22 Warning Signs That You’re Chasing the Wrong Blogs for Guest Posts
Giving your guest post to a blog can feel like marrying off your beloved daughter to Prince Charming.
You have Great Expectations.
Surely this happy union will produce an army of adorable little subscribers who come, visit and buy from grandpa.
With such high expectations, naturally you worry. Just a tiny bit. Around 2 am. Like a Bollywood mother.
You freak out about marrying your guest post to the wrong blog.
Maybe you’ve sold yourself short by giving your guest post to a small site, when it could have gone to a bigger, better blog?
And now the Big Boys won’t want it because it’s no longer “virgin” content.
“Nah, you’re just being paranoid,” you tell yourself.
After all, you spent hours and hours writing this guest post. And the blog you’re targeting certainly looks like the perfect fit.
The post is published.
You open your dashboard and eagerly wait for the subscribers to roll in.
You’re staring at the screen. The screen is staring back at you. Nothing is happening.
Several hours later… still nothing.
No traffic. No subscribers.
All your efforts were wasted on a barren blog.
Hundreds of hours raising, writing her and that loser blog-in-law can’t even give you subscribers?
But what if you could choose the perfect blog for your guest post idea, every single time? And do so with clarity so bold that fear itself would be afraid of you…
If You Get This One Thing Wrong, You’ll Never See Opt-Ins No Matter What You Do
Deep down, we all know it.
The most perfect wedding won’t save a marriage if your daughter is marrying the wrong guy.
Blogging is no different, you see…
It doesn’t matter how great your guest post is.
It doesn’t matter how optimized your opt ins, your landing page and homepage are.
If you’re writing for the wrong blog, you’re spinning your wheels.
The hard truth is:
Not every blog makes for a good husband.
In fact, there are certain types of blog that virtually guarantee a barren, unhappy life for your guest posts.
Time to channel your inner Bollywood mother:
You need to vet those blogs before they elope with your precious guest post.
The Mistake That Consigns Most Guest Bloggers to Mediocrity
There’s a problem with "marrying" your guest posts to other blogs:
Your guest posts shouldn’t have independent lives.
In other words, you shouldn’t write the post first and then go around shopping for a blog to marry it off to.
You could be stuck with a post nobody wants. All that time writing it could have been spent elsewhere.
More importantly, blog posts become wildly successful when they tap into deep obsessions. Different blogs have different audiences, with slightly different obsessions.
There is a better way to guest post:
You first pick the blog and then you create a post that is perfectly targeted to that audience.
The joining of a guest post to its target blog shouldn’t be a marriage.
Your job as guest author isn’t matchmaking two independent entities. It’s creating a designer baby for your target blog.
How to Tell If a Seemingly Good Guest Blogging Target Will Actually Flop
Here is a checklist of boxes you must tick before deciding to pitch a guest post.
It consists of three elements:
- RED FLAGS: These are deal breakers. NONE should be ticked.
- ORANGE FLAGS: These are risks that will sink your guest post IF they materialise. If any orange flags are present, guest posting for that blog is a risky investment of your time.
- YELLOW FLAGS: These signpost trouble, but as a smart blogger you can find workarounds.
Red Flags: The 7 Deadly Deal Breakers
If the blog raises even one red flag, it’s a no-go.
1. The blog does not accept guest posts.
Whether or not your target site accepts guest posts isn’t always obvious. There are three situations you should consider:
- The blog openly invites guest posts. They have a “Write for Us” or “Contribute” or “Guest Posts” or “Submissions” page.
- The blog features guest posts, even if it doesn’t openly ask for contributions. Use this Google query to double-check: “guest post site: blogname.com”
- It’s a multi-author blog that’s probably “invitation only”. Check the author bios – are they affiliated with the blog or do they mention some other job or project (in which case they are likely to be guest authors)?
2. Your target audience doesn’t read the blog.
If your target audience doesn’t read the blog, you’re doomed.
You’d have better luck searching for penguins in the Sahara than getting subscribers from that site.
And it’s not just about demographics (penguins vs camels).
If you want to attract experts, don’t write for a site that’s meant for newbies, even if the topic is the same.
The topic, the audience, and what you’re selling must be aligned.
As Peter Sandeen notes, the qualifying question is:
“Would people interested in this blog also be interested in my blog?”
3. The author bio is not on the same page as your guest post or doesn’t link to your stuff.
No author bio. No hope of getting clicks back to your landing page. No opt ins.
You should be allowed to link to your own stuff in the author bio.
Also, the author bio must be on the same page as your guest post. Readers are lazy: they won’t to click on an author’s name to see their bio.
4. The blog’s readers are zombies: they don’t engage with the content.
As a rule of thumb:
|5-10 comments (or 50-100 social shares)||10-30 comments (or 100-500 social shares)||30+ comments (or 500+ social shares)|
5. Your personality and voice would stick out like a sore thumb on the blog.
Most blogs are personality driven.
Readers follow one blog and not another other because they like the person behind it.
If you don’t like the blogger, chances are his readers won’t like you.
And we buy from people we like and trust.
If you have to mould your voice to fit the blog, if you need to pretend to be someone else, that’s not the right platform for your guest post.
Those folks are going to unsubscribe anyway once they see how you really write.
Don’t apologise for who you are.
Own your voice.
6. The blog is spammy and ad-heavy.
A blog that relies primarily on ad revenue isn’t a good match for your guest post.
You know the type: brimming with banner ads, ads above the fold and in the sidebar.
It has a low quality audience, which is not trained to appreciate great content.
The people who visit those blogs don’t have the intellectual curiosity and sophistication to become your subscribers.
Even if they buy from you, they’ll never take action and finish the course. You can pretty much forget about testimonials.
They are not worthy of your content, attention and products.
If you try to sell to everyone, you will end up selling to no one.
And yes, I hate puppies too.
7. The blog posts low quality content.
You think he’s a loser.
You look down on his content.
You wouldn’t want your peers (let alone your mom) to know you write for him.
In fact, you’d do anything to prevent your name from being associated with him (apart from, it seems, sending him a guest post).
You see your future blog-in-law as a walking wallet. Everything is very transactional: I’ll give you my guest post, you give me subscribers.
If you don’t respect the blogger and his work, you won’t be motivated to give it your best. You’ll write an “OK” guest post to siphon off a few subscribers and move on.
But they are not the subscribers you want:
Quality sites give you quality subscribers.
Crappy sites give you crappy subscribers.
Like father, like son.
Orange Flags: Risks That Will Sink Your Guest Post IF They Materialise
If a blog raises any orange flags, guest posting on it is a risky investment of your time.
These are "risks" in the pure sense of the word. Unlike yellow flags, you can't work around them. If they materialize, they will sink the post. But unlike red flags, sometimes the risk won't materialize and your guest post will pan out.
8. The blog’s golden days are in the past.
You used a social shares counter to look up their most popular posts, and promptly fell in love, on behalf of your guest post.
What you failed to notice were the dates.
The blog used to get hundreds of comments in its hay day, but nowadays it barely gets five.
Moral of the story:
People “forget” to update their profile photos (and their popular posts widget).
Always check out the 10 most recent posts on the blog.
But then again… you never know. Maybe a truly great post could still rouse those sleeping readers. And that’s why it’s an orange flag rather than a deal breaker.
9. The blog’s audience has changed.
Take a look at content from the last six months.
Do you see a move away from topics the blogger used to write about?
His audience may have evolved.
A topic that was popular in the past might no longer work.
Worse yet, the blog might no longer appeal to your target audience.
10. The blog’s readers will never buy from you.
The blog might have your target audience…
But you might be targeting the wrong audience.
A successful blogging business turns readers into buyers, like water into wine.
The trick is to target the right buyers: People who are willing and able to buy.
You can’t sell air conditioners to penguins.
First, they don’t want them. Antarctica is cold enough, thank you very much. (Willing)
Second, they don’t have money. (Able)
You’d do much better selling A.C. units to Nordic expats with overzealous sweat glands who live in Dubai.
The question to ask is: “Would people reading this blog buy my products/ services?”
Yellow Flags: Hazards You Can Work Around
These are warning signs but they are not fatal. You can mitigate yellow flags and still squeeze subscribers out of the blog.
11. The blog will steal your thunder (and rightful subscribers)
Try to avoid blogs that have too many CTAs (calls to action) drowning your own.
Ideally, there shouldn’t be anything standing between the end of your post and your author bio. No opt-in forms, no sharing icons, no advertisements.
Readers should go straight from the last sentence of your guest post to your bio.
(A hat tip to Be a Better Blogger, which always shines the spot light on its guest authors.)
If the blog has huge graphic opt-in boxes that suck all your subscribers, the solution is to write an “expanded guest post”.
12. The blog won’t give you enough time in the limelight.
If the blog publishes tons of content on a daily basis, your guest post will soon be swept away from the front page.
Because let’s face it…
Your guest post married a philandering serial dater.
Yes, he lied to you.
She was not the love of his life – just one more conquest among many.
Solution: Calculate whether the blog gets enough traffic to justify your effort, despite such short-lived exposure.
13. The blog has a readership of trolls.
You did check the comments on previous guest posts for skeletons in the closet, right? No?
Congratulations, you can look forward to many happy family dinners with your opt-in-laws and their snide comments.
The blog had a readership of trolls, well, trolling the comments with hurtful, soul-crushing remarks.
And now you have them on your email list.
I wish you a happy, happy inbox full of hate mail.
But hey. Apathy is the copy killer. If you’re not getting any hate mail, you’re not putting enough of yourself in your writing.
(Oh wait – did you think everyone in the world liked you?)
Solution: Purge your email list. Separate the bad eggs from the good ones. Or turn their comments into blog posts.
14. The blogger demands edits ad nauseam.
Did your guest post come back bleeding with edits?
Well, I’m afraid I have bad news.
It’s not him, it’s you.
Because, let’s face it, our content probably sucks.
We all believe our guest post to be Miss Congeniality, when most of the time it’s just Bridezilla.
15. He is a control freak.
He micromanages everything, from the screenshots you feature, down to the examples you use to illustrate your points.
You’ve just had a very unpleasant realisation:
This was less about you ‘guest’ posting than providing unpaid labour to execute on his vision (which happens to be VERY specific, with measurements).
There is a difference between the give and take that is collaboration and having less creative freedom than the slaves who built the Pyramids.
Solution: Suck it up and play Cinderella if the end result would be worth it.
16. He doesn’t coordinate with you or treat your guest post with respect.
He cannibalises your content.
Edits it without your consent.
Then to rub salt into an open wound, he publishes… eherm, marries… your guest post without telling you!
On the wrong date.
Which means you didn’t get a chance to consult your Vedic astrologer.
No wonder the stars didn’t align.
The influencers were not in the right position and the wedding now looks like a taco party in a ghost town.
Worse still, you didn’t have time to prepare your house for the few visitors who did come your way.
No landing page. No opt-in “gift”. And your website still had that horrible headshot with braces.
Solution: Agree deadlines and publication dates from the outset. Let them know your expectations.
17. He has a small… well, readership.
A bad blog doesn’t have enough readers to justify your effort.
Guest posting is time intensive. There is no way around it.
Start thinking like an entrepreneur and evaluate the return on your investment.
All blogs are equal, but some blogs are more equal than others.
My recommendation is to make a list of all your target blogs and then separate them into tiers based on monthly traffic.
(PRO TIP: You can find how many unique visitors a site gets on SimilarWeb.)
That said, don’t judge a man (just) by the size of his blog. Rather judge him on his ambition.
The question you need to ask yourself is: Do you see him going places, two, three years from now?
Bet on a winning blogger.
And lastly, size isn’t everything.
You’d be surprised how often respectable, niche blogs with an engaged audience outperform some of the ‘big boys’.
For instance, my friend Charles Bordet got 356 subscribers from a guest post he wrote for Navid Moazzez.
That is crazy ROI, considering that Navid only had about 5,000 subscribers at the time.
Long story short:
Small but engaged? Go for it.
Small and questionable? Politely decline. If you’re feeling guilty about it, offer them tea before you send them on their merry way.
Here is a word-for-word script you can use:
Thank you for inviting me to write for [blog].
I must decline, for secret reasons.
18. The blog pays for guest posts.
If the blogger not only welcomes guest posts but also offers to pay the author, surely he must be a keeper, right?
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
If he pays you, he’ll expect you to dance to his tune.
Or he just might not be reputable enough to get guest posts without, you know, paying for it.
This is more of a yellow flag than a red one.
He is either a Valiant Knight, generous and considerate to struggling writers…
Or very desperate.
Solution: What’s your goal? Is it to get paid gigs as a freelance writer? Or to build an audience you can sell products and services to?
19. The blog has high traffic (not a typo).
Surely when it comes to finding a blog for your guest post, anyone who gets more traffic than the teeming thoroughfares of central London is a catch, right?
But as Mary Fernandez points out, if you want to get a lot of subscribers, page views are not the best indicator of whether a blog is a good target:
“You see, a blog could get tons of traffic each month, but that doesn’t mean their audience is actually engaging with the content.
The best indicators of an engaged blog audience are shares and comments. An audience that engages with the content by sharing it on social media and commenting is far more likely to click through to your site and opt in to your email list.”
If the blog hides its share count, that could be a sign of poor engagement.
Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and plug the blog’s url into Buzzsumo.com to see how many shares their posts are actually getting.
Another reason the blog has deceptively high traffic might be because it has click-through ad traffic.
20. The blogger doesn’t have readers. He has devotees.
His readers bonded to him like superglue. They like him, and only him.
This is why guest posts on some single author blogs don’t perform well, even when all the signs point to success.
Solution: Before you write for a single author blog, compare the number of comments on the blogger’s own posts vs guest posts.
Either don’t write for the blog or get some sort of endorsement from the blogger in the introduction.
21. He doesn’t send an email notification to his list when your post is published.
Good blogs tell their whole family about the beautiful guest post they intend to marry by sending an email notification to their list.
That way, when the bride walks down the aisle, tens of thousands of people are already in their seats, waiting to throw the confetti.
22. He doesn’t promote your guest post on social media.
A good blog knows how much the Big Day (of Publication) means for your guest post and gives her a wedding to remember.
He does this by promoting heavily on social media. In fact, he sends little birds to all his friends, tweeting the virtues of his bride.
… which, of course, get re-tweeted. Many times.
Is Your Guest Post About to Marry the Wrong Blog?
Don’t waste hours writing for a blog that won’t produce subscribers.
Be a smart blogger. Watch for warning signs. Vet your blog-in-law before you let your content run away with him.
You know what? I think my Vedic astrologer foresees a fairy-tale wedding for your guest post.
The Happily Ever After
You’ve done well.
You spotted the early warning signs and averted disaster.
Now your guest post is happily married to its dream blog.
Praise the Blogging Gods.
Every time you visit the matrimonial blog, you swell with pride.
Ah, you’ve done so well. You married your guest post off to such a rich, reputable blog that it raised your standing by association.
Doors shall open which were previously slammed shut.
This way to Glory. Please proceed in an orderly line.
Soon you’ll have hundreds of suitors lining up at the door.
“I heard your daughter married Location 180,” they will say. “Do you have any other daughters?”
It’s inevitable. Best set out the china.