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Saying No is Not as Easy as it Sounds

I am having a hard time saying no. But, I believe that I need to start saying no in order to achieve more in life.

It’s not just about blogging. But, it’s a lot easier to use blogging as an example.

I have given this some thought, not a whole lot, but I have giving this some thought while I was on vacation in Italy. And, I have read some really interesting posts lately, that are sort of related to my predicament – especially the one from Bill Dorman about the virtual love fest that’s been going on (but not anymore), and the one from Adrienne Smith about her new commenting rules.

Saying no is not as easy as it sounds. But, it’s not why I gave money to a beggar.

What’s happening to me?

Lately, I have been receiving a ton of emails. It’s not just spam, or emails from all the lists I’m still subscribed to. I’m actually receiving a lot of personal emails. So, you probably understand what happened when I was offline for 14 days while I was away on vacation. I am still doing my best to reply to all the emails.

It’s actually a good thing. I really enjoy reading emails, and especially from people who are looking for advice, or who’re giving me comments on something I’ve written. I really love feedback.

I don’t really have any problems with emails. It takes time, and people who are contacting me might not get a reply in less than 24 hours any more, but as long as they tolerate a delay, there are no problems at all.

But, I am receiving a lot of guest posts as well. I never thought that I would receive several guest posts every single day, but that’s actually what’s happening. And, I really don’t like to say no.

Why I probably need some guidelines for my guest posts

I want to use this post to discuss with you why I need guidelines for my guest posts, and what my guidelines should be. Remember, the reason I am writing this blog, is because I want to share my knowledge and experience with you. So, it’s in both our interests that the guest posts are of high quality, and that it’s related to what you’re interested in reading about.

Most of the guest posts I have received are of fairly high quality, but some or not, and I still have a problem saying no.

The thing is, I really want to say no. I’m thinking; it’s my blog, and I only want to publish content that I want you to read. But, at the same time, I don’t want to dissapoint anybody, not even the person who’s looking for a backlink.

Saying no is not as easy as it sounds.

On the other hand. It’s my blog, and if I don’t say no (have any guidelines for guest posts), too many people will continue to contact me, and my problem will just continue to grow.

The guidelines

Please help me out.

I have been thinking about four things that are important when it comes to the guest posts I’m going to publish from now on.

1. The topics should all be related to marketing.

2. The posts should be from personal experience. You probably already know this, but I’m saying it again, I don’t care much for generic posts. I want you to be personal.

3. I want all the authors of the guest posts to share them (at least via Twitter) and to reply to all comments. It’s not just about writing a post to get a backlink.

4. I also want my regular readers to write the guest posts, and not just a random person who happened to find my blog on Google or on some list. I’m not sure how to know if a person is a regular reader though. Maybe if they already commented on at least one of my blog posts, or been in touch with me (via email or social media).

What’s your opinion?

Do you have a hard time saying no?

I’m not really advocating guidelines here, but I think I might need some when it comes to guest posts. Please let me know what you think. I want this blog to continue to be my personal blog, but on the other hand, my main goal is to keep adding value, and do whatever I can to help people. And since I’ve already started to say my opinion about guest blogging, here’s a free blogging book about guest blogging. Guest blogging is very powerful, if you do it right.

Image by RubΓ©n DΓ­az Alonso

55 responses to “Saying No is Not as Easy as it Sounds”

  1. Chrysta Bairre says:

    Saying “no” is hard for many of us- at least it used to be for me. I now have a much easier time saying no, or revising my yes once I get more information or something else comes up.

    I am responsible for my mental, emotional, physical, personal and professional well being, and as such it is important for me to say yes and say no appropriately.

    It is absolutely essential in my career and I wrote a blog entry about it some time ago. (Let me know if it’s okay to link to that particular entry and I’ll link it here.)

    Good luck in your journey to professional success that includes saying no appropriately! It certainly became easier for me the more I practiced it.

  2. Brankica says:

    Guest posts are the thing that made me learn to say no pretty easy.

    The amount of trash (yes, there is no better work to explain it) I am receiving is amazing.

    The most annoying part is that I do have a guest post policy on the blog. Sometimes people miss it and contact me directly and I point them to the policy. But they still send me some trash that is absolutely the exact opposite to the policy.

    So, since I don’t want to publish just anything, I just say no.

  3. Adrienne says:

    Hey Jens,

    Well, since you did read my new commenting rules you also learned that it’s been hard for me to say no too. Like you, I want to help everyone but over time I’ve learned that some people are just here for themselves and they could care less about us.

    I think that all you can do is put your guest post policies into place and hope that they will read them before submitting them to you. Why don’t you include a top commenter widget and then let them know that they have to have so many comments on your blog before they will be able to submit a guest post. Also that if they are a first time visitor, they read your rules and then spend the next hour commenting on the number you suggested won’t fly either. You will be able to tell which people who are doing that. But still, the post has to be quality.

    I think the rules you suggested are right on. After all, this is YOUR blog so you get to make the rules. If people don’t like it, you don’t want them hanging around anyway. Saying no will become easier and easier because you only want to interact with people who are here for the right reasons. That’s the lesson I learned from all of this.

    Hope my suggestions helped. As Brankica said, you are always going to get “those people” no matter what you do.


    • Jens says:

      Hey Adrienne,

      The top commenter widget is a brilliant idea. I’m going to include that one right away. Thanks a million πŸ™‚

      I’m not sure why I removed it in the first place.


  4. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, Wow, you and Adrienne have policies now. I guess Bill was right, times are a changin’.

    But I think your policies are a product of your and Adrienne’s success. I suppose people want to glom onto your success without the effort or talent that the two of you have.

    Over the weekend a reader of The Wonder of Tech requested a guest post on my blog. I haven’t had too many other people request to guest post so I was flattered, but perhaps I should be concerned?

    And I also suppose you could have a loyal reader who submits a guest post but it isn’t a quality post. What then?

    My issue is the other way, being asked to write guest posts for other, highly rated blogs. I am flattered and I know it’s a great way to promote my blog, but as some point I may be stretched too thin as I post often on my own blog.

    Congratulations on having to say No! πŸ™‚

    • Jens says:

      I’m a little flattered, like you’re saying, because receiving a lot of requests does mean something. But, it’s also a lot of work, and I really don’t enjoy turning people down (even though I have to). But, it sort of comes with the work of having a blog.

      I wish I was like you and being asked to write for highly rated blogs. I guess I am, I wrote for your blog (thanks again for that) πŸ™‚

      Guest posts is a great way to promote your blog. So you should really do it more.

      I’m going to add to my guideline what Adrienne said, that only people on my top commentator list will be able to publish a guest post. That means you’re always going to get a yes from me πŸ™‚

  5. Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog says:

    Jens, saying no doesn’t make you a meanie. If you think about it from a parenting perspective, much like a Dad helps his son/daughter by saying no, so too are you helping your readers and prospective guest bloggers. You are setting boundaries and defining the relationship more functionally. You are establishing standards of excellence and helping writers to learn about best practices and expectations. How do I know all of this, you ask? I’m Mom to 5 kids…saying no is a skill that I’ve mastered (out of necessity)! That said, I would love to write a guest post for your blog. I’m emailing now with some thoughts (I promise to follow the rules).

    • Jens says:

      Hi Ruth,

      5 kids? Wow, that’s just amazing. I’m also a parent, but only to two kids. I’m having a hard time to say no to the kids as well, although I understand why it’s important.

      The thing is, I feel that I need to explain myself (and use a lot of time to do so) in order to say no.

      I’d love a guest post from you πŸ™‚

  6. Hugo Martins says:

    I have a really hard time saying no in most things.

    In my personal life I am usually a very determined person, I don’t ramble through much incertainty when I have something in mind I just stick with it so if some comes in and tries to change that plan I might no be inclined to do it and recuse. Also I don’t have any problems saying no when I believe saying no is the best answer to people.

    When it comes to work it’s not much of the same. I usually try to do all I can, and help everybody and talk to everybody. But I don’t think I have reached a breaking point. Maybe that’s because my work (blog, other sites and actual work) are little and limite. I don’t have much people to say no to so I enjoy getting all the work I get.

    I guess it depends but usually I don’t have much problem in saying no πŸ™‚

    • Jens says:

      Hi Hugo,

      That’s a very interesting perspective. I used to say yes all the time, and I never thought about saying no at all. That’s until I got so much extra work, and I felt that it was all becoming too much (and the crappy guest posts didn’t help either).

      Now it’s different. I’m getting better at saying no, but I’m still having issues about it. I don’t want to say no, but I understand that I really should.


  7. Adam Sokoloff says:

    Hi Jens,

    I think your guest post guidelines are laid out very well and cover all the necessary particulars.

    That being said, perhaps you don’t even need to go there. Just say no to guest posts altogether. It’s your blog. I know you want to help, but if you don’t feel right about it, just say no! Besides, you are are already giving some comment luv. There are more than enough guest post style sites to participate in so not to feel pressured.

    Just say no….


    • Jens says:

      Hi Adam,

      I have been thinking a lot about what you’ve said, and at the moment I’m thinking that, maybe I’ll just have one rule, and that will be that I’m going to allow guest posts from my top commentators. This is my way of saying thank you, and it’s also a way to know that the posts will be of high quality (because usually I know all my top commentators).


  8. Eddie Gear says:

    I still feel generic marketing topics are a big value add. Many blogger don’t know marketing but they are very good at writing. So generic post especially from reputed blogs as your would be very helpful.

    • Jens says:

      Hey Eddie,

      Absolutely. I’m not saying that generic posts are all bad, I just want a personal view or opinion. Instead of just listing the top strategies, list the top strategies based on your personal experience.. that’s what I enjoy the most πŸ™‚

  9. Eugene says:

    I do have a hard time saying no because someone went out of their way to ask. But I’ve definitely said no on numerous occasions. It feels even worse when someone sends over a completed post…they took the time to write the thing out. But if I don’t like it, I don’t like it. They are free to share their already-done post elsewhere.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Eugene,

      I remember when I said yes (a long time ago), I received the post, and it was awful. I spent several hours and changed the whole post before I published it. I’m not going to do that again. But I felt so bad, because I had already said yes πŸ™‚

      And, I also feel that it’s hard to say no because they went out of their way to ask.

  10. john Falchetto says:

    Hi Jens
    Guidelines should be in place absolutely for Blogs. It’s not easy saying NO but with some good guidelines it helps a lot.
    I guess the topics can be free but obviously they should bring something of value to your readers.

    • Jens says:

      Hi John,

      Absolutely. I’ve seen guidelines at many blogs now, and I’m decided that it’s time for me to get some as well. It’s so much easier to say no when I’ve actually written down the rules (and given them much thought).

      It’s still all about value though.

  11. Keith says:

    Hey Jens,

    I took the whole summer off from blogging and am just getting back with a new site and a new brand (as well as a new company with a partnership about to rock my local community!) and part of what you are talking about here is what turned me off of blogging after over 3yrs in it….. I say no easily now πŸ™‚

    • Jens says:

      Hey Keith,

      It’s been a while, it’s great to have you back. I’m going to check out your new site. I guess it’s easy to say no if you have a “bad” experience from saying too much yes. At least that’s what I’m feeling right now πŸ™‚

      Thanks again.

  12. Steve says:


    The current internet meme is “guest post” your way to success. Hence all the crap that used to be spewed about the ‘net as article marketing is not being sent to people as guest posts.

    It is kinda sad.

    I have also just about sworn off guest posts entirely. (unless I have some sort of a relationship with the poster) There are just too many people out there these days trying to pass off substandard fare as guest posts.

    Once upon a time, a guest post was a place to put YOUR BEST content to attract visitors. Now it seems like it is all about a good link.


    OOOO I am ranting. LOL. Anyhow, I agree. Guidelines are essential.

    • Jens says:

      Hey Steve,

      That’s exactly what I’m thinking. It used to be all about your best work, and now a lot of people are just doing it in order to get a backlink. I guess it will help to have some strict rules though… and the only rule being that I only allow guest posts from the top 20 commentators each month (according to my widget) might do it for me πŸ™‚

  13. Brock Blohm says:

    Hey Jens.

    Not sure how to answer, really.. It depends on you and your blog, and your goal within your blog.

    I have been approached countless times to have guest posts on my site, but I have declined every time. I just want to control all of my content. I don’t think I will ever open of for guest posting.

    I DO guest post, though. Certain blogs want it. So I give it. It helps them, it helps me. But no guest posting on my blog :).

    If you do want them, then yes, you should have guidelines. You should have them on a page, and everybody must read them. That way, people know what to expect before submitting them to you. Your quality goes up. And you won’t have to feel so bad when you reject someone. You just say “_____ doesn’t meat the guidelines. Change it, and then send it back to me” :). Set standards that they have to meet. That’s what I would do. πŸ™‚

    Best of luck!

    • Jens says:

      Hi Brock,

      You make a good point. I haven’t really thought much about if I should allow guest posts or not. I just have a problem saying no when people started asking. And, a few times I thought that adding guest posts would be great because then I didn’t have to do hardly any work, and I would still provide value to my readers.

      But, like you, I want to control my content as well. And I want the blog to stay my blog, and be part of what I’m doing online.

      Thanks a lot for sharing your opinion Brock.

  14. Ryan Critchett says:

    I really like the idea of ensuring guest posters are blogging from experience, and not dumping out something generic that they read on Problogger and re-purposed.

    This reminds me of Tim Ferriss and the Four Hour Work Week. He talks a lot about saying not to people as a strategy for decreasing the unimportant, and increasing the ability to focus on your “critical few,” the tasks that really matter.

    I think saying no, and having guidelines, in the context of guest posting, is absolutely justifiable and smart from a standpoint of productivity and efficiency. Always great stuff coming from you, Jens.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Ryan,

      I didn’t think of Tim Ferriss when I wrote this, but you’re absolutely right. I have read the book, and saying no might be even more important than I first realized πŸ™‚

      I believe that the easiest guideline (and the best) will be the one Adrienne gave me, and that’s that the only people allowed to publish a guest post on my blog are my top 20 commentators each month (from my top commentator widget). This makes sure I already know them, and that I have a relationship with them (and that they’re not only sending a guest post in order to get a backlink).

      Thanks a lot Ryan.

  15. Jens says:

    Thanks a lot for the feedback πŸ™‚

  16. Ameena Falchetto says:

    Guidelines are always good. It gives you something to fall back on when you have to say NO.

    I’ve become better at saying no. I do try to offer a solution at the same time. Some requests are so cheeky and outlandish that NO is at times hard to say (usually because I’m so lost for words that some people can have so much audacity!)

    Lots of food for thought here! Thanks!

    • Jens says:

      Hi Ameena,

      Exactly. Sometimes I just want to say no, because the requests are like.. what you said πŸ™‚

      There are times that I actually haven’t answered the requests. I’ve just ignored them. But usually I answer all of them.

      It’s a lot easier to say no online though πŸ™‚

      Thanks a lot Ameena.


  17. Bill Dorman says:

    Dude, if you have a GP problem what in the heck are you asking me for one? And you want to know how to cut down the requests; get a site like mine. You’ve made yours way to fancy smancy and everybody wants to drop their stuff off here.

    Fortunately or unfortunately I haven’t really had to deal with it. I will be posting my first GP tomorrow from someone who really doesn’t follow me, but she saw my post about offering my site up for GP’s and offered; therefore I accepted. It’s very well done so I’m ok with it.

    I don’t say ‘no’ well either and I could see where it might become a problem especially if it doesn’t fit in with your community OR it’s just not well done.

    I know some people like to do them and especially getting their name out wherever they can, I just struggle with trying to even think of anything GP worthy because I do want it to be quality.

    I think you are on the right track with your guidelines however. Maybe it’s something I should think about as well before I have to face an awkward situation.

    • Jens says:

      My GP problem is only related to how many people are contacting me, not high quality GP posts from people I worship πŸ™‚

      You should probably start doing your guidelines, because it’s only a matter of time before you’ll get a ton of requests (I’m sending them to your place).

      By the way, I have been in contact with Mark on Twitter. He’s been doing some offline projects, and will be back online shortly.

  18. Ana says:

    Jens, I know exactly what you mean. I am also very strict about what I will and won’t add to my blog and my guidelines are clear. Of course it is still hard to say no.

    When something is really bad, I say no (in as nice a way as I can). If it’s on the fringe, I will suggest some editorial changes.

    It’s your blog and you get to make the rules!

    • Jens says:

      Hi Ana,


      What’s interesting is that I have received very few guest posts after I published this post. So, maybe people are actually reading my posts πŸ™‚

  19. Nitin Agrawal says:

    Ya, Jenes you are right its really difficult to “say no”. Ya definitely we can understand when one writes for you and you say sorry I can’t publish your post these words hurt but its our duty…
    No need to say “No” Just modulate the sentence,,,, may be it will help at both ends..

    • Jens says:

      Hey Nitin,

      You’re absolutely right. It’s all about how I say no. It’s not always about bad posts, it’s about bad timing, and relevance as well. Not all posts are relevant to my blog, and some actually don’t fit my schedule πŸ™‚

      Thanks a lot!

  20. Jens says:

    Thanks a lot for your feedback πŸ™‚

  21. solenngrinn says:

    Hi Jens…I am glad I am here at your site…Anyway, saying no is definitely not easy especially when we love the things we are about to say “NO”…It needs a lot of thinking before we can decide…

    • Jens says:


      Thanks a lot for your kind words. Absolutely. No is sometimes a lot more important than saying yes. At least that’s my experience.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by.


  22. Nicole Scott says:

    Well i think that digital marketing topics are having a large value add . There are a number of bloggers who don’t know that how to marketing but they are very good in creating contents . So digital posts especially from reputed blogs as your would be very helpful .

  23. Jens, when you are clear in your mind and your heart, and you let people know what you’re looking for, saying “no” is not difficult. What’s the old saying? “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”, so saying no does not have to be painful, either to the deliverer or the receiver when it relayed in a kind, clear way. Just say no when your heart and gut and mind tell you so. Just my two cents, FWIW. Cheers! Kaarina

  24. Sophie says:

    Hi Jens…I agree that sometimes, “no” is better for me especially in terms of lovelife…LOL…

  25. AstroGremlin says:

    Jens, I have to disagree. You are not saying “no.” You are saying, “Yes, with some very reasonable expectations.” Making those clear up front is the doorway to a “win-win” arrangement. We all know the strategy underlying the guest post. Some people will submit “spun” articles that are mechanically produced clones of an article they have posted elsewhere. They are focused on quantity, not original quality with follow up and engagement, or the tone and “brand” of your site. So you are saying “Yes” to the kind of writers who want to really work with you and deliver value to your readers! On a personal note: How did you get a picture of my wife’s hand?

    • Jens says:

      I have to agree with you. I feel like I’m saying no, but you’re right. It’s about how you say it and that you have some rules. But it’s so hard to tell people that they aren’t good enough, or that they need to keep working in order to meet “my standard” πŸ™‚

  26. Dennis says:

    I have hard time saying no to everything. I just need to learn to say NO sometimes. I don’t have to agree in everything. I feel sorry for myself. πŸ™

  27. Brain says:

    It is true that we can not say to stop comment to any one person directly but it requires to avoid spamming. I think you have to give one warning to your guest commentators who posted meaningless comment. After all, those mistakes done by commenter than remove comment and say to stop comment.

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