Before starting TCM I was heavily focused on getting press coverage to establish my expertise. I submitted one off experts quotes as well as fully written guest posts to countless sites. Sometimes they were published, sometimes they were rejected.
I spent so much time submitting guest content all over the interwebs, that I wanted to give others a chance on my site. I respect GenTwenty's multi-contributor model so much (plus they were my first ever guest post accepted!) and wanted to provide people with the same ability on my site…
… until I didn't anymore.
What changed? Well, I probably get around 20-50 emails per week from people either asking to submit a guest post or submitting the completed guest post… it's not the volume of these e-mails that overwhelms me but what's in them.
Here are 5 reasons why your guest post isn't getting chosen (or responded too):
1. It's a press release or sales pitch.
Nothing drives me crazier than a “guest post” that is really what I consider sponsored content. If your guest post is primarily a way to promote yourself or your product it's advertising! You are basically asking me to introduce you to my readers to sell them – which is so not cool on so many levels.
Furthermore, a lot of companies are doing this thing where they “want to hear my thoughts” on a topic. But then they ask for a backlink to their site and a mention of their product. Well guess what, that's ADVERTISING! Just because the post doesn't read like an infomercial, doesn't mean it's not an ad. Tricking unaware content creators to produce native advertising pieces on their site is so gross.
If you are asking for sponsored content, then that's another story and we can talk about collaborating, but do not be a sleaze and try to get me to “post your infographic” or promote your product for free. Not only is that not right to my business (yes, my blog is a business) but it's also not right to my readers to get sold in an inauthentic, disingenuous manner.
2. It's not relatable or valuable.
TCM strives to be relatable. Of course, not every person is going to relate to every post, but each post strives to have a relatability factor to connect with others mentally or emotionally. Furthermore, the post should provide readers with some sort of value and should enhance their life in some way (whether it's a good laugh, actionable advice, or whatever). Remember, your content is not all about you, it's about the reader.
3. It's clear you've never read TCM before.
When I did a reader survey last year, I asked about people's thoughts on the guest posts. Did they notice? Did they like them? Hate them? Interestingly, most people said they didn't even notice that TCM has guest posts! The group that did notice the guest posts said they overall really enjoyed them. That was a huge sigh of relief for me since I put a lot of effort into each guest post in making sure it fits and feels as much like a regular TCM post. Which leads me to…
4. It will take me too long to edit.
I work really hard on each guest post submission published on TCM. So much in fact, that I've had past guest post contributors ask me where their content was because they didn't recognize it at first!
I will almost always change the title you submit your post under and will re-work the flow of the article and language to make it more relatable or digestible. There have been countless times where I have skimmed an article and quickly replied: “I'll post it!” Only to sit down a week or so later and start editing and realize it's going to take me 3 hours to edit to match the TCM voice & vibe. Regrettably, I usually end up sending those posters an e-mail I hate to send, “I'm sorry, but this is going to take too much work on my end to get it in TCM shape.”
Read and re-read your guest post! Catch your typos, catch your grammar errors, and ask yourself at the end, “would I share this article if I came across it on a site?” If you wouldn't then why would I post it?
5. You didn't read the directions.
The three biggest directions people miss are:
1) On the contact page, it literally says “If you are looking to guest post, click here, please do not use this form.” — Yet people still send me emails asking if they can submit a guest post. I always delete those.
I know what the rebuttal to this is going to be: “But why should I waste my time writing a guest post if you aren't interested in the topic?” So stick with me a minute…
You could have the best guest post in the world, but if you can't read those instructions that tell me a couple of things: a) you haven't familiarized yourself with TCM and it's categories, and b) you are going to be high maintenance. I get a lot of emails where people want to (or have) sent me multiple post topics or titles and asked me to choose, only for the article to not fit TCM. A title is just that, a title, there are plenty of titles that fit TCM, but the article doesn't.
In the past, when people would email me with a list of titles or topic ideas, I would always take the time to respond with what I preferred… only to receive the article and it fell into one of the previously stated issues almost every single time. I quickly realized if a person is asking me to hold their hand about the title of the article, they are going to need me to hold their hand through the entire publishing process and I am sorry, but I don't have time for that. Plus it's always difficult sending someone an email passing on their article after you already approved the topic, but at the end of the day, a title is just that, a title, there are plenty of titles that fit TCM, but the article doesn't.
2) You submit previously published content. On the guest post submission form, it literally asks you to verify that the content has never been published elsewhere. So why do you think it's a good idea to send me already publish work? I plagiarize check all pieces before hitting publish!
3) You make claims but don't give me the research. If you are going to make claims that aren't common sense, then you better insert a link to your research.
Past guest post submissions that have done exceedingly well:
McVal Osborne is an author and has written for TCM a couple of times. Both of his posts have done extremely well and neither were self-promotional. His posts are excellent examples to check out. Anytime he sends me a guest post now, it immediately jumps to the front of my queue.
5 Ways Minimalism Can Change Your Life by Sophia Smith – Sophia can probably tell you this post is very different than her original submission. I spent a lot of time editing this post and she even re-wrote the introduction. I knew this post was extremely special which was why I put the extra time and effort into it and it has performed very well on TCM.
3 Areas To Focus On When Feeling Lost As A Millennial by Inka Mackenbrock – Another post that I knew would be extremely relatable and has performed very well. Inka can tell you that after her post was published she sent me an email asking when she could expect to see it on TCM. She didn't recognize it since I had changed the title, structure, and a few others things. Her perspective was too valuable to pass up so I put in the extra TLC.
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