7 Mistakes that Lead to Guest Post Failure

image of train wreck

Guest posting! The highway to unbridled blogging success! Nab yourself a spot on an A-List blog and suddenly it’s your name in lights. Traffic, engagement, the undying adulation of the unwashed masses!

Sounds great, right?

Well, it is, actually.

But what about those of us who really crave a bit of failure? The ones who like to start every anecdote with “One time I almost” or “I was this close …”?

What does guest posting offer for us?

Well, fellow failure-chaser, you’re in luck. Because writing and submitting a guest post offers some real opportunities for spectacular failure.

So start taking notes, because you’re going to be able to tell your friends about the time you nearly wrote an amazing post for an A-Lister that almost took your own blog to a whole new level.

1. Be as timid as humanly possible

The first opportunity for failure is the pitch. Confidence carries the day when it comes to guest posting.

So if it’s failure you’re looking for, don’t show any confidence. Try not to sell your idea, and make sure you don’t actually write the post you’re proposing. Be hesitant, and make it apparent that you’re wasting your host’s time. With a bit of luck, they won’t you send so much as a read receipt.

2. Don’t startle the readers

Maybe the A-Lister you’ve just pathetically pitched has taken pity on you, and asked you to draft up your post.

What he’s looking for here is some competence. So make sure you don’t show any. Starting with a bang and grabbing attention leads to success, so don’t do it. Write cautiously and quietly, so as not to startle your audience into action.

3. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery — so shamelessly copy content

Your lukewarm opening should have dissuaded all but the most persistent of writers. So it’s going to take some real incompetence to screw this up now.

The quickest way is to do something that’s been done before. Retread old ground — but not in a new and interesting way. No, simply regurgitate your host’s best piece with some added spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Be very cautious with this, as covering old topics in a fresh way is actually a terrific way to write a popular guest post. Make sure not to add your own twist or fresh angle and you should be fine.

4. Shamelessly plug Unmemorable Title your own blog

It’s now time to look over the content you’ve just haphazardly thrown together.

To hit the dizzying lows of total failure, you need to employ an ancient SEO technique known as “spamming.” In other words, drop your link into the post so often that the page becomes nearly unreadable.

This is going to fail for two main reasons. One; it’s going to make your host even less likely to publish your piece. Two; it doesn’t work.

5. Make your ending as flat as possible

If you’ve done everything wrong up until now, you should be faced with a pathetic piece of trash, where every second word is a link to your blog.

Congratulations. You’re nearly done with the writing. All that’s left for you to do is cobble together an ending that peters out. And whatever you do, don’t forget to leave out effective closing techniques like a strong call to action.

6. Treat your host like you’re one of The Sex Pistols

The chances are that you’re going to have to interact with your host, as they attempt to polish the steaming post you’ve just deposited in their inbox. So now’s the time to channel some old-school punk.

Just like The Sex Pistols in their first TV interview, start swearing at your host, avoiding giving direct answers, and give the impression that the conversation is beneath you. With luck, this should be enough to make sure you don’t get published …

(If you want to really nail it, you could try throwing up on their desk. The blogging equivalent of this is publicly trash-talking bigger blogs. This works spectacularly well at ensuring you won’t get your guest posts published.)

7. Run like mad and don’t ever look back

If after all of this, by some horrible stroke of luck you do get published, there’s still one more opportunity for failure.

Demonstrate a complete lack of commitment to your guest post. Don’t reply to comments, don’t promote it on Twitter or Facebook, and certainly don’t write a post on your own blog to take advantage of the new traffic that your guest post provides.

And with that, you’ll have blown your big guest posting chance.

Complete and utter guaranteed failure as a guest poster in just seven short steps. Not for you, the benefits of seeing your name alongside the luminaries in your niche. No, because to do that, you’d need to be confident, competent, and committed.

Far easier to just take my advice and slip quietly into obscurity and mediocrity.

About the Author: Andrew Nattan is the blogger behind the memorably named Unmemorable Title Copywriting Blog. He’s English and yes, he drinks lots of tea.


Er, if you actually did want to write excellent guest posts that run on your favorite blogs, and that get you more traffic, SEO benefits, and subscribers, simply do the opposite of these 7 steps. Then you can stop with “I almost” and start with “I did.”

But you knew that already, right?

Print Friendly

What do you want to learn?

Click to get a free course and resources about:

Reader Comments (76)

  1. Mark Russell Carter says

    Nice and refreshing approach to an article. Well done Mr Nattan and I look forward to some more memorable posts from you in the near future.

  2. says


    Good post today. I like the example of the Sex Pistols interview. What is even more relevant is when the Ed Sullivan show used to censor rock band lyrics. The Rolling Stones changed their title from “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”

    But the Doors were defiant. Ed asked them to change “Light My Fire” to something else. The band agreed. But when they played live, Jim Morrison echoed “Light My Fire.” The band was never invited back to the show.

    I’m happy you also touched a bit on social media.


    • says

      Glad you enjoyed it Randy. I’d not heard much about the Ed Sullivan show, but you’re right. Not adhering to the rules (no matter how petty they might seem at the time) isn’t going to get you invited back any time soon!

      • says

        Actually, the Doors were proud of the fact they were “Banned by Ed Sullivan.” It proved they were not “sell-outs” like the so-called symbols of Rebellion, Rolling Stones, and brought them higher esteem with their fans.

        Although this kind of strategy is effective in certain situations, I remember a young Joan Rivers practically groveling to Ed on live TV. — I saw the clip; I’m not THAT old πŸ˜‰

        You offer solid advice for any undertaking. Be professional, treat everyone with respect, be original, and by all means—be the very best, know it deep down, and be both graceful, confident, and humble when presenting your material.

        Thanks, Andy.


        • says

          Yeah, the Doors appearance on Sullivan isn’t a good example, because it was live television. Not the same as a guest post, which I can reject or edit before it runs. So, Andy’s advice is dead on.

          • says

            I don’t know about Ed Sullivan days. I do know now that they build in delays on video feed, giving the tech folks time to bleep out swear words, etc.

        • says

          I thought the Sex Pistols analogy worked as The Doors and The Who and other 60s naughty boys were edgy and daring — the Sex Pistols just took it all the way over to simply disgusting. :)

          (On the other hand, they did make a fair bit of money by signing with labels and then immediately getting fired. Until they got to Virgin, who were unshockable.)

          what lesson you can take from that, I have no idea. “Know your audience,” maybe. You certainly don’t have to make everyone happy, but being a belliigerent little pest is a strategy that’s often used and rarely successful.

          • says

            To be honest, The Pistols were my second choice analogy.

            There’s a band from Manchester called The Happy Mondays who were my first choice. Channel 4 in the UK has it written into their constitution that the lead singer (Shaun Ryder) can’t appear on live TV, as he’s pretty much guaranteed to drop a few F-Bombs.

            I guess having to explain that means that I was right to go with The Pistols…

  3. says

    Reverse-psychology: it’s a bitch! :) Seriously, Andrew, this post rocked. At first I was saying WTF? But sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake.

    #2 (from the post… not actual number two) is always a fine line. I want to embrace some shock value but don’t want to push too hard.

  4. says

    Andy (and Copyblogger by extension),

    I have nothing of value to add because you hit a home run here. Just wanted to say I absolutely LOVE the “don’t do this” posts because for some reason (likely my own backwards brain and difficulty with logic) the positive points stick with me so much longer when handed out backwards with tongue firmly in cheek.

    Thanks again!

  5. says

    I think it should also be added that including an awesome photo–like the one in this guest post of an old-time train wreck–can also spark plenty of interest!

  6. says

    That was really funny, I thoroughly enjoyed your post Andy. Not only do you offer some great tips on NOT writing a successful blog post :-), but you do it in a way that forces the reader to go through every line in detail (not in a bad way!) while keeping them engaged and entertained at the same time!

    • says

      Sacha, seriously it does make the reader pay attention.

      As a former developer, we used to write logic in the negative (IF NOT EQUAL TO) to force our ‘smart’ peers to pay attention. I caught myself re-reading sections of this post just to make sure I got it!

  7. says

    Amazing coincidence that I see the tweet for this post while I writing guidelines for guest bloggers on my blog. Guest blogging should be good for both sides.


  8. says

    Funny post!

    Funny is good! Also, actually challenged my mind to reverse think the points!

    Makes the brain do some flexing to dodge these fun curve balls!



  9. says

    I’ve recently gotten a lot of guest post gigs. I like it a lot as as it get’s you great exposure. The number one tip I could offer is to write a better post you would write for your own blog (presuming you write excellent content for your own).

  10. says

    Great Post! I enjoyed it and it will be helpful for beginning bloggers like myself. Thanks!

    Just FYI, I saw a minor typo. Under the first point, the sentence reads “With a bit of luck, they won’t you send so much as a read receipt.”

    I might be wrong, but I think it’s supposed to read: “With a bit of luck, they won’t send you so much as a read receipt.”

  11. says

    Andrew, thank you so much for putting this out there. Timing is everything and I’ve actually just started doing some guest posting for a high visibility blog. I was very conscious about being a guest in the spotlight. This post has given me some direction that will allow me to simply make some decisions, put some decisions to rest, and just go write!

    Thanks again.

  12. says

    Really boring post Andy that I got nothing from and which would definitely not encourage me to visit your blog!


    (Only kidding – just applying your great technique to my comment)

    Great stuff Andy : )

  13. says

    Good points and written in an entertaining way. No wonder I love it so much-it was written by a fellow European. (We get the dry humor).

  14. says

    Amazing how stating the opposite clarifies the truth. Thanks Andy. As I read your “advice” I was holding my breath, as today is my first guest post opportunity. Thank goodness there weren’t 10.

  15. says

    #8: Make Them Feel Stupid
    Include industry jargon, acronyms and inside jokes only you and your co-workers use (and no one else understands). This is sure to make readers think you (the author) are super smart and on a higher level than they are. Who doesn’t like feeling inadequate?

    • says

      Great comment Jayme. If you’re making your readers feel stupid, inadequate or confused, you need to stop blogging. Because you’re not offering any value whatsoever.

  16. says

    The post is very informative and helpful. But, I am still struggling to have guest post on my my blog. What can I do to attract guest to write on my blog.

  17. says

    Wow! This post is perhaps the worst I’ve
    ever read from Copyblogger. The worst because it really tells you how to fail and assumes that everyone who reads it is going to know to do the opposite of what your preaching. But we all know not everyone who reads Copyblogger is from California (I can’t help it that we are smarter than you) and they will most likely go and do what you are telling us to do.

    It’s not wise to guide people into the dark. I don’t know how your pitch for a guest post got accepted on Copyblogger but I do know that you are a bad bad man. So bad that you’ve sparked this slew of creative juices flowing in my brain and now I’m going to go off and guest post like crazy and do everything the opposite of what you said to do in your post.

    ….wait…doesn’t that mean that you did your job and your post was actually really good?

    Darn pros! Good job man!

  18. says

    I love it Andrew! You’ve driven it home. Awesome.

    Just for the record, I guest posted an article at Problogger last week. It was edgy, controversial, informative, and, as one blogger wrote, a bit “smarty pants.”

    It was a home run. Over 400 RTs. I got like, almost a hundred subscribers.

    All I’m saying is, what you’re saying here is ABSOLUTELY dead on, Andrew. Congratulations!

    Ok, off to check out your site. :)

  19. says


    Some good advice here. Guest blogging is super-useful, and sometime just getting in the door is the hardest part. I think you’ve done a great job here, explaining what not to do! Thanks for sharing.

  20. says

    Great post Andrew! It’s very beneficial to me as I’m just starting to really get into the practice of guest posting.

    I think #3 – copying content – is a big issue. Not necessarily that people do it on purpose {well some do}, but it seems like topics are covered over and over. I personally think that makes it difficult. One thing that I do that helps me, is to make an outline of my post content, then expound on each part in my own words. Most of the time it works to help me “make it my own” and not be a copy of someone else’s words. Do you have any other thoughts on this specific point…how to give saturated topics your own twist?

  21. says

    Great post. I see so many people try to make those mistakes. I wish they would put themselves in the shoes of the blog owner before they post. They should always ask, would I allow this comment on my blog.

  22. says

    Great advice, Andrew. Sorry to see you didn’t manage to take it yourself…..

    Seriously though! I have not tried guest posting anywhere yet but I am definitely keen to get a couple of my posts out in my niche that are not on my own blog. I will bear in mind what you say here and do a 180 away from it.

    It is good to get a giggle but learn at the same time.

    Very helpful, thanks.

  23. says

    Useful post Andrew. I haven’t ventured into the world of guest posting yet, so it’s always good to read posts like these to prepare myself for the day I do write my first guest post.

    But I imagine the A-list bloggers out there must get bombarded with offers to guest post?

  24. says

    Very funny Andrew, I liked your PS, I suppose you had to insert that for people who may have taken your words too literally. I’ve only written one post but I’m glad to say I think I avoided the mistakes you listed. I felt very honoured to be asked, so I wrote the best post possible. It was so good I wanted to use it on my own blog. πŸ˜†

    Leamington Spa, England

  25. says

    I had to read this soooo slloowwly, coz my brain hurt, trying to reverse the logic.
    Think I need a lie down now.
    I’d write a longer comment, but, well, what’s the point?
    I know exactly what not to do, seems I’m still doing it.


    Alan :-)

  26. says

    Very entertaining, thanks! And a good reminder of the important points to remember when doing any kind of post (guest posts, and those for my own site).

  27. says

    An entertaining read. I really enjoyed the approach to this article, offering very useful information with a twist. By injecting a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ humour has made it all more enjoyable to read.

    I have never had a guest post published so I have bookmarked this post for future reference. Many thanks, Phil

  28. says

    Haha! So refreshing to have a good bit of humour injected into this post!
    BTW, if you are looking for places to guest post on, take a look at myblogguest.com and guestpostexchange.com, both communities for connecting bloggers with guest posters.

  29. says

    Very informative and funny post Andy. Point no. 5 is a very good one – I read lots of blogs and articles it’s all too common for them to end with a whimper like a soggy firework on the 6th of November.

    A call to action is such a simple thing to write but it’s not a universally adopted strategy online.

    I wasn’t going to end my comment with a call to action but people are of course free to visit my blog if they want to.

  30. Sandrine Chaumette says


    So I have been in interactions where people have been both rude and insulting. When “checked” on their inappropriate behavior, the response is usually “Well, I was just telling you how I feel…” or “Oops, I didn’t know I came across like that.”

    At what point do you decide to iron out the situation to keep opportunities open or ignore all future communication from that person?

  31. says

    thanks for your tips Andrew! Engaging titles make also the difference and give an extra value to the post. I ‘ve seen that a call for action, as you say, at the end of the guest post, always adds a special nice pitch and the readers feel like the read something helpful.

  32. says

    ‘Run like mad and don’t ever look back’ – fantastic! Great article, most of it common sense really, nice to have these things reminded to us regularly.

    I’ve heard that you should use your best material on a guest blog rather than your own, does this make sense? Would like to hear your views.

Comments are open for seven days. This article's comments are now closed.