I have a confession. I am really embarrassed when I tell people about my blogging journey.
The “gurus” and “experts” tell you that blogging success is a smooth line when it is, in reality, a big mess.
My blogging experience was like the second graph.
When I first started blogging for my copywriting business I was overwhelmed, but I thought it was best to jump in and start.
One of the methods I read over and over for getting more traffic, credibility, and authority was guest posting.
I spent months sending out guest post pitches into what felt like an abyss. When I finally managed to land a position, my first post was rejected. Ouch.
I thought about throwing in the towel, but luckily I had a Mickey Goldmill in my corner encouraging me.
Guest posting was a long and emotional process of learning a ton of lessons. I want to help you avoid the journey I had to go through.
I am going to share with you the five most common guest posting mistakes I see bloggers make when trying to guest post (Yes, I made each one of these mistakes at one point or another).
#1: Limiting Yourself to Your Field
I get it.
It makes sense to try to guest post on a blog that writes about exactly what you do and has the same market as you do.
But when you really think about this, it is a terrible idea.
You are trying to siphon off a blogger’s audience. It does not work very well for getting an audience, but can build authority. I had to learn this the hard way.
I learned if you write about the same topics and appeal to the same market, the blogger you are pitching to will most often not respond.
If you do manage to get the guest post position, it will result in minimal traffic because the audience will likely be loyal to the blogger, so they will not leave to consume your information.
Imagine if your small town grocery store went up to Wal-Mart and said I would like to pass out my ads in your grocery store. What do you think Wal-Mart would say? Yeah, right. Over Sam’s dead body.
Instead, the fastest way to get more traffic is by going outside of your domain. One of my most successful pieces of content had nothing to do with my business.
Here is how all of this works, awhile back I worked as the main marketer for a dog training business (Trained Special dogs like hunting dogs, guard dogs and search and rescue dogs).
They wanted me to work on expanding their web presence and to be seen as an authority, not just in their local area, but across the web. They wanted to begin creating dog training programs.
I wrote articles on websites that were unrelated to dog training, but that could still relate to dogs in one way or another.
Since they were known for guard dogs, we went to home security blogs, video camera blogs, etc. We pitched articles like, “Adding extra defense to your home with a guard dog.” “How to keep your dog out of the garden” was another blog post I wrote on a gardening website.
Here are the results of that article, most of the traffic did not stick, but it allowed the dog training business to pick up more customers.
Many of these people were interested in what we have to offer. The goal is to think about who your audience is and all the potential places they may hang out.
Do not limit yourself to your field.
What can you write that targets your audience, but is on different topics?
#2: Not Bringing Out Your Nutty Professor
The movie “The Nutty Professor” has been remade a few times, despite how terrible of a movie I think it is. I do think we can learn the value of research from the movie.
Ever stumble on a blog post on your favorite blogger’s website, read an article and think your favorite blogger is doing a terrible job with the post?
You later learn that you somehow skimmed over the fact that it was a guest post article.
The best guest posting articles are done by those who do their research. They research the blogger’s audience, their language, their humor and their style of writing.
Believe it or not, people do write guest posts without doing any research of the blog they are trying to guest post for. Do not be this person.
The audience of the website you want to guest post for loves a certain format, style, and certain blog topics. They also love knowing there is a purpose for every article.
Do not try to write something you think will be different and better for the audience. They will not be able to connect with your writing.
Chances are the place you want to blog for has done their research on their audience to know what types of articles work best, what style to write in and a thousand other variables.
I made this mistake. Remember how I said I finally landed a guest posting position and later had my post rejected after spending 15 hours writing the article? It was because I did not do my research.
It was not that the article was terrible, but it did not speak the language of the blogger’s audience and was not formatted in the same style the blogger’s website was.
Save yourself from my mistakes. Doing the research first will save you hours when it comes time to write the blog post or pitching potential places to post.
Simple research can be done using Alexa Rankings on the blog you want to guest post at, or to make things super simple, just ask the blog owner if you are really uncertain.
For example, trying to pitch Sue on how social media is ruining business probably is not the brightest idea someone could have.
If you spend even one second on her website you would know she is a strong advocate of social media. Yet, I am willing to bet she has received a pitch like this because I know I have seen some like this.
#3 Making an Opinionated Post
Look, your mom is an awesome person, but she was wrong when she told you that you were special.
Nobody gives a crud about you or your opinions unless you are considered a thought leader in your industry.
Your points need to be backed up by data, facts, charts or numbers. The level to which you will have to back up your points depends on the blog you are posting for. If you do your research then you will know.
For example, posting on a site like Lifehacker will require much more data and facts.
The audience over at Lifehacker tends to love numbers and charts. They do not take opinions lightly and will not blindly be led to drink the water.
On the other hand, a site like Tiny Buddha does not require as much data. It can be more based on stories and opinions.
#4 Incorrect Linking
Listen, if your reasoning for guest posting is simply for backlinking or to make money through affiliate links, then you need to rethink your process.
If you pitch to places, we can generally tell if you are trying to get backlinks, make sales or are genuinely wanting to provide value to our readers.
Linkbacks are nice, but your main goal should be to provide value and get that value into the hands of other readers.
I have never done this myself, but you would be surprised the links people will put into a guest post article. I have seen people try to link to their website like every sentence.
I have even seen people include their own affiliate link on a blogger’s website.
All of this is just bad ethics. Some websites may be okay with this type of linking, but most sites frown upon it.
Popular bloggers value the relationship with their audience well before they value the sale.
Focus on delivering excellent content so the audience will want to go back to your website and read more of your content.
Be mindful of your links. Every website has different rules. One author may accept any link back to your website while others may not allow any. I have published on both types of websites.
To find out, ask the site owner, or many places post “Guest Post Submission Guidelines” somewhere on their website.
#5 Making the Blog Owner Work
To secure a guest posting position, you need to make it as easy as possible for the site owner to say yes.
If they are popular, then they do not have time to play around with your article all day.
This means you need to make the guest posting suggestions, write the article, and make it so the article can be dragged and dropped right into WordPress or whatever management software they use.
I use this as a selling point when I am trying to guest post. Here is the pitch I sent to Sue to get myself a guest posting position here.
Notice I said I will do all the work. I am going to make it so simple that all she has to do is say yes and then copy and paste.
Guest posting is an opportunity to build credibility and authority on the web, so do your homework.
Do not go through the emotional turmoil that I experienced because I was too dumb to learn these lessons early on.
Moral of the story? Do your research and do not limit yourself to your niche