Why I Rejected Your Guest Post

Guest posting is the new black, and it’s easy to see why: done right, it’s an incredible traffic-building strategy and even leads to new friendships and collaborations down the road. It’s good for your blog and it’s good for the guest poster’s blog. It’s good for SEO because of the links which point back to your site.

You don’t have to be a “big name” blogger to accept guest posts, because guest-posting cross-pollinates two blogs’ audiences with each other and the readership of both sites grows.

Again… if you do it right.

Sadly, guest blogging is also the newest spam tactic on the block and even as I type this, I can imagine millions of emails for worthless requests for guest posts are flying across the interwebs.

You Must Be New Here

When you are a new blogger, you are so excited the first time you get a notification that someone left a comment on your blog! That euphoria quickly crashes down around you, however, when you see that it’s just spam. Or, worse yet, can’t tell it’s spam and let it stay (perhaps even reply to it).

Now you get to experience that lovely feeling all over again, except with guest posting. The first time you see an email come in that says “guest posting request” or similar, your heart skips a beat and you think: someone wants to guest post on MY blog? Yay!

Many of these are automated and are sent out just like any other kind of spam: the sender never really visited your site and not only does he not really like it, he doesn’t know it from a hole in the ground. But the text of the email is designed to flatter you and stroke your ego.

Set Your B.S. Detectors to Eleven

Not all guest post requests are spam, of course. But how can you tell a good one from a bad one? Here’s the criteria I apply to the requests that make it to my inbox:

  • Is the request from someone I know? If you don’t know who the person is and you have zero relationship with them, that is a warning sign, right there. If you do know the sender, that doesn’t necessarily make your decision easier! (More on that in a moment.) It just means it’s not robo-spam.
  • Is there anything concrete and accurate in the guest post request about your site? When I get an email that says, “We really enjoy your business content at http://remarkablogger.com…” my spider sense starts tingling. Newsflash: nobody really visited your blog and they don’t know jack about it. It’s just a generically flattering message. Often I get requests where this line is so off-base it’s just ridiculous.
  • It says the same thing as all the other guest post requests you’ve received. When I get an email from Emilie Wapnick about sending me a guest post, it’s just a normal “hey how are you doing, would like a guest post?” sort of thing. Which is cool because I know Emilie so she passes the first criteria. People who know each other don’t send each other form mails. Robo-mails always say the same things: I plan to write a unique article just for your site about a subject of your choosing which will not be published anywhere else, and so forth.
  • The URL is some spammy B.S. website you would never, ever in your right mind want to send traffic to. This is the big one, because even if everything else is on the level (person is real, writes email by hand, etc.), you have to ask yourself if you want to support this person’s website. By approving a guest post and linking back to the guest poster’s site, you’re endorsing that site to your own readers. I have rejected pretty much every guest post request I have ever received from Indian SEO companies and the like: to these people, guest posting is nothing more than an quasi-automated backlink strategy for their clients. Never accept a guest post from someone whose site you don’t feel good about linking to, regardless of all other factors.
  • Their writing samples are utter lamesauce. This is another big one, especially for me. I bring my personality into my writing to create what I hope is  powerful and engaging blog content… the kind that gets traffic, comments and business. I want guest post writers who bring their A game and let it all hang out with highly personal and engaging writing. Good writing. If you’re writing the same mediocre top ten list of whatever crap found on 98% of the web, your guest post is not welcome on my blog.

Don’t Believe the Hype

In case this hasn’t occurred to you, yet, you could take this list and turn it into advice for how to send a better guest blogging request:

  • Get to know someone before you offer to guest post on their blog.
  • Know the content of the blog and the qualities of its audience before you send in a request.
  • Send a personal email.
  • Write content that could only have come from you, that doesn’t read like the rest of the snorefest that is “pro-blogging” so your sample links will melt her face off with their awesomeness.
  • Go back and forth with the site owner about what topic and approach is best for her audience.
  • Write the best damn blog post you possibly can. Never withhold your best material for your own blog. Remember, you’re trying to get traffic by “stealing” the readers of another blog. Bring in your very best or don’t bother.

Surprise Second Ending!

I’ve had many people make it to the point where I am happy to take a look at a guest post (because, as you can see, it’s not rocket surgery). But after I receive it and read it, I have to reject it or suggest changes. I don’t mind at all working with someone if I believe they can get a post to the level I want. If I don’t believe that to be the case, I’ll thank them for their efforts and let them know their post might be perfect for another site.

You can expect to have your headline rewritten and to have editing suggestions made. You can expect the site owner to put his or her own links in where it makes sense (especially if you didn’t cleverly find a few posts yourself to link to).

In any case, having your guest post accepted isn’t always the end of the process. There may be editing. No matter how diplomatic or nice (or perhaps not!) a site owner may be, it can tough on the ol’ ego. If your ego can’t handle this, you need to find something else to do with your time.

Guest Posting is the New Black

Like I said at the beginning of this post, guest posting is the new black. And while I may be smiling and have my tongue a little bit in my cheek when I say it, it’s still true and I still mean it. Guest posting is awesome… when it’s done right.

Spread the word!

5 Responses

  1. It’s hard not to sound stiff when you’re reaching out to other company blogs who you don’t know personally. I’m the main copywriter for my company’s general home improvement blog, so I’ve reached out to local realtors to offer a guest post, because I figured the content was related. But I must be taking the wrong approach. :/

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