Every day I get a bunch of emails offering free guest posts for Hypergrid Business. Hey, cool — I love getting free material. And even better yet, many of them are offering to pay me money to run their articles. Excellent! Everyone always accuses me of selling out — this is my chance to finally do it!
Then I read further down and it’s a story promoting some random gambling site or sketchy VPN company. Nothing will kill a site faster than running this type of junk.
The number of these emails keeps going up and up. I’ve started marketing them as spam and deleting them the minute I see “guest post” in the subject line.
What’s going on?
Turns out, as I found out yesterday, Hypergrid Business made a few lists. We made the list of Edge Search’s top tech blogs that accept guest posts. Lilach Bulloch has us as in her top twenty of tech blogs. Freelance Writing Gigs has us on their recommended list, and so does iGuestPost. and SEO Sandwitch Blog, and Blurb Geek, and Blog Heist, and Blog Talk Space — and that’s just the first couple of pages of Google results.
Anyway, I’m flattered, thank you to all the sites out there that think we’re up there with Wired and TechCrunch!
But I apologize to all the real writers whose legitimate writing offers get buried among all the spam. If I haven’t gotten back to you — please revise your email so that it looks more real and less spammy (read below to find out how) and resend.
Here’s what a spammy guest post email looks like:
That’s just a random one that I pulled out from this morning’s inbox. Some have better grammar and spelling, but the gist is usually the same.
So if you send me an email that just says that you like my site and are interested in writing for me and would like me to get back to you — well, you’ll be waiting for a very long time. Like, forever.
Here are a few points to consider before writing an email to me — or another editor — when pitching an article:
- Is your email full of lies? I don’t care if you’re a regular reader or not if you have an interesting article to contribute. Don’t try to start a relationship with me with an obvious lie like saying that you read my blog every day. I doubt even my biggest fans do — and I probably know all my biggest fans by name. OpenSim is a small community. If you lie, I’ll hit the “spam” button. You don’t want Google to think you’re a spammer, do you? I automatically delete any email that starts out with lies or flattery.
- Are you offering me money? We don’t accept any money either on Hypergrid Business or on our sister site, MetaStellar. A few years ago, I tried, but it turned out that it took way too much work to manage it. I’d rather keep the site free than deal with the hassle. If, in your email, you offer to pay me, I’ll mark it as spam and delete it.
- Is the article you’re pitching based on a Google search and some cutting-and-pasting? We all know how to use Google and can read Wikipedia. You’re not adding much value to the world if that’s all you do. What are you bringing to the table that’s unique and fresh? Do you have unique insights? Opinions? Expertise? Contacts? A unique sense of humor or style? If you don’t have any of those but want to have them, I’ll work with you. I love working with beginning writers. But be aware that you’ll need to add some value in order to get published. There are places that publish articles that have no value, “filler” articles. Newspapers used to put them on their back pages in to fill space between ads. Hardly anyone ever read them. Publications that have a high percentage of filler articles tend to go out of business quickly because they’re so useless. I once cancelled my Newsweek subscription when they started running a ton of sponsored stories, which are basically giant ads in story disguise. You get a couple of paragraphs in and suddenly feel a funny taste in your mouth and discover you’re reading an advertorial. Ughh. If you are pitching a filler article just to get your name out there, I’ll mark it as spam and delete it, and won’t see any more emails from you.
- Are you pitching a generic article about SEO or marketing? If so, please go away. We do run stories about marketing, but they have to be focused specifically on our readership. So, for example, we’d be interested in marketing advice specifically tailored for OpenSim grid owners. If you want to do a story on website design, you should be prepare to analyze the designs of OpenSim grid websites.
Here are some tips for writing a guest post email that I will pay attention to:
- Show you’re a real person. Real people — as opposed to spam bots — have social media profiles, LinkedIn pages, resumes, articles they’ve previously published. Include all of that.
- Talk about your personal experience with our subject matter. What OpenSim grids have you visited? What virtual reality devices do you own? What books, movies or TV shows about virtual reality have you seen? What VR games have you played? If you can’t answer any of these questions, you’re probably not a good fit for Hypergrid Business.
- Talk about your expertise. Do you know how to write OpenSim scripts? Do you know how to design a website? Do you know how to create a marketing campaign? Do you know how to build an online community? Do you know how to program a chatbot? Are you interested in developing expertise and are in the process of teaching yourself GiMP, or are taking an online course about AI and machine learning, or studying journalism, or watching YouTube tutorials about animation?
- Talk about your goals. Do you want to launch a career as a book, movie, or video game reviewer? As an enterprise tech journalist? Do you want to promote your services as a consultant, marketer, developer, or website designer? Do you want to promote your latest book? Those are all great goals, and we’ll help you accomplish them. We are happy to promote our contributors’ products, services, and companies if they’re of benefit to our community.
- Talk about the level of effort you’re willing to put in on articles. Are you willing to visit OpenSim grids and talk to residents? Are you willing to do email interviews with grid owners? Are you willing to try out products and test them out? Are you willing to watch movies or read books?
- Pitch some articles. We might not necessarily assign you one of the articles you pitch, but it will give us an idea of what you’re interested in.
And, finally, write a good email subject line. One that doesn’t look like it was written by a spam bot. Briefly tell me who you are, and what you want to do.
Here are some ideas:
- I’m an OSgrid resident and would like to write a tutorial about how to set up a free region on OSgrid
- I’m a beginning tech writer and would like to write some video game reviews
- I write LitRPG books and would like to write some reviews about other books in the genre
- I’m a huge sci-fi fan and would love to review movies and TV shows that have virtual reality in them
- I like playing with tech and would love to write VR headset reviews
- I’m a marketing expert, and would like to look at some of the top OpenSim grid websites and offer some hints for how to improve them
- I’m an AI expert, and would like to offer some tips on how to create free chatbots that you can use inside Second Life or OpenSim
- I like to travel and take pictures on the hypergrid and want to write how-to articles and travelogues
- I go to a lot of in-world music events on OpenSim grids and would like to interview the performers and write reviews for you
So, say you do all that, and you start writing articles for us.
What do you get out of it?
First of all — and this is the main reason why all those spammers keep trying to buy articles on our site — you get an in-bound link from Hypergrid Business, which has been averaging at a little under a million pageviews a year for the past few years. We have a good domain authority, good Alexa ranking, and are in Google News, which means that search engines consider inbound links from our site to be of high value.
In your author bio, at the bottom of each post, in addition to that in-bound link to your website, you can also promote your book, or service, or product, or Kitely Market store, or Steam game — whatever you like. You can link to your Amazon author page, your social media feeds, your mailing list subscription form, your YouTube channel, or your Patreon page. And you can change you bio at any time. So, for example, if you write ten articles for us this year, and you release a new book next year, then when the book comes out just email me and I’ll update your bio, and those ten old articles will now link to your book release page. Or maybe you plan to launch a new grid next year. You can spend this year writing how-to articles about OpenSim, or travelogues, or interviewing performers and fashion designers, and then next year, when you launch, update your bio and now you’ll have a bunch of inbound links to your grid’s website and you’ll get instant recognition by search engines. Plus, all those performers and fashion designers you interviewed and promoted might be grateful and help support your new grid.
Finally, you can start your tech journalism career with us. Before hiring you, editors want to see clips. We can assign you stories, edit them to Associated Press style, help you develop sources, teach you how to research and structure articles, and even help you set up a portfolio website. Then when you skills are at a professional level, I can introduce you to editors. Oh, and we have a freelance budget. So once you develop sources and start doing interviews, and your writing is good enough that it takes us less time to edit your article than it would have to write it ourselves, we will start paying you for your work. You won’t get rich, but you will start building a professional resume.
Oh, and we also accept guest posts at our sister website, MetaStellar, launched last fall. We publish original science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as reprints and book experts. But we also publish essays, book and movie reviews, and anything else of interest to speculative fiction fans. MetaStellar submission guidelines are here.
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