Why Your Guest Posts Keep Getting Rejected (And What To Do About It)


Guest posting is an important part of the content marketer’s game. However, it can also prove to be one of the most frustrating.

I’m a writer – or rather, I’m a blogger. When I went to university to study English and the crafts of professional and creative writing, I think it’s fair to say that I wasn’t alone amongst my peers in my ambitions to become a novelist, poet or dramatist – such naïve young things we all were.

But, as anyone who harbours such dreams of earning a living from the creative arts – and particularly writing – will tell you, before you get your ‘big break’, you’re going to be getting a lot of rejection letters from agents, publishers and producers, all of whom seem to have a very similar message ready to decree: “(The Royal) We regret to inform you that this isn’t quite what we’re looking for at the moment.”

True writers will plough on, of course. Stephen King for years famously pinned all of his rejection letters to a notice board in the beaten down trailer that he lived in before eventually his first novel Carrie was picked up by Doubleday.


In the meantime, he embarked on a career as an English teacher – and here, too, am I, pursuing a career in writing, not of children’s fiction and stage plays like I thought, but of blogs and news shorts and eBooks and press releases in this wonderful world of content marketing.

However, even as I cast fiction aside for facts and opinions, those rejection slips – now in the form of (automated) emails – still from time to time amass on the figurative spike on the wall of my professional inbox.

I thought I’d seen the last of them, but, alas, much like in my spotty-teenage days of losing at love, rejection seems to follow me wherever I go.


Why Guest Post?

Writers, it seems, of any ilk, have to deal with rejection – and guest posting is no exception.

If you’ve ever attempted to get a guest post published on someone else’s website, then you will be very aware of the frustrations of which I speak.

No matter your industry, there will be dozens of websites out there from which you would love to receive referral traffic off the back of a guest post – if only you could persuade them to publish it for you.

And yet, too often we receive that same old message: “We regret to inform you that this isn’t quite what we’re looking for at the moment.” Perhaps it’s the same person out there ruining the hopes and dreams of writers all over the world.

And so many bloggers, in the end, just give up with guest posting or don’t even bother pursuing the avenue in the first place.

And that’s a big shame, for the benefits of landing regular guest posts are numerous. Firstly, there’s all that relevant referral traffic that I’ve already mentioned, but in addition, there are the new business relationships and new, paying customers that can often form as a direct result.

If you need proof that guest posting works, then I refer you to the story of Leo Widrich, CEO and co-founder of Buffer, who wrote 150 guest posts in 9 months and directly acquired 100,000 new users of the Buffer app. Indeed, guest posting has made Buffer one of the most widely used and recognised social media tools on the web.


3 Reasons Why Your Guest Posts Get Rejected (And What To Do About It)

As I say, I’m no stranger to rejection the rejection slip, although I am pleased to report that such notes are much less frequent as, over the years, I have traversed the gradient of the learning curve to, if not quite surmount it, then at least clamber over and ahead of some of the competition who have yet to learn some of the more particular techniques of getting a post accepted.

And it just so happens that I’m feeling generous today, and so I am here going to reveal three of the biggest reasons why guest posts get refused, and offer some tips for how to avoid such crushing rejections.


1. You’re Tackling A Tired Subject In A Tired Way

When you submit a guest post for review, if there’s one thing that irritates editors the most it’s writers who have taken a tried and trusted approach to a tried and trusted topic in a tried and trusted manner.

Writing is – or it should be – all about originality. Editors don’t want the same old stuff that has been beaten to death a million times already regurgitated once again just because you wrote it and you’re proud of what you’ve produced.

Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t tackle old subjects – it’s just that you can’t tackle old subjects in old ways. But, you should realise that you don’t necessarily have to think too far outside of the box to turn a tired idea into a rejuvenated one. Indeed, sometimes, all you have to do is flip an idea on its head.

For instance, if I was trying to get this very blog post accepted as a guest post on a third party site, one idea that would help it stand out from the rest of the submissions would be to invert the focus of the blog and indeed the title.

To explain, rather than entitling the post ‘Why Your Guest Posts Keep Getting Rejected (And What To Do About It)’, a slightly leftfield approach would be to call it ‘How To Guarantee Your Guest Posts Gets Rejected’ and write the blog from there. In fact, I wish I’d thought of that before I started writing this piece as that could have been a lot of fun.

Essentially, the blog post will drive towards the same purpose and ultimately deliver the same tips. BUT it will take a different approach to what is expected, and will thusly stand a greater chance of being taken up. This very approach has worked for me in the past, and there’s no reason why it won’t work for you as well.


2. You Balls Up The Pitch

Ok, first thing’s first. When submitting a guest post READ THE GUIDELINES THOROUGHLY AND FOLLOW THEM METICULOUSLY!!

If you don’t do this, then you’ve ballsed up your chances before you even start. Each site that solicits guest posts has its own set of guidelines. Some will ask you to send the whole post, others will just want a pitch. You will know which sites want which by reading the instructions – and editors will know which bloggers aren’t reading the instructions when writers submit content that is in objection to what has been asked for.

Secondly, make sure that your accompanying email is as well-written as your actual blog post. Now, there is some leeway here, you may be surprised to learn. Not everyone speaks or writes in English as a first language, though of course this has nothing to do with the quality or originality of their ideas, nor of the importance of what they have to say – and at the end of the day, editors exist to, well, edit.

However, what is absolutely vital is that you manage to communicate your ideas in a legible fashion. There is a huge difference between a few grammatical or spelling errors and an email that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever even if you stand on your head.

Thirdly, don’t waffle. Keep things short, sweet and, most importantly of all, concise. Introduce yourself and what you do in no more than two lines. Then, in a separate paragraph, explain your guest post, giving its title, in no more than three lines, and why it would interest the website’s readership. Finally, attach or link to two or three examples of your best work for reference.

Important note: all of the above is of course subject to the specific guidelines that each site gives.


3. Incongruous Tone And Topic

As well as taking great care over reading the guidelines for submission, you should also make sure that you’ve actually read the blog that you’re pitching to get posted on. If you’re trying to get a blog out there about why we should all be going on the new grass and sand diet, then you’re probably not going to get too far on the GetResponse blog.

I’m sure that you’re not making such glaring errors of judgement, but what you might be doing is getting the tone all wrong. I like writing for the GetResponse blog because I get to use my friendly voice – and I seem to get away with throwing a bit of silliness and sarcasm in there, too. And that’s ok because it suits the tone and the style of the whole blog – great advice delivered in a friendly, not-too-stuffy manner.

However, this tone would not at all be appropriate for some of the other websites that I write for, which prefer much more formal and informative tones without much in the way of light-heartedness at all. And so I adjust my style to suit the site that I’m writing for. And this is exactly what you must do when trying to land a guest post on a third party site.

Read the blog, understand the tone and style, and of course make sure that what you submit is in line with what the blog already publishes.

I sincerely hope some of these tips take the strain off your rejection spike. Let us know what other suggestions you have in the comments below.

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