6 Ways to Guarantee Your Guest Post Gets Rejected

Content Marketing


Done correctly, guest posts can help brands reach new audiences and establish the credibility of their leaders. A smart guest posting strategy can vault a small brand to new heights and cement an established brand as the go-to expert in its industry. Done incorrectly, though, guest posts reach no one because editors won’t publish them.

To build a guest posting strategy that works, learn to follow the rules—and expect to fail if you break them.

In this blog, I’ll show you six ways to guarantee your guest post gets rejected. 

What the People in Charge Say

Publication editors are the gatekeepers of guest posts. You can write all you want, but if no one accepts you as a contributor, you won’t get very far. Editors decide who’s in, who’s out, and who’s on the “never open emails from this person” blacklist.

To learn more about the rules of guest posting, my team asked editors about how they select which articles to accept and publish and which articles to reject. Our research, which we published in “The State of Digital Media,” has helped us understand what it takes to succeed.

Of the editors we polled, 85% said their main reason for accepting and publishing content is to share new insights with their readers. People want valuable information and advice they can’t get anywhere else—makes sense, right? Editors love guest posts for this reason, with 96% reporting a desire to maintain or increase the amount of guest content they publish.

Editors want more contributed content, but there’s a catch: Not all new ideas are created equal. Publications want high-quality thought leadership content submitted by industry experts, not people who have only their own interests at heart.

If you want to get on the good side of publication editors, break the rules at your own peril.

How to Become an Editor’s Worst Nightmare

Let’s say you want to be a publication editor’s worst nightmare. Most brands and experts strive to get published, but not you! You are determined to do everything wrong, from start to finish. Follow these mistakes to guarantee you succeed exactly zero percent of the time.

1. Send a Boring Pitch

Editors read dozens (sometimes hundreds) of pitches in a day. Ensure they ignore your pitch by following a stale template and writing “Guest Post” as the entirety of your subject line.

Keep it as bland as possible so editors will delete your email along with the other 50 boring pitches they read that day. Sure, you could write better, more interesting subject lines and customize your email pitches to build real editorial relationships—but then editors might actually respond.

2. Set Your Own Deadlines and Publishing Schedule

Show the editors that you’re in charge by completely disrespecting their time. Send them your own publication dates and revision timelines. Remind them to “please respond by Monday” and tell them you’d prefer to publish just after the new quarter begins. The more you imply that your post is more important than others, the better.

Never consider the fact that editors are busy enough as it is or ask how you can help them. Remember, you want to be rejected as quickly as possible.

3. Ignore the Publication’s Content, Media Kit, and “About” Page

Why bother reading anything a publication has covered before you reach out? You just wrote the best article ever on healthy cooking, and you want to pitch it to everyone—even sites that explicitly state they’re only looking for content from contributors on the topic of digital marketing.

Who cares if this publication prefers to use numerals for small numbers and stick to the Oxford comma? Your writing transcends their guidelines. Rather than treat every publication as an individual outlet with a unique voice and audience that needs original content, act as if they’re all the same.

4. Focus Your Article on the Important Stuff: Yourself

Guest posting is part of your content strategy. Your content strategy is driven by your business goals. Therefore, your guest posts should market your brand aggressively.

Our report found that 71% of editors see overly promotional content as a major problem. To be the worst contributor ever, ignore that information and add as many links to your homepage, blog, and product pages as you can fit. Editors and their readers might want helpful tips or unique industry insights, but too bad—you’re going to write an 800-word billboard.

5. Trust Your First Draft and Don’t Look Back

Editors prefer revised, thoughtful content, free from grammatical errors and loose ends. Provide them the opposite by sending them your first draft without letting anyone else see it. Bonus points if you don’t even read it over once yourself.

Another 71% of editors say they are likely to reject content that isn’t professionally written and edited before it arrives. Join the ranks of deleted pitches by trusting yourself to get it right the first time.

6. Be as Creepy as Possible with Follow-ups

Official communication channels are for everyone else. You dug deep in your Google search to discover editors’ Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter pages, and even pick-up basketball leagues. Now, you can bother them no matter where they go, ensuring they will both reject your pitch and avoid you like the plague in the future.

Sure, you could read the site guidelines about follow-up communications and demonstrate respect for the other party, but where’s the fun in that?

Guests posts can be powerful weapons for companies big and small. If you’d prefer to use those weapons to shoot yourself in the foot, follow these tips to guarantee no editor will ever work with you again.

How have you been able to ensure that your content doesn’t get rejected? What strategies have you used to make sure your pitch is accepted? Tell me about it in the comments!