As someone who has been a guest blogger on approximately 80 different blogs, I feel as though I’ve seen it all when it comes to feedback. I have been asked to create an outline, articles have been sent back to me full of red and purple markings, articles have been completely ignored, and some of my articles have received nothing but a “no thank you” (no name, not greeting, just those three little words). As a writer, I have personal preferences as to how I think feedback should be handled. However, I also work on the flip side—I run a blog that accepts guests posts and I am constantly in a position to give feedback. Oddly enough, the way I give feedback to guest bloggers as an editor and the way I want to get feedback as a writer are completely different.
As a writer, I like it when an editor just tells me in one sentence why my article doesn’t work for their blog so I can send it somewhere else. I am not interested in seeing the hundreds of little comments an editor makes. If they have an idea about something that could make the article better then that’s great, but in general I am interested in getting my articles posted in a timely fashion. I am not offended (usually) if an editor doesn’t like my article, I will just try better next time.
However, it can be confusing when it comes time to give feedback on a hopeful blog article. There are a variety of things that can go wrong:
- The writer completely ignored your guidelines regarding topic, length, and tone
- The writer’s article has some good points, but the grammar wasn’t up to par
- The article is not developed enough for your blog
- The article discusses incorrect information
- The article is well written, but is too controversial for your blog
So what is the proper feedback etiquette? Unfortunately, there is no “right way” to give feedback to guest bloggers. As I stated above, I have received feedback in all forms. However, you take different risks with whatever type of feedback you decide to give. Consider some of the ways you can give feedback to bloggers and then consider some of the pros and cons to each before deciding how you want to approach feedback:
Top 3 Ways Editors Give Feedback to Guest Bloggers
1. Mark up their article so it’s just the way you want it.
Pros: Well, you will have an article just the way you want it. You will make sure that the vision of your blog remains intact despite the other voices adding in their two cents. This will also allow you to remain positive when talking with bloggers. Although some writers may get annoyed with the many revision requests, no writer will dislike you or your blog for it. This creates a positive environment overall.
Cons: This often takes a ton of time. The more guest blogs you get the more difficult it will be to keep up with the work. While most editors don’t mind the work if it means there will be a good result, there is always the risk that the writer will look at the revisions and say forget it. You have then spent a great deal of time improving the article of that writer (at least in your eyes), and get nothing in return.
2. Tell them only reasons why you will not be able to use the article.
Pros: This is a good mix between giving a writer a lot of information and getting to the basics. This generally works well if someone ignored your guidelines or was off-topic in any way. They should understand, and you did not spend hours trying to “save” the article.
Cons: You could find yourself with a lot of follow-up emails. A lot of writers try and then fix the article themselves, which can be risky. If the author didn’t understand why you didn’t like the article in the first place, and then you have to turn it down a second time, you’re not going to be much liked. These authors might also continually try to post an article on your site (in some cases just for the link), so you may end up spending more time reading several articles than if you were to edit just one.
3. Be extremely brief, but polite.
Pros: This is the fastest option when giving “feedback.” You get right to the point, and chances are people will not follow-up. If they get back nothing more than a “not right now, thanks,” then nine times out of ten they aren’t going to come crawling back. You get your point across and save time.
Cons: Writers generally do not appreciate this. It can be seen as a brush-off, so they will have no interest in guest posting for you in the future. You could potentially lose a reader if they feel offended, and you could be missing out on some great content that would have otherwise come your way.
The most important thing to remember when giving feedback is to be polite. No matter how much you dislike the article, remember that someone put a lot of effort into writing it for your site. There are ways to be kind and not accepting a guest post. Other than that, it’s entirely up to the editor to weigh the pros and the cons. There are risks that go along with every approach, so it’s up to you to decide what it worth the risk.
Have you ever had to give feedback to a potential guest blogger? How did you handle the situation?
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Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to government small business loans. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including document software to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business information directory, Business.com.