9 Ways To Piss Off A Contributor

In Tips & Tricks by Susan Maccarelli | | 12 Comments

9 Ways To Piss Off A Contributor: We solicited feedback from many bloggers who are contributing to online magazines and websites, and this is what they said:

Beyond Your Blog recently published an article called 14 Ways To Piss Off An Editor.  In it, we detailed several of the contributor behaviors that irritate editors.  Now, we’re giving bloggers a chance to share some of their pet peeves about websites they are contributing to.

9 Ways To Piss Off A Contributor: We solicited feedback from many bloggers who are contributing to online magazines and websites, and this is what they said:

We solicited feedback from many bloggers who are contributing to online magazines and websites, and this is what they said:

1.  Mistakes In The Bio

Spelling an author’s name wrong, forgetting or putting in incorrect social media links, or, in one case, putting in a bio for the wrong author, are all big disappointments for bloggers.  When a site promises exposure and traffic instead of payment, getting the bio information correct is critical for the contributor to have a good experience.

2.  Social Media Faux Pas

When promoting a contributor’s writing, please, PLEASE tag them!  While contributors should be following a site’s social media, it can be time-consuming to check Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. all day long to see if a site has posted a promotion of your piece that you should be sharing, commenting on etc.  One contributor had a site tag the wrong author in a Tweet and we’ve also seen typos in social media promotion, which don’t add to share-ability or professionalism.

3.  Poor Promotion

If you’re offering exposure in lieu of payment, contributors are looking for promotion via social media or other means (newsletters etc.).  Sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other sites is appreciated, and considered good host site etiquette.  Expecting the contributor to be the only one promoting, is not.

4.  Over Editing

This is a touchy one.  While a writer needs to trust that the editor knows their audience best, some contributors mentioned being irritated when a site edits their voice out of a piece completely without allowing for review.

5.  Crickets

Not hearing back from editors is a particularly big thorn in the side of contributors.  While no one likes being rejected, a rejection email is preferred over no contact at all.  Contributors also like getting an automated response letting them know the submission was received so they don’t have to play ‘what if’ games in their mind about it being lost in cyber space.  If rejection notices are not given, providing a timeframe for when a blogger can expect an acceptance/assume a rejection is very helpful.   This allows a contributor to move on and submit elsewhere if they haven’t heard, without worrying about having duplicate active submissions out there.

6.  Technical Issues With Submissions

Broken links or error messages with submission forms are a pain.  This is especially true when the site has no trouble with blasting the contributor with daily automated content emails, but is unresponsive to inquiries about their broken submission process.

7.  Scheduling Confusion

This may be the top complaint from contributors.  For the love of all that is holy, TELL US WHEN YOU ARE PUBLISHING OUR POST, or at least provide a small ballpark window of time.  This not only helps the contributor know when to promote it, but it allows us to practice good etiquette like setting aside time to promote it via social media, prepare and publish a teaser post, update our ‘Featured Writing’ pages etc.  Many bloggers use a teaser post as their scheduled post on their blog calendar, and it helps to plan content when you know the date that your feature is going live.  When a blogger expects a lot of traffic from a post, they may also want to post something special on their home page on the day a post goes live, and it certainly helps to have a heads up.  The worst offending sites never respond that the piece has been accepted and the only way a contributor knows is to stumble across it or hear about it from a friend.   In one case a blogger was told ‘a few weeks’ only to check back in a few weeks and find that it had been posted nearly 2 weeks prior!

8.  No Badge

Contributors are typically excited about being featured on the sites they submit to, and they want that badge in their sidebar, showing that they are a contributor.  Sites that don’t have badges at all or make you dig and beg for them can get annoying.

9.  No Point of Contact

Sites that email you from a mystery submissions address letting you know you’ve been accepted can be frustrating.  If you have any issues or questions about your submission, you have no way to reach a human and problems can arise.

On the flip side, we received lots of feedback on the types of host site behaviors contributors love to see  (and ARE seeing!).  Here are just a few.  Sites that:

  • Provide a chance to review the edited piece before it goes live
  • Tag the contributor in social media
  • Send a yes or no response within the timeline stated in submission guidelines
  • Are responsive and provide an email (for a human), for contributors to address questions or concerns to once writing has been accepted
  • Send a badge and publication date as well as any promotion expectations after a piece has been accepted

RELATED: 14 Ways To Piss Off An Editor

We know that not every site has the staff or time for these nice-to-haves in their process, but hopefully some editors will find this helpful in working with contributors.  Now that both bloggers and editors have vented, let’s go forth and submit happily!


About the Author

Susan Maccarelli

Susan Maccarelli is the creator of Beyond Your Blog, a site helping bloggers successfully submit their writing for publishing opportunities beyond their personal blogs. She also offers online training and consulting to new bloggers looking for direction on submitting their writing for publication. Susan has interviewed dozens of editors from publications like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Brain, Child, Chicken Soup For The Soul, The Washington Post, and speaks at many respected writing and blogging conferences.

12 Comments on “9 Ways To Piss Off A Contributor”

  1. Good feedback, Susan! I think it’s great that both sides of the fence are represented in these two posts. I definitely can and will strive to improve in several of these areas. One thing I do want to say though about tagging authors is that the Facebook thing is a little tricky. Facebook penalizes us (by showing our posts to fewer people) if we tag smaller pages. That’s why I don’t tag in my FB posts — to maximize the exposure of the piece. If the writing is good, readers will follow a writer from the links in the bio on the blog post…but my first goal is to drive readers to the piece itself. I hope that makes sense.

    1. Hi Leslie —
      Thank you for sharing your experience. I always find Susan’s writing very helpful, but it is an added bonus to have an explanation from an actual editor. I think that most of us can understand and appreciate where you’re coming from now that we have the insight. Facebook’s algorithms are ever in flux and not always helpful. As a new(er) blogger with a MUCH smaller following I think I would rather not be tagged in the host site’s post in order to increase overall exposure for the piece — especially if the actual post were to include links to my actual blog and possibly my social media accounts as well.

      Thanks again for the bonus input.

      1. Thank you Joanne! My pleasure. I just love what Susan is doing here. She’s providing such a valuable service for writers and editors alike. I also freelance on the side and got my foot in the door at ITPR as a writer, so I definitely know and appreciate what you are experiencing during the submission and publishing process. It’s great that we can have an open dialogue here and work together to improve all our practices. Love that!

  2. Thanks for sharing these. I’ve already encountered three of them in my short blogging career (coming up on six months). It’s such an exciting thing to get a publication, and so disappointing when there are then technical issues or other glitches along the way.

  3. I was just about to jump in to comment about the Facebook tag and I see Leslie already did it. *high five*

    Overall, I would like to add this isn’t an Editors v. Bloggers world. We are here to celebrate your work and want our contributors to feel that the relationship is symbiotic.

    We are in the business of finding extraordinary content and sharing it. I always appreciate keeping dialogue open with our contributors and having them contact us with concerns so myths can be dispelled and issues resolved. Frequently, “issues” are just misunderstandings or human errors that we quickly fix.

    Thanks for this post Susan, I am sharing it with the team at BonBon Break and we will be discussing the points you made at our next meeting.

    1. Thanks Val! Hopefully by sharing vents, both sides can better see the other’s point of view and make the process smoother for everyone. If I were tagged on Twitter (which I don’t think dings you for tagging), I would automatically go check Facebook, so tagging somewhere kind of lets the contributor know to check the other places. Cheers!

      1. That brings up such a great point Susan! We don’t usually share on all of the channels the day that the post goes up, we spread it on the various channels over the course of the week. Definitely good food for thought. Thanks again for providing a place to “get it all out”. Beyond Your Blog has turned into a great resource for bloggers and editors alike.

  4. Yes to #1 and #2 especially! #1 happened to me recently and even though I was still thrilled to be on that site, I was so disappointed that potential new readers were clicking on a broken link to my blog! Thanks for sharing these and the article about how to “piss off an editor!”

  5. As a writer, I know that it is nice to have an exact date. But as an editor, I have to tell you that sometimes it is next to impossible to give one. In a perfect world, everyone would have everything done on time, and all would run smoothly. Since this is not a perfect world, and I have to pull teeth regularly to get material submitted on time, it does not come down to whether you, as one single writer, have done everything correctly for your own post, but rather, whether another writer has not for his own. I have to pull and shift around things daily to make up for people who haven’t submitted what they should or have decided not to answer emails this week. If I give an author a date, it would likely change ten times before the post actually got posted — for no fault of yours, most likely, but probably of someone else’s having nothing to do with your post, other than my having to rearrange everything when one single thing falls through. So, it’s not always so simple as we’d like it to be. It would be worse to give a writer ten different dates, changing it frequently, than to give him no date at all. I try to have our blog posts completely set by four days out, to give three or four days’ warning to the authors … but I chew my fingertips off at last-minute posts and changes nearly daily.

  6. One of mine is a blog I recently stopped writing for. The contributor was always noted as “One of our readers sent this story into us”…or “One of our members sent this into us”. I expect proper acknowledgment as another blogger if I’m going to write for you for free – no matter how big your blog is. It is just common respect.

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