How a Guest Post Submission Affected My Writing Style

After pitching a guest post to Net Profits Today and getting rejected I was a little discouraged.  My article came across as being written for the search engines and while I knew this wasn’t the case, it made me sit back and examine my writing style.

A few days earlier I had written an article about not writing for the search engines.  The rejection had me wondering where I had gone wrong.  Why hadn’t I followed my own advice?

When it comes to writing you have two audiences to chose from – your readers or the search engine spiders.  It’s very difficult to write for both without upsetting one or the other.

Often bloggers forget their main audience and write to attract organic search traffic.  They use a series of keywords and stuff as many as they can into an article.  They care less about being engaging and developing relationships and more about converting their readers into a passive revenue stream.

What they don’t realize is keyword stuffing is not okay if you want to build consistent traffic.  It results in high bounce rates.  It harms both the site and blogger’s reputation.  It lessens the user experience which is something Google has indicated is a factor used to determine ranking.

Writing for search engines is a very short term strategy.  The long term success of a blog is dependent on having a consistent base of readers.  Your writing has to provide value to these readers and make them want to visit your site over and over again.  It has to be engaging and effective at establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between blogger and reader.

What was I thinking?  I knew the difference.  I didn’t set out to include the same keyword phrase whopping 23 times but I had.

No wonder my guest post proposal was rejected.

How could I turn this into an opportunity?  Could this inspire me to write a better article, to become more engaging, to become a better blogger?

Most definitely!

To deal with the “chicken and egg” conundrum many bloggers face, how could I increase traffic to my site without writing for the search engines?

While I am fortunate enough to have a base of readers, new to bloggers must find ways to generate traffic.  If you can’t write for the search engines what options do you have?  Even beginners know enough to recognize a successful blog needs traffic to survive.

Where do you get your readers and how do you generate traffic?

The answer is happening right around us now on the internet and how it is transforming into a more dynamic and social landscape.

Things are very different now than during the dot com era boom.  Gone are the days of simple buy/sell transaction based and business-consumer relationships have evolved to become more social.

Power is back in the hands of the consumers and for businesses (and bloggers) to succeed online they have to reach out on a social level and build relationships steeped in both trust and credibility.

Your traffic comes from your social network, by connecting with others and by marketing your blog effectively.  The only tool readily at your disposal to do this is your writing.  You have to write content that reaches out, engages and provides some social value.

This is where I had gone wrong.

I had forgotten the social aspect of my blog and neglected to think about the readers.  I never gave much thought about how they would use my articles.

I was the victim of my own complacency and was paying the price on all fronts.  My readers were leaving, my guest post proposals were being rejected and my traffic numbers had nosedived.

What did I learn from this experience?

The most important lesson was also the most humbling.  I wasn’t putting into practice the very lesson I regularly communicated to clients and my readers.  I was “talking-the-talk” but not “walking-the-walk” and this was damaging to my blogging reputation.

I looked back at some of my old content.  It was an eye-opening experience.  I didn’t like what I was seeing.

Several of my previous posts were stuffed with keywords and while they ranked very in the search engines they received no traffic.  Others told stories and shared personal experiences.  These received the most traffic, had a higher social presence, had more inbound links and ranked at the top of the SERPS.  Surprisingly these were articles containing minimal keywords.

This whole lesson made me take a completely different approach to writing and make a conscious effort to adapt my writing style to embrace a more social aspect.

I’m not worried about monetization, search engine traffic or advertisers.  Right now I want to regain the trust of my readers.  I want to regain some of the credibility I’ve lost in the last few months.  I want my readers to come back because my writing is both compelling and practical.  I want to add value for them spending time on my blog.

How has it worked out for me so far?

I’m not saying this has been an easy transition.  Old habits are hard to break and I have to keep reminding myself on a daily basis.

I’ve gone back to the basics and I’m spending hours researching, writing and practicing my writing skills.  I’m willing to put in the time to do what is required to become a successful blogger.

Traffic is up on my personal blog about 30 percent and the response behind the scenes has been wonderful.

I’ve had several guest blog posts published and others rejected.

I’ve learned to accept and deal with the criticisms about my writing.  I don’t take these rejections personal.  I know when another blog provides you with a guest post slot they trust you and take a risk by doing so.

I’ve grown as a writer and have a new appreciation for the art.  My writing style has changed and I will become a better blogger because of what happened.

When I look back, having my guest post article rejected was the least of my worries.  It changed my direction as a blogger and made me more conscious of my writing style but in the end set me on the correct path.

It was humbling but well worth it.

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
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4 Responses to How a Guest Post Submission Affected My Writing Style

  1. Alice Wilson says:

    Dear Barry,

    You’ve learned a lesson writers have have struggled with for ages.

    Those who aspire to write and write well know the painstaking process of putting their thoughts down successfully on paper. We’ve learned that the technical writing (such as that strewn with keywords) is easier than reaching deep down inside to produce something of yourself that is also warm, inviting and entertaining to others.

    Writing is one other of my passions. I’ve longed to write in any form (shorthand, dictation, even in another language, funny because I don’t speak any other language). But I was struck suddenly with writer’s block years ago and it is only alleviated when I force myself to sit down and put fingers to keyboard.

    I guess this is what one should do and the process will get easier and easier.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    Alice

  2. Hi Barry,

    Thanks for this masterpiece. I have made this same mistake before but thank God, no more errors.

  3. Peggy Baron says:

    Hi Barry,

    I think talking about your mistakes here, publically, on your blog goes a long way in telling what kind of person you are. “Manning up” is hard to do and I, for one, respect you for that.

    When you write from the heart and give your readers an experience they find valuable, it not only makes your readers and Google happy, but you too. I’d have to say it’s a lot more fun to write for my readers than for search engines. I’m more interested in starting conversations, sharing what I know, and building my brand than worrying about my rankings – because it’s way more fun! 🙂

    Go go Barry!

    • Peggy,

      You are so right – it is hard to admit your mistakes but it’s much harder making improvements so they won’t happen again!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Barry

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