The Real Reason Your Guest Post Flopped

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Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Tommy Walker – Enjoy!

Better guest posts
Image credit: WhatTheCell


You did it!

You got past the discomfort and pitched a popular blog – and they’ve agreed to showcase your magnificence. You poured hours forging the most epic work of writing. Gods will weep and babies will smile.

You’ve read it, re-read it, and read it some more, and truly, this is the apex of your craft.

Surely this will be your ascension to the pantheon of popular bloggers because YOU got a guest post on an A List Blog.

But when it goes live… crickets….

What Happened?

Like a teenager waiting by the phone desperately trying to believe they’re not being stood up, you stare at your computer –  waiting for any sign of life. But it’s like high school all over again.

Your traffic barely spikes and the comments trickle like a leaky faucet..

At first – you just sit and scratch your head. But when happens on the next guest post, and the one after that, it eats at you.

Are blogs dead?” You ask yourself. “Maybe people just aren’t reading blogs anymore.”

They’re reading. You’re reading this now, aren’t you.

When a guest post doesn’t quite hit, it is usually lacking in one of four departments.

Your headline didn’t break reader’s guessing machines

You’ve heard it a million times, headlines matter.

In 2012 and beyond, standard headline templates still work, but they’re getting a little played out. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stop relying on templates and start understanding the fundamentals of what makes a headline work.

Sites like Upworthy, Lifehacker and Gizmodo consistently write headlines that break your guessing machine and make you just curious enough to wonder what you’re missing out on.

For your consideration:

  • Hollywood Refused To Make This Movie. Internet, What Will You Do? (UpWorthy)

Notice how each of these headlines makes you ask yourself a question?

Really, what movie could be so intense even Hollywood wouldn’t make it? Why would a website give away a detailed blueprint on how to destroy the internet?

Now consider the A.D.D inducing speed Twitter feeds and Facebook Tickers update – the only way to convert passive eyes into readers is to interrupt their patterns and get them to ask themselves a question.

Co founder Eli Pariser has stated the editorial team at Upworthy will start with dozens of headlines for any one article and work on it until they create “a curiosity gap” – or the must read impulse that makes the headline impossible for you not to click.

You didn’t promote it

A single tweet and Facebook update does not a promotion make.

Oftentimes, guest authors rely on popular bloggers to do the promotion for them. Why not, they have the bigger reach, right?

But your guest post is something to be proud of – you should be sending out emails and DMs to anyone you can think of to get the word out there.

If you’ve referenced another popular blogger’s work send them an email with a link to the article.

You should be sending private messages to any of your friends who might be interested encouraging them to check it out.

Yes,it might be uncomfortable sending out so many private messages, and this may even toe the line for you on what’s ethical, but really the information fire hose makes those who are thirsty for good content appreciate you’ve taken the time to filter out the good from the rest of the noise.

But don’t abuse this – if the material isn’t something that’s truly great, don’t bother. Also, there is a fine line between sending Dms to good content and spam. If all you’re doing is sending Dms to your own stuff, it won’t be long until you’re abusing that relationship.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything you can share for them too.

You Weren’t Writing like Pandora

One of my favorite things about the music site Pandora is that showcases new music based on the common traits of a musician or song I already like.

This is how guest posting should work. Unfortunately, many guest posters will sacrifice their own voice and do everything they can to sound exactly like the blog they’re posting on.

Yes, it’s true that you’re supposed to analyze successful posts for copy structure, tone, etc and incorporate that into your writing.

But don’t lose your own voice in the process.

Like Pandora, one of the best things about guest blogging is that it exposes you to something that’s new based on something familiar.

 Your Close Was Weak

Starting a conversation that really gets people talking, pretty much guarantees you’ll get invited to post again. It’s also no secret that most comments come from a successful close.

There are many theories on how to close a post successfully – like being inspirational (Jon Morrow is the master at this) – to “write full and detailed articles…but don’t finish them.” to end with a thought provoking question.

But guess what, it’s all crap, there is no one right way.

The only universal truth for a good closing is that it can’t be weak.

Do your research, you’ll know what works best.  But you must also always remain true to yourself as a writer.

You don’t need to rely on gimmicks, like “end with a thought provoking question” if all you come up with is something flaccid like “so what do you think?”

You got the guest post – which means you’re doing something right, now prove it.

Forget about traffic. and act like your blogging career depends on:

  • All the conversations you want to start.
  • All the connections you want to make.
  • All the lives you want to change.

All of this can hinge on a few short words.

So choose wisely, we’re counting on you.

Tommy Walker is on a mission to mainstream online marketing by making it entertaining (if not a little silly) to learn. When he isn’t hosting Inside The Mind, he’s guest posting on every popular website known to man to raise $100,000 in 30 days via an experiment with crowd-funding.


guest post, Tommy Walker

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