Why No One Wants Your Guest Posts (And How To Become A Welcomed Contributor)

You wag your tail or snarl at website hosts, begging — or demanding — that they publish your great (or pretty good) guest posts. But you’re still getting rejected or just plain ignored. You feel like the least-loved dog in the Internet marketing pound.

Before you euthanize your GP outreach, find out what you’re doing wrong and how to find a happy home for your content.

How to become a welcomed guest post contributor to your favorite blogs | KOTAW Content Marketing, Storytelling in Los AngelesThere’s an art to pitching your guest posts and articles, but there’s a lot to do before you start sending out query letters. I’ve fashioned more than one silk purse out of a sow’s ear with an innovative letter to an editor. But, as a general rule, pig parts look like– and get treated like — pig parts.

If you want to improve your chances of reaching guest post nirvana — the point where editors plead with you to give them more content — follow these 8 Steps to Becoming a Welcomed Guest Post Contributor:

1.  Improve your website

When friends or relatives ask to spend a week or weekend at my house, my mind instantly pictures their house. If I remember the friend’s home as clean, comfortable and inviting, I’m inclined to say yes. But if what I recall is chaos — screaming children (or adults), bathroom mold and an unidentifiable odor — I pass.

Editors feel the same way about your website. If your site looks professional and clearly offers a service to visitors, editors will think your guest post is at least worth reading. But if your site looks dated, cluttered or overly commercial, you should do some housekeeping before submitting guest posts.

Remove as much promotional content on your landing page as possible. At the very least, remove such material from the landing page you present to potential guest hosts.

2.  Primp and polish your blogs

If an editor gets past your landing page without finding anything objectionable, the next stop will be your blog.

Your blog should not read like a cleverly disguised advertisement or like something written by an unpaid intern. Your blog should demonstrate your expertise, your connection with your audience and your command of the language.

Make certain that, at minimum, your four most recent blog posts are compelling. Everyone’s busy and no one will read through a year’s worth of your postings. But anything published within the last month should be highly polished.

3.  Write a brilliant guest post

As good as your own blogs are, your submissions to other websites must be better.

Editors and website owners have no reason to publish your work unless it makes them look good to do so. It’s critical that what you submit is above and beyond what you publish on your own blog. Give away your best work, not your castoffs.

4.  Find a compatible home

Of course, you want your guest post published in The New York Times, the Huffington Post or any publication included among Technorati’s Top 100 blogs.

Keep such publications on your dream list. But don’t expect to debut your guest-posting efforts in the world’s most-respected or best-read publications. Look for sites that target audiences similar to yours and select the top 10 or 12 that seem like a good fit. Examine the metrics of each and take a look at each website on the list.

An article by Pawel Grabowski in SiteProNews offers a primer on researching guest post possibilities. Stay away from networking sites and sites that demand a fee to publish your post. (It makes sense to pay for ads, but it will damage your reputation to pay for guest posts.)

5.  Perfect your pitch

If the first 20 words of your letter don’t grab the reader’s attention, the rest will probably go unread. Skip the idle chitchat, the long version of your biography and gratuitous compliments. Keep your pitch as brief and to the point as possible, but include these essential elements:

* Highlights of the post.

* Why the site’s audience would benefit from reading what you’ve written.

* Your expertise.

* Your familiarity with other content published on the site.

* Knowledge of and appreciation for the host’s expertise.

* Your understanding of the writers’ guidelines for the site.

* Your graciousness.

If you can accomplish this in 200 words, OK. If you can do it in 100, that’s better. If you can write a perfect pitch in fewer than 50 words, stop reading this — you already know more than I can teach you.

6.  Practice your follow-through

People are busy and their inboxes are overloaded. If you don’t hear back from someone in a week or two, send a second note. A little nudging is a good thing. But don’t become a nag. Send no more than two follow up notes before you politely remove your guest post from consideration. (And you must do this so you can pitch the post elsewhere without fear that the same post will get published twice.)

7.  Play nice

Any post that gets accepted is subject to editing. It’s OK to ask to review the edits before your post is published. But accept changes to your copy even if you think (or know) that your version was better. Yes, you should correct glaring errors or any changes that conflict with your intentions. Let everything else go.

And don’t be a diva. Don’t demand more links than guidelines permit. Don’t quibble about the word count. Some website owners make outrageous demands, but that’s their prerogative. If you think a site’s rules are silly or asinine, don’t submit your work there.

It’s a privilege to be published on someone else’s site so it’s more important to show your gratitude than your superior intelligence or writing ability. When you become a regular contributor to a site, go ahead and flex your editing muscle. Until then, be the best guest you can be.

8.  Add value

When you get published, take a moment to congratulate yourself. Then take more than a few moments to prove you’re better than the average guest. Keep tabs on the published content. If someone comments on your piece, post a same-day reply. And, while you’re on the site, post comments on other people’s blogs (especially any written by the editor of your post.)

And spread news of your published piece across all of your social media channels. Encourage them to visit the site and post comments. The more favorable attention you draw to the guest site, the more favorable attention you draw to yourself.

Stop! Don’t click away yet — please! Take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Katherine answers all comments, usually within 24 hours, so check back in a day or so to keep the conversation going with KOTAW’s CEO and Chief Storyteller.


  1. cyril says:

    Hey..great tips Keep it up…

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you so very much for your kind words, Cyril! I’m so sorry it took me so very long to see them! This was one of my first blog posts when I started my site and your comment must have gotten lost somehow in all the commotion of starting a new site and making changes to it — for this I am so sorry! I recently got a new comment on this blog and so came back here to answer it and found this kind comment of yours here as well. Thank you so very much for the smile. I promise if you come back to my blog now that the website has been properly up for 2 years and there shouldn’t be strange fluke like this I will answer you right away! Wishing you a very happy weekend, Cyril!

  2. Rachel says:

    I especially like your advice on etiquette. I think that too often, we let our egos get in the way of our success. We tend to feel a sense of entitlement, so I think your tip about playing nice and being gracious is refreshing. Owners of small and/or new businesses can be so passionate about becoming successful and gaining a following that they forget it’s a process and there’s a lot to be said about respecting the guidelines of publications .

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Everything is a process — and everything takes longer than we think it will, whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or getting your guest posts published. Good manners — on the road and online — speed the process. Thanks for your thoughts, Rachel.

  3. […] written a primer on how to become a successful guest poster. You can read it here. If you’re already writing guest posts but want to improve your success, this HubSpot […]

  4. […] written a primer on how to become a successful guest poster. You can read it here. If you’re already writing guest posts but want to improve your success, this HubSpot article […]

  5. […] written a primer on how to become a successful guest poster. You can read it here. If you’re already writing guest posts but want to improve your success, this HubSpot article […]

  6. […] written a primer on how to become a successful guest poster. You can read it here. If you’re already writing guest posts but want to improve your success, this HubSpot article […]

  7. Thank you for this detailed insight. We usually skip points 1 and 2 and write the post then pitch it. The remaining pointers rarely slip in this process. This article is a reality check to help gather the right knowledge before undertaking this role as a guest poster.

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Hi Nayanna! I just noticed that somehow my original reply to you has gone missing. Because even after 2 years, I still remember this kind comment of yours since it was one of the first ones I got after starting KOTAW. I was here answering a new comment and saw that my reply to you is gone (I was having website issues after just starting my site around the time you wrote and think my reply to you got accidentally erased). So if you never got my reply, I just want to say I’m so sorry. And also that I’m so thankful for your kind words, particularly since this was one of my very first posts on my blog from when I first started KOTAW. I hope you’ve found great success as a guest blogger and would love to hear about it! So I hope to see you back here on my blog one day soon :) Wishing you a happy weekend and a happy upcoming Spring!

  8. […] written a primer on how to become a successful guest poster. You can read it here. If you’re already writing guest posts but want to improve your success, this HubSpot article […]

  9. […] Sure, Holly Golightly can rock a kitty cat mask, but business bloggers can’t pull off such get-ups.  Get the whole story!  Read “Why No One Wants Your Guest Posts (And How To Become A Welcomed Contributor)” […]

  10. MCatherine says:

    As a boutique micro biz, I have been using my blog as one of my ‘marketing on air’ strategies due to a non-existent marketing budget. I’ve yet to discover the best niche for content, but I’m enjoying the education.
    In a future post article, would you mind if I linked back to this post of yours? I belong to a small networking group and we try to help one another.
    Thank you for your consideration.

  11. Very nice and interesting post….

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you, Bristow. Have you been trying to place guest posts? If I can help in any way, please let me know.

  12. […] you can also borrow what you need to fast-track your success.  Let’s say you’re struggling to get a guest post published.  You’ve written an excellent article but no one wants it, maybe because your website has weak […]

  13. WOOHOO – the BEST post on Guest Blog posting, and why I am not surprised that it was penned by YOU! #HUGS


    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      I was going to rerun this one next week! Just read it and realized it was still relevant. Of course, you found it first!

      Love you!


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