Congratulations to writer R.P. for placing third in our recent article competition. Here is the full article, interlineated with some notes of ours on what was great and what could be improved upon. The article elements are in bold below to distinguish from our comments in plain text.
Article Title: Guest Blogging: Top Ways to Get Your Guest Post Rejected
It’s a pretty good title, but would be stronger by dropping the two-part format. How about simply, “Top Ways to Get Your Guest Blog Post Rejected.” Better still, the “Top Ways” could be quantified for more zing. “Three Top Ways…” gives readers a set of expectations, and a digestible number of tips to add to the brain space.
Article Synopsis: Good writing and common courtesy will go a long way in getting your email noticed in a publisher’s in-box. However, here are the top reasons you can almost guarantee that your guest post will be rejected.
Again, the synopsis is pretty good – but it relies on a publisher reading past the first sentence. Often, they will not. Try instead to lead with a succinct description of the best content in the article. “Descriptions and examples of the three most common reasons guest blog posts are rejected by publishers.”
Writing guest posts for blogs is a very competitive business. Not only do you have to have great writing skills, you also have to compete with other writers and learn how to approach web site publishers. Or should I say, learn how not to approach them.
The introduction is fairly strong. It identifies the problem and outlines some of the complexities of the problem. Then, it delivers a twist which connects it to the meat of the article. It would be stronger by taking out the “you” and “I” references. “Writing guest posts for blogs is a very competitive business. Not only must writers deliver exceptional content, but they must also stand out when offering their services to blog publishers. Here are three pitfalls to avoid when approaching publishers in search of guest blogging opportunities.”
Ideally, the first tip would appear immediately after the introduction. Instead, this writer continues to make the case that there is a problem to be solved. Try rolling some of this into the introduction to avoid losing a consistent train of thought throughout the piece.
Most web site publishers are very busy. Not only are they writing for their own blogs, they are publishing newsletters, working with advertisers, and they are daily sorting through sometimes hundreds of emails from readers, as well as from potential guest authors such as yourself.
Good writing and common courtesy will go a long way in getting your email noticed in a publisher’s in-box. However, here are the top reasons you can almost guarantee that your guest post will be rejected.(Hmm, sounds familiar? Don’t take a shortcut and use pieces of your article for your synopsis.)
Aha! We’ve just now arrived at the hand-off from introduction to the article body. Spend a little less time making the case that there is a problem to be solved, and a little more time elucidating solutions. After all, that’s what readers are looking for.
Neglecting to do Your Homework Good use of subheading.
Never submit an article idea to a publisher without first taking a good look at their website or blog. Some writers try to convince a publisher why they should publish the article they have already written instead of making sure the article is a good fit for the web site. Often web sites are broken down into very specific categories, and if an article doesn’t fit one of the categories, it is very likely to get rejected.
Make sure that a web site does not already have articles similar to the one you want to submit. Most blog owners are trying to cut down on the amount of duplicate and repetitive content on their sites, so they don’t want too many articles about a particular topic. Look for a unique angle to a topic that is already covered on the site and the publisher will be much more likely to take a look at the article.
Excellent, detailed, actionable advice.
Ignoring Publisher Guidelines Good subheading.
Many publishers have specific guidelines for guest post submissions. Some have minimum and/or maximum word counts and now that Pinterest has become so popular, many publishers want photos to go along with articles. This sentence should be split in two to make the two points separately.
Find out how many links are allowed in a post, and whether they are allowed in the text of the article or just in the byline. Don’t place more links in the article than the publisher wants, and make sure the links are relevant to the subject of the article. Publishers are not looking for articles that contain links to un-related web sites. “Unrelated” is a word, but this sentence essentially repeats the thoughts of the prior sentence. Many publishers these days are very particular about sites they will link out to. This last sentence is almost redundant to the prior one, and doesn’t really add anything of value. Combine the three into one cohesive thought.
Ignoring the Blog’s Readers
Find a new word for subheading so as not to repeat “Ignoring.”
Remember that a publisher will publish (try a synonym here instead of “publisher will publish”) an article if they feel that it is providing value to their readers. They are not trying to do you a favor by posting your article for you to get your link out there. Their main concern is their readers. If their readers will not be interested in your article, then really think about how you can improve it to add more value to it. Articles that are not of value to the reader are really of value to nobody. Even search engines these days are not interested in articles that no one reads.
Since it’s now appeared twice, I’ll comment. “These days” or “Nowadays” frequently weakens writing by providing a moving goal post of accountability. They essentially indicate that something else used to be the case, but now there is a new standard. When tempted to use one of these, dig in and provide more meat. “Google has expressed a strong preference for articles written for readers and hosted on sites featuring mutually relevant content. Since publishers depend on Google for PageRank and other metrics, it’s important to be literate about what matters to Google if you hope to appeal to quality publishers.”
Many bloggers are also re-thinking the idea of the value of guest posts because their readers want to hear what the primary blogger has to say, not what guest bloggers have to say. Make sure that your content is relevant to the readers and that the format of the post is similar to that of the primary blogger, so that it blends in with articles already posted on the site. Great tip.
A lot of people who write guest posts for blogs are located in different countries from the main audience of a particular blog. If the writer is located in the United Kingdom and the main audience lives in the United States, then there may be some differences in the way an article is worded, especially if there are measurements involved. Make sure you know the audience you are writing for, you would be surprised at how many writers don’t think about this before submitting a guest post. Try to avoid suggesting what thoughts may be in the head of the reader: “You might think” or “you would be shocked,” followed by a correction can be poorly received by readers.
Publishers are busy, (reminder of a primary problem) and you want to make sure your article gets published on their web site (reminder of the goal of the reader). If you take the time to follow all their guidelines and write an article specifically with that web site in mind, you are very likely to have your article published (reminder of the tips provided in the article). It may sound like plain common sense, but many writers do not take the time to follow these simple steps to success.
Here is the conclusion. It sums up the article with aplomb, but could have been a bit stronger at the close. “Avoiding these common mistakes will help you distinguish yourself with publishers and lead to better success earning top guest blog placements.
“Boo-yeah” to R.P., our Bronze medalist. A few tweaks and you’ll be in contention for the next Gold!