The do’s and don’ts of guest posting

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As the Founder & CEO of The Music Entrepreneur HQ, I get many people asking to guest post on my website.

This is one of the ways in which I expose my audience to different perspectives on the subject of music entrepreneurship.

There are a lot of upsides to this. I get to keep my blog updated without having to constantly produce new content myself. I can have others write on topics I know little or nothing about. And, I get to expose myself to various concepts, ideas and technology I wouldn’t otherwise know anything about.

But something I’ve discovered over time is that preparing a guest post for publishing can take a lot of work. There’s editing, formatting, adding a new contributor in WordPress, adding an image to the post, optimizing the post for SEO and more.

As you can imagine, I want to be effective with the limited time I have. I want to give my contributors the opportunity to shine. But a lot can go wrong in the pitching and writing process that slows things down.

So, here are several do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you’re looking to land quality guest posting opportunities.

DO Read Submission Guidelines

It’s surprising the number of people that tell me they’ve seen guest posts on my website and yet seem clueless as to where to go to learn about submitting guest posts for The Music Entrepreneur HQ.

I include a link to the submission guidelines at the top of every guest post and it can also be found on my contact page. It’s not rocket science.

If you’re going to be writing guest posts at all, for anyone, please look over all relevant guidelines before getting in touch with the blog owner. It streamlines the communication and cuts down on a lot of back and forth.

Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if some blog owners rejected you outright if they sensed you hadn’t done your homework.

DO Write Quality Content

I get many submissions from people who either aren’t native English speakers, or simply aren’t good at writing.

I used to edit every post to try to make it work on my website, but I don’t do that anymore. If it requires a lot of editing, I will ask the sender if they have access to an editor or someone who can tighten it up for them.

Many times, they either won’t edit it and instead argue with me or come back to me with another poor-quality edit.

I can assure you — no one who’s serious about content marketing is going to accept a low-quality blog post. Please ensure the content you’re writing is accurate and value-packed.

The only time I will edit someone’s piece is if I think the content is good, but the writing is not.

DO Your Own Research

People often come to me wanting to write about a subject that has nothing to do with building a music career, music entrepreneurship or creativity.

Immediately, this tells me that:

  • You haven’t read the submission guidelines.
  • You haven’t done your research.
  • You don’t pay attention to detail.
  • You have little to no interest in my business or website.
  • You’re not passionate about the topic I’m covering.
  • You may be using an automated system to shotgun guest posting opportunities.

That makes you a poor-quality candidate for contributing content to my website.

If you can’t be bothered to research the website you’re pitching to, don’t pitch at all.

DO Make it Relevant

This goes back to what I said about doing your own research.

If you’re going to pitch, you should have a look at the blog and see what kind of content gets published there.

Blog owners are looking for relevant, quality content. This should go without saying but based on the lack of understanding many guest posters exhibit, it should be stated again.

The more relevant the post is to my audience, the more likely I am to expedite the publishing process. Why? Because you’re reinforcing the message I’m trying to share with my audience. And, maybe you were even able to bring a new perspective to the conversation.

Here’s something you can do if you’re particularly daring:

Find a post on the website that you know something about and then rewrite and update it with the latest information. I can almost guarantee that type of post is going to get accepted outright.

DON’T Make Too Many Requests

Can my blog post be published on this date? Could you include a dofollow link to my website? Could you edit the post for me?

If you make a lot of requests like the above, it’s a clear sign to me you haven’t read the submission guidelines.

I understand. You want to make the most of your exposure opportunity. But unless the submission guidelines state otherwise, you should contribute in a manner that fits the esthetic of the blog. Typically, you should avoid being overly self-promotional, and again, follow the submission guidelines.

Make a request if you must but try to keep it reasonable.

DON’T Expect the Blog Owner to Edit Your Work for You

Online content explodes and suddenly everyone’s a writer, right? Not so fast.

I’m sure anyone could slap together a blog post and send it off to a relevant blog. But that doesn’t automatically make it worthwhile or value-adding.

If you write poor-quality content, you could have done everything else right and still not get the opportunity to see your post on my website.

I’m only interested in quality content and that goes for most sites accepting guest posts.

It’s amazing how many emails I get that begin with,“I know you must get tons of emails…” or “I know you’re busy, but…” and yet people seem intent on wasting a lot of time and don’t get to the point.

No, I will not edit your work for you. This is clearly stated in my submission guidelines.

DON’T Prolong the Pitching Process

I understand that some blog owners have a rather involved screening and workshopping process.

But unless the submission guidelines state otherwise, get straight to the point in your pitch.

I find it baffling that so many people want to prolong the pitching process, and it’s entirely unnecessary.

They want to:

  1. Ask if they can submit a guest post.
  2. Ask what topic they should write on.
  3. Ask for approval on the topic you’ve already said “yes” to.
  4. And so on.

Most of this communication could be done in one or two emails. It’s entirely unnecessary to spread it out over several emails.

Just say:

Hi David, I’ve read your submission guidelines and I’m interested in submitting a guest post. Based on the content I’ve seen on your website, I believe X topic would be of great interest to your audience. Can I go ahead with that topic? Thank you.

Easy. Simple.


If you do the above, you should be able to land yourself better and better guest posting opportunities.

You can try the spray and pray approach and it might work to some extent. But there’s a good chance you’ll never get to submit to bigger blogs.

So, don’t look at guest posting as a short-term strategy. Keep a long-term perspective, and you will experience more success overall.

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