A couple of weeks ago I spent one beautiful sunny day inside, trying to write a guest post.
I love writing guest posts, but after six hours of frustration I was ready to turn to drink.
I wanted to share my experience so you can avoid my exhaustion (but if you still want a glass of vino – that’s absolutely fine).
So here we have it, 6 simple steps to screw up your guest post:
Don’t Plan Enough
Have a few vague ideas, or one idea that doesn’t make much sense but you think would have a cool title like: “How ice cream pyjamas make the best blog headlines!”
Do not go beyond that.
Don’t even think about jotting out notes to form a basic structure for your post. That might make it easier to write and you’ve got a whole day of sunshine to waste indoors sweating over this post. Too much planning can also make the editing process fun.
When you read back your first draft it should have nothing in it that can be salvaged. It should read like the stream of consciousness of your Great Aunt Linda after her sixth sherry when she starts referring to you as “Colonel McSquiddy.”
Think About Every Single Person Who Might Read Your Post
You have a great deal of respect for the site you’re pitching to, and especially the audience. Previously you rubbed shoulders in the comments section and that was warm and cosy. But you’re going to be a guest poster now. You’re putting your head above the parapet and saying “hey hey hey, look at me.”
So you should probably expect to get shot.
Definitely think about this when you’re trying to write it.
If you really want to compound the effects of messing up your post, do not type a word until you are positively certain that everyone who reads it is going to like it, be inspired by it and sends you half of a “best friends forever” Yin and Yang necklace.
Forget your opinions, especially if you’re passionate about them and can explain them clearly. People respect this, even those that disagree sometimes. We are not going for respect here; we are trying to make you combust from heightened anxiety levels.
Hang on to a bad idea with a vice like grip
As soon as you have your one idea (which hopefully you’ve come to hate), make sure you don’t stray from it. Even if you have an idea for a better post that might be easier to write.
Do not take a break or go for a walk for inspiration.
This might rejuvenate your senses, calm you down, give you more focus and clarity and help you write a guest post that people will be raving about for years to come.
Sweat, persevere and sit for approximately 6 hours at your desk wondering if you blacked out somewhere between the first and second paragraph (and if you get as far as the second paragraph, shame on you).
Force An Obscure, Irrelevant Analogy
Analogies are great for guest posts; they can help illustrate a point more clearly.
But we’re looking to destroy this guest post like the Death Star. So, pick something that doesn’t necessarily fit with the tone of the piece that you want to write.
For example, if your post is about “how to never run out of ideas for your blog”, why not compare it to the global production and usage of zinc oxide? That will have them nodding off onto their keyboards before you can say “Qwerty-head!”
Forget Your Personality
The last thing you want to do if you want to mess up your guest post, is to sound like yourself. You have a unique personality and you can’t risk that resonating with someone and making you likeable.
Before you start putting in a little quirky quip that is so “you” stop. Strip yourself of all discerning features in your writing style.
Imagine you are an ornate chest of drawers covered in beautiful scrolls of carved mahogany that has been treated to a six-stage hand finishing process for an authentic feel. Get out a plane and start shaving until you are left with an indistinguishable block of wood.
Be that block of wood.
Beat Yourself Up
If you’ve followed the above advice you should have in front of you some scattered typed phrases that neither link together nor make sense on their own. The sun will be going down and jaunty families will be passing by your window, heading home after a glorious day in the park. You won’t remember if you’ve eaten, and if you’re really serious about taking this advice you should have a few clumps of hair missing.
Now is the time to add those finishing touches to your ruined guest post by beating yourself up.
If it helps, stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself you are a failure, you’ve wasted a whole day and you might as well give up and run away to the circus (at this point, remind yourself that you never learned to juggle, just for added emphasis. )
Good luck in your guest post quest for failure (and if you really try hard – an ulcer).
If these tips were useful, then subscribe to the RSS feed so you can get Harrisonamy blog posts straight to your inbox, and even better, sign up to the newsletter for more details of upcoming offers and exclusive content.
I’ve seen my method and style of guest posting change with each one I do and am certain it will keep changing in the future – hopefully for the better. 🙂
Guest posting is indeed difficult when we are not aware of the right way of doing it. I have had my screw ups in the past and some of them you have mentioned here. The important lessons I have learned is to not give up and continue to refine our methods. 🙂
It’s great that your husband is on hand to help you out! I’m trying to train my guy, but still get that glazed look in his eyes when I talk about work.
Keep that head out of the death star. 🙂
I have soo been there. Luckily, my husband helped with the first draft and told me to get my head out of the deathstar lol.
That one person is so much easier to address than a thousand faces staring in condemnation through the glare of their computer screen. Imagining the latter is a sure fire way to write inoffensive gumf, and we all know the Internet frowns on that. 🙂
Hi Rasmus, I don’t know where the wine photo came from, I’d lined up a series of relevant and thought provoking pictures to use…damn subconscious working overtime again.
Any post that mentions the Death Star is automatically a little better. So there is that.
A post that makes me laugh and stop my wife in her daily work to read bits and pieces out loud are pretty good too. There is that as well.
A post that runs over 300 words using only a single stock photo for illustration (especially one that is only vaguely related to the content) must have something special going on.
Whatever happens, do not use a post like that for inspiration on how to write a crappy guest post. Or any other fail post for that matter.
John Soares says
Excellent way to screw up any writing, including a blog post or an article.
I once wrote a piece for Sunset magazine. I was paralyzed as I thought of the hundreds of thousands of people who would likely read my words. Now I just think of one sympathetic person who likes me and wants to hear what I say.