3 Guest Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

guest blogging mistakesAs an editor for several blogs that accept guest posts I see a lot of the same mistakes made over and over.

If you are hoping to become a guest blogger for a particular site, I recommend you review the following mistakes and avoid them.

Failure to Research What the Blog is About

Blogs that are devoted to a specific industry often want guest bloggers that have experience with that industry so they can offer educational information to the readers.

Currently I am an editor for a large blog that is focused on the search industry and it is obvious what the focus is to anyone that spends 2-3 minutes looking at the site. However, I get many emails from guest writers that say things like:

“Your blog would really benefit from my writings about choosing the right dog.”

Well, no it would not. Emails like this are irritating because they are a waste of my time. If I receive 100 emails a day from potential guest bloggers to go through, I don’t want to be wasting time on someone that has not even paid attention to what the blog is about.

Suggestion: Before you contact a blog about guest blogging please research what the blog is about and make sure that the topic you suggest is relevant.

Not Having the Experience to Write for a Blog

I know there are some guest bloggers out there that believe they can write about anything. Many people can write about “anything,” but to write something that offers quality information that readers can learn from and/or put into action right away would require an author that has significant experience with the subject at hand.

Blogs that are devoted to a specific industry often want guest bloggers that have experience with that industry so they can offer the educational information I discussed above. They are not looking for someone that can look at an article and rehash it and call it their own. Here is another example of emails I receive:

“I have written about fashion, wine, fine dining and dogs. Now I want to move into writing about SEO.”

Well, obviously this person doesn’t really know SEO so why would I publish them? What quality can they offer? If they don’t know SEO, aren’t the ideas in their articles really going to belong to someone else? Typically, there are writer’s guidelines on blogs and they are often specific about what type of writer they want.

Suggestion: Do not contact a blog about guest writing until you do the following:

  • Take time to read the writers guidelines of each blog you are interested in writing for.
  • Take some time to read the last 5-10 articles published and really be honest with yourself about whether or not you can offer the same kind of quality with the knowledge that you have.

Being Demanding When Not an Approved Writer Yet

Below is an exact sentence that I see probably 10 times a week. I believe this is because somewhere guest bloggers have suggested using a template when reaching out for guest blogging opportunities. FYI, the sentence below comes across rude and demanding to editors:

“I will send you an article that will need to be published within 48 hours and I will require 3 links with the anchor text of my choosing back to my websites.”

So why is this offensive to editors?

There are a few reasons:

  • Editors often schedule weeks ahead of time and have promised spots to writers. They are not going to bump someone from their spot just so a new writer can be published within in 48 hours.
  • An active blog has many posts coming in and it can take weeks to read through them. What makes a writer so special that their article should be read, edited, uploaded and scheduled within 48 hours?
  • Editors don’t work for the new guest writer; they work for the blog and the blog’s owners. They have obligations and responsibilities; editors don’t just “edit.” Most of the time if an editor had to rush to get something published within 48 hours they would not be meeting the job’s obligations and responsibilities.
  • And lastly, big blogs are essentially doing a favor for the writer by publishing their work so approaching an editor with “demands” is rude.

Know Your Limitations

Guest blogging can be a really good thing for a writer. It can help you build a reputation, help you with link building and it can help with branding. However, you cannot just assume that you can send a template letter to every type of blog and make all the editors excited about what you have to offer.

You must do your research about each blog you want to write for. You have to be honest with yourself about your limitations and you have to create something wonderful. Great blogs want unique, quality content that educates and offers usable information the reader can use.

If you cannot offer this to a blog due to lack of experience than you should not approach the blog at all.

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Melissa Fach Melissa Fach is the owner of SEOAware, LLC. Melissa specializes in consulting and training companies on how to effectively handle their online marketing strategies. Her company specializes in SEO consulting, content development and web development services.

15 Reactions
  1. Wow, great advice, entertaining and interesting.Is there a correlation between demand level and writing skills? I get some of these too. Thanks Melissa.

    • Thank you, Deborah. Typically the writers with the most demands are not offering me articles that I would publish. They are mostly regurgitated or pre-101 style articles. Those that send real quality articles are often really polite and patient.

      • I agree. I get some awesome submissions from some savvy bloggers. Glad you set the etiquette straight.

  2. Melissa: Thanks for sharing your horror stories! 😉 Guest blogging is an art form.

  3. I get several pitches a week on my personal blog, but the not-having-experience one is new to me. Then again, all of these things feel like they should be common sense but, of course, are not always common practice. Great article!

  4. Fantastic post! When people pitch me, I immediately send them my guidelines. They list what topics I’m interested in, tell them to make sure we haven’t already covered it, and specify what links I’m willing to include. I find that weeds out a lot of the spammyier ones.

  5. Oh MELISSA- You are singing my song over here! I just love this post. I love your advice to guest bloggers — now I’d love your advice for blog editors (like me) who receive these kinds of messages. I want to be nice and friendly – AND — I am very committed to featuring a specific kind of expert on my site. When people send me these emails and it’s obvious that they are nothing more than link bait – I sort of feel — well, cheap and dirty. 🙂

    Do you have advice on how to say no in a respectful way?

    • Ivana, I did a presentation at Pubcon where I discussed saying no to writers that don’t meet the goals of the blog or the website (http://www.slideshare.net/MelissaFach/pubcon-blog-planning-strategies-16083080).

      I try to be as nice as possible and tell them why the article will not work. If there is information that is wrong I give them a link to the right information. If it will offend our audience I tell them that too. I also say often that the information is too basic for our audience or something that has been discussed too much already. Sometimes the articles don’t match our writer’s guidelines and I can use that as backup. Honesty is the best thing and respect is essential. Letting writers edit and try again is an option at times.

    • Oh and thanks for the comment and I totally understand what you mean about the cheap and dirty thing 🙂

  6. Thank you, Melissa!

    This is the one that gets me ticked: Failure to Research What the Blog is About

    The pitches I get from “guest blogger” are amazing. Most of them have nothing to do with my industry.

    Here’s one way to opt out from future pitches from them…

    Ask them (in an email reply) what specific link (s) they were looking to get in return.

    Lots of “guest bloggers” are looking to get their affiliate links embedded.

    They won’t get them from me.

    The Franchise King®

  7. I have a question for Susan: When you say you specify which links you’re willing to include, do you mean links to websites vs affiliate links, or do you mean how the links are worded (keywords)? I hope this question isn’t too elementary for this venue.

    • Melanie, you don’t want affiliate links because you personally won’t know what the rules and laws apply to these links and essentially other people are making money off of your blog. You also do not want a lot of links with keyworded anchor text leaving your site. It isn’t a good think for you if you have a lot of guest bloggers. A link is a link and people should be fine with just getting a link under their business name.