Spend more than ten minutes researching blog tactics and you’ll see many posts offering guest post how-to advice. Many of this advice is right on. However what happens when you’re stuck in a rut and you can’t get your posts accepted?
Let’s take a look at the 7 leading reasons why your post might get sent back with a “dear john” email –
1. Wrong Subject
I’ve received dozens of guest post requests for articles on fitness, health and beauty, and cloud computing. A quick glance at my recent posts show that I have never written about any of these subjects. These requests take the express train to the trash folder because they wouldn’t interest my readers.
Good blog publishers guard their editorial focus like a bear with newborn cubs. They know what their readers want to see and deliver tightly targeted posts. Sending them “any old generic” post just communicates that you failed to do your homework.
Spend time reviewing all the posts from your target blog. Get a clear understanding of the subjects being covered. Now craft a post that fits neatly into the blogs editorial calendar.
2. Sloppy Construction
Frequently I get blog posts that look like the Unibomber wrote them. They are single-spaced, 10-sentence per paragraph diatribes that make Finnegan’s Wake look like a “Dick and Jane”. I’m sure the authors believed in their “style” but I am not in the business of making my readers slog through every sentence.
The best blog posts go down like a cool glass of lemonade on a summer day. They have a quick tempo that rockets the reader from the lead sentence to the final sign-off. Most of all, the posts show the author’s respect for the readers short attention span and time restraints.
Remember that you are sharing the stage with an established blog writer. Tailor your posts to match the construction and conventions established by the blog. For example, Social Media Examiner is a high-quality blog that specializes in social media “how-to” posts. Submitting a post with dense paragraphs, few visuals, and complicated sentence structures wouldn’t work.
3. Careless Errors
Listen, I am the worst proofreader in the world. I couldn’t catch all of my typos and missed words even if my life depended on it. That’s why I always hire a proofreader to review my guest post submissions. The cost is worth it considering that a typo could kill my guest post in its tracks.
It’s obvious but you need to submit an error-free guest post. Sometimes the blog will correct the little stuff for you but don’t bet on it.
4. Wrong Tone
I prefer to run posts that are optimistic and uplifting. I rather leave my reader smiling and focused rather than scowling and distracted. This means that I usually reject guest posts that are too serious or “preachy.”
Paying close attention to your target blog’s tone and writing a post to match is a wise plan. Comb through the blog and read the founder’s posts to get a good read on the preferred tone.
5. Zero Rapport
Guest post submissions from people I know go to the top of the pile. Regular commenters, twitter sharers, and people I’ve met in person have a leg-up because I know their intentions and style. Everyone else has to fight harder to cut through the clutter.
You can boost your guest blogging success by investing in a relationship with the guest blogger well before you send a guest post. I stalked the Copyblogger crew for several months before I submitted my first guest post. I offered thoughtful comments, joined forums they frequented, and referenced them in posts on Pushing Social. It was relatively easy getting my first post accepted because Brian and Sonia already knew me.
6. Lack of Credibility
You should get a couple dozen posts published on your blog before you start guest posting. Here’s why:
1. It demonstrates that you’re serious about your subject
2. It shows the quality of your writing
Bloggers like to know that you are actively building your own audience and care about your readers. An active blog also shows that you have the discipline and commitment to work through the guest blogging process and submit relevant and informative content.
7. Boring or Generic Pitch
There are four elements that should be included in every guest posting pitch email:
- What you plan to write
- How blog readers will benefit from your submission
- How you plan to promote your guest post
- Concrete plan of action for submitting the piece according to the blog’s guest post policies.
For example, here’s a quick pitch that I used with a recent submission:
My name is Stanford Smith and I am the founder of Pushing Social. I’m a regular reader of your blog and noticed that you haven’t published a post on techniques freelancers could use to improve their blog. Specifically, how your readers can use their blogs to pre-sell their work and approach to potential clients.
I have already written a draft of my post for your review. As you will see, I’ve matched the tone and “how-to” structure of your blog. This should make it easy to include in your editorial calendar. Also note that I’ve written this post exclusively for your blog.
Once published, I will promote the post to my Twitter audience of over 14,000 followers along with a mention in my weekly newsletter that reaches about 3,000 active subscribers.
If you decide to run the post, I will send over the piece in HTML format for easy cut-and-paste integration.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
The post was accepted. I even was paid for the submission – a happy surprise. The lesson is to spend time thinking through your pitch. Time invested here will immediately raise your acceptance rate.