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How to Get Your Guest Posts Accepted Every Time

This guest post is by Ali Luke of Aliventures.

Maybe you’ve written guest posts, but they’ve been turned down.

Maybe you don’t feel brave enough to target a big blog, because you’re afraid of rejection.

You might see names popping up around the blogosphere with guest posts everywhere: I remember Glen Allsopp doing this a year or two back. And you might feel a little bit envious. How come they can get their posts on sites like ProBlogger and Copyblogger?

Guest posting

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Well, it’s not black magic. It’s not about twisting arms, or offering bribes. It’s not even about name recognition—I was getting guest posts published when I was a total newbie in the blogosphere.

It’s about writing a great, targeted post that stands a very high chance of acceptance.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to teach you to do here.

Step #1: Get into the right frame of mind

A great guest post doesn’t start with the words you type. It starts with your attitude.

Some bloggers see guest posts as an opportunity to get a link from a high-PR site. I get pitches from these types of bloggers regularly, and I always turn them down. Their posts are uninteresting, regurgitated content—the sort of thing I’d expect to find in a huge content mill. Theirs certainly isn’t the vibrant, engaging writing which I want on my blog.

A guest post is so much more than just a link back to your site. It’s:

  • an opportunity to reach a huge audience of readers
  • a chance to establish a connection with a powerful blogger
  • a learning experience—especially if you rarely or never get comments on your own blog
  • a way to get your name known in the blogosphere.

Your guest posts should be your best work. That way, they’ll be much more likely to get accepted—and they’ll bring you an awful lot of benefits.

Step #2: Choose your target blog carefully

I know this is obvious, but I’ve had pitches from bloggers who clearly don’t quite get it.

Only target blogs that actually run guest posts.

Many smaller blogs don’t ever have guest posts, or very rarely accept them. Those bloggers might be keen to build up their own audience with their own voice—especially if they’re blogging to promote their businesses.

Look for a page aimed at guest posters, or look through the individual posts for any that say “This is a guest post from…”, or that have a bio for someone other than the blog’s owner.

Of course, you’ll probably know of plenty of blogs that accept guest posts. The tough part is deciding which blog to target. I’d suggest:

  • Don’t go after the A-list straight away. If a blog has 100,000 readers and you’ve never guest posted before, you might want to aim a little lower.
  • Look for bloggers who’d welcome some help. If a blogger mentions an upcoming vacation (or house move, for example), then they’d probably be very grateful for a guest post.
  • Choose a blog which is in your niche. Not only will this get you better results, it’ll make your post more likely to succeed because you’ll have a great grasp of your subject matter.

Step #3: Read the guest post guidelines

Not all blogs have submission guidelines for guest posts, but many big ones do. Look for a page called “Submission Guidelines,” “Guest Post Guidelines,” “Write for Us,” or similar.

The guidelines will usually let you know:

  • How long your post should be. Many blogs will want at least 500 words.
  • Whether you should pitch an idea or the completed post. Some bloggers prefer you to approach them with an idea in the first instance, though many others will be happy to receive completed posts.
  • What you’re allowed to do. Are affiliate links okay? Can you link to your own blog in the body of your post?
  • How to submit your post. This may include the file format, who to send it to, and other details.

Here are a few examples:

Step #4: Study your target blog

If the blog doesn’t have any submission guidelines, then you’re going to need to do a bit of homework. And even if you do have a page of guidelines, it’s still worth taking this step to maximize your chances of getting your guest post accepted.

Go through the most recent five or ten posts on the blog. Find out:

  • How long are the posts, on average? What’s the shortest? What’s the longest? This will give you an idea of what word count to aim for, and will indicate how much leeway you have.
  • What stylistic features are there? For instance, Copyblogger tends to have a lot of short, punchy sentences and paragraphs.
  • Which topics have been covered recently? You’ll want to avoid writing anything too similar.

You can take this analysis even further, and look for anything which seems to be missing: perhaps you’ve got an idea for a post which would be on-topic and which fills a gap in the blog’s content.

Studying your target blog also means finding out any unwritten rules. For instance, do guest posters tend to pitch their own products, or is that clearly a no-no? Is it okay to link back to your own blog once or twice in the body of the guest post? Is bad language acceptable?

It only takes a few minutes to find these things out, but by doing so, you’ll avoid wasting your time by writing and submitting an unsuitable post.

Step #5: Come up with several ideas

When you’re trying to write a great guest post, you need to start off with a strong idea. Don’t pick the first thing that comes to mind—write down several possibilities, and decide which is going to give you the best chance of acceptance.

There are plenty of different ways to generate blog post ideas. A couple of my favorites are:

  • Mindmapping. Write the name of the blog, or a particular topic, in the centre of a page. Start jotting down ideas as they come to you, and draw links between anything that seems connected.
  • Making a list. It’s pretty old-school, I know, but still very effective! Try writing the numbers 1 to 10 on a sheet of paper (or a computer document) and come up with an idea for each.

If you have a couple of good ideas and you’re not sure which to pick, try asking on Twitter or Facebook to see what your existing audience would find more useful.

Step #6: Craft your post carefully

There’s plenty of great advice on ProBlogger about crafting posts (including Darren’s excellent series), so I’m just going to run through some basics as a refresher.

  • Your post should have an introduction, main body and conclusion.
  • The introduction needs to draw readers in and set up your post.
  • The main body is the bulk of your post, and it should be easy for readers to take in. That might mean using subheadings, lists, bold text and other formatting to help improve readability.
  • The conclusion to your post should round things off and provide some call to action which will help the blog—perhaps encouraging readers to leave a comment.
  • Your post should have a great title (though don’t be surprised if the blogger changes it).

A great way to add value to your guest post is to include links to other posts on your target blog. This creates a much better impression than trying to stuff your posts with links back to your own site—and it improves your chances of getting your post accepted.

#7: Edit and proof-read your post

When you publish posts on your own blog, it’s not a disaster if a few typos sneak in. You can easily edit those posts, and your readers probably won’t mind the occasional slip.

When you’re sending in a guest post, though, you want it to create the best possible impression. If a blogger is faced with the choice between a well-edited and typo-free post, or a hastily-written post with grammar and spelling mistakes, it’s pretty obvious which one they’ll pick.

If grammar, spelling and proof-reading aren’t your strong points, you might want to ask a friend to take a look at the post for you, before you send it off.

Don’t be surprised if your post gets accepted and then edited: it doesn’t necessarily mean that there was anything wrong with your writing. Bloggers know their own blogs better than you do, and they may well tweak your post to make sure it’s firmly on-message for the audience.

#8: Include a short bio

Don’t forget to include a bio with your post, and a headshot, if the blog uses them. This saves the editor having to get back to you to ask for extra information. While this in itself won’t usually stop them taking your post, it can mean that you’ll have to wait longer to have that post published.

Make sure your bio conforms to any guidelines. If you don’t have guidelines, look at other guest post bios on the blog. You can normally assume that you’ll be allowed:

  • one to two sentences about yourself/your blog
  • one link (often two) to your own site(s).

And you’re done!

All you have to do now is send in the guest post. I know this can be a scary step (my first guest post for Copyblogger sat on my hard drive for days until I got up the courage to send it in). Don’t agonize over it: just write a short, polite email and attach your post, then take a deep breath and hit Send.

I’d love to hear about your own guest-posting successes (or disaster stories!) in the comments.

Ali Luke has just launched Blog On, a hands-on ecourse that teaches bloggers how to write four popular types of post, through step-by-step guidance and focused exercises. (There’s even a prize draw at the end, to help encourage you to get all four posts written.) You can find out all about it here. Registration is only open until Friday 3rd June.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

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Comments

  1. Ni reminders, Ali!

    I’m inspired to write my next guest post soon :-)

    Regards,
    Vishal

    • Hey Visha,

      Yes, you should definitely go for it.

      Here’s a tip that got my very first guest post published on John Chow’s blog: I attended a webinar of his, and then during the Q&A I submitted a question. Now he had at least heard my name and seen my blog. Then, after the webinar, I wrote a guest post and emailed it to him. He published it and my traffic spiked big time for three days.

      Cheers,
      Trent

  2. Thank for this post Ali,

    Also, its important to take action. You can only prepare so much and it becomes useless if you do not submit anything, do not be scared of failure!

    Calvin

  3. Thanks Ali for your wonderful tips on guest posting. I am just about to do my first guest post on a Wall Street based site and I was kinda nervous but with these lessons I have picked today, I am more confident in writing a nice piece for Rani Chopra Media, LLC

  4. This is a very good article on how to guest post. I am struck by how similar the process you describe is to querying a magazine editor about an article idea. Practically the only difference is that you submit the finished article instead of an outline of the story. I guess new media has the same dance between the writer and the editor as old media, after all.

  5. tommy says:

    I agree that your guest post should be of high quality. If the writer fails to capture the attention of the reader with the first few sentences, then the two backlinks to the website in the writer bio won’t really matter. It’s better to spend a little bit more time on your writing than just to send in some junk. Even if they are accepted…

    Thanks for your post Ali, it was really informative.

  6. Great timing Ali. I’m working on my first “real” guest post right now and this is a nice guide to have.

    • Please ignore that link attached to my name in my reply above. For some reason it came up on my list of url’s and it was clicked by accident. It wasn’t meant to look like a sales pitch! UGH! Sorry.

  7. Ali,

    Thanks so much for this post.

    This could not have come at a better time since I’m quite determined to get more guest posts in order to attract a large audience to my online business show!

    These tips give me a leg up for the next guest post!

    Krizia

  8. Shajjad says:

    HI, Ali Luke
    Thanks for this great post. I see that most the blogger now suggest to write guest post for backlink. But I am not familiar in this process.
    Hope I can start form today..

    Shajjad

  9. Anna says:

    Remember to make it interesting.

    Write the pitch so that the reader is tempted to read your article and get back to you.

    Be creative !

  10. Vladimir says:

    This is an amazing article and very helpful…
    I haven’t done guest posts, but I’m thinking about it :)
    … and I want to do it right.

  11. mman.. You have given the complete guidelines to a guest blogger. Soon i am going to submit a guest post to Darren’s blog, with the confidence of acceptance..
    By the way, my article will be unique and it will speak the beginner’s mind..

  12. Archan Mehta says:

    Ali,

    Thank you for your contribution here. Your guest post certainly resonated with a lot of readers.

    I have had my guest posts published on several blogs. However, I still prefer to read blogs rather than contribute my own writing. I would rather read other blogs than sit down with pen and paper and write.

    However, reading blogs has enabled me to have a bird’s eye view of how this is done. It is a process of trial and error and it takes a little time to master this skill.

    I have never had any guest posts published on Copyblogger, Problogger, etc. but I sure have appreciated those who have had their guest posts published on such major sites or blogs. It is always a pleasure to read such fine writing.

    Writing a guest post is also easier said than done, in my experience. I find it easier and more natural to write poems. I guess that is because I discovered blogs rather later in the game and computers were never my forte. Mostly, I restrict myself to commenting on blogs.

    I would like to encourage other people out there to contribute their guest posts on blogs: small, medium and large. Good writers are a rare breed. It is a privilege to read the writing of competent artists. Cheers.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks Archan — I’ve seen the occasional guest post from you (on Srini’s blog, I believe). I think you make an important point, which is that many people prefer to simply read blogs … they might never guest post or, like you, might contribute mainly via thoughtful comments rather than their own posts.

  13. By reading this i will start doing some guest post
    you have very good article i really enjoy reading them….

  14. That is an extensive post on strategies pertaining to successful guest posting. It i nice to see you here Ali :)

    Jane.

  15. Very helpful and all great tips. I actually like to read and make a response that makes sense to the blog that was written. If one takes the time they actually can learn something as well as helping out there own business. I actually never understood all the bloggers and the attraction to it but it becomes addicting for me anyway. Thanks again for the tips.

  16. Wasim Ismail says:

    Guest posting is an art, and if you can master it well, it can do wonders for your online presence, great tips here to share and implement.
    Thanks

  17. Yes, for accepting Guest Posts on my own Blog I would like writers to first study my blog, infact I would like everybody to study my blog(s) :)

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Home Business – Inspiration,
    HP

  18. Kristi Hines says:

    Awesome tips on getting guest posts accepted. Linking to the blog you are submitting your article to within your post is a great way to say that you have researched their site and have geared the content to be beneficial to their blog and audience.

  19. Ava says:

    Thank for the great tips on getting accepted. I would love to be a guest blogger here!

    Time to start Mindmapping!

    Cheers :)

  20. My guest post are accepted in every case. But your tips helped me a lot to get new ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Raymond says:

    Thanks for the info really liked it, can i be a guest blogger for this blog

  22. Very well said about guess posting. It is such an achievement to have your guest post accepted but if we are rejected we should take that as a challenge for creating better.

  23. Matt R says:

    Glad to have read this guest post. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this. It’s stuff that I know but to have it all written down beautifully is great. I could always go back to it if I need to remember something about guest posts.

  24. Vikram says:

    This is a very good post, will boost many guest bloggers in writing a perfect post.

  25. David Sneen says:

    Ali,

    I am about to make my first guest post attempt. But, first I must reread your article and make sure my post is consistent with your sage advice. Gotta run, now!

    David

  26. Awesome! I’m just getting into blogging and have been wondering about guest posting. Thanks for all the great info. :)

  27. Emily Rose says:

    Ali, thank you for this great post, I am trying to get my first guest post right now and Its difficult when you don’t know the ropes.