How Not to Write a Guest Post

Guest post by Karl

Guest blogging can be a potent way of marketing your blog or service, if you get it right. And it’s by far the most white-hat link building strategy for webmasters today. If your aim is to grow an audience for your blog or business, you should consider guest posting your best bet. You probably already have.

Thousands of bloggers are already aware of this tactic, but are they all doing it the right way? Are their guest posts pitches always accepted? Well, apparently many guest bloggers are committing many grave mistakes when writing their posts; mistakes that you can consciously avoid. Here they are:

#1: Not tailoring content to host blog audience

Many guest bloggers get so consumed by their own blog’s audience that they assume everybody else in the blogging sphere knows them – including the host’s readers. You’ll see them refer to past events that the audience cannot relate to, which leads to some kind of disconnect with the reader. And whenever this happens, the reader just stops reading.

The solution: if you’re going to rant about a past experience, take a moment to give the readers a little primer on the same so they have little difficulty understanding where you’re coming from, and what you’re talking about. You can even add a link to one of your posts that explains the situation in full.

#2: Writing below par

Just because you’re not writing for your blog doesn’t mean you should put down crappy article after crappy article, just for links’ sake. In fact, you need to try harder when you’re pitching a guest post. If what you write for your own blog is great, then a guest post should rise above that. And in the first place, why would a blog owner accept your below-par article?

The first reason your guest posts need to be high quality is that acceptance of the post is at the blog owner’s discretion. If your fail through with your pitch, you’ll have wasted your time. And resources. The second and perhaps even more important reason is that you are writing to establish yourself as an authority by giving the readers something worth their time. You want to give your best shot so that you reap the rewards of your quality blog post: more trust, traffic and conversions.

Don’t forget that it’s easier to destroy your reputation than to build it, so a rock-bottom-quality article will likely earn you more foes than friends. People will shun all your other posts and your business as a whole. The only way you can beat that is by writing well-researched, error-free posts that bring something new to the table.

#3: Lacking originality

This point is closely related to the one above, about writing quality posts – largely because quality is tied to originality. You must avoid going the mass production way by writing oversubscribed post titles such as “How to start a blog“. Or the popular lists format: “Top ten web hosts”. If you are going to write this kind of posts, then it better be with a very unique approach. The fact is that bloggers are recycling blog topics every day but only those who add value (humor, personal experiences, strange twists, unheard of facts or stats, and the like) can attract more people to read their content and get more social shares.

Originality is the one thing that may move the host blogger to take a second look at your pitch. Many guest posts get rejected purely on the basis that the blog owner feels they have already exhausted that particular topic with their own (read better) posts.

#4: Making it only about yourself

Blog posts, whether on your blog or on others’, are supposed to make for a though-provoking piece of reading, enough to generate a conversation. Either that or it should be educational enough that your readers will be thanking you a lot after reading. The point I’m making is plain simple – put the interests of the audience first.

Even if you’re going to try and promote your service, anything bordering on a salesy pitch is a huge turnoff. 99% of the people reading your post don’t care about you and your business. Okay, that stat was made up. But it’ll be pretty clear in the responses you get in the comments – assuming you get any – if they really do give a hoot about you. So stop talking too much about yourself. Focus on giving value first and the attention will come next.

#5: Writing poor titles

Writing a compelling title is paramount to the success of any blog post. Many guest bloggers have made the odd mistake of only focusing on keywords in the title, and by doing so, they miss the whole point. Human-centered content rules today unlike back in 2005. So if the readers see a title that’s either so long that it’s unattractive, or too vague to capture interest, they will pass up your post. Likewise, if it’s an overused title without some catchy phrase included, it won’t generate enough interest for the readers.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot; learn how you can write better titles and get more readership.

#6: Writing a poor author bio

Here’s the final chance for guest bloggers to convince readers to visit their website, and then what do they do? They end up really messing it up. The disheartening truth is that some bloggers never really see the need for a perfect author bio. That’s plain injustice, especially if the quality of your posts is nothing short of amazing. Writing a succinct author bio is not really hard, as you’ll learn on this post.

Over to you

Guest blogging should be a rewarding experience for both you and the reader. Remember, the host blog owner reserves the right to publish or reject your gust post pitch purely on their own reasons. So the first step you must always take is to understand the target blog, the kind of posts it’s likely to publish, and the community backing it. Often, blogs that accept guest posts usually have a page that spells out their own set of standards – standards which, if you fail to meet, your post may never see the light of day.

Karl is an expert blogger, freelance writer and guest blogger for the Make a Website blog.


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1 Comment

  1. Chris Gunn

    Thanks Karl for the list! The main key is quality, quality, quality all the way around. It’s got to be your best every time in every aspect.

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