) says: 4/21/2010

    Some really good tips. It definitely is hard to tell someone, thanks but no thanks.

    I always found it helpful to tell the guest blogger to take a look at some examples of previous guest posts, so they can see the style and quality.

    It may also be good to have a guidelines document, so they will make sure all of the formatting and best practices are implemented on their posts.

    However sometimes no matter what you tell them, it will never be up to your standards. I agree that you need to give constructive criticism and stay positive.


    • Jennifer Brown Banks ) says: 4/21/2010


      Thanks for your input. I agree that it’s a good idea to post guidelines. This can save everybody time and potential problems. I appreciate your thoughtful comments today.


  4. Robyn from Sam's Web Guide ) says: 4/21/2010

    Hey Jennifer,

    Thanks for answering the call to edify! :) Truly awesome tips for an often awkward scenario.

    The truth is though that rejection is a constant and normal part of life. Whether you are rich, poor or in between. As we try to save face when we have to reject a guest post, we should also be prepared to handle our own rejections as we aim higher up the ladder.

    Having the understanding that life goes on and there’s always something new to learn will help to deal with rejection and accept in the appropriate circumstances. So it all depends on a person’s perspective of life.

    Great post, keep writing :)


    • Jennifer Brown Banks ) says: 4/21/2010

      Thanks, Robyn. You make some very valid points here. With most rejections there is a valuable lesson imparted. Getting beyond it and growing from it is essential if we are to reach new heights.


  5. Jennifer Brown Banks ) says: 4/21/2010


    2nd point in above listing should read “start by” not “start my”.