I get these occasionally:
I’ve been reading a few of your posts, and they’re really good – Your blog is really in depth, and it just so happens to be in the same industry as us. Which is why I’ve approached you for a guest post. Would you be willing to host a guest post on your website which is well written, researched and packed with information for your audience
If you would like to collaborate and hose a post useful for your audience please feel free to get back to me. I look forward to your reply.
Occasionally I respond. Not because I particularly want a guest writer, but because I hope that out there, somewhere, is a talented person trapped in a shitty job who will at least crack a brief smile upon reading my response. It also offers me a chance to ask, “what is MR&HBI?” because it actually is a difficult thing to define. Like the way ‘America’ is hard to define.
So I wrote back. I don’t always, but I have to admit I was curious to find out what industry I was in. And just now I noticed that the query message has a missing period. Would a robot commit an obvious grammatical error?
Anyway, I said:
I’m flattered that you’ve enjoyed my posts; it validates the over one million words I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you will now be joining the small but fiercely-loyal Order of the Muddled. (Note to self: Order of the Muddled merchandise. And a theme song. And a cool coat of arms. And a private-label scotch whiskey.)
I’ve never had a guest writer, although I have received offers like yours before. Unfortunately, up until now all those offers have come from robots — except the one recently that came from a thin-skinned jerk. So please forgive me if I jump to the conclusion that this mail came from the former, and please excuse yourself if you are the latter.
Likely there is no Betty, there is just a robot ready to pass any responses to this mail to someone willing to pretend to be Betty. That would be you, whoever is passed this response. Pretend Betty.
Going back to your original message, you have to admit that “in the same industry as us” is a pretty vague, robot-spammy thing to say. So first I think we need to figure out just what industry we are talking about here. I cover* a wide range of tech issues, focussing perhaps mainly on privacy, but I couldn’t say that’s what MR&HBI is actually about. The most recent episode was about dishwasher installation. Or ineptitude. Or something like that. OK fine, it was a list. But a list that told a story, if you squinted at it just right.
I picture you, Pretend Betty, as a student, or maybe an ex-pat living in Prague (ah, Prague!), getting paid slave wages to plant links in “guest posts” across the Web. I’ve actually known people like you, creative and ambitious, stuck in a rut but having to pay the rent. The challenge, Pretend Betty, your challenge, is to find a way to stretch your literary wings while still pleasing your spammer masters.
Well, Pretend Betty, here’s your chance. You can write about just about anything at MR&HBI (had you *actually* read any of my posts, you would know that). There are only two requirements: You have to believe it, and it has to be in your voice. Humor is welcome; if you can work your overlords’ links into your submission in a fun and playful way all the better. Art trumps substance. Voice trumps art. Storytelling trumps all.
Safe to say, substance is not a priority at Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas. Just so you know, it will have to be pretty good writing for me to make space for you here. Much better than my own writing — if I had to please an editor each episode, there would only be a fraction of the words on this site.
There it is, Pretend Betty. Your chance**. I eagerly await your response.
* “cover” is a nice way to say “rant about”
** “chance” is a shorthand way to say “opportunity to have some fun and maybe get published in the backwaters of the forgotten blogosphere to the benefit of no one”