In theory, writing a great guest post article isn’t overly complex. Copywriting is certainly a specialized skill set, but the anatomy of a great article doesn’t change much.
Where we see most businesses getting stuck is crafting (or editing) that article to fit the publishing requirements of the websites they’re working with. Oftentimes, they invested time and money in a great vendor or outreach campaign, only to be stopped short by a picky editor.
The bright side is that while the specific requirements vary, there are a few fundamentals that you can generally account for. In this post, we’ll break down what to think about when writing the piece, and tips for navigating publisher requirements painlessly.
Word Count & Article Length
Article length is perhaps the most frustrating article rejection. For copywriters, this means taking significant portions back to the drawing board, or omitting important context that helps the article flow.
There’s a few ways you can minimize, or even completely avoid, this roadblock.
Plan for 500-1,000 Words on Most Articles
That might seem like a pretty wide range, but the words add up fast and most topics can be covered pretty well with this length. You’ll also find that the vast majority of major publications will reject articles under 500 words or articles over 1,000, but it’s less likely that word count will be an issue within this range.
The easiest way to get an outright rejection is submitting content that the publisher feels adds minimal value to their site. Most commonly, this happens when they receive promotional feature submissions rather than evergreen content.
Businesses talking about how amazing they are essentially just use the platform for promotion, rather than adding some useful content to a popular domain.
To avoid this, do one of the following:
- Clarify before you start whether or not the publication accepts features. These often carry additional costs, so be sure to ask about that too.
- Default to writing evergreen articles. This will help your brand reputation and help the article rank well for general keywords later, too. That means more organic traffic for you.
Bonus points if you’re linking to an informational page. Homepages, product pages, and other commercial landing pages aren’t really authoritative link sources that add to an article.
You’ll find publishers are 50/50 on whether or not they allow commercial links, but if you default to informational URLs, you’ll receive fewer rejections. That’s also a great reason to start a company blog, if you haven’t already.
Finally, make sure to clarify how the above impacts your anchor text. Some publishers allow commercial links, but won’t allow brand names or locations (a city or state, for example) in the anchor. Some are the opposite. Some allow both, others allow neither.
Format & Style
A short, but crucial, step is to clarify the format publishers accept their guest posts in. For example, our AP News, Yahoo, and MarketWatch publishers only accept press releases, while many others on our list require standard articles.
This will help prevent outright rejections and, just as importantly, give you an idea of where your article will be published. For example, maybe you’re working with a vendor or a publisher with the idea that your article is going to show up in the homepage news feed of a major website. You’d be disappointed to find out after you bought your link that it’s on a subdomain press or blog section.
This is why we always share samples before starting a project, and why you should always ask for them from your vendor or publisher.
Don’t Forget: Consider the Readership
This is a solid tip in general for writing, but you can take it a step further with your guest posts. If you’re publishing on Buzzfeed, a short, digestible listicle is probably friendlier to their audience. On Tech Times, though, in-depth and technical content calls for longer articles.
This should go without saying, but don’t forget to consider niche too. Giant publications like Entrepreneur are picky about focusing only on the business niche, and in general, do you really want to be publishing food content on, say, a tech blog?
This article would be getting quite close to that 1,000 ceiling we mentioned if we did a deep dive on everything. That said, there are a few other important considerations you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Confirm your article or link will be permanent.
- Confirm if you’re being offered a niche edit or a guest post (niche edits are just link inserts).
- Make sure you know all potential hidden fees. Will certain anchors or niches incur extra costs? Are there any itemized costs not quoted in the initial fee statement?
Armed with these considerations, you will be well-positioned to work with the ecosystem of publishers, editors, and vendors you’ll encounter when you’re running extended outreach campaigns.
If you’re going the vendor route, we take care of these requirements for our clients. We work regularly with all the publications on our list. This means we know in advance what they’re going to ask for, we can provide samples up front, and can guide the strategy of your outreach before the link order is placed. Head to our dashboard to discuss this more with our team.