5 Steps to Submitting a Guest Post & Getting It Published

After some emails back and forth with a potential guest blogger on my site, he suggested I write a little guide on how to submit a guest post in a way that will increase the likelihood of getting it published. I thought, not a bad idea. So here are a few simple steps that anyone can follow in order to ensure that their guest post has a higher chance of getting published on their target blog.

1. Research your target blog.

I’m a huge fan of research, and when it comes to guest blogging, one of the keys to getting your guest post accepted and published is researching your target blog first. You will want to know what topics the blog owner posts, and what topics are popular.

One of the easiest ways to do that is using Google Reader in the Chrome browser with the PostRank Chrome extension. Simply subscribe to your desired guest post destination in Google Reader, and let PostRank do the rest.

Researching Guest Post Opportunities with Google Reader and PostRank

This little snapshot is from Mashable’s RSS for their social media category. You can easily see titles of recent blog posts (on some blogs all the way back for three years or more) and see which of those titles brought the most social engagement via their PostRank score.

Alternatively, if you don’t have Chrome or want to setup Google Reader, you can visit PostRank Topics (for now), ignore the login request, and use the search box at the top right to see if your target blog is listed on their site to see the social metrics for their latest blog posts.

I’d still suggest the Google Reader / Chrome / PostRank extension option as it will give you a faster view of their latest posts and PostRank scores.

2. Get to know the blog owner.

You don’t have to be best friends with a blog’s owner before putting a guest post on their radar, but it helps if they are at least somewhat familiar with you. Some great ways to get to know blog owners include:

  • Commenting on their blog.
  • Engaging with them through Twitter or their Facebook profile and/or page.
  • Interacting with them in a forum.
  • Chatting with them at an event such as Blog World (aff link).

3. Have great timing.

The next great strategy is knowing when to pounce. I’ve had some guest bloggers utilize their posts on other sites to get more opportunities. For example, I commented on a guest post on Search Engine People, and the writer contacted me the next day with a post proposition for my blog. It was a good assumption as my comment signified that I already liked his writing and was now familiar with him.

There are lots of other timing-based opportunities that you can jump on. If a blogger writes on their blog, tweets, or otherwise announces that they are looking for guest posts, then they are more likely to be open to anyone answering the call. If a blogger mentions you in a post as having a great article in their weekly roundup or lists you as a top authority in your niche, then they will probably be interested in featuring you more on their site. The possibilities are endless!

4. Read the guest posting guidelines.

If a blog you want to submit to doesn’t have an obvious link to their guest post guidelines, but you know they are accepting posts because you have seen other guest bloggers on their site or simply are hoping they accept guest posts, then do a Google search for site:theirblog.com guest post guidelines, site:theirblog.com submit news, site:theirblog.com submit story, site:theirblog.com write for us, or other similar phrases. This will likely get you to their guidelines or submission process.

Be sure to read the guidelines in detail and adhere to all of the rules. While you might think that many blogs have the same rules when it comes to guest posting, you may be surprised when you submit a post and learn that they want longer than normal posts, require the guest blogger answer comments, and other requirements that other blogs may not ask for.

5. Format your posts for success.

After reading several editorial guidelines for major sites, there is a common theme of elements that are usually requested in guest post submissions that you will want to spice into yours. These include:

  • Headers – this will make it easier to scan and read.
  • Paragraph Spacing – when researching a blog you want to submit a post for, be sure to note if their posts have short or long posts, and gear yours to match.
  • Images – at minimum one will do, but if your article is “how to” based, then more are welcome. If the image is not something you created, photographed, or personally took as a screen shot, then you will want to be sure that the image is under the Creative Commons license and that you give the image credit link with your post.
  • Internal Links – most bloggers will appreciate if you link to their posts or category pages within your guest post. It shows that you have taken the time to look through their site and find relevant content and are writing the post to benefit them, not you.
  • Comment Driving Conclusion – blog owners generally love comments. Be sure to end your post with something that will invite readers to add their own thoughts to the post in the comments. See the end of this post for an example.

Of course, if a blog has editorial guidelines, follow those. But if they don’t, these are some common elements that will wow a blog owner.

Also, don’t forget, after writing your awesome content and formatting it to run it through a spell checker. Be the writer and editor for your guest posts to ensure the blog owner has as little to modify as possible.

Your Tips on Guest Posting Success

So these are the things that I do when looking to submit a guest post. Now it’s your turn. As a blog owner, what would you like to see more guest posters do that would make you more likely to accept their posts? And as guest posters, what additional strategies do you implement to get your guest posts published? Share your thoughts in the comments, and happy guest blogging!

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    • says

      I think I notice all of this stuff because of my other activities Rana. :) The busier you get, the more specific you get when it comes to guidelines!

  1. says

    Excellent tips, as usual, Kristi. I just installed the PageRank extension in Chrome (and was reminded I need to read your ebook again because I remember you mentioning PostRank there too; gotta utilize it more).

    Here are my tips from my stint as a client’s “guest post gatekeeper”:

    1. Don’t submit your post in HTML unless the guidelines specify that you do. Potential guest posters did this to “make it easier” for me, but in reality, unless they used HTML tags and formatting exactly like we did, it was more frustrating.

    2. It goes without saying, but make your guest post easy to accept by submitting high-quality content, free from spelling and grammatical errors. Anything I looked at that was going to require a lot of editing went straight to the trash no matter how great the post was.

    3. Be wary of including links to your own blog posts within your guest post (personally, I generally think you shouldn’t link to yourself all except the link in your bio) and definitely don’t include your own affiliate links. I was amazed at how often people did this.

    I could go on and on, but I think your emphasis on following any guidelines is the key. And if they don’t have guidelines, observe a while so you get a feel for how their posts work for them. If your first priority is benefitting your host and yourself second, you’ll be good to go.
    Amy Lynn Andrews just posted How to Schedule a Post in WordPress

    • says

      These are valid points Amy, I hope many people will read Kristi’s post and follow a proper way to submit their guest posts!

      I have a comment on #3 : Based on my experience, bloggers complain a lot when they don’t get enough visits or traffic from their guest posts; this actually happen because they don’t include links to their own blog posts, this is why I recommend they add a few links, of course it has to be relevant and add value to the original post.

      Believe me, bio links are not going to give enough exposure! so the smart blogger knows that and always seeks more links (Kristi one of those smart people 😉

      Just thought to share my view!

      P.S. I love your blog, really good stuff!
      Hesham just posted Building A Profitable Customer Base – 5 Strategies to Drive Repeat Visits

      • says

        Good point Hesham. I don’t have an issue with a guest blogger doing this, but I know that a lot of other sites will flat out reject it if there are an self-serving links within the body of the post. I wouldn’t suggest doing it unless you know the blogger and their policy does state that you can include your own links based on relevancy.

    • says

      I definitely know that feeling Amy about the editing. I figure if it’s going to take me just as long to edit a post as it would to write one, then it’s definitely not worth it. Plus it’s not really fair in the sense that if I do all the editing to make the post look good, the guest blogger can take that as their “resume” link to others who might be surprised when they see that my editing work isn’t actually one of the guest blogger’s skills.

  2. says

    Wow, I am both a fan of Chrome and Google Reader but I never knew there is a PostRank Chrome Extension. I’m embarrassed. Anyway, I got it installed with just one click of a button. Thanks for this info Kristi. I think I will do a follow up post about this tomorrow.

    Those are great points you’ve covered and the guidelines are very helpful. What I could suggest however is for you to have something like an acknowledgement procedure such that the guest poster would know if their submission was received and is currently being reviewed. I understand that you are very busy but it would truly help ease the feeling of anxiety that the submission might be lost during transmission. Sometimes file attachments can grow quite big and not all email systems are able to handle large files.

    Just my two cents and I can’t wait to get my guest post published next month.
    Ramcel just posted Guest Post to Get Your Blog On the Radar

    • says

      No need to be embarrassed Ramcel. There are way too many technologies out there to keep up!

      I thought about putting in an auto responder for guest posts and even tried a copy / paste email, but then I found that I took even longer to actually review the post. That and some people took the auto response as a confirmation that they were accepted and got really pissed when I came back later and said their post wasn’t a good fit. You almost have to have a disclaimer for everything. :)

    • says

      Ramcel & all – I clicked over to the PostRank page for Chrome, and the reviews left me feeling unsure about the install. Did you have any issues with the install or with the functionality of PostRank?

      I would love to use a tool like this. It is tough to filter through all of the blogs I am subscribed to, finding the golden nuggets.

      • says

        Hi Jeremy. Do you mean just using the extension in Chrome? I haven’t had any problems at all, with exception to sometimes when you add new feeds it takes them a half hour to populate the right PostRank engagement score for the posts.

  3. says

    Found this post very informative Kristi, so thank you! :) Ive always wondered about guest posting and venturing in that direction to expand my blogging style and network with other bloggers. This post is a great starting point for me to consider.

  4. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I’m really glad you published these guest blogging tips, since I am getting ready to write my first guest post this month. I particularly like your tip on timing, since I wondered about this and how to approach it.

    I’ve also heard it said that a guest blogger choose the blog they wish to guest post on first and then write an article just for that blog, rather than to just write it and then look for a blog. Do you agree with this?

    Thanks, Kristi!
    Dr. Bob Clarke just posted 4 Things My Dad Taught Me About Being an Better Marketer | Happy Father’s Day!

    • says

      I think it’s better to write for the blog Bob. Whenever you customize your post that way with internal links to the blog you are pitching, it will give you an edge with that blogger because they will be excited that you are doing it for their benefit, not just shopping something all around.

  5. says

    Didn’t know about about that Chrome PR extension as well. Pretty excellent guidelines here Kristi. I really appreciate you sharing these stuffs for us.
    BTW, I just installed it. It really looks amazing! :)

  6. says

    Very complete post Kristi. The only thing that I would add, especially if you are writing for very big, established blogs, is to check if the topic of the guest post you are about to submit has not been already covered by the author of the blog.

    Sometimes I am having trouble trying to find subjects that have not been approached by the big guys in my niche.
    Cristian just posted Contest: Get a free blog audit report

  7. says

    This is timely information and although I have had one guest post published, I will be doing more so I should be able to do it better the next time. I also want to thank you for your post on the Google Reader and blog commenting. I have done this to help build some traffic to some new sites of mine. I am pleased with the results since it is working well for me. Just wanted to say thanks.
    kidgas just posted A Great Day for My New Sites

  8. says

    Awesome post Kristi!

    You pretty much summed up everything for getting a guest post published and I’m very sure no one will read and implement the tips in this article and not be able to get his/her guest post published.

    For me the most important thing is researching the blog you’re submitting a guest post to and its great to see it is the #1 point on this post. I also love receiving well formatted blog posts, it makes it very difficult for me to reject them 😉

    Thanks so much for the great post and have a great day!
    Onibalusi Bamidele just posted 14 Lessons I Learnt from 14 Months of Blogging

    • says

      Good point Onibalusi! I’m always happy when I see that someone read the guidelines before sending the post along and generally those are the ones that I don’t have to take a lot of time to review and accept – I get some strays that are way off base sometimes.

  9. says

    Hi Kristi!

    Thanks for teaching me something new! I wasn’t aware of Post Rank Extension.

    I am writing a guest blog this week… of course this one has to written and then they decide if they want it. (if the site doesn’t ues it, i will use it on my own!) But, I will definitely research this before I settle on a topic.

    Thanks for the other tips as well.

    Rajka just posted Happy Fathers Day to the One I Love! It is Only a Love Story.

  10. says

    Hi Kristi,

    thanks, it’s great that you’ve laid this out so simply. I’m new to guest blogging (one post so far), but the main thing I’ve noticed is that invitations have come naturally off the back of
    1. Improved content
    2. Effective networking
    As you noted here, getting connected and engaging with other bloggers through different media can lead to invitations or request one way or the other.

    Do you have a checklist for blog owners looking to invite guest bloggers? (have you covered that already? I’ll have to have a look)
    Jym just posted Underground Blogging Secrets Review – UBS Unearthed

    • says

      Hi Jym. I have a guest author link right in my main menu bar, and every time I post a guest post on Wednesdays, the first line includes a link to the guest post guidelines. So it’s like a weekly advertisement that I accept guest posts. Also I include it as a paragraph in my newsletter, so email subscribers get a friendly reminder as well!

  11. says

    Good tips and advice. I am curious to how much time and research one should expect to spend. I know every subject or topic is different, and everyone works at different speeds, but what are we talking like an hour, or several hours on average.
    Ray just posted WordPress vs. Tumblr

    • says

      Eyeballing the posts in Google Reader and then taking a browse through the popular ones for formatting, length, etc. should take about half an hour I’d say at max Ray.

  12. says

    Seems like you touched upon all the points expected for guest posts. I usually research first and comment plus tweet and interact on social media first before pitching. Then I’ll usually pitch unless the guest post guidelines say that the blogger wants a full post sent for consideration.

    Then I send it and wait. I follow up after a week if I don’t hear from them. When the post goes live, I promote, promote, promote and comment, comment, comment. :)
    Gabrielle just posted The Top 5: Link Jive – Change

  13. says

    I was specifically not intending to install Chrome after a recent forced rebuild of my system, but after seeing your tip for the page rank gizmo, I’m all over it.

    Now I’m curious what it really means. I have a couple posts on my blog showing 9.3 with that thing. Yet I’m not getting very much traffic to them at all compared to anything on this site, for example. Most of my posts are sitting at 1.0.

    Some of my higher “ranked” posts have zero comments, too. Totally confused now.
    Kevin Kimes just posted Stop Learning So Much!

  14. says

    Are there specific hours when it’s best to post a new guest post. For example U.S. working times etc. Coming for Australia I find social media interaction is more effective during our nights (US days).

    • says

      In many cases, the blog owner probably has complete control over the timing of any guest post getting published. I’d say just leave this in their hands.

      But for publishing on your own blog, 6:00AM, 10:00AM, 3:00PM, 9:00PM US east coast time are good and popular times to schedule posts. But there are plenty of successful blogs where they don’t seem to worry about timed publishing much.
      Kevin Kimes just posted Find Huge Traffic Sources First

  15. says

    Great Post, Kristi! I love the PostRank suggestion! This will make my life soooo much easier! I’m quite the regular guest blogger myself and sometimes have difficulty staying on top of who I reached out to or not if I don’t stay organized. As a result, I have a pretty massive whiteboard that shows all my content in development, submitted content, and published content. That way I can have a visual map of the coming/going of my content!
    Brian Flores just posted VPS

  16. says

    Great post! Very detailed and I love the chrome plug in you suggested. I love guest posting and it’s odd how the rules are all over the board. For example, having written for Social Media Examiner I know the heavy lifting you have to do in order to get Michael excited about the post. It is key to do your homework and find ways to link to their other articles. Reading the guidelines FIRST is so important as well. But I have to say I’m excited about this plug in. Unfortunately I use firebox, but have decided to add chrome to give this a “whirl”. Page rank is not only good for guest posting, but it’s nice for your own blog, too! It’s a great way to see what’s resonating with people that you could be speaking about – and it’s a very strategic way to do a “cheat sheet” for a blog round up from around the web. Thanks for always taking the time to write such insightful posts!

  17. says

    Post rank is fantastic and has actually saved us a lot of time in figuring out which our own most popular posts are! We had our own formula, but post rank is close enough to save the job. Thanks Kristi! BTW, I found you via ThirdTribe

  18. says

    Hi Kristi,

    This is my first visit to Kikolani… Your blog has quite a reputation! Of course it’s all good 😉 I have been approached to write some guest posts this past week for the first time, so your advice is well-timed! I think proper research and preparation will definitely settle my nerves. After reading your post I’m going to treat my guest posts almost like a senior term paper. Hopefully, I’ll get an A and an invitation to write another guest post in the future!

    Awesome blog – I’ll definitely be back!
    Will just posted Great Way to Get Backlinks to Your Site

  19. says

    Great Tips, Kristi. It is an excellent idea to use PostRank to do the research job for you. At a first glance of the reader, we will know exactly what topics are hot :) I used to go to the blog site and look at the categories and different blog post to check out what’s out there.

    In relation to point 3 0 “the timing”, you list out several great examples to jump on guest blogging. Brilliant! Something that I overlook…

    Great post!

    Ming Jong Tey just posted Off Page SEO – 12 Techniques To Build Backlink To Your Website Part 1

  20. says

    Thank you, this post came up at the perfect moment for me. I already have an idea for a guest post accepted, but wasn’t sure how to go about writing that. Your tips about what to look for on the host blog are just what I needed. I’ll apply them during this weekend and if all goes well, next week my first guest post will see the light of the day
    DJ Trinity just posted How To Be A Good Boyfriend

  21. says

    Great post, Kristi. Thanks for outlining some general tips and tricks. I’d suggest you add a link to this article on your own Guest Authors page, which also clearly defines exactly what you’re looking for in a guest post.

  22. says

    Good job Kristy. I guess this is an important social responsibility of the experienced and sensitive bloggers like yourself who have an eye for detail to guide the new bloggers to not only benefit more from what they do but at the same time do it in way that doesn’t bother the on-line community. Just keep it up …
    Azam just posted Haircut at Supercuts

  23. says

    Hey Kristi,

    Awesome tips. Guest blogging has been really great for me.

    I do accept guest post on my blog and it always amazes me how many people who want to guest post on the blog, don’t even bother to see what my name is or to see if there is a guest post guide on the blog before emailing and asking do you accept guest post.

    Also I find it very disrespectful when people do a guest post and as soon as it gets published, they never rerun back and participate in the comment section. It’s just rude and not in the spirit of guest posting. Plus, you probably diminish your chance of getting your feature guest posts published.
    Satrap just posted 61 Easy And Free Ways To Increase Website Traffic

  24. says

    Great checklist, Kristi, and very thorough. Headers, internal linking, call to action – gee whiz this is textbook perfect advice. These tips apply well to one’s own blog and I notice most of us don’t use that much TLC on our own articles. Can see why you are a successful guest poster.
    AstroGremlin just posted Disneyland Secrets: Matterhorn