I've written quite a few guest posts and bylined articles over the years. I also publish contributed articles on my Trust Signals blog. So I have a good understanding of guest posting from both the writer's and publisher's perspective.
Few things are more frustrating than spending hours working on a guest blog post, only to have it rejected. What many writers don't realize, however, is that there are a number of common reasons why guest posts get rejected and that there are specific steps you can take to increase the odds of yours getting accepted.
What follows are eight reasons why your blog post may have been rejected—along with tips for improving your odds of acceptance.
The number one reason guest blog posts get rejected by editors is that the author didn't follow the submission guidelines. Most sites that accept guest posts have clearly stated instructions on how to submit your post, including what information they are looking for, the angle of the topic, and any specifications on length. They also might have rules regarding what word processing software to use, whether you can link back to your own website, and what to include in your author bio.
If an editor looks at your post and sees that you didn't follow the guidelines, there's a good chance they won't even read your post. This is especially true if they receive a large number of guest post submissions. If you want your post to be accepted, make sure you follow all instructions to the letter.
Many times, it's most effective to submit a pitch for a guest post first before submitting a fully written article. Editors will frequently reply to pitches with suggestions on changes that must be made before a post will be accepted, or they may suggest a completely different topic.
If you don't submit a pitch first but just submit a completed article, it's possible that your topic won't be of interest to the editor, or it won't meet their editorial needs. So before you spend a bunch of time working on a guest post for a specific website, try to contact an editor first and submit a pitch. This makes it much more likely that your post will be accepted.
If the quality of your writing is low, it's almost a guarantee that your guest blog post will be rejected. You might make brilliant points within your post, but if the writing is difficult to read, editors aren't going to want to publish it.
This certainly includes grammar and typos, but it goes beyond it as well. If your writing feels amateurish, choppy, or just doesn't flow well, your guest post will most likely be rejected.
What can you do to fix the problem? You've got a couple options. You can hire an editor to help you clean up your writing. Yes, this can cost a fair amount depending on the amount of editing needed, but it's also a way to guarantee that your writing is solid.
Writing tools such as Grammarly can also provide suggestions for how to improve the quality of your writing, though not to the same degree as a human editor. Whatever choice you make, make sure that the quality of your writing is high before submitting a guest post.
Most websites have specific guidelines about how long guest posts should be. In most cases, posts either need to be under a specific amount of words or equal to or greater than a certain word count. Sites with shorter length requirements usually want thought-leadership posts, while those requesting longer posts want in-depth guides optimized for SEO.
Before submitting a guest post, check the website for any length specifications. Also, take a look at how long other guest posts are to get a feel for what's expected.
Similar to submitting posts that are the wrong length, guest posts that don't say enough about a given subject are also likely to get rejected. To be of value to readers, your post needs to have substance. You can't just make one or two points or make points that everyone already knows.
The best guest posts are those that make readers think. They have what I call a "second sentence," meaning they go deeper than surface level. They engage the reader and, ideally, inspire them to take action. They either raise new, fresh arguments or they approach existing arguments from a new perspective.
The best posts are also research-based. Assertions should be backed up by reliable data so that it's clear you're not just spouting your opinions. If you want your guest post to be accepted, make sure you have statistics to support your points. Also make sure your data sources use only recent research.
Filler content is one of the quickest ways to get your post rejected. Filler content includes things like repeating the same points over and over again, or including too many famous quotes or long anecdotes. While a little bit of storytelling or humor can help break up the text and keep readers engaged, too much will have the opposite effect.
If you find yourself relying on filler content to beef up a post, it's a sign that you haven't done enough research. You need to spend more time gathering valuable data about your topic so that you can write a substantive, filler-free post.
If a topic has already been thoroughly covered on a website, a guest post from you on that topic will likely be rejected. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to come up with a topic that has never been covered in order for a guest post to be accepted. You do, however, need to have something new to bring to the table, whether that's a unique angle, new data, etc.
Before you start writing a potential guest post for a website, look at what topics they've already covered and the different angles they've used. Then try to come with a topic that hasn't been written about much or a new approach for a topic they've already covered.
If you're submitting a guest post to an industry-specific website, your post needs to have sufficient expertise for the audience. You need to be able to write intelligently about your subject and provide the readers with useful insights. If you only cover the topic at a high level, it will be quickly obvious to the editor that you don't really know what you're talking about.
If you're not sure whether you have sufficient expertise, spend some time reading what's already been published. That will give you a sense of the level of detail readers expect from the website.
If your guest blog post got rejected, don't throw in the towel. Seek to understand exactly why it got rejected and then learn from your mistakes. Even the most successful guest bloggers have had posts rejected. In fact, that's part of their success. They took every rejection as an opportunity to improve.
So don't let a rejection stop you from continuing your guest blogging efforts. Instead, use it to sharpen your skills and become even better.