How to Get a Guest Post: The Harsh Realities No One Talks About

68 amazing comments

guest posting

Why can’t I get my guest posts accepted?

It’s a question I hear almost every day, and it’s one I’m sure all of us have pondered from time to time. It can be really frustrating to reach out to big blogs and get rejected again and again.

Today I’ve got a short video for you (I promised I was going to do a lot more of them) that is based around the harsh realities of guest posting.

In fact, the main premise of the video is this:

Guest posts grow new blogs, but new bloggers struggle to get guest posts.

So how do you overcome that double-edged sword? Watch the video to find out.

Note: This post is a lot shorter than the usual 3,000 to 5,000 words that I normally put out and that’s because I want to make sure you have time to watch the video.


You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel here as not all videos are used in articles.

As a lot of you might know, this week I had a guest post on Copyblogger called Why I Hate Copyblogger. It caused a little bit of a stir around the web but it also brought in over 100 new email subscribers and helped me make introductions with some big names in the niche.

And to be honest, I don’t think that post would have been possible without the friendship and guidance of Sonia Simone. I’m sure she went out on a bit of limb to get that post approved by Brian Clark, the founder of the site, as evidenced by a Google+ comment Brian addressed to me:

Brian Clark

It was all in good fun but I was really impressed at the bravery they showed running such a controversial title. I’m glad they trusted me to write it.

Do you struggle to get guest posts?

What I’d really like to do now is open up the floor to anyone who has struggled to land a guest posting gig. What problems did you have? What was the response that you got from the blog owner? Hopefully we can all pitch in and come up with some good suggestions.

SO, WHAT'S NEXT?

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68 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • John Shea

    Thanks for posting this, I will be referencing this article in the one I’m writing to elaborate on guest posting from our interview πŸ™‚


    1. Ramsay

      Hey John!

      I still haven’t sent around those guest post examples but I reckon that Copyblogger one would be alright.

      Hope the write up is going well. Let me know if there is anything else I can do.


  • Naomi

    Awesome tip here, thanks. I just got my first gig writing for a magazine. I’m pretty happy that I got a positive response from my first ever pitch. I agree that being engaged with the blog/mag first is going to support your cause. I would never want to go in cold – nobody wants that!


    1. Ramsay

      Wow! Congratulations!

      As much as I hate to say it, print media really still does get a lot of traffic and “clout” for your personal brand. Well done!


  • jamie flexman

    I think it all depends on how professional the site (and it’s authors) are.

    There are some absolutely huge sites in the personal development niche that won’t give you the time of day, yet their blog isn’t actually of a very high quality.

    I call these ‘Britney blogs’ – watered down pap for the masses.

    There are other huge sites that will always send a reply and in my experience, these sites usually have a high standard of writing.

    I think the best way to get any guest post accepted is to write each one with the aim of it being the best thing you have ever written. It’s hard to ‘give away’ your best work but it’s better to be seen by 10x the audience and give you a load of new subscribers than for it to be forever lost in your archives.


    1. Ramsay

      Jamie – I will not have anyone dissing Britney on my blog!

      Just kidding.

      That is the perfect description really. And you’re right, there are a lot of huge sites out there with masses of content and a really low quality.

      What you said really is a good test: if I’m writing the post and desperately want to put it up on my site then it’s probably nearly ready to go on someone elses.


  • Tiffany

    I didn’t know you did videos! Hoorah!

    Firstly, I was surprised to hear that I am only supposed to put out a bit of content and then leave it at that for a while. WHA?! I thought I was supposed to produce a lot of high quality content and focus on that for a while. I’m confused.

    Secondly, I’m new to this whole idea of being a guest blogger thing. I think I’ve chosen to write about a topic that is widely spoken about, but that, given the history and culture of my chosen topic, has not really been taken up by young’uns or the digital world. I kind of have to create the audience and then appeal to them, in a manner of speaking.

    I suppose my problem then is that I don’t really know how to find other blogs that would be interested in the thing I’m writing about as I don’t yet know if there is a community out there doing what I’m doing… eep.


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Tiffany.

      Yep, been doing videos for a little while now but people have been asking for more so will try and do them more regularly.

      As far as the content thing goes, I think you’re falling into the trap that a lot of bloggers do. Yes, lots of content is important. But what’s the point if no one is reading it on your blog? A better idea is to have a couple of really amazing pieces on your blog and then spend your time writing on other blogs to drive traffic back to your site.

      Does that make sense?

      I can think of plenty of sites that your content would work on: self improvement sites, university blogs and newsletters, newspapers looking to cover related issues, etc.

      Hope that helps!


      1. Tiffany

        Shoot. Good to know.

        I have anywhere from 20-200 “hits” on my website each day and, according to google analytics 78% of my visitors are “new”, but folks rarely leave comments and such. Not a very interactive crew. I ought to do some research and find out what this means.

        Secondly, THANKS for the ideas about what kind of places I may look to get the word out. Duh! I’ll start trolling about the interwebs to see what kind of communities I can find.

        Lastly, you’re cute. You ought to get your lovely face out there more often. With kittens.


        1. Ramsay

          Reach is the most important thing. Just keep trying to find quality new traffic.

          Glad those ideas helped.

          Lastly, shucks. πŸ˜‰


  • Brian

    Great suggestions Ramsey. I think a lot of people think that guest posting is a good way to build an audience quickly, but a big part of it is building relationships – and that takes time.

    Definitely want to see a guest post about kittens though…


    1. Ramsay

      Actually, now that I think about it, Glen from ViperChill did a video for me once about kittens. How odd…

      Maybe I should publish it.


      1. Brian

        Maybe it’s Glen secretly sending you all those kitty guest post requests πŸ˜‰


        1. Ramsay

          Ha ha. I doubt it.


  • Johanna

    Enjoyed your super helpful video, and although as you say, there’s so much out there about how to write perfect guest posts, the key ingredient is in the relationship that’s formed before you even pitch. I laughed about the kitten pitches you’ve received, but nodded in agreement as I thought about the strange, off-target pitches that I sometimes get too (despite the fact that I’m nowhere near the Blog Tyrant or Copyblogger league).

    As I continue on my blogging journey I’ve found that guest posting on medium sized blogs can also help (these bloggers are often strapped for time, and trying hard to build an audience) so perhaps it’s with blogs lower down the feeding line that newbie bloggers should concentrate? After all, some of those blogs will reach the big time, and then hey presto, you’ve not only honed your craft, but formed a great relationship with them too. Of course that’s a long view approach that not everyone will subscribe to.

    With so many people blogging these days, compared to when you, and Darren, Brian and Jon started up, I think reaching any kind of success is going to take longer to accomplish – so perhaps it’s necessary to take a longer view approach? What do you think?


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Johanna.

      Good to see you here again.

      Thanks for the feedback about the video.

      Regarding the last paragraph, I’m not sure about that. Darren and Brian were big way before I was even around but I managed to find an audience despite their presence. The same goes for bloggers who have come after me.

      To be honest, I think that the net is growing so quickly such that new readers and audiences are always becoming available.

      Thoughts?


      1. Johanna

        Yes, I agree, and I think that there’s an audience for anyone who has something interesting to say, or who’s offering helpful advice. I also think that we have to be savvy in reaching out to them (I still fail here) and then, as ever, so it comes back to the importance of guest posting πŸ™‚


  • Chris

    Ramsay,
    Great video. Do more of these! I like the idea of putting quality over frequency, especially in the beginning, then giving a few low-key shoutouts.

    Food for thought: as a blogger, should you know you’re niche before you start? It seems like something that one might develop over time (or at least in more than 3 articles).

    Lastly: Kittens=Gold.


    1. Ramsay

      Hey Chris! Thanks for the feedback.

      I absolutely think a blogger should know what niche they are targeting before they start. The brand, name, content, marketing – all of that stuff needs to flow together smoothly to produce an outcome (whatever that outcome is that you’re targeting).

      That being said, there is no harm in changing directions if you see something better or notice a better way to do things.

      What do you think?


      1. Chris

        I suppose that’s really it: know what your niche is (and if you’re not sure just pick one and go with it), but don’t feel like you need to be stuck to that for life. Having a direction and switching is better than wandering aimlessly (I presume).

        Did you know exactly how you wanted to present yourself/what content to focus on when you started blogging?


        1. Ramsay

          For some sites, yes. Others, no. This one actually evolved quite a lot but I had a rough idea of the niche and how I wanted to position myself in it.


    2. Robyn

      In defense of kittens :)….My hubby’s favorite blog is http://mgoblog.com, a blog about Univ. of Michigan football. At one time (not sure now), it was the most visited blog of a specific sports team.

      EVERY week, when they preview a game, they have some sort of kitten picture or video. They are so crazy you can’t help but bust out laughing! This week it is a video of a kitten “trying” to eat corn on the cob. http://mgoblog.com/content/preview-iowa-2013#more Beyond funny!

      When the team wins….Muppets videos to celebrate. Case in point: http://mgoblog.com/content/1-3-1-comeback-muppets.

      This blog is CRAZY popular here in Michigan (his content is SO creative) and he obviously has a male audience, for the most part. I think he even has press credentials. My hubby is as much of a sports fanatic as they get. Yet, each week, he looks forward to the kitten and Muppets videos.

      A few years ago the blog’s numbers were around 6 million page views per month. Since then it has grown and he has had to hire staff to help him.

      Could it be the kittens? Just sayin’ πŸ˜€


      1. Ramsay

        Whoa…


  • Shaun

    Good topic Ramsay,

    I’ve been aiming a little high lately and getting knocked back a bit, but it’s always worth a try πŸ™‚ Gust posting is really a matter of marketing yourself and we all know people need multiple points of contact to start paying attention to you.

    What I have noticed lately is that guest posting is becoming a little elite on some of the more established blogs. Many only publish from an established group of writers e.g Copy Blogger, while others use it as an incentive / offering as part of their training program e.g ThinkTraffic. I’m sure there are still opportunities if you persist though.

    Liked the Copy Blogger post by the way, I completely psyched myself out for quite a while after reading too much of their stuff, along with Derek Halpern and others! It’s good once you finally get past it though and I think your article goes a long way to helping with that.

    Keep killing it mate!


    1. Ramsay

      Hey mate. What did you mean by: “I completely psyched myself out for quite a while after reading too much of their stuff, along with Derek Halpern and others”?


      1. Shaun

        It basically put me off creating something of my own. I just couldn’t ever see myself creating something like that (quality, quantity, impact) and as a result couldn’t bring myself to try (I also had a few other personal things going on which weren’t really helping with motivation and positive thoughts). Eventually I realized that I wasn’t going to get any better doing nothing and that even I had something unique to offer that sets me apart from others.

        I’m still working on it, but like everyone says, starting is often the hardest part.


        1. Tiffany

          Hey Shaun,
          I’m confused, too! I just checked out your website and I got stoked! I would like to do training videos (one day, faaar in the future) and, simply because you posted here, your site is the first I’ve come to that’s dedicated to this topic, so it has just gotten book marked for my future perusal – which means it will also be the site (faaar in the future) that will get bookmarked for the perusal of my friends and colleagues.

          Get started!! As you said yourself, you have a lot to offer!


          1. Shaun

            Thanks Tiffany, nice of you to say.


    2. RICE

      Hey Shaun —

      I’m curious to what you mean by this as well, as it might reveal a thing or two about publishing content and holding the interest of our respective readers.

      Looking forward to reading your experience here.


  • RICE

    Nice one Ramsay!

    I definitely need to step up my mention-game. Cheers.


    1. Ramsay

      Ha ha. Good to see you here buddy.


  • Gemma Regalado

    Thanks for this Ramsay,

    I actually hadn’t thought of referencing people I wanted to work with on MY blog posts, so this is something that I’m going to implement straight away!

    I actually found you via CopyBlogger because I really enjoyed your post – great advice.


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Gemma. Appreciate your comments on both posts!


  • liz@lifedreaming

    Hey Ramsay
    I’m not usually a vid watcher but I thought I’d watch this one as I trust you and have followed the blog since the start.

    Mate – you’re a natural on vid. Brilliant.

    As always, you give clear and practical information and the takeaway for me from this vid was to just keep writing quality content.

    You know what’s funny for me and Life Dreaming?

    It’s not that there aren’t millions of personal development; life planning; life coaching sites and blogs out there – there are.

    It’s finding ones that really resonate with me. I take the point from a previous commenter about some of the big names writing a lot of fluff or having TOO MANY guest bloggers.

    There are blogs in my niche that I respect but they don’t do guest posts – and I respect that totally.

    Launching the Life Dreaming Expedition on December 1 so am out there looking at many many sites and exploring who to pitch to.

    I also liked your final comment which was to do your best and then let it simmer for a while.

    I’ve decided not to get wound up about the launch and just get it out with a range of communications and let it build up a momentum.

    I’ll be in Perth over December and January is you happen to be over that way. Love to catch up for a cuppa.

    Great work as always and congrats on the Copyblogger post – it was a zinger and one of the best headlines I ever read.

    Liz


    1. liz@lifedreaming

      and this will make you smile Ramsay.

      I just received a comment on my blog from someone who read this post. She’s invited me to guest post on her 2 blogs!

      Delightful.

      Liz

      p.s Life Dreaming Expedition soft launch is December 1. Celebration live streaming launch in West Oz with prosecco is January 8.


      1. Ramsay

        That’s what I love to hear!

        Thanks for the kind words about the video. I always feel like a bit of a D-Bag.

        Can’t wait to hear how launch goes for you.

        As for Perth, that’s like another country for us East Coasters. It’s a $600 flight and 5 hours from where I live so might be a bit tough.


        1. liz@lifedreaming

          No worries mate. Just thought you might be over that way.

          Do keep doing the vids. You come across as very natural and the content is short and sharp.

          It’s got me thinking that I might give vids a go once in a while.

          Thanks for your encouragement re: the launch. Feels a lot like the space between 2 trapezes – without a net!

          Liz


          1. Ramsay

            Yeah I hear ya!


  • James Chartrand - Men with Pens

    Well said, Ramsay.

    I was actually a little surprised at the angle you chose for this harsh reality – it’s true, but I’ll bring another harsh reality to the table:

    If you don’t submit a solid, well-written, interesting post… no blog will accept it.

    I speak from experience. At Men with Pens, we’re wide open for guest post submissions and get many hopefuls emailing us each week.

    But out of every 25 posts we receive, typically only 1 could pass.

    Most major blogs have shut down their guest posting opportunities because of this. It takes time and costs money to sift through all these posts, and the ROI just isn’t there. Those that passed with flying colors typically get a blanket “anytime!” offer (like yourself, on several blogs), and they stick with people they know can produce good, valuable content.

    So a tip:

    It’s well worth the investment to hire a professional to write your guest posts if your skills just aren’t there and your business needs the content-marketing strategy in place.

    And if having someone else ghostwrite on your behalf feels strange to you, that’s fine. (There’s no shame in it, by the way. You’d be amazed at how many business owners hire ghostwriters.) In that case, it’s well worth the investment to take writing courses, improve your skills and learn more about how to write well.

    Anyways, yeah – well said, and it was fun to watch your video. (I have to get into that myself, ha!)


    1. Ramsay

      Wow! James Chartrand. Long time no see!

      Good tip about hiring writers. I wish more bloggers would pay people for things like that and marketing.

      Hey love the new branding by the way. How has it been received?


      1. James Chartrand - Men with Pens

        Crazy well. Best move ever, actually, both from a client perspective and from a personal perspective – it just fits my personality so much more.

        (And yes! Long time no see, but always a fan and a reader, eh!)


  • Pauline Baird Jones

    I’m one of those people who found you because of the Copyblogger post. I will say that headline really caught my eye because I love Copyblogger. LOL

    Your video was really well done (even w/o kittens) and I have to say, you give good advice. I started reading Copyblogger and {grow} to learn, not to get a guest blogging spot. It never occurred to me I could guest blog on either site, because I’m a fiction author.

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented at Copyblogger, because I’m not a marketer, but I did stick a comment toe into {grow}. Mark was so friendly so I kept offering the occasional comment, then he astounded me when he asked me to guest blog. It was a great experience for me and good for my character to step outside my comfort zone (most of my guest blogging occurs on reading/book sites). LOL

    When my author friends ask me about good sites, they are often surprised when I suggest blogs like Copyblogger and {grow}, but I’ve learned so much from them both. Not every post is helpful for my type of writing, but learning is learning, right?

    I look forward to expanding my learning in a more tyrannical direction and I’ve already sent my daughter a link to your site.


    1. Ramsay

      A more tyrannical direction. That is the best thing I’ve read all day!


  • Carlos

    Hey Ramsay, nice Video! Way to go, and make more!
    IΒ΄ve had a few disappointments, but that is how you really learn! I guess I have it kind of more difficult since English is my second language.
    FAME and TRUST are needed in everything people oriented! I am a Psychotherapist, and without them, I would not land ANY client! Thanks for the info…


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Carlos! I’ll keep trying to do more.


  • Aaron Payne

    I am really new to the blog writing world (have only written a couple so far) so your info was very informative, thanks! Good info to keep in mind as I’m moving forward.


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Aaron. Glad you liked it.


  • Caleb

    What I notice is the opposite where I’m getting tons of requests from those wanting to guest post on my sure so I guess it’s a sign that I should open up publicly to all guest posters right


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Caleb. Nope, just cos you’re getting lots of requests does not mean it’s time to open up. 99% of them will be junk.


  • Alexandra Petean-Nicola

    Great insight. In your case Copyblogger is more open to controversial titles. The have excellent copy for their titles and headlines and I think they are more open to this kind of ideas than other sites.

    My problem with guest blogging is that it takes up a lot of time. Not with writing the quality content but with getting people to answer to my emails. I don’t expect an answer right away and most sites provide a message including a window of time in which they will contact you back with an answer. But I don’t get my answer in that time. I want a answer and a motivation (either that be yes or no ).

    And my second problem is that, of course you get to form a relationship with the a blogger from the site you want to publish but after what time (let’s say engagement wise not actually days or weeks ) is it appropriate to ask about a guest post ?


    1. Ramsay

      Alexandra I completely understand your points about the time factor. I might consider doing a post on this last part. Would that be okay with you?


  • Sam Murray

    Guest Blogging is getting a bad name these days due to in been a popular link building tactic.

    If you are a genuine blogger and approach another genuine blog with a decent idea for a post they will usually accept regardless of your standing or social proof in the industry.


    1. Ramsay

      I think you first sentence is why your second sentence is not often true. πŸ˜‰


  • Mikael

    Great post! Thanks!


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks to you!


  • Charles

    Hi Ramsay,

    Really liked the vid.

    Like Tiffany, I think I’ve been going about this wrong for a while; writing a few good posts and then using guest posts to drive traffic makes a lot of sense.

    Guess I need to spend some time looking for popular sites that cover similar themes and start building a relationship. Although my blog topic is a bit broad.

    Thanks again.


    1. Ramsay

      Hope it helps Charles. Let us know how it goes.


  • malindo44

    thanks for sharing this article very hefpful


  • Ryan @ Digital Photography Hobbyist

    I have a blog in the personal finance niche and like you I get a couple dozen emails a week. I always wonder who are sending these emails because they all sound exactly the same. Do you think they’re actual people writing these, or spammers that are just looking for a reaction, then following up? I also wonder how many are from the same company or service under different names.


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Ryan.

      Yeah, I think it is mostly companies who have been hired to build links. Do you also get emails from people promising to get you to the top rank on Google?!? Those guys.


  • bsc dissertation proposal 1

    Thanks Ramsay for nice and informative information.Hope,we will get another more useful information like this.


  • Tamar

    Thanks for the post, I was working on a guest blogger program too and the video was really interesting for me


  • Email list

    Thanks for the best advice to get a guest post.


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