RM recently emailed me:
“Bob, we are simply amazed with your writing style and would want
you to be a part of our community.
“I’m the Head of Marketing at XYZ Marketers. We are building a
community of Marketers.”
“Information that you provide through your blogs could be crucial
for the marketers, businesses, and brands coming to our site
trying to increase their brand exposure.
“We would like to invite you to guest blog. Guest Blogging with
Passionate Marketers will provide you an opportunity to showcase
your thought leadership in the industry.
“As with your informative and insightful content, you will not
only provide value to the new audience, but will establish trust
“We believe the learning curve in a community is always high.
Looking forward to hear from you.”
RM actually thought he was flattering me — rather than insulting
me — by asking me to do for him for free what others pay me a
lot of money to do: write.
So I instantly emailed back a polite “thanks but no thanks.”
The reason I bring this up is: most solopreneurs, self-employed
professionals, freelance writers, consultants, and others in our
boat get requests like this quite frequently.
And if you are typical, you may struggle with how to respond …
… and whether to actually accept and do as asked — whether it’s to
write a guest post for a blog … or be interviewed on a podcast …
or allow one of your articles to be reprinted in someone else’s
e-newsletter or on their website — always, of course, with no
offer of pay.
To help you out in these situations, here are 5 simple questions
you can ask yourself to make quick and smart decisions about
requests for free contributions of your time, expertise, or other
things of value that people want without paying you for it:
RM was with a blog and a company I never heard of.
I wouldn’t even write a free article for the Wall Street Journal.
I am certainly not going to do it for a blog I never heard of
that, for all I know, has 3 readers.
Do they have more than 3?
I don’t know.
Because RM didn’t think the size of his audience was worth
mentioning when he made his request.
And even if he told me, how do I know I can trust that number?
Would you run a paid ad in a magazine or a banner on a website
without knowing the magazine’s circulation or the site’s monthly
No. Then why would you write for a blog or website with no clue
of how big the audience is?
#2–What’s the benefit?
So RM is going to help me “showcase my thought leadership”?
Forgive me for not swooning from the excitement.
#3–Do I need the benefit?
So let’s say the benefit is showcasing my thought leadership.
With speaking engagements for some of the biggest corporations
and most prestigious organizations in the world … and 95 books
published … is getting more PR something I really need at this
#4–What’s the ROTI?
ROTI is “return on time invested.”
If I make, say, $300 an hour as a writer, and it takes me 2 hours
to write a guest post, it costs me $600.
Will my post on the XYZ blog make me at least twice that —
$1,200 in orders for my services or products?
If not — pass.
#5–Who owns the content?
Say by some chance your answers to questions #1 through #4 above
line up and say, “Do it!”
Then at least let RM know that you own all rights to your
And just to be sure, type the words “first rights only” at the
top of page one of your manuscript.
Because in today’s marketplace of commerce and ideas, your
content collection is a goldmine.
And you only let others borrow your treasure. You never give it