This month’s Word Carnival is all on the subject of website mistakes. But as a writer, I’m going to take a different tack and discuss what happens when you’re ready to promote your shiny new website with a guest blogging campaign. I’ve received lots of guest post pitches on my other blog, and have talked to lots of small business owners. That’s why I know there are lots of ways to get it wrong. By the end of this post, you should be able to avoid the worst mistakes so that you can promote your website successfully.
I’ve divided the typical guest posting campaign into three stages which I call Prep, Post and Pursue (hey, I needed a third P). All the examples are based on actual guest post pitches I’ve received.
At the prep stage, you are wooing the bloggers who you hope will publish your posts. A lot of the worst mistakes happen at this time. Some of the approaches I’ve received make me wonder whether the companies themselves are actually running the campaign or whether the person who approached me is at the end of a long, long outsourcing chain.
Greetings and Salutations
It’s the only thing that can account for rookie mistakes like:
- Not bothering to include a name in the guest post pitch.
- Including the wrong name, which is even worse.
- Being overly formal (this is the 21st-century, after all, and not the 16th)
- Using the wrong gender in the salutation (I can’t tell you how much riles me to be addressed as “Dear Sir”).
Make those mistakes and your guest post campaign will be dead in the water before it gets started. But there’s more. Another batch of errors undervalue the blog owners, assuming that the person providing the content is doing the blog owner a favor, when really it’s the other way round. While it’s true that bloggers always need new content, mostly they are not so desperate that they will publish any old thing. And they definitely want to know the credentials of the person who is writing the content.
Here’s another batch of guest posting pitch errors I have seen
- No indication of the author is
- An unprofessional email address (yes, I do check)
- No website or a website that looks like a link farm
- Empty social media profiles
- Failure to include a couple of really great examples of previous work
If these are missing, blog owners know they are not dealing with a bona fide author and may reject the post. And on the last point, it’s worth noting that where those examples appear is as important as the examples themselves. If other reputable bloggers have published the writer’s work, then that’s a major trust signal.
The Body of the Pitch
If a potential guest poster manages the right greeting and has appropriate credentials, then I’ll look at the body of the pitch. Believe it or not, there are a few errors I’ve seen here too:
- Several times I’ve had a form letter. I can tell it’s a form letter because I’ve got the same letter from more than one person. Sometimes I can also tell that it’s not a personal approach – cut and paste usually results in errors, like forgetting to remove the name of the last person it was sent to.
- Some guest post pitches are more like academic essays. There is a limit to the amount of information that most bloggers need when considering a guest post. Titles, descriptions and suitability for the blog along with author credentials will usually do the trick. There’s no need for more.
- At the other end of the scale are the people will think it’s okay to send a guest post pitch that looks like an SMS message – it just won’t work. If you can’t take the time to craft a proper pitch why would I want to see the full post?
Assuming guest posters get to the point where I accept the pitch, the next set of mistakes provide additional grounds for rejection.
These days, search engines are more interested in posts that are relevant to readers and less interested in keywords. Sadly, some potential guest bloggers have not caught on. This results in posts that:
- Are stuffed with keyword phrases.
- Contain the minimum number of words that the writer considers acceptable, even if it means stopping mid-concept.
- Are badly written.
Then there’s the writing itself. Some guest posts suffer from:
- Poor writing – paying attention to spelling and grammar is a must.
- Blahness – there’s nothing more disappointing for a blog owner than getting a post that had a great title and realizing that it just doesn’t live up to it.
- Being in a totally different writing style from the examples that you saw and liked (or even being authored by someone completely different from the person who made the pitch.
- Article spinning – yes, really!
- Being formulaic.
There’s nothing wrong with building links to your site via guest posting as long as you do it right. Here are some of the mistakes potential guest posters make:
- Filling the post with irrelevant links. (you’d be surprised how many people try to slip spammy links past the blog owner. It rarely works and damages your reputation.)
- Including awkward keyword phrases as anchor text in the post or bio.
- Forgetting to link to authoritative sources.
- Not linking to other content on the host blog (if you can, it’s polite to do so).
A badly written post or a post with any of those errors will make it that much harder to get your post published next time. That’s one reason why it makes sense to hire a professional blogger to write the posts for your guest blogging campaign if you want to get content that will enhance your reputation.
If you manage to get your guest post published then there are still a few more things to do if you’re looking to build a relationship with a particular blogger rather than post and run. Every blogger appreciates a bit of reciprocity so if a blog owner publishes your post it’s only polite to share the post via your own social media accounts.
And it’s even more important to show up and respond to comments on the post. If you don’t, it’s the final signal to the blog owner that you see this as a one way relationship and you won’t get a post published on that blog ever again.
If the people running your guest posting campaign make errors like these, then your campaign is doomed to failure. In fact, it’s why many bloggers – myself included – have stopped accepting guest posts. Life’s to short to wade through dozens of unsuitable pitches every day.
Don’t despair though; there is always room for original, well written content – you just have to make sure that that’s what you’re using for your guest posting campaign.
For businesses of all sizes and stripes an online presence is a powerful marketing tool, but simply tacking a site on to your otherwise bullet-proof biz plan isn’t all there is to it. Our roundup of small business bloggers tackle the best ways to screw up your business by screwing up your website.
Photo credit: tindallfield2011