Why Your Guest Blog Posts Are Getting Rejected | Outbrain Blog


8 Reasons Why Your Guest Blog Submissions Are Getting Rejected

| Abbas Rajani

Any content writer worth their salt will tell you the ultimate goal is seeing their work on big name platforms such as The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc., and The New York Times.

However, it’s easier said than done.

Just like anything else in life, if you want big results, you’ve got to put in the time.

While smaller blogs might accept posts that you came up with during your morning coffee break and completed before lunch on the same day, authority sites require a lot more substance and attention to detail.

In the often difficult process of getting published, one will certainly endure a fair share of blows to their ego before achieving success.

So, if you haven’t been able to author an article on a mainstream site yet, don’t just continue to throw sub-par content at the wall to see what sticks, instead, take a moment and evaluate your approach.

You might think the only reason you can’t get published is because your writing simply isn’t good enough. Don’t get defeated, as there are numerous other mistakes which cause editors to pass on a writer’s work which you might be neglecting.

Here, find some of the most common mistakes content marketers make when submitting to premium publisher sites so you can avoid them on your journey to getting published:

1. You Don’t Follow the Guidelines

All too often, bloggers will submit content without checking to see if a website has specific guidelines for article submissions.

And there’s no quicker way to send an editor running than by clearly ignoring the guidelines they’ve painstakingly put together in hopes of producing high-quality content.

The main problem here is that all too often assumptions are made that guidelines for submitting content will be the same across the board – and we’re dead wrong.

And truthfully, if you read and follow the guidelines exactly as they’re written, you’ll end up conquering a major portion of the battle to getting published.

So keep in mind that you will definitely find flexibility in guidelines and that you need to read them thoroughly and work off of them accordingly.

In the event that a publication doesn’t have a clear set of guidelines listed, there are a few questions you should find the answer to before you even start writing:

  1. Who are the target readers of the site?
  2. What type of posts are readers typically exposed to?
  3. What topics does the site often cover?
  4. What kind of links do they accept within articles?
  5. What’s the average word count of their posts?


2. You’re Desperate for Links

The motivation behind guest blogging is different for everyone.

Some contribute articles in hopes of getting authority backlinks to their website while others do it to gain exposure and spread awareness to readers about their own areas of expertise within the industry.

Just keep in mind that blogs are not supposed to be an advertising platform.

(Example from the Content Marketing Institute)

The primary focus of any blog is to create quality content which keeps readers happy and coming back for more.


3. You Underestimate the Power of Visuals

Content alone isn’t going to keep your reader interested, regardless of which site you are pitching to. These days, you need visuals to break up intimidating blocks of text and keep the reader engaged.

Even if you have a unique, well-researched article that contains information the general public would be interested in knowing, without visuals, it won’t render worthwhile enough for consumption.

Especially when it comes to citing statistics, as too many big numbers can cause eyes to wander. Keep readers on your content by turning that information into a helpful and digestible infographic.

Check out how TrackMaven does it:


4. You Don’t Cite Sources to Support Your Claims

The main purpose of any article is to inform the reader, and they will only trust your information if you can prove it’s authentic and credible.

Do that by citing stats, surveys, visuals and demographics that back up your claims.

A lot of bloggers make sweeping claims without any citations, expecting the reader to take their information and experiences at face value.

Even if you’re one of the most trusted sources of information in the world, you should provide at least two other sources that will support the things you communicate in your article.


5. You Send the Same Pitch Email to Every Publication

The editor you’re looking to submit to for content approval has to feel like you’re offering them something exclusive and specific to their demographic of readers.

When you reach out to a publication, communicate to them that you’ve done the research on their readership and site content.

More importantly, your experience must be unique enough to provide them with some new and valuable perspectives on a relevant topic.

guest post pitch.png


Outreach should be personal, which is time-consuming, but will help you avoid the fatal mistake of sending one pitch to every publication you can find.

What you think you might be saving in terms of efficiency will prove fruitless when you come back empty handed and free of a platform to share your expertise.


6. You Don’t Spend Time Coming Up with a Catchy Headline

Your headline can either persuade the reader to click through or give up without reading at all.

While editors usually come up with headlines themselves, submitting an article with a headline that’s short, catchy and draws the reader in will put you in their good graces right off the bat.

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

— David Ogilvy

The title will also depend on the specific site and should be tailored to the tactics they use for engaging their target audiences.

Some blogs like Buzzfeed use more “clickbaity” type titles which are great at motivating readers to consume their content while others may call out easy-to-digest listicles or roundups.

You’ll need to manually leaf through their article feed in order to get the best idea for how they are structuring their headlines and then determine the best fit for your pitch.


7. You Didn’t Proofread Before Submitting

This seems like the most obvious step in creating trustworthy content that people will want to publish but is often overlooked — just like your content will be.

While editors are there to catch little mistakes you may miss (but really shouldn’t), too many mistakes indicate a carelessly cobbled together article and an author who doesn’t honor a publication’s quality standards.

During the course of writing, you’ll spend a lot of time extracting information, researching, exploring relevant visuals and crafting a story for readers.

That requires time, and once you see the finish line it might be difficult and even mind-addling to reread your entire article for spelling errors, but you just need to get over it and do it.

Sending an editor a poorly worded article with grammatical errors to boot won’t just ensure rejection for the article, but will also solidify them never taking a chance on your writing again.


8. You’re Using a Fake Name

If for some reason you want to hide your personal identity or have a name that might be hard to pronounce, you might consider opting for a pseudonym or creating a fake author profile.

However, to be featured and properly credited on larger platforms, you need to build a following attached to your name.

If an editor can’t look up any of your previous articles with a simple Google search, they might wonder if you’re a reputable author or can pull your own weight.


At the End of the Day

It’s about having a keen attention to detail, following through, and adding value in an authentic way.

Doing so will ensure an approved article on any publisher site you wish.

What are some of the content rejections you’ve experienced? Do you have any additional advice to offer readers? 

Hitting "Publish" is only The Beginning!

Download our free A-Z Guide to Brand Publishing to find out how to make the most of your content strategy.

Abbas Rajani

Abbas Rajani

Abbas Rajani is an Inbound and SEO Strategist at Pac and Copy Plus, a digital marketing agency and a blogger... Read more

Add A Comment

* Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

  • Max| December 28, 2015 at 1:13PM

    Honestly, I think “guest blogging,” has become a curse word, simply due to the fact no one wants to hear it, or see it anymore. So many people have first-hand experience getting spam emails for guest blogging – it’s almost always met with skepticism now.

    The only way to continue doing guest blogging with cold contacts, is to first build a relationship with the blogger first.

  • Raya Morrison| January 13, 2016 at 4:16PM

    I agree with all the points, however using a pseudonym is a personal choice, and anyone can build as big of a following using one. Everyone starts at the bottom anyway, I would suggest sticking to one. The worst thing one can do is changing the name somewhere along the way.


Get Weekly Content Marketing Tips

Subscribe to get weekly tips and insights directly to your inbox