10 Lessons from the Guest Blogging School of Hard Knocks

In this post-Panda and Penguin search landscape, one much talked-about topic when SEO specialists gather together for a virtual drink is guest blogging.

Guest blogging, as you may already have read from several different sources, is perceived as a way to rank high in the search engines, mainly because guest blogging is all about content. And with compelling content, social media sharing comes into play.

Given the many algorithm changes that have been happening of late, social media, as some blogging and SEO experts claim, is the new SEO.

Guest blogging and online marketing

Guest BloggingI do content marketing for small businesses through guest blogging. While some say “guest blogging” is so 2011 and that the new norm is now “contributing,” to me, that’s nothing but a technicality.

Writing a guest blog post can be referred to by several different names, but the basics of success remain the same – content, relevance, value.

I’ve been doing this for over a year now and have already gotten a good number of guest articles published in relatively big and small blogs.

It’s a rocky ride, just like any online venture. But along the way, aside from the usual and not-so-usual pointers we read regarding the principles of successful guest blogging, including what to do to turn a guest blogging pitch into an absolute disaster I’ve picked up a few invaluable blogging lessons that somehow make the ride less strenuous.

I’ll be highlighting ten of them, so if you’re ready and comfortable, let’s begin:

1. Do not venture into territory you know nothing about, unless you’ve done a good amount of research and are confident you can tackle the subject high and low.

2. Do not write about subjects that have been beaten to death a thousand times. If you must, make sure to inject a fresh perspective, like your personal experience, a case study and so on. Creativity can go a long way.

3. Lengthy posts are not always in. Despite what everyone else is saying, sometimes, short, concise posts that pack a punch are better. Just remember to review the blog’s requirement on minimum number of words or look for guest blogging opportunities with fewer restrictions if necessary.

4. Humor sells. While snarky stirs the pot, if you can’t handle the heat it might generate in the comments section, stay away from it.

5. Do not take rejections negatively. The editor always has a reason for not publishing your article. If you want to know why, politely ask. In spite of the explanation and you still disagree, calm down. Never walk away in rage. Burning bridges is not going to address the problem. Besides, it’s not your blog. It’s their blog.

6. What others perceive as mistakes, consider as “room for improvement”. If you’ve been given the chance to edit your article, follow instructions to the letter. Otherwise, maintain an open dialogue with the editor if the changes requested don’t necessarily suit your taste.

7. Don’t get too cocky. Even when several of your articles have already been published in the same blog, there’s no guarantee that article you just submitted for review is going to get published as well.

8. Find a critic. This person can be anybody you trust, like a blogging partner or a friend who reads your stuff. Just make sure she’s not your mom, particularly if she’s the doting kind. No matter how skilled you think you already are, there are things you don’t see through your own eyes.

9. Read a lot, especially about breakthrough trends. Editors, bloggers and readers appreciate cutting edge more than period pieces, unless you’re writing for a history blog.

10. Keep the lights in your blog’s porch open. If all else fails, your guest article should always find a home.

This, of course, is only applicable if you follow the first and ultimate guest blogging golden rule: Write and pitch articles you would be willing to publish in your own blog.

More Guest Blogging Tips!

11. Find a mentor. It doesn’t have to be somebody you communicate with on a regular basis. This can be somebody who runs a blog that gives sound advice on guest blogging. One VERY obvious candidate: Ms. Ileane of Basic Blog Tips.

12. Last but definitely not least, keep believing in yourself even when no one seems to believe your content is compelling enough, or relevant enough, or valuable enough.

Strive to better your craft every opportunity you get. Do not give up at the first sign of difficulty. Instead, persevere. Soon, you’ll prove the unbelievers wrong.

What about you, have you already started your guest blogging journey? If so, what guest blogging lessons have you learned so far?


Maricel Rivera is a blogger and freelance writer with over ten years of freelance writing experience. Aside from writing web content, she does online marketing through guest blogging for 417 Marketing, an SEO and website design company.


  1. @Maricel Rivera
    Thanks for writing such a good post about guest posting.I love to write about wordpress themes and plugins and thinking of writing guest post for the same on other blogs.Your tips helps me a lot.I will do more research on my topic before writing it.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thank you for the kind words, Himanshu. I’m sure you’ll do well in your research. Good luck!

  2. For some reasons I am not a big pan of guest posting… I treat blogs as very personal spaces – if I visit X, I would like to read his/her posts, not someone else :/
    I am probably a bit weird, lol
    Best regards!

    • Maricel Rivera

      Not really weird, if you ask me, Siegfried. Different people view the same landscape differently. If I must say so, whatever works for you, go for it!

  3. Good post Maricel,

    I like #3 and #4 the best.

    You’re 100% right about long posts. Blabbering on and on about a non compelling topic doesn’t make it a better it just makes it longer.

    Less is more.

    • Maricel Rivera

      I love long posts, only if they’re long for a reason – other than just being long, of course. :)

      I agree that less is more. It leaves a lot to the imagination and people, more often than not, are compelled to think.

      Thanks for the visit and the comment, Darnell.

      • Hey Maricel,

        I tend to write longer posts, but mainly because when I stop at a place like Pat Flynn’s and see 2-3 thousand words, I read them all. But, I guess that is lofty company. That is what I want my readers to receive.

        I love the idea of not sending a post that you wouldn’t post on your own blog! That is exactly to the heart of it.


        • Maricel Rivera

          Dakota, thanks for visiting and joining in the conversation. From the differing opinions this post has been getting re post length so far, I would like to believe that it’s a matter of taste. Or more aptly, a matter of how much words are needed for a topic to be adequately explained.

          Yes, I wouldn’t pitch posts I wouldn’t be willing to host in my own blog because I wouldn’t want other people to do the same to me. :)

  4. Wow! this is one almost long and wonder article if i must say. You really did bring out some solid point there Maricel. I’d say that this tips you just bring out can also be applied to blog owners and not only guest bloggers. Thanks

    • Maricel Rivera

      You are very kind, Babanature. And I definitely agree that blog owners can apply the above tips, too. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • I too agree that Maricel have provided some great tips and guided us the proper way to earn more advantage by doing guest posting. Your procedure are excellent methods and we all especially those are interested in guest posting must try out. We definitely got the fear of rejection by bloggers but we must try and try again until we succeed.

      • Maricel Rivera

        Like they say, quitters never win. Thank you for visiting, Jack, and for the positive attitude!

  5. Guest posting or blogging is now the new trend. It seems that its the only viable option left for those who want to get decent back links. But the question is, will this be hit as well.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Great question, Shalu.

      One thing that stays true about effective link building, it tends to get abused that in the long run, Google runs another algorithm change and a lot of people get the slap.

      Guest posting, in my opinion, can be Penguin-proof IF guest bloggers and blog owners remember the basic tenets of guest posting: CONTENT, RELEVANCE, VALUE. If a publisher accepts whatever guest article pitched his way without taking into account the quality of the content, the anchors and links embedded in the content, then that’s going to be a problem.

      If you’re writing about pets and then all of a sudden you post a guest article about some insurance policy that has nothing to do with pets, well … you get the picture. :)

      Thanks for dropping by and adding in your thoughts. Very much appreciated!

  6. Maricel,
    Enjoyed the post and got questions answered also. The blogger should continue to post new material in his/her blog in addition to writing a guest post.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thank you for coming over, Jennifer. It’s great that you pointed that out because that, as well, is one guest blogging rule we shouldn’t forget. Hmmm, why did I forget to include that up there? 😀

  7. My blog is 4 months old and also I am 4 months old in blogging. I fear doing Guest Posting because I am still new to the blogging world. But to be honest, no one in the world likes rejection.

    • Maricel Rivera

      “No one in the world likes rejection.” – I agree with you on this one, Wilfred, but to a point. You see, if we can’t fail, then how can we win?

      As Thomas Edison once said (I’m a quote collector, so please pardon me for that): “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And then there’s Albert Einstein who said, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

      Man’s reaction to a stressful situation is to either fight or flee. And when we fight, it doesn’t mean we’re not fearful. Sometimes, out of necessity, we have to master our fear. :)

    • Maricel Rivera

      I guess what I’m trying to say is start with baby steps. Read everything you can about guest blogging and then start applying them little by little. Start guest blogging for friends, especially those who would be willing to give you objective feedback. This way, you start building your guest blogging profile as well.

      Even the blogging greats started with a 4-month old blog, Wilfred. Remember that. :)

  8. When for the first time I read about benefits about guest blogging I skipped it, because am afraid of guest posting. Then one day when I started my own blog I got all the confidence to contact blog owners and submit my guest post.

    My guest post got rejected by 3 blog owners no hard feelings I applied it to another blog and it got approved now I believe in myself even if my post get rejected I`ve confidence to make it approve.


    • Maricel Rivera

      Congratulations, Khaja! Great job, and thank you for sharing your guest posting experience.

  9. Hey Maricel Rivera, the points mentioned by you in the post are very helpful for all the bloggers. We have to definitely keep them in mind while blogging.

  10. Hey Maricel, great article. All the tips given are very important, but among them most important is believing in ourself even if no one believe that your content is compelling, relevant, or valuable enough.

    • Maricel Rivera

      I can’t agree with you more on that point, Anshdeep. Belief in oneself is, in my opinion, what paves the way to success, not just in blogging but in whatever facet of life.

  11. The major side of guest blogging, is the increase in traffic to your website. When you write a guest blog post, you have to be sure to ask for a link to your website in exchange. This link will send quality traffic to your website after someone reads your blog post. An increase in website traffic means more people are coming to your website to learn about your services. IMHO

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thanks for the comment, Evan.

      I agree with you about website traffic increase through guest blogging. Still, I would like to point out that while the possibility of somebody clicking your link is always there, there can’t be any guarantees, which is why guest posting shouldn’t be a blogger’s only marketing strategy.

  12. Thanks for sharing such nice article .. Actually now a days most of the ways of Guest Blogging don’t help that much in SEO but we do like it if you know the way how to do it …

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thanks for visiting, James. With all the changes that had been happening of late, you are actually on to something there. But like you said, if done properly, guest blogging should still work.

  13. Never give up when your post is first rejected by a blogger. Recently, I sent a post to a popular blog for consideration and it was rejected. I then suggested a new title which was immediately accepted.
    When your title is rejected, ask to send a new one or ask the blog owner to suggest a new he has in mind.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Efoghor, your story goes to show that perseverance does wonders. Thank you for the share.

  14. I have a query for you Maricel,
    what is the back link count of two dofollow backlink after guest blogging? is it equivalent to two dofollow links obtained after blog commenting..
    please enlighten me in this regard…

  15. When i started blogging and i step into the world of linking i have been rejected plenty of times you can say more than 20 times but in the end my post was accepted and i have gained lots of experience behind that rejection :). Now i am confident in my work.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Getting rejected is part of life. How you react to that rejection defines you in the long run. Way to go, Tayyab!

  16. Hi Maricel,

    Thanks for writing the great points on guest blogging. Guest blogging is what moves your business to an authority level, also it is best way to viral your website and to generate consistent traffic source.

  17. Hey Maricel,
    Nice post and Thanks for sharing these useful tips of guest blogging with us. Yes, guest blogging is the best way to promote our blog and its also make high quality link with other and also drives traffic to our blog.

    • Maricel Rivera

      I’m glad you find the tips useful, Sudipto. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  18. Hi Maricel, very inspired post and finding a mentor is so important if you’re new to the industry, a mentor is really needed to be there to help you grow and it’s more helpful to have an actual mentor not just like a product information to help you. But it’s hard to find one.

    Thanks – Ferb

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, Ferb, thanks for dropping by. In my case, I learned a lot from Facebook blogging communities. Whenever I had questions, I simply ask and wait for answers. Most of the time, my questions are addressed. Besides the communities, I also privately message bloggers who I know are nice enough not to snub me. 😀

  19. Hello Maricel
    Good points.Ya Every blogger must have a critic for him.The main thing abut this ,That guy can be your friend.I always show my post to one of my friends.It doesn’t matter how perfect I write,My this critic tell me some ares of improvements.This is a good habit.

  20. It does not matter if post is long or short, it depends on the what written in it.

    If you can explain a thing in 300 words, that is some time enough.

  21. In my opinion, it’s still better under “Google’s eyes” to have a long post. Of course the real content inside is more important, but the length also decides how much attractive it is to google. And this post is great! Lots of great tips for any bloggers!

    • Maricel Rivera

      That’s right, Anh. A lot of people believe that a long post should be a comprehensive, well-researched one. Well, there’s always an exception to the rule. A long and boring article without much substance doesn’t help at all, in my opinion. Thanks for the comment!

  22. You have some good points Maricela. It looks like it’s more about controlling your ego and keeping it open for improvement. I’ve read a couple of posts on guest blogging and this is a good guide for me to follow. Thanks for sharing Ileane!?

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, Sherman, thanks for dropping by.

      “Controlling your ego and keeping it open for improvement.” As for this comment of yours, I really haven’t thought about it that way while I was writing the post. And now that you mentioned it, I remember that the article came on the heels of a rejection from a big blog. There was something wrong with the article I pitched to them, I was sure, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.

      Even when I was already used to getting rejections, that one still stung. Prior to the rejection, my batting average with them was 100%, which is why getting too cocky is a no-no. The rejected post ended up in my own blog. :)

  23. Hey Maricel great post, I’m a huge fan of guest blogging and I couldn’t agree more with your list, number 2 stands out like a sore thumb for me as I see many guest posts these days repeating itself, so for me I think reading and looking for new ways to approach a topic is very important, especially if you’re looking to provide value to the blog’s audience.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thanks for pitching in your thoughts, Fabrizio. I couldn’t have said that any better.

  24. I hate it when people write about something they know nothing about. That is a big problem on the internet and doing this can ruin a reputation quickly. :)

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, Mitz, thanks for coming by today. You’re right, especially if they’re about topics that can cause anxiety to the reading public. :)

  25. Farrell John Conejos

    Hey Maricel,

    Nice Post! It’s very informative and helpful. I definitely agree with no. 3, about the lengthily post. I’ve seen and read lengthily post that has less content value and it really sucks. Its not about how long your blog is, its about the content and how precise and informative it is. Beginners and season veteran writers or bloggers should avoid having a lengthily post with less or no important content at all. Its just a waste of time and effort because readers won’t even last a minute reading it. Thanks for your tips. I have learn new things and definitely try to incorporate it for further improvements.

    • Maricel Rivera

      I’m so happy you found the post informative, Farrell.

      Lengthy. No content value. Sucks, right? But lengthy posts, of course, aren’t all that bad. As a matter of fact, posts that are oftentimes linked to are resource posts that are long and provide a ton of value.

      Operative word: VALUE. Long or short wouldn’t matter as long as the post is value-packed.

  26. Great article here Marciel! I’ve been looking into whether or not guest blogging is truly worth the effort in the long run. Your article laid out some solid points to consider. Thanks for the tips!

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thank you, Saanvi! I am glad you found the tips helpful. Good luck in your guest blogging journey.

  27. Guest blogging is a great way to put your ideas in writing. When a site publishes your blog post, you begin to build a portfolio of articles. You may even gets comments that inspire new ideas for things to write about or services to provide.

  28. Fantastic Tips, in my opinion guest blogging work wonders for your site! You have to rely on unique qualitative content! Agreed that humour sells; you have to make your guest blog post more humorous & straight to the point for getting more user interest!

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, Fahad, so nice of you to come by and leave a comment. Unique, qualitative content. There goes the magic words, eh? :)

      Add in humor, and you’re all set up for the win.

  29. point number 10 ” Keep the lights in your blog’s porch open” is really amazing and a bit philosophical but one must be aware of its worth in guest blogging. I did not feel the list lengthy because every point has its own signficance and really an eye opener

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thank you for the amazing words, Edson.

      Putting out 10 points and keeping the article down to 500 words can be a challenge at times. I’m glad I didn’t bore you to tears. :)

  30. hello maricel
    amazing writing skills , i must say. yes SEO can give you so much in a short span of time and it depends upon how good optimizer you are. This depends upon how much good links you have coming towards your website or blog. and guest posting is the best way to get traffic as well as backlinks.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thank you for the kind words, Prabhat. Indeed, guest blogging does a lot of good, if done properly.

  31. Maricel Rivera

    Thank you for adding in your comment, Prabhat.

    You know, when I started out guest blogging, I didn’t even realize I was doing it for SEO. At the time, all I wanted was to write articles I could be proud of and get them published. It was months later that I got to understand the significance of guest blogging to SEO. Better late than never, right? :)

  32. Hi Maricel, you have covered great points in the article. Really after experience only a blogger can write such article. Great… Keep going!

  33. Hi Maricel , this is a good article when guest blogging is also on Google Radar. You have shared some really essential tips about guest blogging and these tips are really going to help new bloggers a lot . Thanks for all these tips.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thank you, Suhas. A lot has been said about guest blogging, like what to do and what not to do. But not much, I believe, has been said about the correct attitude to become a successful guest blogger.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Black hat just never would win, would it? Well, it would for a time maybe, but it will be exposed in the end and Google will be more than happy to unleash the Penguin. :)

      Thanks for coming over and commenting, Michael.

  34. These are wonderful tips Maricel. I have never tried being a guest blogger, though I am planning to start and try one. Hope everything will turn out fine on my first attempt. Though, as what you say, if I will be rejected, I won’t take it negatively.

    • Maricel Rivera

      You may experience rejections before getting one guest post published out there somewhere. Remember though, if you quit at the first sign of difficulty, you’ll never know how far guest posting will take you. Thanks for dropping by today, Dylann.

  35. Great tips dear…………. This are highly recommended tips. Helps many blogger including me. As guest blogging is best and easiest way to drive traffic to my blog.

  36. Excellent article and very helpful information. I think all bloggers should be honest to their readers. Building a reputation in the blogging arena is just like building a brand name. Putting irrelevant or factually incorrect information could destroy that. The style of writing should also be engaging and not mundane and tiresome. I’ll definitely try to follow these tips.

    Look forward to more articles like this.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Thank you for adding your thoughts, Supriyo. Putting out inaccurate data can surely ruin a blogger’s reputation, like you said, which is why research is essential.

  37. Hi Maricel, Enlightening stuff you’ve provided here…These simple yet important things are always overlooked..It’s great to receive a reminder once in a while…Thanks for sharing this information..Much appreciated.

  38. hey Maricel it a great Post about guest blogging,,i read the all points mention above and i found these are very helpful and useful..great suggestions and tips are mention above .these are very important and helpful for guestblogging

  39. I personally don’t like guest posting at all. I prefer to use that posting on my site to increase its value. Especially when the rules say that it must be your best post. Well, I am be a little bit selfish but that is how I always feel. I greatly prefer using other methods of generating traffic to guest posting

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, James. Thanks for adding in your thoughts. Yes, there are a lot of other ways to generate traffic. But guest posting, in my opinion, introduces you to a new audience, an audience you might otherwise not be able to reach on your own, especially if you’re just starting out. :)

  40. this was surely an awesome post thanks for sharing

    Guest posting is really a cool way to build backlinks and drive traffic


  41. reading a lot is what is always going to help, i agree.
    but you said that it is not always the word count that matters. I had seen the bloggers who want a minimum of the word count for the post on their website get published as the guest article.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, Yogesh, thanks for dropping by today.

      The minimum word count is, of course, at the blog owner’s discretion. If you’ve already picked a site to submit your guest post to, to make sure you don’t get a rejection right off the bat, play by their rules. Guidelines are there for a reason.

      Although bloggers nowadays prefer longer posts, in my opinion (I repeat, just my opinion – everything I’ve written above is solely my opinion), length doesn’t really matter. The post size should depend on the topic you write about and how much words you need to adequately get your message across.

      If you’re to write about SEO for newbie bloggers, that normally would require a longer post. But if you’re simply going to announce something, like you’ll be on hiatus for a week or whatnot, you probably don’t need an 800-word post for that, unless you intend to explain why you’ll be gone and what your readers should expect when you return.

      So really, as long as you properly relay the message, in a way that wouldn’t bore your readers or leave them asking questions when you don’t want them to ask questions, length wouldn’t matter.

      Generally, I prefer my posts to run between 400 – 700 words. 1,000 words, I find a little too long. Again, this is just me relaying what seems to be working for me.

      • yes Maricel, I too also am in the favor of having the quality content in an organised way. I prefer brevity of the article instead of the actual word length. 400-700 words are just enough for a post to be informative for its readers.

  42. Guest blogging is the nice way for getting attention of others. For exposing your blog you must do guest posting. It will help our blog to grow more frequently. Nice post, thanks for sharing it.

  43. now most of the bloggers know what are the benefits of guest blogging through many post on this subject all over the internet. I must say your post is one of quality content posts which spread the word about benefits of guest blogging.

  44. Interesting post Maricel, And it’s true, Humor Sells, it’s for sure one of the best ways to engage with people. A good joke or a real life funny example always make my day and I’m sure that’s the case with many others. thanks for sharing :)

    • Maricel Rivera

      James, you’re here! Great to see you. Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts. :)

  45. Guest blogging? I’m all for heterogeneity, but it seems to me that allowing cameo posts on my blog would dilute & distort, maybe even damage, the brand. My blog is MY blog, not someone else’s.

    Of course, one man’s blog is another man’s online magazine and provided one’s editorial is strict, I can see why guest blogging might make a lot of sense.

    It’s just not for me.

    Good post though. Thanks.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, SR. Thank you for the comment. I just dropped by your blog and I can very well see why you think guest posting may damage your brand. :)

  46. Excellent post,

    Since guest posting is only the way to get strong natural backlinks, Apart from backlinks we can build good online reputation. And i believe guest blogging is beneficial to both guest and owner.


  47. All I say is you have outlined marvelous points here on Guest blogging. I can sense your experience of guest blogging. Guest blogging is always referred as the most securest way to build the reputation and market of any website or a product.

    Thanks for writing the awesome content here, and keep growing the community.

  48. You have listed some very good advice here, I would also like to add that you should always come back and reply to any comments left otherwise the blog owner might not want you to post again. I hate rude guest posters who disappear once their article is published, leaving me to answer the posts – sometimes on a topic I’m not familiar about.

    • Maricel Rivera

      Hello, Dean, I would have to agree with you on that one as well. Replying to comments just shows you do care about the blog owner’s readers. Thanks for stopping by!

  49. Great outline for guest blogging!

    Guest blogging is a great technique as long as you are not abusing it. What I mean is doing a half ass job and giving guest blogging a bad name.

    Work hard in creating the best content for guest blogging and keep guest blogging really quality.

    • Maricel Rivera

      You are so right about that, ID. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you have a great weekend!

  50. Thanks Maricel for writing such an inspirational and motivating post since I am a begginer in guest posting and I am in the middile of nowhere to start writing. I think your tips are very useful and concise.

  51. Marko

    Nice guidelines! Quality is the keyword even in guest posts. Like you said, the most important rule is just to write content that you’d be happy to publish yourself.

  52. Some great tips Maricel. I’ve been turned down numerous times…but I keep writing on! Thanks for sharing this.