How we treat people determines whether they like us and want to do business with us – or they walk away in disgust never to return or even badmouth us to others. Most of the time they will never tell you why they left. Over time, your business will lose more and more people. If you’re growing fast enough you may not even notice.
You can not easily tell whether they just got busy and faded away,
or they don’t need you any more, or it is something you did.
There are far too many common business practices that are a slap in the face to your customers so hurtful that they will leave and never come back – if you’re lucky. If you are not so fortunate, they will tell everyone they know how you treated them. They might even blog about it or lead a boycott.
Here are the top three really serious mistakes most people keep making. I strongly encourage you to think about how YOU would feel if you were on the receiving end of what you are doing. If you have a really thick skin, ask someone you trust who is more sensitive for their reaction.
1) NOT RESPECTING YOUR CONTRIBUTORS
Contrary to what many people seem to think, there is not only ONE way to do anything. We can NOT read your mind. Every single site is different and how they apply policies they put in writing is all over the map.
You can NOT expect your contributors – whether they are commenting in your blog or forum or submitting original content to know how you will feel about it. They can not submit what you want if they don’t know what that is.
An excellent example of the best group blog is Business2Community because they DO have written guidelines.
Recently it looked like they had marked a post Do Not Publish for any reason and it appeared that they deleted it with zero feedback – (but they didn’t).I saw this message when I clicked into my post:
“Hi there. Our editors have marked this post as Do Not Publish. We are occasionally forced to pass over great content for a number of reasons, including but not limited to word count and fluctuations in daily topic trends. Please do not change the category settings on this page or resubmit this post.”
I reached out to their Managing Editor Renee DeCoskey because I needed to know if that is how they actually manage submissions, or if there was some technical glitch that made the post disappear. It was a problem with the Internet – I’m seeing many issues including clicking edit on existing content and having some of it missing; retrying later and it is back.
[IMPORTANT UPDATE: Business2Community does NOT delete posts; the issue I saw was a technical glitch which I believe is not even on their site. Many strange goings-on across the Internet and particularly in Texas lately. We must always verify what happened and not assume what it looks like is what it really is!]
You know that feeling you get when you’ve worked for many hours on a project
and just when you get it exactly the way you want it - you lose it all?
You don’t know whether to scream, cry, throw up or all three?
That is exactly the feeling I got when my post went missing!
Editors may not realize how much thought and time we put into writing for their site. First we have to think of the best angle we feel will interest their readers. Then it can take a long time to find the perfect image and add mouseover text and fill in all the optional fields, search for supporting stats and graphs, and add links with descriptive text.
UPDATE: I heard back from the fine folks at Business2Community and they do NOT
delete submitted posts. They even offer feedback if your post is close, but not quite what they need to get you published. If you are a serious blogger, they have my recommendation as a site really worth your time. See how to become a contributor to Business2Community.
EDITING IS A TOUGH GIG
Being an editor is one of the toughest jobs there is because you have to balance what the site you edit needs and what their readers want with what your contributors have to offer. The best sites are training grounds for future leaders whose pens are mightier than swords.
If you’re a writer, I encourage you to do your best to take constructive criticism as well as you can without feeling attacked. The only way you can hone your skills is by learning from those with more experience than you. When we write for a site, we have to follow their guidelines – even if we do not agree with them. When you write on your own site, you can do things your way.
If you’re an editor, I hope that you will be as kind as you can while still being effective. We all started out beginners and not everyone will become a Jon Morrow or a Charles Fishman. Your contributors can grow their skills with your tutelage and mentorship more than they can from criticism.
Even though it will be extra work and finding an app that will save posts without adding extraneous formatting has been a challenge, losing a post I spent many hours on to make sure it deserved to be published is a lesson learned the hard way.
It is their prerogative to only publish what works for them. Editors must have editorial leeway to choose the best content so that they can maintain high quality for their readers and advertisers.
But to delete someone’s hard work that they spent hours creating specifically
for your site is the epitomy of disrepect for their time and talents.
The highest quality regular contributors have deadlines to meet and your site is the beneficiary of content they need to publish for clients or because they have something they believe is so important they are willing to write about it for your site instead of doing paid work. Either way, if you delete their content you have slapped them in the face.
Do not expect your contributors to submit content into a vacuum.
If you publish contributions you must provide feedback or
over time you will go begging for quality writers as they
decide they aren’t willing to be disrespected by you.
I will be be a regular contributor to Business2Community and add their contributor badge to blogs I manage, because they care about their contributors and their readers.
If you are submitting content anywhere be sure to save a copy!
I don’t mind a site declining a submission – but some sites do
delete posts and technical problems can cause them to be
lost due to hackers, server failures or Internet issues.
2) REFUSING TO LET YOUR READERS INTERACT WITH YOU
Bloggers are by and large so consumed with keeping spam out that they delete almost all the real comments they get. Some do this because they’re terrified of Google and others because they care more about their image than their readers.
When you delete someone’s comment you’re telling them they don’t matter. Refusing to let your readers have a voice because their English isn’t perfect enough for you or they didn’t have anything you felt was profound enough to say is elitist and rude.
Deleting your readers’ comments is like having a store with a guard at the door
who interrogates potential customers before you let them in to buy.
If a site deletes my comments I don’t come back. I don’t read it and because I don’t read it, with rare exception I don’t link to it or share it, either. Your readers are not all writers. They don’t express themselves like George Bernard Shaw or have the insights of Mark Twain. That does NOT mean you should not let them have their say.
I encourage bloggers to read For Bloggers Who Hate Comment Spam because what YOU think spam is may not be spam at all. If you’re using Akismet, make sure you configure Aksimet to not delete comments you never see. Better yet, use the GrowMap anti-spambot plugin (G.A.S.P.) to block the bots Akismet lets flood your blog and make sure you aren’t deleting the real commenters.
Anyone who comments regularly will end up flagged as a spammer by Akismet!
Do not let Akismet censor your best commenters.
GASP blocks 96% of spam in GrowMap.
We were getting 1000+ spam comments a day until we installed it
and spam dropped to about 40 a day.
3) MAKING IT TOO HARD TO CONTACT YOU
If you run a site or group blog that accepts contributions, you must provide a way for your contributors to get answers to their questions or they will not write for you. Some of the largest sites are the biggest issue.
I am approved to write for Technorati, but try finding the page where you actually submit a guest post. I know someone who writes there regularly, so I can find out from him. Good thing, because they have not responded to any request sent using any channel. What will writers who don’t know someone to ask do? (Not write.)
I knew the Editor at Adotas several editors ago. He loved my content and featured both articles I submitted on their home page. His replacement was receptive, but the new Editor has not responded to repeated attempts to contact him.
You can not expect to get exactly the content you most want if contributors
are not able to get in touch with you. Yes, I know you’re busy, but making time
for quality writers will provide you with more, better, and consistent content.
I believe it is worth it. If I am not your cup of tea, that’s fine.
But don’t ignore ALL the writers you might appreciate!
Any site that accepts content should provide:
- Clear guidelines. The guidelines at Business2Community and EntrepreneurReview are good examples.
- A method to ask questions and get answers.
- Feedback so that contributors can improve their submissions.
It seems to be human nature to believe that everyone knows what quality writing is and prefers articles written in one specific way. That is untrue. If you don’t believe me, do a survey or make changes to an existing well-liked site and note the flurry of complaints you will get because you changed it.
Sites have different purposes and different styles. Their editors and owners have different beliefs. Often, what is most useful is less polished. I have no doubt that the sites who are very concerned with what others will think find my way of highlighting key concepts in blog posts gaudy.
While they don’t look as polished, they are more beneficial to more people. It is my choice to trade appearances for substance. The colored boxes and text allow very busy people to skim the post quickly and know where to save it for future reference. It makes it easier for people unfamiliar with the topic to grasp the basics.
Most of all, it allows readers to quickly find the section they need without reading the entire post again or trying to search when you don’t know exactly what words to use. So I gladly trade “sophisticated” for “useful” because providing my readers with what they need to be successful is more important to me than impressing anyone.
ARE YOU WELCOMING OR DRIVING PEOPLE AWAY?
I often get asked why GrowMap has so many comments – especially by owners of more “respectable” sites. The answer is that I believe all people deserve to be heard. No one has exactly the same talents. Not everyone is a writer. That does not mean they don’t have anything important to share.
Those who believe that people who can’t spell or whose grammar is not perfect
too quickly dismiss the wisdom that could have benefited them. Business
experience is more valuable than perfect spelling or grammar.
“The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool
learns from the wise man.” ~ Marcus Aurelius ~
I encourage writers to contact me about making you a regular contributor on the many sites I edit or being recommended for paid work. You will be respected, your original posts will never simply be deleted, and you will receive feedback, mentoring, and connect with other writers in our collaborations. Skype is the best way to reach me – I’m the only growmap there. Other methods are listed on the contact tab.
Save this post and send it to sites that disrepect you.
Together we can get them to understand.