14 Guest Posting Tips

Updated July 27, 2017

As is common in the ups and downs of blogging, I don’t think guest posting has quite the benefits it once did, but it can still be a good way to build your brand and possibly increase traffic. But don’t guest post to for links.

I’ve been blogging since 2004 and in that time, I have received countless pitches from others requesting to guest post on my site.

I don’t accept guest posts and never really have (mostly just my preference), but you might be interested in my post about pitches and what makes them good.

Second, many years ago, I was a virtual assistant for Money Saving Mom. One of my tasks was Gatekeeper of Guest Posts (I made that up). I was in charge of accepting, rejecting, editing, scheduling and publishing all the guest posts. It’s a large site with lots of traffic so it wasn’t a tiny job. I learned a lot in the process.

The first section of this post includes the things I look for and tips I would offer if you want to get your guest post accepted. The second section includes tips for after your guest post is accepted. At the end is a suggestion if you want to do something other than guest posting.

1. Guest post on sites where your potential audience hangs out (and are high quality)

Not all traffic is good traffic. Certainly not all traffic is the best traffic. Be thoughtful about which sites you will submit your guest post too for consideration.

You want traffic that sticks. You want people to be so intrigued by your guest post they click over to your site (via your link in the bio for example) and find even more great info they love.

Writing a guest post takes time and energy (it should anyway), so don’t waste yours by submitting your content to a site whose readers aren’t your target audience. If you do, you might see a spike in traffic temporarily, but it won’t last long.

Hopefully you have a really good idea of who your target audience is. Think about what blogs they read. Those are the best places for your guest post.

The second piece to this is, don’t pursue guest posting on low quality sites. At best, a link back to your site from a flimsy site will yield a measly amount of traffic. At worst, it will be a signal to Google and other search engines that you are connected with low quality sites and may not be trustworthy.

2. Submit only original content; avoid duplicate content

Your guest post should not be a post you have already published on your blog or elsewhere. I have rejected submissions for this reason alone. Some of them would otherwise have been good fits.

Think about it. A high quality site cares deeply about its reader experience. They pour many hours into creating the best content. Their goal is to stand out, to be the best in their niche. The last thing they want is rerun content from another site.

Unless there is an explicit understanding between you and the blog owner about using content you’ve published elsewhere, it’s respectful and wise to write something original. To me, it demonstrates care and concern for them and their readers, not just getting traffic for yourself.

What is duplicate content?

There’s also this thing called duplicate content. Spend any length of time building a website or writing a blog and you’re sure to hear about duplicate content. There are a lot of confusing, insufficient and inaccurate explanations of the concept. I am not an expert on duplicate content myself, so I take my cues from those who are. Duplicate content involves search engines so perhaps the most notable “expert” on the subject of duplicate content is Google. Another resource is Yoast’s post Duplicate Content: causes and solutions. But let me take a stab at it…

In a nutshell, duplicate content is identical (or nearly identical) content living on different websites.

When someone looks for something on a search engine like Google, Google dives into its huge database for the best results. When it finds the same content on different sites, it doesn’t make sense to link to identical information on the front page of search results, right? I mean, if you’re Google, why would you do that? You’d have a better chance of making the searcher happy (your ultimate goal) if you listed it once and then filled the other highly coveted spots in the search results with different options, so the searcher has a lot to choose from.

Google will do its best to direct people to the site where the content was originally created, but sometimes it looks at others factors which causes it to direct people to the non-original site. This causes the original (and deserving) site to lose traffic. Sad, right?

Let’s look at an example…

Let’s say Little Blogger Suzy wrote a really great post entitled “How to Clean White Sneakers.” Now let’s say Little Blogger Suzy submitted that exact post to a really well known and trusted shoe site that sells a lot of white sneakers. So now “How to Clean White Sneakers” lives on both sites.

Now let’s pretend someone Googles “how to clean white sneakers.” Google goes through millions of webpages trying to find the most helpful article. Google sees “How to Clean White Sneakers” and determines it’s so good, it should definitely be on the first page of search results. But then Google realizes the article is on Little Blogger Suzy’s site as well as the famous shoe site. What to do?

It wouldn’t make sense to use up a second precious spot on the first page of search results to link to the same article twice. So Google has to choose which of the two to showcase. How to choose? Well, it looks at other factors about each website.

Google notices the famous shoe site is really popular, has been around for ages and is very trustworthy. Suzy’s site on the other hand, is small, hasn’t been around very long and judging by the traffic it gets, not a lot of people know about it. So, when Google lists their top picks for “how to clean white sneakers” in the search results, who are they likely to link to? The famous shoe site. Because it’s an overall stronger site and therefore more likely to make the searcher happy. And Suzy, even though she was the original author, has just experienced the bummer of losing all that traffic because her site was relegated to SERPs page number 482460 instead.

P.S. There’s no such thing as a duplicate content penalty.

3. Write well, really well

Again, it’s a no-brainer, but it’s worth a mention. A guest post submission should be your best work.

It’s pretty easy to tell when someone has “thrown together a little something” vs. someone who has really taken the time and care to produce something of high quality. Remember, great sites are very particular about the kind of content they share with their readers.

Also, take extra care to use correct, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Edit, edit, edit. If you aren’t particularly confident in your writing ability, have someone else proof your post for you.

Site owners and Gatekeepers of Guest Posts don’t have a lot of time. The less your guest post has to be edited and reformatted, the more likely it will be published.

4. Follow the guidelines

If the site for which you would like to guest post has guest posting guidelines, follow them. The guidelines are there to make the submission process easier for all involved.

Conversely, a submission that ignores or breaks the guidelines screams 3 things:

  1. I’m only in it for my own gain.
  2. I don’t actually read your blog.
  3. I didn’t even take a few moments to do some easy research to find out what you’re looking for.

If the guest posting guidelines are not immediately obvious, do a little hunting before you shoot off an email asking for them. Bloggers and site owners (big & small) are busy people, so do your best to find what you need.

Contact pages, FAQ pages and About pages are good places to look and often provide a link to guest posting guidelines. Sometimes guest posting guidelines are linked to at the end of other guest posts on the site, or in the footer.

Or, use a site’s search bar to search for guidelines. If you don’t see a search bar, google “site:nameofsite.com guidelines” (no quotes) or something similar. Try several different keywords like “guest post,” “guest posting,” “guest,” “guest post guidelines,” etc.

If you truly can’t find the guidelines, a short and friendly email asking about them is appropriate. For example,

I have an idea for a guest post I think would benefit your readers. Do you accept guest posts and would you mind forwarding your guest posting guidelines? Thanks!

5. Go easy on the links to your own site and don’t include your affiliate links

Guest posting is a way to get your site noticed by a larger audience. A post loaded with links to your own blog is bad form.

I remember one person who submitted a guest post who linked to their own site one way or another in almost every paragraph in their post. It was rejected. That’s just tacky.

Sure, include a link to your own website, blog or landing page in your bio, but include links to your own blog within the content of your post at your own risk.

Likewise, a submission with your own affiliate links is, in my opinion, inappropriate unless you’ve been given explicit permission.

6. Strive to benefit their readers, not just to get your own

A guest post submission is much more likely to be accepted if the blog owner feels it will truly benefit their readers.

Before submitting a guest post, read the blog so you get a really good feel for the style of writing, topics covered and response of readers.

Provide really meaty content, not just fluffy stuff obviously intended to get the reader to your bio where they can click through to your blog. Not only is a lame post unlikely to be accepted, it sends a bad message about your writing, brand or product.

Remember, this blog represents someone’s hard work and they have their own reputation to maintain. The last thing they want is to publish a post that doesn’t live up to the quality their readers are used to.

7. Be a blog reader first

Random, out-of-the blue, “Your readers are gonna love this!” submissions that obviously came from someone just trying to get the word out about their site / product get automatically rejected.

Before you submit a guest post, comment and get involved in the community. Be genuinely helpful. Be an asset. That way, when your guest post submission comes through and has your name attached, it will have several points in its favor because you will have already proven yourself trustworthy and helpful.

Blog owners can tell when you have sent them a form letter pitch! I send them straight to spam. After a while I created a tag in my email called “unbelievable” and then I send them to spam. My “unbelievable” collection is a source of entertainment and perfect examples of what not to do.

8. Time your submission

If you’re a blogger, you know how hard it can be to keep a blog going. Life happens and it can be a challenge to keep up.

When life throws you curve balls or when other obligations take your attention, I think all blog owners appreciate some well-written posts they can plug into their queue in a pinch.

As you follow the blog for which you’d like to guest post, take note of any special events coming up for the blog owner. Are they speaking at a conference? Are they in the throes of writing a book? Are they about to go on maternity leave or take a vacation?

If you catch wind of a disruption to their normal schedule, it’s often a good time to send a friendly email asking them if you might be able to help by submitting a guest post.

9. Don’t be desperate or demanding

Provide content that fits well (yes!) but use your own voice and be yourself. “What do you want me to write about?” “How do you want me to say it?” “I can write whatever you want!” type of emails aren’t impressive. The last thing a blog owner wants to do is hold your hand through the process.

Conversely, “You need to publish this!” or “Your readers need to hear this!” type of emails are also turn-offs. Trust me, the blog owner has a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for and what they’re not.

10. Make accepting your guest post easy

  • Be kind at all times, especially if your post is rejected.
  • Eliminate as many emails back and forth as possible. Try to answer your own questions. Be thorough and succinct. Keep your emails short and to the point.
  • Provide well-written, useful, on-topic content the blog owner can use “out of the box.” Their readers will find it beneficial and you will feel proud to put out there.

Once your guest post has been accepted, your job is far from over. Here are tips to make the most of the readers who will see your post.

11. Interact in the comments

Note when your post goes live and be available to interact in the comments. Not only does this help your host, it gives you more of an opportunity to share your expertise and build relationships.

12. Write a strong bio

Keep your bio short and to the point. You want the reader to get to know you better over at your own site.

Consider linking to a special landing page tailor-made for the new visitors coming from your guest post. Why? Because if you send them to your homepage, they’ll have to figure out for themselves what you’re all about. Here’s how to create one…

13. Create a guest post landing page

Unless your homepage is super clear and directive, you’re likely to lose ‘em. These visitors are a captive audience, but only for a moment. Don’t make them fend for themselves once they hit your site. Guide them.

Here’s how:

  • Create a new page (not a post because you don’t want it going out to everyone in your RSS feed).
  • Make it obvious in the title that you’re welcoming the readers from the blog on which you guest posted. For example, pretend you’re guest posting here. You could go with a title like “Welcome AmyLynnAndrews.com Readers!” or you could make it more clever.
  • Think about what those readers are looking for. Who are they? What type of information is important to them? If they clicked through your bio, the topic of the guest post you wrote is probably a good hint.
  • Pretend you’re a tour guide. Your new visitors just arrived. What content on your blog is most like the information you shared in your guest post? Highlight those posts at the top of your landing page and link to those similar posts / pages on your site.
  • The key here is to provide them ample opportunity to explore what you have to offer but not to overwhelm them. I’d choose 3-7 of my most relevant pieces of content they are most likely to appreciate. Don’t go crazy. This is a first date, not a marriage proposal.
  • Ask them to subscribe via email. Include your email signup form somewhere on your page.

14. Don’t want to guest post? Write a list post instead.

If guest posting doesn’t appeal to you, Pat Flynn recommends writing “A list post that features some of the top and up & coming players in your niche.” These are often called “roundup” or “expert” posts. They don’t have the punch they once did, but they still can work. Why? Because these types of posts often garner a visit from the people you feature, sometimes resulting in a reciprocate mention. (A good idea is to tag your experts in a tweet to alert them to their mention.) Plus, they are useful for your readers.

Originally published July 20, 2010

39 thoughts on “14 Guest Posting Tips”

  1. This is a really great article! I am really impressed at the effort that you put into this. Most blogs that provide tips haven’t really been helpful to me. I’m considering blogging and I have tried it in the past but it didn’t really work out for me. This helped give me some sense of direction.

  2. Great points you mentioned for both blog owner and guest writer. I’ve been doing guest posting for 4 years and I’m getting a lot of traffic and more readers are connected to my blogs , it may take time to see the reuslts but when that time comes, it really pays off. That’s why it’s really important to write high quality guest post content that readers could relate and trust!

  3. I’m about to start writing and pitching a lot of guest posts, so these tips are super helpful.

    I really like #6, #7, and #13.

    It’s really important to interact on the blog you’re pitching, and to get to know their readers.

    Having a landing page for your guest posts also makes a huge difference.

  4. Hi Amy, I’ve been reading your blog since May this year and am fascinated with your every new blog post. How can you write so well?

    Thanks for sharing the valuable info.

  5. Amy, I think that from all these points #2, #3 and #4 are the most important!

    Bloggers usually don’t accept duplicated content or check every article with a special plagiarism checker. Many of them use Copyscape, but recently I heard that some folks start using Unplag. You can read more about it in this article: https://unplag.com/duplicate-content-checker/

    Besides, if your writing is poor, there is a high chance that your article will be rejected without clarifying the reason. That’s why I regularly use free spell checkers as Reverso and editors such as Hemingway Editor. I spend not much time to make my post better, but it’s so often make a huge difference!

    And following the guidelines.. Yup. If you submit your blog post and don’t even read guidelines at least once, your post will be probably rejected.

  6. Hi,

    It’s neat, because guest posting is going back to the old school approach of building relationships, forming bonds and helping both parties in the process. There is nothing wrong with building links as a natural by-product of adding value and forming connections. Smart post here.

    But people were making huge mistake by taking it just for the sake of link building, which is completely wrong, It reduce the quality of guest posts.

    So, Do your homework. Reach as big as crowd as possible. And of course, make sure the crowd wants to know what you have to say because smart guest bloggers hyper target their audience with a strategic guest blogging strategy.

    I used to hit the heavies like problogger.net for a tremendous networking opportunity, and also, to build bonds with Darren Rowse and his co-bloggers at PB. It sure hasn’t hurt me in the social proof department either, as I’ve received some nice pop for being published on problogger 3 times.

    All techniques make sense here. Put in the legwork to find the right blog to build an intelligennt, effective approach to guest posting. Think about the specific audience you wish to reach before bothering to write a guest post.

    Thanks for sharing the awesome tips.

  7. Hi Amy,

    i just found this post on twitter and i am a addicted blogger and love to do guest posting , here i am surprised to see your fourteenth guest posing tips and i missed 13 so starting from zero to become hero.

    Thanks 🙂

  8. It is difficult to get your guest post accepted , especailly if you have a new blog. No one is willing to link his\her High PR Blog to your Newly Born Blog.

  9. Hey Amy,

    Just recently found you. I am really enjoying your blogs.

    I was going to add this one to Pinterest via your provided links above, but as I am sure you know, Pinterest needs a photo. I like saving things to read again later on my Pinterest board – Blogging Stuff (http://pinterest.com/gindavis1/blogging-stuff/).

    I’ve just recently started blogging and look forward to the day, that I can guest on other peoples blogs. There were some great tips here.

    Gina Davis
    Custom Growth Group
    http://www.customgrowthgroup.com
    gina.davis@customgrowthgroup.com

  10. I am a real newbie at guest blogging, but just completed my first guest blog post, at the request of a blog owner who has read my previous work, liked it, and asked me to guest blog for them. I spent many days writing this quality post–a lot of research and effort went into it, and it is some of my best work. It is a gardening blog, and many of us with gardening blogs do share our work at blog hops each week. What I am gathering, from what I have read in the comments above, is that it is not okay for me to repost at my website this blog post that I wrote. I can rework it and repost, but not post it in its entirety. Do I have that correct? Although the blog owner who asked for the guest post wanted to submit it to the blog hops, I asked her not to, so that I could do it when I repost the material on my blog. Was I wrong in doing that? Also, I am not inclined to do any more guest posting, because I wrote a really excellent post, and now I don’t get to put it up at my site in its entirety?? I used all my best, original photos in it as well. It seems like a bad deal for the original writer. The blog that requested my post does have a larger readership than I currently have, but it is in no way a big blog. I really could use some advice with this–thank you!

  11. I am hoping to start doing a bit more guest posting in the near future, now that the kids are done homeschooling for at least a little while, giving me a few more hours a week to work on building readership on my blog. This article has great tips as well as the comments. Thanks

  12. OK, just to clarify…if I would like to guest post for another blog, I should write the blog’s author, professionally (we’ve covered that) but I am unclear about what to include at that point….am I to suggest several topics? Or should I include a completed post? Or should that wait until I hear from them?

    Just a little confused….

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Sorry I confused you. 🙂 I think it depends on the situation. For example, maybe you and the blogger have briefly commented back and forth about a particular topic or they visited your blog so they have an idea of your writing style. In that case, a simple, “I’d love to guest post sometime” should be sufficient.

      If the blogger doesn’t know who you are though, I’d recommend giving a brief description of your idea. “Brief” is key here (bloggers are busy and are much more likely to skip an email if it’s long). Be sure to succinctly highlight why the topic you would write about would be an asset to their blog. I say a few sentences would be ideal.

  13. Hi Amy, I’d like to add that once you get your guest post accepted and published, it is also important to connect with readers and reply to comments, just as you do.

  14. GREAT post, Amy! A couple things I’d add:

    If you are hoping to guest post:
    PLEASE, do not just send a generic email saying, “I’d like to guest post. What should I talk about?” As you stated, it’s important to get a feel for the blogger’s tone and audience. I like to pitch bloggers with 2-3 topics/title ideas of what I could write about. This will also help your chances I’ve found.

    If you are a blogger looking for guest posters:
    For the love of all that’s good in the world, DO NOT put out a generic tweet or email saying, “I’m going out of town…anyone wanna guest blog?” You will just not get the sort of response you need. Try contacting specific bloggers you enjoy and ask them to write for you…and give them specific ideas of what you’d like them to cover.

    I also find it inappropriate when a blogger asks if they can copy and paste an entire one of my posts on their blog. With RARE RARE exception do I say yes or offer this as an option. In general, this is a faux pas in my book.

    I’m actually headed out of town for BlogHer and I put out a very specific request recently for a series of posts I want on my blog during my absence. I chose a topic that I knew would garner interest and that folks would like to both write & read about. The response was overwhelming…in fact, I got more folks emailing me than I knew what to do with.

    Sometimes it’s all about your approach. Be friendly & be professional. Finally, understand that we’re all busy over here, so do your homework first.

  15. Great post, and really timely too, since in the next month I plan to start seeking posting opportunities.

    My target audience is moms who want to make their budgets stretch. Coupon and deal sites are an obvious place to find those moms. But I was also thinking of going to craft sites, do-it-your self sites, homeschool sites, etc. The thinking being that moms there are likely to be interested in my topic, but not over saturated in the frugal blog market.

    Am I on the right track?

  16. Staci,
    I would for sure at least ask. It NEVER hurts to ask! Also, please, please don’t think I am putting down small blogs in anyway. I have been there and had a ton of help from other “big” people myself.

    But…. 🙂 if you are going to write a guest post it can take several hours and you want to make sure that your time is well spent and you will get traffic because of it if it’s posted.

    You also might ask to re-print other’s articles. We let people re-print our stuff all the time with credit. It isn’t great for SEO but it does give quality content that your readers will like. Amy would know more on the SEO part of it reprinting something that’s already out there but we do let other people do it all the time.

  17. Erica made me think of another question.
    More than a year ago I did a guest post for a blog, that was before I really even had one of my own. I have linked to that post to get people to read it. BUt there is quite a bit of my back story in that post, and I would lilke to be able to share it with my readers, and be able to do some referring, or linking to it.
    Can I repost it on my site ever? or if I posted something similar would that be lame?

    1. I think you can absolutely link to your guest post. I also think you could write a more in-depth (or summarized) version — whichever is appropriate — on your own site and reference the other if it makes sense.

  18. I like that idea of being able to use it on your own site if it is rejected. I am curious about asking people to do guest posts. I know my blog is pretty small still, so I don’t want to get laughed at. SHould I wait until I have a certain number of readers before reaching out?

  19. Amy, could you explain a little more why a “submission should not be a post you have already published on your blog”? Or, another question, would it be unethical to delete the post from your own blog, then submitting it to another?

    The reason I ask is that I’ve (and I’m sure others) written some great posts but didn’t get much recognition or traffic for it. But if it’s possible for a much larger audience to view it, I’d rather delete it off my archives.

    Thanks for all you teach us!

    1. There are two main reasons I say make a guest post original:

      1. You don’t want to risk getting yourself (or them) into hot water with the search engines for “duplicate content”. Now, there’s varying opinions about whether or not this is something to be particularly concerned with, but still, better to be safe.

      2. There’s something about “original” and one-of-a-kind that makes it more valuable and noteworthy.

      Instead of deleting a post from your archives and submitting it as a guest post, I would rework it — edit, rewrite, update, add new stuff, make it better — and then submit that one as a guest post. I’m not suggesting you change a word or two, but if you can genuinely redo it and present it from a new angle or go into more depth, I say go for it.

    2. One way to get some traffic on a post that didn’t get as many views as you’d hoped would be to post it to a relevant blog hop. The first time I linked up with a blog hop in my niche I doubled my average daily views, the next time they tripled. Just make sure to follow the guidelines they provide.

  20. I would also add that you want to do guest posts for blogs that will be worth your time.

    Even though some smaller blogs would be perfect for a guest post, with such a small readership it isn’t worth the time to go to the work of writing one special post for each of them if you aren’t going to get a lot of people coming back to your site.

    So for us before we spend hours writing one guest post we are going to make sure that
    1- the readership is big enough to be worth it and
    2-it will be something we can use on our own site if it’s rejected.

    1. Yes, great point Tawra — “write something you can use on your own blog if it’s rejected.”

      1. I think sometimes there are exceptions for small blogs. It’s great to help out a fellow blogger when the circumstances dictate and he/she needs a helping hand due to illness, pregnancy, vacay, etc. Who knows, that small blog starting out may skyrocket their readership in a few months. That’s what happens sometimes, for instance with TheLetter4 blog.

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