Guest posts are one of the best ways to generate traffic to your website.  They help with both SEO and referral traffic plus they elevate your profile in general, which is always a good thing.  Rather than focus on how important they are (trust me, they are!), allow me to focus on how to to do them right.

How To Ask For Guest Post Opportunities

You’re going to be asking people to allow you to guest post.  That means contacting a blog’s owner and asking them if they will allow you to write content for them.  This sounds like a no brainer, why would they say no to free content?  But please realize that the blog’s owner is taking a risk on you.

First of all they may need to spend time formatting and editing your content.  Second, if your content is bad, that’s going to reflect poorly on them and their blog.  Finally, if they have too many guest posts, their site will start losing some of that personal touch that built up their traffic in the first place.  Also, keep in mind that owners of popular blogs get dozens of guest post requests every week.  Yours is one of many they’ll read today and they’re going to be looking for an excuse to filter you out.  So to avoid that, here are some tips on asking for guest post opportunities.

  • Find the right target – If you’re just starting out, pitching a guest post to Tim Ferriss might be a stretch.  Pitch to some smaller blogs and build a reputation and some traffic first.  However, if you have spare time, pitch to the big boys too.  There’s no harm in it and after seeing your name a few times, they might actually say yes.  Also, don’t be scared to pitch again if you got no reply. Second or third time might be the charm.  Just wait a few weeks/months and come up with a different topic to pitch.
  • Be an active participant on the site – If you’ve been commenting and participating in the conversation on their site, blog owners are much more likely to say yes, or at least read your request.
  • Pitch specific topics – Don’t just offer to write a guest post, offer to write on a specific topic.  For example, if you’re pitching a guest post on my fitness blog, don’t just tell me you’re going to write an article about fitness, tell me that you’re going to write an article about interval training and how it helps with building speed.
  • Do your research – When you’re pitching a specific topic, make sure it’s not one the site already covered in depth.  For example, I’m writing a series of how to generate traffic to a website.  Pitching me that as a topic isn’t very interesting.  One exception to this rule would be to fill in a gap in my content.  For example, if someone sent me a guest post request that said “hey, I noticed you’re writing about generating traffic to a website.  I have extensive SEO experience and I was wondering if you’d be interested in a guest post talking about SEO tools”,  now that would be interesting.
  • If possible, include an outline – Don’t just tell me about the topic, actually tell me about the content.  What details will you include?  What’s the point of the article?  What conclusions will it draw?  I want to know this before I say yes.
  • If it’s not obvious, tell me who you’re going to be linked back to – I know you want a link in your guest post, everyone does.  Heck, it’s why we all do guest posts, for the linkbacks.  However, I want to know that I’m not going to be linking back to some website selling viagra online.  So please make that clear if it’s not already.
  • Send samples – If you’ve done previous guest posts, include a link to them.  I want to see that you don’t just write fluff pieces.
  • Follow the guidelines – Some sites have specific instructions for people looking to guest post.  FOLLOW THEM!  NO EXCEPTIONS!

How To Write A Good Guest Post

And what would make the guest post itself successful?

  • Limit the links please – Yes, again, I know guest posts are all about links, but there’s a limit.  If every other sentence in your posted is a link to one of your articles, that’s too much.  Be sensible please.  One note though is that linking back to your host site’s articles is fine.
  • Limit the self promotion – Some self promotion is fine, especially if it’s relevant to the topic.  However, spending all your time telling my readers how your new SEO tool is the best and is available for a really low price, that’s not ok.  The only exception to that is if you cleared it with me ahead of time.  For example, if your guest post pitch was “hey, I have a cool new SEO tool and I would like to write a guest post about it because it goes with your current series”, I might actually be interested in that.  Just be honest.
  • Don’t reuse content – I want something original.  I don’t want something you’ve already used on your own blog or someone else’s.
  • Don’t save your best content – I understand you want to write the best articles on your own site but I want quality articles for my own site.  If you’re just regurgitating the same crap I see everywhere else, I’m not going to be interested.
  • It’s ok to be controversial – The  best guest posts are the ones who present a different view point.  So if you want to disagree with something I say, that’s great.  Present a different view point, I welcome it!  Just do so politely and without calling me an idiot please.
  • Include your bio – Make sure you include a description of who you are.  This is also your chance to your backlinks by the way since bios will always link back to your site.

How To Deliver A Good Guest Post

Yes, after writing the post, your job is still not done

  • Send me two files – One should be easily readable to I can understand your content.  The other should be formatted for WordPress (or the platform you’re writing for), complete with links and such.
  • Remind me – Wait three days.  If I don’t respond, send me a reminder.  Do that a couple of more times and if I still don’t respond then move on.  Sorry, it happens.  Still, don’t be afraid to remind me again two or three months down the road.  Maybe I was just having a bad week.
  • Answer questions – When the post is posted, be there to answer questions in the comments.
  • Link Back – Link back to the guest post from your own blogs.  Yes, I want some link love too!
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I was on the way to the airport today when I spotted a puppy running along the side of the street.  Cars were veering to avoid him and a biker was yelling to him to stop chasing him.  He was obviously a puppy, maybe 3 or 4 months old, but not a single person stopped to check up on him.  All they cared about was getting on with their lives.

I stopped.  It took a while to earn his trust but soon he was as playful as any 3 month old puppy.  He had scars of abuse and neglect on him but he was also willing to trust me.  I took him to the local shelter, thinking that was the best thing to do, but I was informed that he would be put down if no one picked him up after 4 days.  The center had too many abandoned dogs and too many of them were pit bulls like this little guy.  So I signed up to adopt him.

Because Hitting “Share” Is Just Too Damned Hard

When I got home I shared his story on facebook and tried to find him a permanent home.  My wife and I already have one rescue and, since we’re talking about kids, this is not the best of times to pick up a stray puppy.  I posted a picture and told his story.  I expected my friends to help, to share his story, to try and find him a home.  Almost none of them did.  Sure, some of them could have missed this update, some could be offline, some might never log into Facebook and some might have me on ignore.  All of these things are possible but they still don’t account for everyone.

These people were happy to share videos of babies crying, pictures of funny looking signs, their latest complaints about their life or some celebrity gossip, but only seven or eight put in the effort to help, for which I am eternally grateful by the way.  The rest apparently thought pressing the share button was too difficult a task in return for the possibility of saving a life.

Why Don’t People Care?

I’m not even talking about the people who would abuse a little puppy here, clearly there’s something wrong with them and I’m going to just write them off.  I’m talking about my friends.  I’m talking about people who seem to be perfectly normal, people who should care (about helping me with something I care about even if they don’t love animals) but don’t.  Is it really that difficult to share something?  Were they ashamed?  Did they think their friends would think less of them for trying to help a puppy?

Have we really become a nation of people who are ashamed for their friends to think they care about little things like an abused puppy?  Or do we just not care anymore?  Have we stepped over one too many homeless people, seen one too many war atrocity, heard one too many pleas for help and just stopped caring?  Have we become so overwhelmed with everything that needs helping that we don’t help even when we can?

Do What You Can

I can’t help all the puppies in the world, just like I can’t help all the homeless, just like I can save all the kids in warzones, just like I can’t protect all the rain forests in the Amazon.  But there are things that I can do, and those I will do with all my heart.  I help the homeless when I can, I volunteer in my community when I can, I donate to various causes when I can and I will save this puppy if I can.  I do this because I think it’s not enough to just live in this world and it’s not enough to just sit around and enjoy my little piece of life.  I want to live knowing that I make a difference, that I matter, even if it’s just in the life of one little abused puppy.

What about you?


And my eternal thanks to those of you who did share that Facebook post.  You restore my faith in humanity with a simple click of a button.

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Ahh the brain, it’s a wonderful thing.  So full of interesting mechanisms that we’re only now beginning to understand.  One of those mechanisms is dopamine, a chemical all of us should be intimately familiar with.  What the heck am I talking about you ask?  Allow me to explain!

Welcome To Your Brain On Drugs

Dopamine is a chemical that your brain releases in order to get you focused on what you want.  Note that I say “want”.  This is important because dopamine is often confused with chemicals or reactions that simulate pleasure.  It isn’t.  Dopamine is to pleasure what hunger is to eating.  It’s what lust is to sex.  Dopamine is desire.  It’s wanting.  It’s not actually having.  It’s the mechanism your brain uses to tell your body, “I want this!  Get it for me.”

In fact, as late as 1953, two scientists by the name of James Olds and Peter Milner thought they had discovered the pleasure center of the brain when they were able to change the behavior of rats through the use of electrodes implemented in the brain.  These rats were willing to undergo pain and forego food just to get a little bit more stimulation to the area of the brain that controlled dopamine release.  These experiments were duplicated with human beings who again were willing to forego food in favor of a dopamine rush.

Desire Vs. Pleasure

In fact, Olds and Milner didn’t discover the pleasure center, they discovered the reward center.  This is the part of the brain that’s responsible for guiding your desires by telling you what you want.  It responds to certain cues by flooding your body with dopamine.  At that point, you capacity to make intelligent decisions is diminished as your body focuses purely on obtaining the object being desired.

This worked very well for primitive man who lived in a world of scarcity.  When the brain spotted something it wanted, like a piece of meat or a potential mate, it focused all efforts on obtaining that, even at the cost of other things.  That’s a good thing when you need to compete to survive and everything is short term.  Rather than overthinking things, the brain forced you to focus on just the thing you need to survive and nothing else.  Great solution for a primitive world, not so great for a complex one.

Sex Sells, As Does Hunger

Marketers have been using this trick on you for decades.  Why do you think restaurants smell the way they do?  Why do you think beer commercials have barely clad women in them?  Why do retailers use words like “while supplies last” or “50%!”?  All of these are ways of triggering your brain into a state of desire.

You walk by the Cinnabon restaurant at the mall, your nose sniffs that heavenly scent (which is artificially manufactured in many cases by the way).  At that point your brain, still thinking it’s living in a primitive world of scarcity, becomes fixated on obtaining sugar, a rare commodity back in the caveman days.  The brain releases dopamine, you become fixated on the object you desire and you lose the capacity to make intelligent decisions.  Therefore you eat a cinnabon even though you’re trying to lose weight.

By the way, current theory is that the effect of dopamine is roughly equivalent to that of being drunk.  That is, your decision making capability is the same while on dopamine as it is when you’re heavily impaired by about three to five drinks of alcohol.  That’s more than enough to make you incapable of driving, much less make intelligent decisions about spending or eating.

So About Those Facebook Ex’es…

Note – The following is not meant to imply that your marriage is weak or that your spouse is unfaithful.  This isn’t about your marriage or your morals, this is about your biology and your biology is very different from your marriage and morals.  

When you see an ex on facebook, your morals may be telling you no, but your biology is telling you yes.  Your biology remembers sex with that ex, it remembers the good things, not the bad.  Your brain says “yes, that sounds good, get me some of that!” and releases dopamine.  That in turn makes you the equivalent of a drunk person and do you know what happens when a drunk person is around their ex?  Yah, it’s not a good thing for marriage.

This is especially true for men, who have a biology programmed to reward them for mating with as many women as possible.  Our higher functions may live in a modern world where monogamy is the norm, but our lower functions (pun intended) live in a world where you mate with as many women as possible to make sure your genes are carried on.  So we see an ex, biology takes over and all of a sudden we’re flirting with them on facebook or asking them out for a drink after work, just as friends of course…

Basic rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t trust yourself around this person while drunk, you shouldn’t be around them while high on dopamine.  This is why you shouldn’t have them as your facebook friends.  Because you may be able to control your drinking (at least most of you can), but you can’t really control when and how your brain releases dopamine.  Ladies, this is true of every man, no matter how much they claim that their will power is awesome and that ex means nothing to them.

Actually, That’s Not Completely True

You can in fact counter the effects of dopamine simply by recognizing the tricks marketers play on you.  When walking by that Cinnabon, you can recognize that scent for what it is (a dirty marketing trick).  That allows your higher brain functions to override your base instincts and walk on without eating a thousand calories you don’t need.  However, this trick only works some of the time.  It won’t work when you’re tired or stressed.  That’s fine when it comes to Cinnabon, a rare sugar binge won’t kill you, but “works some of the time” is not good when it comes to those facebook ex’es…


If you’re dead set on having them as Facebook friends, just hide their update.  It’s the picture of them unexpectedly popping up in your stream that will trigger the desire function and the consequences.  As they say, “out of sight, out of mind”.

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