I’m sorry but your content just isn’t a good fit for our audience.
If you have been doing guest posting for a while, you’ve probably met with some version of this answer before.
This is not the end of the world but now you have an unused 900-word article sitting on your desktop. You could just continue pitching different ideas to different blogs. Then you remember how you spent half a work day writing the article and it would be a shame if that time and effort went down the drain.
Finding another blog interested in the article, in most cases, isn’t mission impossible and you don’t have to beg Tom Cruise to do the outreach for you. However, wouldn’t it be much simpler if the article got accepted in the first place?
The editor was interested in reviewing your piece so you must have been on the right track at some point during your outreach process. Somewhere along the way you got side-tracked and the article either needs a rework or a new home.
There is no bulletproof way to present your work but there are some steps you should follow to dodge those rejection bullets.
Do the groundwork
Most of the things we do are preceded with some form of research. Guest blogging should definitely not be an exception.
You can choose to be lazy and skip this step but you may end up spending two hours rewriting the mistakes that could have been easily avoided with a 30-minute research.
Your research should be aimed at accomplishing 4 goals. You want to find out who exactly will be your audience, which type of language do they prefer and does the blog have any specific guidelines. More about those things in a minute.
No, your first-grade math didn’t fail you. There is one goal missing. It is, of course, the subject matter research. You could potentially skip it if you’re giving a few tips on something you have plenty of experience working with or if you are writing a simple product review.
In every other case, improvising isn’t advisable. The great thing is, the more you know about the topic you’re writing, the less research you’ll need to do. Ground-breaking stuff, I know. Remember, you heard it here first! 🙂
Use standard formatting
Introduction, topic elaboration, conclusion. It’s simple, it makes sense, and most importantly, it works.
Use the introduction to catch reader’s attention. The first couple of sentences are crucial. No wonder that writing an introduction is the hardest part. Look at all of that pressure!
All jokes aside, besides engaging the reader, the introduction has another important role. It is a perfect place to let everyone know what will the article talk about and to make a smooth transition into the matter at hand.
Nothing much to add for the topic elaboration part. Yeah, I got nothing that wasn’t already mentioned or will not be introduced later in the post. Moving on.
Last but not least, conclusion. There are a few different approaches to writing a conclusion.
The most obvious route is to sum up the most important things you mentioned throughout the article.
If there is one thought, advice or a fact you really want your readers to take away, make it a center point of the conclusion.
You can also use this part of the post to spark up the conversation in the comments with some controversial statement or with an interesting and engaging question/opinion.
If the post is a part of a series or if you plan to come back and write a more detailed post on a section you mentioned in your current article, you can leave the readers with an open-loop so they know to come back later if they were satisfied with what they read so far.
Write “high-quality” article
Every site that accepts guest post will in some way, shape or form try to let you know that they only publish “high–quality articles”. However, besides very general guidelines, rarely will you find what characteristics define the quality of an article in their minds.
From our experience, quality article should have the following traits:
- no matter how complex the subject is, the text should describe the matter as simple as possible
- the article should have a nice flow and be easy to read
- numbers and bold claims should be backed up with relevant sources
- it should give useful info in the form of an actionable advice
- includes visual aid (picture, video, graph, .gif…) when appropriate
Most of the things on this list are self-explanatory. I’d just like to add a few actionable advice regarding the text flow.
So how do you write an article that is easy to read? Well, just remember to often slam that enter button and you’re half way there.
What I’m trying to say is that you should keep your paragraphs small (3 to 4 sentences) and your sentences short. If you have a short list, make bullet points. If you can present something via a chart or a picture, go ahead and do just that.
Make use of the transition word like most important, besides that, rather, therefore etc. If you have to repeat a word often, turn to synonyms.
Use these tips to force that WordPress Readability icon to go green!
Write for the right audience
If it didn’t look so awful, the heading of this chapter would be written in all caps. It is one of the more common mistakes and it is so easily avoidable.
It is always sad to see a great article being rejected because someone didn’t research or just didn’t care who will be reading his post.
You maybe don’t care who is reading the blog you’re trying to get published on but the editor sure does. So if you are going to write a medical marijuana topic for a medical marijuana-related blog and you plan to insert something like “If you want to feel high fast and forget the troubles of the world…” you’re going to have a bad time.
There is nothing inherently wrong with that sentence. The problem is that the readers, in this case, aren’t looking to get high. They just search for a solution for their particular problem and would most likely like to avoid getting high.
Do the research. Get to know your audience. Use appropriate language. That is all there is to it.
Respect the guidelines
Welcome to the place where all bets are off and where every advice I gave you so far can be thrown out of the window.
Guest post guidelines are kinda like The Bro Code. You can try to bend the rules here and there, but if you break them, there is a high chance that will be the end of a potentially beautiful friendship.
Sometimes they can seem ridiculous but you just have to accept them as they are. Try to look at it this way, detailed guidelines can actually help you to zero in on their needs and to adjust your writing style accordingly.
They want an article that is 600-900 words? Great, now you know how deep you want to go into the subject matter and how detailed your descriptions are going to be.
They want links to relevant sources? Fine, now you don’t have to bother to explain every minuscule thing yourself but can link to a post that will do it for you.
They want a strictly formal language? Cool, you can use acronyms and official industry terms and you don’t have to waste time looking for a random funny picture to raise the spirit of the article.
I’m starting to run out of adjectives so I’m going to stop right here. I’m sure you get the point.
Link to relevant sources and use visual aid
Linking to relevant sources has several benefits.
Posts with outbound links to high authority sites tend to rank better in search engines. It helps you to build the trust with a reader. You can concentrate on important points and let the linked content fill out the need of those who want to know more.
If you are doing a guest post on some health-related blog, using citations and linking to a credible source should be a no brainer.
Other niches are more forgiving but high authority sites that feature health-related or similar content will often demand to look at your sources so you can just as well provide them in advance.
Now that we’ve covered linking to relevant sources lets jump on the visual aid train. It’s going to lead us to the front page so it is a ride you don’t want to miss.
People are visual creatures. We like static pictures, we like moving pictures. We kinda love charts and we don’t mind tables. Use this to your advantage.
If you have some data that naturally fits into a table, put those numbers into the table. Same thing with charts. If you didn’t force it, the information you are trying to get to the reader will be more easily consumed in this form.
In the end, even a random picture can break the flow of the text. Saying that, don’t just throw it in the middle of the text without thinking. Breaking the flow of the text in the middle of the paragraph can confuse and distract the reader and that is rarely what you want to accomplish.
The beginning and the end of a paragraph or a bigger section is where you want to look to place your visual aids. There are some specific cases where this doesn’t apply but the burden of figuring out those situations lies on your shoulders.
Spell check your work
For the love of God, spell check your work. There are so many different applications whose sole purpose is to check your grammar and spelling that having this type of errors is inexcusable.
Even if you are confident in your writing capabilities, it doesn’t hurt to have someone else, or in this case, something else that will double check it.
A few days ago, I sent a biography that had a spelling mistake on the company name the writer is working for. I must have glossed over that bio at least 10 times before I sent it but I never noticed the mistake. My brain knew what is supposed to be written there and refused to read it letter by letter. So you can never be too sure you have 0 mistakes even if you read it over a few times.
You don’t even have to copy/paste your work into some online spell checker. Do yourself a favor and install Grammarly. You can add it as a plug-in to your browser and as an add-on to MS Office. Enjoy your perfect spelling and grammar first, thank me later.
Famous last words
You do not have to be a marketing expert or a professional blogger to notice that this article was made out of general guidelines and not out of mind-bending secrets. But the title promised me secrets, was that a click bait, you ask. I have no idea what you are talking about.
What it all comes down to is that skipping any of the mentioned steps will, in some way, lower the overall quality of your article. That will not always be a deal breaker. But if you want to build long term brand reputation and recognition trough guest posting, sub-par articles won’t cut it.