How to Craft a Guest Post That’s Likely to be Accepted

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This is the second post in a three-part series on guest posting. The full series is:

  1.  Why Every Writer Should Be Guest Posting
  2. How to Craft a Guest Post That’s Likely to be Accepted
  3. How to Pitch Your Guest Post – Successfully

Submitting guest posts – like submitting any piece of writing – carries a risk of rejection. Yes, you’re offering your content for free – but large, well-established blogs are providing you with a valuable platform. They won’t take posts that aren’t up to scratch.

The good news is that, as a writer, you’re already ahead of the crowd. A lot of guest post submissions come from people who don’t care about good writing and who just want to make some quick cash from blogging – a short-sighted and generally ineffective approach.

One mistake that some new guest posters make is to put all their energy into writing a really good post before thinking about where they’d like it to be published. It’s much better to decide on your target blog first, just as you’d decide what magazine to target before writing an article.

Deciding Which Blog to Write For

When you’re looking for good guest posting opportunities:

  • Focus on blogs that are on-topic for you. For instance, if you blog about golf, there’s probably not much point you guest-posting on a blog about cake baking. Sure, some readers might be interested in both topics, but it’ll be a small percentage.
  • Start with blogs that you read. You’ve got an advantage here: you know the usual style and tone of the blog, and you may have left comments, retweeted posts, or otherwise built up a relationship with the blog owner/editor.
  • Go for large blogs. They don’t have to be massive, but it’s generally a good idea to guest post on blogs that are larger than your own. Their subscriber count is the clearest indication of readership – you could also look at the number of comments and Twitter followers.
  • Make sure they accept guest posts. Not all blogs use guest posts – even if they have multiple writers. (These people might be freelancers.) Search for phrases like “this is a guest post by” or “guest post guidelines” on the blog.
  • Consider their audience. Some blogs have a lovely, supportive readership – I’m very grateful for all the wonderful people here on Aliventures! Other blogs have comments that are often very negative or snarky. Steer clear of these, at least to begin with.

Exercise:

Create a shortlist of five – ten blogs that would make good guest posting opportunities. For each, you might want to note down their readership numbers, and the average length of posts, along with a link to any guest posting guidelines they have.

Crafting a Post with a Great Chance of Acceptance

All the usual tips about good writing and good blogging apply doubly to guest posts. You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression – so put in a little extra time than you would if writing for your own blog, especially at the editing stage.

Some great ways to boost your post’s chances are:

  • Have a compelling title and introduction. Even if these get tweaked by the blog owner / editor, they’ll grab their attention and encourage them to read on.
  • Ask a friend to read your post and give feedback. You want to make sure that the structure is spot-on – although some editors will give you suggestions for revision, many are too busy to go back and forth on a post that isn’t quite there yet.
  • Triple-check for typos and spelling mistakes. One tiny slip isn’t the end of the world … but several silly mistakes will make you look careless at best. It’s often hard to spot your own typos and missing words, so get a friend involved here too.
  • Include a couple of links to other posts on your target blog. This is a great way to (a) show that you’ve been reading / researching the blog and (b) add value to your post for the blogger.
  • Avoid linking to your own material in the body of the post. While it’s OK to have one link to content on your own blog, this can come across as self-serving. If you do decide to do this, make sure you include at least two links to posts on the host blog, to balance things out.

Exercise:

Choose one of the blogs from your shortlist, and plan a post that will suit their usual topics and their guest post guidelines (if they have any). You might want to try planning out a couple of posts, or writing two different plans for the same post, so you can choose the stronger of the two.

 

This might seem like a lot to think about – and guest posting is definitely an investment of time and energy. However, as I explained in the previous post, Why Every Writer Should Be Guest Posting, it’s a very worthwhile way to grow as a writer and to get your work out there in front of a bigger audience.

 

Next time, we’ll be looking at guest post pitching … and I’ll share an example of what NOT to do!

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6 thoughts on “How to Craft a Guest Post That’s Likely to be Accepted

  1. Great ideas here, Ali. I often have someone else ready my guest posts. Not only can they find errors I missed, but their comments are often good indicators of readability as well.

    I often start with a good, working title to get my ideas flowing. Once the post is done, I go back and see if there can be some tweaking done to the title, which is really a headline.

    Steve
    Steve Maurer’s last blog post ..Is Your Home Page a GPS or a Laundry List?

    • Thanks, Steve. I think re-visiting the title after writing the post is a great idea — I often find that mine could use a quick tweak!

    • Thanks Farouk! I like to break things down as much as possible … glad it’s working. 🙂

      I think that’s a really interesting way to get more guest posting opportunities, especially for bloggers looking to diversify and guest post in lots of different locations. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Hi,
    Great post with very good points, but sometimes I’ve seen it the other way. The blog owners don’t care about quality as much as they want money. I’ve had some people reply with ‘great copy, really interesting topic but now I want money…’, it’s quite disheartening to receive replies like that. I realise this sounds like the blogs I approach have low quality posts, but I think they’re just interested in $$$, regardless if it was Shakespeare writing for them.

    • Mandy, that’s a great shame. I’ve never been asked for money myself as a guest poster, but it may depend a bit on your blogging niche.

      Some bloggers run “sponsored” posts, which basically means a company pays to have their guest post on that blog. Personally, that’s not something I’d do either as the company or the host blogger — but I can see that it works for some blogs.

      Personally, I think there are more than enough free opportunities out there for good guest posters, and I definitely wouldn’t pay to have my post up on a blog — even a big one. All the major blogs I post for (see my sidebar to the right) welcome guest posts, and have certainly never asked me for money!

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