As promised in my newsletter, here comes the post about guest blogging.
I have never addressed this until now because it has always worked organically, but I’ve started receiving more and more requests from storytellers to write on mentorless.com, and if I always welcome the idea of sharing this space, I am also realizing that many key points I consider basics behavior to display when you contact a blog owner might not be that basic.
If you have written to me in the past about guest blogging, you know I not only take the time to read your email, check the links you send, and reply back, but I also always try to put something helpful in it for you if I had to pass, so you can either come back with a pitch more suited for the site, or raise your chances when you contact another blog.
So I do care, and I do spend a lot of time on those emails because being professional and polite are two fundamentals values I deeply believe in.
And here I just gave you the answers to make it on my blog:
BE PROFESSIONAL and BE POLITE
Crazy stuff right here! Oh yes, these two values are not dead, at least not on this site. Here is a list of elements that will raise your chances to have me say yes. Some of them are very small in my grid of judging your email, some I consider fundamentals.
Just to clarify, to me being professional has nothing to do with power or rank. It’s a mindset. It means being consistent in your work ethic, no matter who you talk to and how important you think they are. As a ripple effect, it means always thriving to be the best version of yourself to save people’s time and make things move forward in a healthy and positive way. You can be 16 and be extremely professional, or 45 and being the less professional person on a Continent.
So, without further ado:
HOW TO ENHANCE YOUR CHANCE OF GUEST BLOGGING ON MENTORLESS
1 – Use My Name
I am the only person running this site, and it takes about 30 seconds to discover that, you just have to go on the about section where you will find my name! So even if you don’t read my blog diligently, and maybe just found it online while trying to find blogs to contact, at least make the effort to pretend that you care. ‘Hey there!‘ is just not going to cut it.
I will still read your email, and might let you share your story, but the fact is: amazing storytellers pay attention to details. And this type of behavior is telling of exactly that.
2- Spell My Name Correctly
Guess what my name is? Nathalie. Oh. My. God. SO EXOTIC!!!!
Interestingly enough, my name has never been misspelled until I started living in America (and I have lived in five countries so far). There is an H between Nat and alie. It’s on my Twitter, it’s on my about section and it’s at the end of every newsletter I send on Sunday.
This happen so often that it won’t be a deal breaker, but again, it just shows your attention to details. And again, we are in the business of telling stories with nuances here.
3- Do Your Research
So you want to write on my blog? That’s great, I’d love for you to write on my blog! But please, do your research.
See what type of things I share, how I share them and what guest posts I have had so far. And if you really do that, mention that you’ve done that! Many people don’t check anything, some people say ‘I love your blog!‘ or ‘I read your blog!’ but the number of people who are being specific about the content on my site? Low.
And this might sound like an ego trip, and that’s because it is. Part of being professional is recognizing the value in your interlocutor and knowing how to show it. If you ask me to help you (because that’s basically what you’re asking for, me to land you my site I’m spending hundreds of hours per year on, to collect money and expand your audience), be professional enough to treat my work as something you respect.
4 – Be Realistic
I don’t need to love your work to share it. I have very specific tastes, and I don’t think that me not “loving” your work means that your work doesn’t deserved to be shared and seen by others.
But you have to be realistic.
Don’t send me videos with terrible sound and/or image quality telling me you could share your experience with my readers.
No. This just won’t happen.
I recently had that situation, and that put us both in a very uncomfortable position. Saying no is unpleasant, and hearing it is too. Why would you do that to yourself, and why would you do that to me?
It’s ok to produce something technically shitty, we’ve all done it. That’s just the GAP. And I don’t care about lens flares and filming on the RED, but there is a minimum here, your sound needs to be synched and your image not pixelated for me to be able to enter your story.
5 – Be Creative
Ok great, but what if you don’t have a work you feel comfortable sharing yet, and you don’t feel you have this personal experience that would make a difference on a blog post?
Well, look at this blog! 95% of the content is me sharing knowledge I gathered from other professionals and that has helped me become a better storyteller in the 21st century.
The real smart move is to email me when you don’t need to raise money for a campaign, and when you are not asking for anything but to create connections with me and my readers, offering to share knowledge.
I am actually shocked to see that nobody does that in a genuine way. Yes we all want to promote our work, but if you look at the big picture and you really consider storytelling as a career, there is no reason for you to wait to start connecting with peers and a potential audience.
What prevents you from pitching me a topic that fits this site’s editorial line? Nothing. Literally nothing.
6 – Be Graceful
Something very important to understand in this business is that it is a small world, even on a global scale, and the clock goes round.
Ever noticed that we rarely hear of any scandals or dissention in the film business while films are made? That’s because people know they might need, or meet these people again. I know because I’ve had my share of f***ed up situations that would make for juicy stories, but you don’t hear me talk about it publicly.
So when I say no to you, or if I give you notes on your article: as long as I’m being polite, even if it’s hard to hear, be polite too! Answer back and say thank you. Seriously.
I am very sensitive to rudeness, especially when people take my Time for granted. And Time is the thing I value the most in life. You might think we’ll never meet again and that it’s fine not to answer back, but it’s not. And maybe I’ll always be an idiotic bitch behind her computer writing with a half-baked English, but maybe I won’t, and if I were you, I would just be nice as long and as often as you can. That’s simply the safest and most pleasant way to move forward in life.
7 – Connect
I am easy to find on Internet. I am very active on my Twitter account, I have a Facebook Page and comments are enabled on the site. So before emailing me, consider connecting with me by participating to the site’s life.
Again, that’s just a nice way to show that you do care about the site’s community and that you’re not just here to pimp your butt and disappear once it’s done.
That also means that if you write on any site and go M.I.A. afterwards, you are sending the wrong message.
8 – You Don’t Need to Have a BA in English
I am French. When I started this site, my English writing skills were… fragile, to put it nicely. It took me hours to write my very first post, it was a 100 words long and talked about me being scared. Cute.
And then for the next year, it took me a ridiculous amount of time to write about anything. After almost three years, I feel I’m just starting to enter a space where I can write longer posts (proof!) and yet, I know I still make grammatical mistakes, that I use to many adverbs and [insert third flaw that must exist but I can’t think of at the moment].
Interestingly enough, no one has ever be mean to me about that. A few times people with a good English level would shoot me an email, tweet me or comment on Facebook to say ‘Hey, there’s a typo/something-else here’ and I would apologize and correct it. And that’s awesome of them to take time doing that.
My point is: I know what it feels to write in a language that isn’t yours, it’s scary, it’s frustrating, you sometimes feel like an idiot, but all these things are obstacles that can be overcome.
You just need to work 10 times more on your skills that the next person. Ta-dah. So just don’t rule out the idea of writing an article because you are not native. And that also applies for native English speakers who have been told they are not good writers. Shut down the inner voice that belittles you, if I can do it, you can do it. Seriously.
I also care more about content, than style. Have the content, and the rest will work itself out. (Although, remember: be realistic! If reading this post is challenging for you and you can’t write a sentence in English, work on your skills before contacting me -aka be professional.)
This might seems counterintuitive after I’ve said that misspelling my name is a red flag, but I consider these matters two very different things. You just need to open your eyes to see how my name is spelled. It’s a whole other story to write 200, 500 or 1,000 words in a language that isn’t yours.
Which brings me to my next point:
9- Women, Introverts and Members of Minorities: PLEASE RISE!
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a member of these three groups: I am 100% woman, 200% introvert and %50 part of a minority (I’m a second generation immigrant kid with a French passport, hence the %50. I definitely gained bonus points with this one.)
So I CARE about these three groups and yet, the majority of my blog is about and from white males, and that is something I am not happy with.
I have received ONE email from a woman filmmaker asking to write a guest blog on mentorless, from Lena Khan, and she killed it from day one. She also was the most pro of all, she was extremely efficient, she provided one of the most useful guest blog I’ve had, and since then, she has gone through with shooting her first feature film. Go girl!
But seriously: one woman director?
I can’t tell you how much it frustrates me that women are not contacting me, but then one day I realized that part of the problem is that it’s just not how most of us have been wired to think. We don’t think the world is here for us to take and use. And I love that about women. I do believe that the world is not here for us to shit on to make more dollars. But I also see how it penalizes us not to feel entitled, because we don’t go for simple stuff like: write to a site and offer to write a blog post because we believe we have stuff to offer! Oh, and before you jump on my throat outraged: I am not saying that all men are entitled assholes -read my blog- or that no women have enough personality to be strong -read my blog+ I am a woman. It’s hard to be subtle in three sentences, but I need to start this conversation somehow, so please, let’s converse.
As an immigrant kid I’ve also been told not to make waves because there is this untold notion that you are here as a favor, and you need to prove that you deserve the chance you’ve been given. And I know many immigrant kids have been raised like that. I don’t blame our parents: when you live in a country that is not yours, you do not want to make waves. But I am second generation, and if you are too: it’s time to make some waves and more noise in a constructive and inspiring way! Write blog posts!
As for the introverts’ group: my 200% peers, I feel you. But just try. It will suck up some of your precious energy, but this world needs to hear from you too.
There are so many stories that needs to be heard, and if you want to be the one to tell them, you need to start putting yourself out there.
Last but not least, if we happen to work together:
10 – Keep Being a Pro
Once you’re in, and you get to write your article: please make my life easier.
Don’t make me have three times more work than if I had to write my own articles. Attach pictures that are NOT 5Mo each and that I will have to resize, put links within your article, (I shouldn’t have to do that for you!) try to link to some content that comes from my site, that’s a nice touch.
Ask questions if you have doubts, I’m always available to answer.
When your article is published… don’t just count on my social accounts to spread your work (yes, this has happened). Keep working!
And don’t disappear if you change your mind!
This too has happened and it didn’t rank well on my black list. If you can’t write for X or Y reason, and that might just be a reason as simple as ‘I’m freaking out at the idea of writing a guest post!’, just tell me. We are not curing cancer here, I’ll survive, and so will the rest of the world. But don’t go M.I.A, and then fall in the rude and unprofessional category. That’s just too much.
Ok. I didn’t realize I had so much to say about this matter until I started writing this post.
My hope is that this won’t discourage you to reach out but will, au contraire, empower you to email me to write on this blog or on any other blog.
When you look closely, these are all very simple tips that can be narrowed down to two main concepts: be polite and be professional. I believe many tips are valid for contacting any sites where you would like to start guest blogging.
And if you’re still here, I also recommend you read Sean Ogle’s post on the matter. He is on the business side of the blog spectrum and cover other aspect of pitching to write a guest post that might be useful for you online life in general. His post is what made me realized I should write one too, so check it out, great additional content.
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Mentorless is a blog for indie filmmakers, storytellers & storymakers with a diy spirit to find tips and nurture their craft and creativity. Read more