How NOT to Submit a Guest Post

  • June 24, 2010 by Corbett Barr

how not to submit a guest post

Public service announcement: if you’re wondering the best way to submit a guest post to one of your “favorite” blogs, I have an example today of the wrong way to do it.

I received this unsolicited email last week:


My name is [name redacted] and I write for the [name redacted] blog.

Would you be interested in receiving a guest post submission from me?

What I had in mind was just coming up with an article on theme with your blog and sending it to you for your review, but I don’t have a specific topic in mind, so I’m happy to write on whatever topic you’d prefer if you have suggestions.

Some of the guest posts that I have done in the past have brought in thousands of new visitors for the blog owners!

Some of my featured posts can be seen here:
[URL redacted]
[URL redacted]
[URL redacted]

My articles have been picked up by sites like MSN, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Consumerist, and people love linking to them and posting them on twitter.

Please let me know what you think, I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,
[name redacted]

Would you accept a guest post proposal like this?

photo by TheGiantVermin

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.

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Mars Dorian June 24, 2010 at 8:26 am

haha, actually it’s not the worst.

It’s just very generic, robot-style, and it doesn’t address you in the slightest bit. I personally always tell the owner what I like about their blog, and how my skills are relevant to it. The creativity is totally missing with this one ;)

Corbett Barr June 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm

It’s just so obvious that the submitter sent the same message to different bloggers. The lack of personalization and specific topic ideas or details about how it would be relevant to my audience doesn’t give me confidence the author would write anything worthwhile.

Sarah Villaflor May 10, 2011 at 7:36 am

Hi Mars,

Totally agree with you! lol who would send that kind of guest post proposal. The whole pitch is a big mistake. The one who sent it tried to sway the web master to give her/him a guest post spot by bragging about his qualifications and totally forgot that he/she has to establish a connection with the web master.

by the way, I had a look at your articles at your site, two thumbs up for the tips and views :)

Rob June 24, 2010 at 8:33 am

It’s a template e-mail that could be sent to anyone, there’s not even a line or two of anything customized to your site’s relevant market, or message. I agree with Mars, no personality, no creativity. You want someone to take notice by offering a high level of relevant value.

Corbett Barr June 28, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Exactly, Rob. The relevance is missing. To write a quality guest post, you have to be familiar with each specific blog and the types of posts that resonate well with that specific audience.

Nate Balcom June 24, 2010 at 8:58 am

I’ve certainly received much worse requests, but I agree with Mars. The lack of attention to your website personally feels like a form letter to me. This maybe a decent template to start with, but needs a lot of work in order to be effective.

I’d have to say that it is a decent effort. Adding links to prior articles helps to lend some clout, but without a little more definition I would not give the ok to guest blog on my website.

By the way nice touch with the, “people love linking to them and posting them on twitter”. It feels like this line was copied and pasted straight out of a marketing e-book.

Karen June 24, 2010 at 10:30 am

Hi Corbett,

Funny that you should mention this, because I received something similar just this morning. They didn’t even use my name in the email, just ‘Hi there!”. If you can’t even be bothered to personally address the email to me for a guest-post, why would I waste my time checking out your writing. Plus, they didn’t even include any topic ideas or anything. I far better like the approach that I reach out writers that I like and ask them to guest-post on my site. Plus, I love being asked to guest post, rather than have to cold-call. But, that’s just me.

Thanks for sharing this,

Corbett Barr June 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm

That’s a great point, Karen. I have been really happy with guest posts where I asked the author specifically to write for one of my blogs. I like that strategy, and it’s a nice approach for both parties.

Jodi Kaplan June 24, 2010 at 11:22 am

Seems rather generic, and almost more about them than about you. It reminds me of an email I got offering to buy a squidoo lens I have (about cheesecake). The email said something like “I’m very interested in this topic and would like to buy your lens….”

I was flattered, until I realized that a) it could be addressed to anyone, b) selling my lens seemed “odd”, and c) I could make more by keeping it!

Corbett Barr June 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Whenever someone doesn’t bother to replace the word “topic” with your actual topic, you have to wonder, right?

Murlu June 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

Funny because I actually got an email just like that this morning.

No personalization, very broad in terms of writing “I’ll write anything!”, how they’ll get me traffic, etc etc.

Hard to tell if the person was serious but I’m definitely turning it down.

Personalization people, do you use it?!

Lauren June 25, 2010 at 6:50 am

“Spray and Pray”. I always wonder what kind of conversion rate these peeps experience. Does it feel worth it to them or are they still giving dad’s marketing advice the old college try? I look forward to the day when this approach is considered a laughable historic footnote. Soon, yes? :)

Until then, let’s keep moving forward being our authentic and focused selves…

Corbett Barr June 28, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I’m sure if they write enough people, these writers will find some blogs who take them up on the offer. There’s a whole inauthentic/generic world out there on the web.

Srinivas Rao June 25, 2010 at 9:00 am

Kind of makes me cringe. The lack of a personal touch is really something that doesn’t go over well with me. I’ve had worse responses. It’s funny because this morning I spoke with a blogger about how to submit a guest post. This makes me want to refine my own guest post guidelines to streamline the process.

Corbett Barr June 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I don’t know if guest posting guidelines would prevent solicitations like this, but I’m a big fan of clear guidelines as a way to improve the writing you do accept.

Lisa Sonora Beam June 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm

In addition to all the points about lack of personalization, the main response I had to this was:

Don’t make me work!

Already, this hopeful guest poster is creating more work for you: coming up with a topic, researching their links, etc.

It’s like getting a form resume from a job applicant who didn’t bother to follow the instructions and provide the details requested.

As a person who used to hire a lot of people, I was astonished at how often that happened.

Corbett Barr June 28, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Yes! It all really comes down to that, doesn’t it? It would take a lot of back-and-forth just to get somewhere with this solicitation. That automatically puts a request like this at the bottom of the list.

Angela Russell July 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Actually, I think the worst guest post submissions are the ones that come from companies…you know…”we have a great guest post idea for you” but you know it’s going to be full of self-promotion!

As for the email you received…I agree, annoying in the fact they aren’t pitching you specific ideas. The idea of guest posting, in my mind, is to HELP the blogger…not give them more work! The guest poster should’ve pitched 2-3 specific post ideas.

On the flip side, I cringe whenever I see tweets go out…”I’m going out of town…anyone want to guest post for me?” Bloggers would do better in gaining guest posters by coming up with specific topics/themes and approaching bloggers they think would do the topic justice.

It goes both ways.

Corbett Barr July 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Fantastic point, Angela. It does really go both ways. And the best guest posts I’ve run on my blogs are the ones where I specifically targeted a blogger I liked with a topic/theme I thought would do well. The guest posts I’ve run where the blogger approached me have not been consistently as good.

Thanks for pointing that out. This topic could make an excellent post in itself.

MKR January 12, 2011 at 5:29 am

First thing I thought when I got this e-mail: “That looks a lot like a form e-mail”

And it was in my spam box when I found it.

You could derive a rule from this: If it gets autospammed, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Sarah Villaflor May 10, 2011 at 7:08 am

Hi everybody,

This discussion caught my attention because I really focus on guest post submissions. Luckily, I’m not guilty of this “one-for-all guest post proposal letter”. Once I encounter a blog where I really want to share my thoughts, I build a relationship first with the web master. INVESTING YOUR TIME is a big factor for the web master. The more you rush on things just to get a guest post spot without a sweat, the more you will be wasting your time – THIS IS 101 TRUE. Landing a guest post spot is like entering the eye of the needle specially for high PR sites.

My advice for people who are writing this kind of guest post proposal is this:

-know the web master first!
-Read posts on the blog.
-Know the mission of the blog.
-build a relationship (twitter,facebook, and the like)
-tell the author how much you appreciate his/her thoughts.
-take time to formulate a wonderful guest post title
– beneficial
– contradictory
– a title that will bait readers and not the ones that are already published a million times on different blogs in the internet.

I hope this helps :)

thanks for sharing your views,

Sarah Villaflor

izzy July 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Wow. I feel like that email came off as extremely arrogant. It almost appears as if the individual is basically saying “Hey I’ll do you a favor. Just tell me what to write, I’ll get you a bunch of new people. How about it?”

I’m surprised this individual has had that much success (maybe his claims are a total lie) considering how badly this is approached. I wonder where he/she could get if they actually showed a little humility.

I bet this individual basically cut copies and pastes this exact email and sends it out to a bunch of sites. Maybe a few people who are a little desperate bite.

Gosh! It just seems like common sense. But I guess to some it isn’t.

deola April 6, 2013 at 11:08 pm

He he he. I simply go numb when I receive emails like this!

It already says a lot about the quality of the article. It may even be syndicated among 14 of us.

About to kickstart a guest posting campaign and the inputs from other is definately a jump-start.


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