6 Ways to Fail at Guest Blogging – and How to Fix Them

Guest blogging can hurt your blog. That’s one of the many reasons I gave it up – until this month. I was approached by a website that regularly gets half a million page views and promotes a cause I am passionate about. This time, I accepted the invitation with my eyes open. Here are lessons I’ve learned on how to fail at guest blogging – and how to make it work instead.

Mistake #1: Be Totally Selfish

When a brand asks for a guest post, they are looking for good writers to champion their causes, products or services. Bloggers that accept are often looking for traffic. Ideally, this partnership is a two way street but sometimes bloggers can be too self-serving.

Building traffic and authority, engaging another blogger’s audience and building your reputation for future work are great goals but should not be done without consideration for your host. You’re not looking to “use” them or steal their audience, but to build a lasting relationship.

What to do instead:

  • Blog for someone that will champion you. Make sure you are writing for someone whose niche matches or complements yours, like green bloggers posting for organic brands or social media bloggers for app providers.
  • Share all her work. Don’t just share your post – announce your partnership to the world. Start scanning the host blog for articles that match your audience, especially if exposure is low on a post.
  • Regularly schedule social shares. Craft a schedule to share the other blogger’s social media posts. Follow her on all her media and share common interests regularly. Don’t forget to tag the key influencers that you know in your niche when you do.
  • Write a high quality piece that will help her audience. Don’t skimp here. Dig deep into your research, carefully proof and edit, bring your best content to the table. This makes your host look good, garners her trust and builds your authority.
  • Write an article that fits her blog. Do your homework, not just to share the host’s other topics but to get a feel for her voice, tone and writing style. Retain your unique voice but write in line with her style.

Mistake #2: Don’t Ask for What You Want

Sometimes we get carried away that a big blogger asked for our help and forget to ask anything in return. It’s easy to blow this opportunity by writing about the wrong topic or not working strategically with the host blogger. Guest blogging takes effort and trust, and your work should not go unnoticed.

What to do instead:

  • Pitch this like a sponsored post and ask for what you want in return (the blogger can always say no).
  • Briefly outline your article and how it benefits them. Usually, this takes just a few bullets. Share why this post would be a uniquely good fit for them.
  • Pitch your process. You’ll not only be writing but sharing across your social stream and tagging key bloggers in your network. Discuss this, plus relevant hashtags, how you’ll create a pinnable image, and what keywords you’ll use to craft the post.
  • Ask for a byline. Most times, host blogs will already have this set up. This is your chance to link to your website, social media, bio and the recognizable photo that you use across all your platforms and on your blog. A byline, though, may be placed far down the page and not get clicked on, so you might need more.
  • Request one link to one of your own posts inside the article. Make sure that your post complements the article, and select an article that is a big traffic draw. Select a post that naturally fits the topic and is not spammy.
  • Ask if photos with a watermark are appropriate. Often, they will say no so send images with a branded look that matches your blog instead.
  • Request an exchange of posts or shares. You are doing this work for free, so politely ask your host if she would share some of your posts with her audience or even guest post for you.

Mistake #3: Guest Posting on a Low Quality Blog

There is nothing wrong with starting out with a new fledgling company, but unless you’re trying to help a friend, posting on a low quality blog can hurt you. By “low quality,” I mean a link farm or a site crafted merely for selling products, or a blog not related to your niche. Better quality blogs not only accurately target their niche and limit their sponsored posts, they also have a clean, consistent look and feel and follow all FTC and Google guidelines. You also want to make sure the blog has some authority.

What to do instead:

  • Check their domain authority. Use the tool at moz.com to ensure the blog has a domain authority no lower than 35 or 40. The higher the domain authority, the more authoritative a site is considered to be.
  • Choose bloggers you know, directly or indirectly. Ask colleagues or friends for an introduction if you don’t know someone personally. This will make it easier to land that project.
  • Select a blog with viral posts or heavy traffic. If you are seeking to create authority or gain traffic, you need someone bigger than yourself. Check out their media kit or about me page. Many large blogs will post reach statistics.

Mistake #4: Posting in the Wrong Niche

Don’t accept just any guest post invitation. “Hi, we’d like to invite you to write a guest post about our garage door opener!” The problem is, your niche is health – and yes, I did get that email once!

What to do instead:

  • Pitch blogs that fall into or complement your niche. The further outside your niche, the more your post will look out of place.
  • The only exception to the first rule is if you are posting to a quality content curator like Huffington Post, BlogHer or Medium.com. I highly recommend Beyond Your Blog for information on how to land posts for these and other high quality editorial sites.

Mistake #5: Link to Your Standard Homepage

A link to your homepage may not accomplish anything, but directing the traffic to a particular page can help gage your campaign as well as target these visitors. Before you do this, think about the concrete goals for your guest posting campaign. More traffic is a good start, but what do you want that traffic to do?

What to do instead:

  • Craft a targeted custom landing page with a call to action. For example, if your goal is to cull email subscribers, your page should offer relevant posts and a free incentive that falls right in line with the host blog’s audience. If you want to sell a product, be sure there is other useful information on that page and not a spammy sales page.
  • If you are short on time, link to the closest fitting category page on your blog instead.

Mistake #6: Use Your Standard Social Media Bio

Blogger bios tend to be broad but for a guest post, your bio should be targeted.

What to do instead:

  • Write a custom bio. Most blogs will ask you for this, so make sure you customize your bio to show the value your blog provides the host’s readers without trying to sell something. Don’t forget to personalize it too.
  • Add a “learn more” link if you are an expert on one of your categories, or do training, consulting or coaching in your niche. Put those specific links inside your bio.

Approach your guest posts like a professional by avoiding these mistakes to drive a successful guest post campaign that builds both your authority and traffic. Learn more about how to drive massive traffic to your blog with guest blogging.