How Not to Mess Up Guest Posting on Your Dream Blog

How Not to Mess Up Guest Posting on Your Dream Blog

So your guest post pitch has been accepted by THE blog you’ve always dreamed of posting for. You’re on cloud nine – and deservedly so!

You’ve been working up to this moment for a long time. You’ve learned the craft, improved your skills and honed your style on your own blog. You knew the moment was right – you were finally ready to make the pitch. And you nailed it.

Then you get hit by something you never saw heading your way:

Performance anxiety.

Perhaps you recognize the signs: Your excitement turns to fear. You sit down nervously to write and your mind goes blank. You try to write your post but the words are coming out all wrong. Your tone feels awkward.

You start to think, “Who’ll want to read this? This isn’t good enough… What was I thinking? Was I out of my mind?!”

No, you weren’t – but you are now. You’re putting so much pressure on yourself, and this is only the first draft!

Here’s what to do:

Give yourself permission to be ordinary.

Steven Pressfield explains the process of writing, composing and idea generation in his manifesto, Do the Work. He splits the process into two stages: action and reflection.

“Act, reflect. Act, reflect. NEVER act and reflect at the same time.”

Ideas won’t come to you linearly at will. Let them come in their own time, when they’re ready. And record each of them as they come. Move them around and find them a proper home later.

Draft something ordinary first. Polish it later on.

Don’t try to impress anyone with an ‘out-there’ idea.

Jon Morrow, the A-list expert, claims the worst thing you can do is to try to come up with the most unconventional angle, something so different that it doesn’t really fit in the general theme of the blog.

Something so earth shattering that people might have trouble believing you could actually deliver it.

Do your homework – and here’s a checklist to help you:

  • Check out the audience. Does the blog cater to a highly advanced audience, or is it aimed at the beginners? Write to the wrong audience and you’ll lose your guest posting chance.
  • Look at popular posts. See which type of posts on the blog get a lot of attention and nod of approval by the readers. They like that stuff – don’t deviate to something wildly different.
  • Research the style. Every blog has a preferred style of writing, even if they don’t publish a style guide. You can generally get a feel for it if you read plenty of their posts – and you should conform to it as much as possible.
  • Be confident about your idea. Make things easier for yourself by pitching an idea you can execute effortlessly. This isn’t the time to tackle a completely new subject or go out of your comfort zone.
  • Get a working headline. Compose one sentence that sums up the entire post… and don’t deviate from that idea as you write the rest. Go deeper into the topic, but stay ON topic!
  • Outline. Ali Luke recommends preparing an outline of your post and then drafting the body before anything else. Write your opening intro and ending call to actions last.

Beware of resistance.

During this process, you’ll be tested by all forms of resistance – especially if any of this advice is new to you. You’ll have thoughts swirling around that sound something like this:

  • “I’m not good enough.” Yes, you are. So carry on. You’re feeling the same thoughts that the majority of writers out there have inside their own head – yes, even A-listers!
  • “Nobody cares if I do this.” Yes, they do. There are all sorts of people who care about you in the world, and they want to see you succeed.
  • “I can’t do this.” Of course you can. This isn’t moving mountains – it’s writing a simple guest post. Keep it in perspective and have faith in your ability, just like the editor of that blog already did.

You can do this.

Take the pressure off. Pretend you are writing to a friend or a fan who loves your work. You don’t have to write that post that goes viral – and no one expects you to. Your work doesn’t have to be extraordinary.

Just plain good will do.

Post by Marya Jan

Marya Jan is a blogging coach for solopreneurs, small business owners and start-ups. Find more of her stuff at Writing Happiness. Don’t forget to grab her free ebook ‘9 NEW RULES OF BLOGGING - How to Grow Your Business with Little traffic, No connections & Limited hours’.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Great piece Marya!, yes mostly in order to deliver something big generally we don’t allow our-self to be ordinary…

    • Hi Rohit,

      My point was that sometimes when we don’t give ourselves permission to be ordinary, we can’t even get the first draft out. By allowing ourselves to be ordinary, we set the stage for the extraordinary things to happen. But I know where you are coming from.

      Thanks for stopping by. Much appreciated.

  2. Hey Marya,

    what a well timed post! Just yesterday I’ve submitted my first guest post and I wish I had this article to help me along the way.

    Do you think that it’s necessary to entirely sacrifice your personal style of writing (your ‘voice’) when doing guest posting? I am just curious because I think a guest post that is written in an interesting but different way would add some colour and variety to the blog.

    • Hi Lukas,

      While it is important to match the content style of the hosting site, you can still bring your personality to the post and be yourself. In fact, many of the sites encourage you to write in your voice and they look forward to seeing what you do with the idea.

      I haven’t felt like I had to match the voice of the blogger I am writing for. Ever. That would be copying and won’t sit well with them anyway. Why do you feel you have to sacrifice it? I am curious.

  3. Timely post Marya!

    I don’t think I ever experienced intense performance anxiety until I started guest posting for my favorite bloggers. Hello, what if my stuff was crap? What will the highly respected, A-list blogger think of me? How will I ever show my face around him again?

    After writing a few posts, I’ve had some that were loved so much that they were published as is and some that bombed so badly that they were completely rewritten. But every single time, I’ve gotten through fine and learned a lot.

    The one thing I keep telling myself is to not panic until I’ve written my shitty first draft. Editing is a lot easier than writing when you’re experiencing performance anxiety!

    • Hey Samar, good to see you here. 🙂

      I know exactly what mean when you say you didn’t know TILL you started guest posting for your favourites. I have been fine, for the most part. Now that I am pitching blogs like Copyblogger, Men with Pens, Kissmetrics and Social Media Examiner, it’s a different story altogether. Just the thought of approaching big guns like Michael Hyatt or Mark Schaefer gives me sweaty palms and a racing heart. Oh well, I’d better take my own advice, shouldn’t I? Suck it up Marya. You can do it!

      Plus, like you said, you have got to be prepared to carry on even if it turns out to be a flop. Chalk it up to experience I guess.

      Thanks Samar. Really appreciate your comment. Cheers. 🙂

  4. Marya,

    I love the positive, you-can-do-it spirit you bring to this. Great point, too, about not trying to be superhuman.

    One thing that helps me: write the post first, then pitch it. The worst thing that could happen is that you have a great post to pitch somewhere else or for your own blog. Plus, you have a better idea about what you’re pitching once you’ve written the post.

    Thankfully, the first place I ever attempted to guest post required the post up front. I got to skip the whole “performance anxiety” stage.

    You made a molehill out of a mountain with these ideas. Great stuff!

  5. Jesse,

    Thanks for your kind words. That’s the whole point, information and inspiration in one go. 🙂

    I too have submitted pre-written posts to many bloggers in the past. However, I have increasingly noticed that most of the A-listers, (who do most of the writing on their own blogs) require you to get your idea approved first. I think that’s a wise thing to do. At least you are sure that you are not working blind. Also, it saves you time in case the post gets rejected and you have submit it to other blogs. Been there, did not enjoy that one bit. I guess that’s why I prefer performance anxiety over facing rejection and having to resubmit.

    I had to g back and reread your last sentence. Thank God it was not the other way round. 😉

  6. Thanks for a terrific article. As I prepare to give my first presentation I am aware of how applicable this advice is to my situation as well 🙂

  7. Thanks so much for the list! I am working on my next guest blog campaign coming up so this is perfect timing. How important do you think it is to match the blog style, but still keeping your own style as well?

    Or would you just suggest to write for the audience over everything else?

  8. Hey Eric,

    Like I said in the post, it is very important to match the blog style. And that is the style that works the best with its audience – that’s the reason for having it in the first place. The blogger knows that most of the readers respond to it and even come to expect it.

    That being said, you should aim to capture your own voice and stay as close to your persona as you can. I don’t think there is a major conflict between the two. Do you?

    Thanks for your kind words. Glad to help. 🙂

  9. True I don’t think its a major conflict, but I do see some guest bloggers really changing and not really keeping true to their own voice of blogging. I guess its just one of those hard balances sometimes.

    • I don’t have that problem. I tend to find that right balance fairly easily. Guess, I don’t have a voice that is unique enough. 😉

      I don’t swear, write overly abstract prose and play nice. Requires minimal editing when it comes to tone and voice. Works for both parties. 🙂

  10. Thanks for the great advice. One of my goals for 2013 is to write more guest posts. This will help me to get started.

  11. You are right: Just pretend you are writing to a friend who needs a genuine answer a real problem and you should have NO problem turning out a great post. But bear in mind, though, NOT everyone will like your post NO matter how good it is. So don’t let anything hold you back. After all, no matter what you do, some people still won’t like you.

  12. Hi Marya,

    Thanks for the tips. I haven’t quite got to the stage of pitching for a guest blog yet and I’m sure I may have suffered some of the symptoms you mentioned above.

    I’ll definitely be keeping your checklist as a reference to use once I’ve fine tuned my writing style enough to write for others.

  13. thanks for the reminders. i’ve been contacting blog owners too for a guest post. it’s hard to make them say yes. so when my pitch is accepted, i really work hard for it

  14. Love the post Marya, several specific steps and strategies to calm those anxieties. Thanks!


  1. […] Want to learn how to write a guest post that impresses your dream blog… without sending you into a performance anxiety meltdown? This article tells you exactly what to do.  […]

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