Today I want to talk to you about guest posts and how to increase the chances that your submission will be accepted.
Guest posting can be a great way to get your name and a link to your website out there to new audiences you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach easily. When my blog was a bit newer, I did a number of guest posts on other blogs to try to get myself out there and I now accept roughly 25 guest posts per year on my own site, so I have a learned a thing or two about how to make sure your guest post isn’t rejected or ignored.
Honestly, this is all common sense stuff but, as the saying goes, common sense is, apparently, pretty uncommon, so I’m going to go ahead and share a few tips.
Firstly, don’t spray and pray. Write a personalized note to whomever you’re pitching your post to and make it clear that you actually know what their site is about. I can’t tell you how many requests I get from people that are obvious copy and paste jobs – “I recently found your site and the content is excellent. You do an excellent job of discussing the topic you focus on.” The topic I focus on, really? You couldn’t be bothered to swap out that phrase and put in the actual topic that I focus on?
Secondly, make sure your pitch is relevant. I get tons of pitches from people who want to write about totally unrelated topics. My site focuses on startups and small businesses; why are you pitching me an article about how to choose a bedroom wall color or about how to save money on organic produce? You’re wasting your time and mine because, if you had bothered to look at even a couple of the posts on my site, you would know I’m not going to publish those.
Thirdly, follow the submission guidelines. Whenever someone sends me an inquiry about guest posting, I send back a form email that includes all of the submission guidelines and specifically states that I will not be able to respond if the guidelines are not followed. It’s amazing to me how many people will send stuff back that does not meet the guidelines and even more amazing how many will aggressively follow-up multiple times telling me it’s rude not to respond when they have totally ignored those guidelines. If you can’t be bothered to read the guidelines, I can’t be bothered to respond to you. I schedule my guest posts on a first come first-served basis and a post will usually go live roughly 8 months after it is submitted because of the volume of posts I receive; I simply don’t have time to go back and forth with you chasing you down for stuff needed for the post; it’s your responsibility to follow directions.
Also, this isn’t really a tip but it’s along the same lines – don’t assume your should get special treatment. My form email with the submission instructions clearly states that posts are scheduled on a first come first-served basis and a post will usually go live roughly 8 months after they are submitted. If I accept one, I send an email letting the author know the date it will go live. Soooooooo many times the author responds saying, “wow, that date is really far in the future, couldn’t you just get it live a bit earlier, this month would be best for me.” Listen, I get that waiting 8 months might not work for a lot of people, that’s why I let you know before you take the time to submit that that’s the timeline. Please do not write me and ask me to bump someone else out of their spot to put yours in. That’s not going to happen.
Okay, back to the real tips, number four is to make sure you don’t have spelling and grammatical errors. An errant typo is one thing but if I would have to rewrite your whole piece to make it acceptable, I am just going to reject your submission.
Finally, mind your manners. A little politeness will go a long way. It’s my website, I love receiving guest post submissions and think my site is stronger due to all of the awesome authors that have contributed. None of those authors ever demanded anything from me though. An email stating: “I have attached an article that your readers will like; post it on X date” is going straight to the trash can.
Funnily enough, right before I edited the video for this post I received the following email from a guest contributor:
and my response:
Certainly, this is a far cry from the worst emails I’ve received, however, you can see that this was a huge waste of everyone’s time. The person obviously didn’t bother to read the guidelines before submitting his article so he wasted his own time writing it, my time reviewing it, and both of our time emailing back and forth about it. It was definitely validation for me that this blog post might be useful for some of you out there.
In case any of you are wondering, here’s the email I had sent to him (and that I send to everyone who inquires about guest posting):
Thanks for your message.I do accept guest posts that can provide value for my readers. If you’d like to submit something, please send over the complete article and I’ll let you know if I think it’s a good fit. Please read the guidelines below before submitting your guest post. Unfortunately, due to the number of guest post proposals I receive, if you do not follow the guidelines below, I will not be able to respond to your inquiry.Here are the guidelines:
- A post should be roughly 800-1200 words
- The post must have a clear value for a novice business owner – I won’t publish anything that’s just an advertisement or that isn’t focused on new entrepreneurs
- Please submit the article exactly as you’d like it published, including any images and links to be included, as I need to see where I’d be sending my readers
- Please also submit a headshot and brief bio of the author or logo and brief description of the company, as you’d like it included at the end of the post, so that I can review that as well
- I do not review or approve topics in advance; you must submit a complete article to be consideredIf you do decide to send something in for consideration, I’ll get back to you within a week to let you know if I think it’s a fit and, if it is, on what date I will post it. I’m sorry, but I cannot guarantee a response more quickly than that and checking in earlier simply moves your submission to the back of the line because I sort submission reviews by most recent communication date.Posting dates are assigned on a first come, first-served basis and are currently approximately 8 months after the submission date but may vary. If you need your post to go live sooner, you can opt for a sponsored post for $50 USD, which will be posted within 1 month of the submission date, if accepted. The guidelines for sponsored posts are exactly the same as for guest posts, however, when posted, will be identified as a “Sponsored Post” as opposed to as a “Guest Post.”Thanks in advance for your submission; I look forward to working with you!
Is it a little long? Yes. Is it unreasonable to expect someone who wants to get free advertising on my website to read it? No.
Guest posting can be a great way to get some new traffic to your own site and it’s actually not all that much work if you know how to do it right. Follow these tips and you should have a higher probability of getting your submissions accepted, whether you want to write for this site or for any other site. If you’d like to write for me, shoot me an email and I will happily share my submission guidelines (or you can see them above).
Want a physical checklist you can use to make sure you’re following the above advice every time you submit a guest post? Grab one here for 50¢.