The Horror Of Bad Writing! How Not To Get Your Guest Post Published

Guest Post Published

Janet Leigh in Psycho (Amazing Film!)

I get sent quite a lot of submissions from people every day who want to get their guest post published on this site.  So many, in fact, that it usually takes me a few days to get through them all.  Now I am in a very good situation where I can pick the best of the bunch for our limited publishing slots to share with you all.

As I say, I get sent quite a lot of articles every day, so I see both the really good and really bad posts.  And when I say bad, I mean really bad!  So today I thought I’d talk about all the aspects of bad writing that will ensure that you won’t get your guest post published.

Getting Your Guest Post Published

Initial Email Pitch

In order to even think about getting your guest post published on a site you need to get in contact with the blog owner.  This could be via their ‘contact’ page or, if they have one, their ‘write for us’ page.

[box type=”info”]Quick note: If they do have a ‘write for us’ page, make sure you read their article guidelines as this will save you a lot of hassle in the future.  You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this![/box]

The point of this email is to let the site owner know that you are interested in writing for them.  Ideally you want to give a few ideas of posts that you want to write and maybe even a few links to past posts that you have written, so that they can see the quality of your writing for themselves.

What you don’t want to do is send a brief email across saying that you want to write for them, without including any kind of post ideas.  This just comes across as lazy, as you are in effect leaving it up to the site owner to give you a specific idea, without knowing if you have any knowledge of the subject.  I get a lot of these types of emails, which I have started to ignore as these people tend to only be interested in getting a link.

Length Of Post

Once someone has sent in a submission to me, the first thing I look at is the length of the post.  Before I read a single word I will see how long it is and check the word count.  I do this for two reasons;

Firstly, I clearly state in my post guidelines (and initial email response) that posts have to be at least 650 words long.  So instantly I can tell whether people have read these guidelines and taken the whole process seriously.

Secondly, I generally find that the longer the post is, the better it is!  A longer post indicates that the writer has spent time writing it and more importantly has something worth saying.

Of course, there are the exceptions.  I have read very good short posts and terrible long posts, but generally the longer the article is the better.


Your article introduction tends to say a lot about your post.  A well written introduction tends to be followed by a well written article.  A poor intro tends to precede a poor article.

Your introduction should clearly set out what your post is going to be about.  Whatever point you are trying to make or direction you are aiming to discuss, this should be mentioned at the start of the article.  This not only helps readers understand what your post is about, but more importantly from your point of view, it help the blog owner (publisher) know what you are writing about.  Get this part wrong and you risk not being published at all!


Of course you are allowed to include links within your guest post, but that doesn’t mean that you can link to anything.  All bloggers make sure that they check which links you want to add, as they affect their site.

I have reviewed well written posts in the past that I was happy to publish, only to find that they were linking to dodgy sites.  It doesn’t matter how good your post is, dodgy links will not be welcome!

The Actual Post

So if you have passed all the previous points, then you get to the part where your post is actually read.  Whenever I read a submission, I ask myself the same two questions;

  1. What are you trying to say? / What’s the aim of the post?
  2. Is the post well written?

Firstly, I am trying to understand what the point of your post is.  This should have been mentioned in your introduction, but it has to be followed up in the post itself.

Say your post is about ‘X vs Y’ and in your intro you say that you are going to compare them against one another, I will be looking to see that you do just that.  If you end up just being biased towards one of them, you aren’t doing what you said in your intro.

One thing that really annoys me is when someone presents a really good idea for a post, only then to write a blatant advert for their own business.  I get why they do it, it just feels like they lied by suggesting a different topic.

Secondly, I have to assess whether the post is well written.  Now this depends a lot on the article itself.  I get many submissions sent from all over the world, so English is not necessarily people’s first language.  I, along with many other bloggers I’m sure, have no problem editing a post to make it easier to read “IF” it is a good post in the first place.  What we don’t like are posts that don’t make sense “at all” which would basically need to be rewritten. 

These 5 key aspects are things that I and many other bloggers watch out for when assessing guest posts.  You may be able to get away with messing up on one of these points, but it’s better to try not to.

So if you want to get your post published, make sure you;

  • Include post ideas with links to previous work in your email pitch.
  • Read the submission guidelines.
  • Write a detailed post (the longer the better).
  • Plan out your introduction so that people know what your post is about.
  • Don’t include dodgy links.
  • Write your post with a clear theme.
  • Edit it as best you can.

Do these things and you stand a MUCH greater chance of getting your guest post published.

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the founder and editor of OnlineIncomeTeacher. He is a Professional Blogger, SEO Consultant & Web Developer, running a number of sites from the UK. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

  • Yes, I know what you mean about these companies spitting out content as fast as they can. I sometimes feel sorry for the writers because they have to churn out so much so quickly, but at the end of the day my priority is my readers.

    Generally the majority of people are understanding about this, but the people that really annoy me are the ones that feel as though they are owed something. These tend to be the ones that don’t read any of the guidelines, write a poor post (or worse just copy & paste one) and then moan when you you say no. Luckily there aren’t too many like that.

    Cheers for the comment Andi 🙂

  • SI

    Great post, with some very important tips, so far I have not done a guest post for anyone hoping to drive traffic to my site but I certainly would try and write as best as I can, it doesn’t make sense to send out a half hearted attempt. What if you were accepted? If your article is really poor people are not likely to click through which is one of the main reasons for guest posting isn’t it?

    I appreciate that sites are wanting to get links for link building and higher rankings but wouldn’t it be better to get both? Quality links and quality free traffic from writing quality posts?

    Who am I to say, I am not an SEO specialist but I do know you cannot beat quality content.



    • I totally agree SI! Half hearted posts are not worth it for both parties involved. Sites don’t want to publish these types of articles, which makes it a waste of time for people to write them in the first place.

      Like anything in life, if you are going to do something, do it right!

      Thanks for the comment SI and welcome to the site 🙂

  • lourod65

    Good advice Matt. I haven’t attempted to pitch one single guest post yest and yes, I know; what am I waiting for? Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Lou! Yes, what are you waiting for 🙂

      Guest posting is a great way to increase your online exposure, make new connections with other bloggers and, of course, get links. I hope this post shows that publishers want good quality posts, so if you are to write one, make sure it is a good one.

  • Anita Mann

    Thanks Matt. This is timely, as I recently accepted reciprocating blogs with someone. I had done my work, but was shocked to see the lack of editing on the other’s part. I went ahead and completed the editing myself. When I told the other party about this, there was no acknowledgement/apology from them for sending an unpublishable blog and for the extra work I had to do. I eventually decided there wasn’t a fit between us and wished them well. Here’s the funny thing… their website looked strong and professional. So, I asked myself, why would they not send me the same quality of content? One can speculate about this, but the point I want to make is that my time is as valuable as anyone’s else’s and we all know time is money. Treat others in the professional manner you expect to be treated. It not just about business etiquette, but ethics. Thanks.

    • I can relate to you here Anita!

      I too have agreed to exchange guest posts in the past, only to find that the one I get sent is of a MUCH lower quality, resulting in me having to basically re-write the post.

      I tend not to accept these “exchanges” any more because of this.

  • Nice article Matt. I wonder what type of strategy do you use when trying to get your guest post published to one of the larger sites online such as Bleacher Report or a large newspaper ?