Hello! If you’re reading this, you probably got the link directly from me. Please don’t share it.
If you’re thinking of a blog post for this site, the checklist is below. I highly encourage you to use it precisely as a checklist — literally, go through the points and ensure your draft satisfies all of these criteria.
When posts don’t hit these points, I usually have to decline them. At a minimum, I’ll postpone them for several weeks at a time. The blog isn’t my full-time job, so I often push off unready posts for months, if they ever get up at all.
That said, here’s how to stay at the top of the pile!
Sign the guest writer agreement.
It’s based on Mashable’s standard agreement, and it’s a requirement for my liability insurance. Please sign it here before you get started. I can’t run anything without it.
Substantive posts and original content.
An article that feels too short, or that lacks depth, will be sent back. Nearly ALL of my most viral posts are more than 3,000 words.
Dive deep into the topic and treat the post as seriously as you would a full-page Op-Ed for The New York Times (there’s evidence this blog sells more). It’s easier to cut the unnecessary stuff than it is to figure out what’s missing. When possible, back up what you’re saying with research or stories, as well as data taken from your own experiences. The writing should take you at least a few days to get right.
Be SPECIFIC and get into exact details.
Three good examples, which all did extremely well, are below. If you’re unwilling or unable to provide an article like these, this blog is probably not a good fit.
- Noah Kagan’s “How to Create a Million Dollar Business This Weekend.”
- Mike Del Ponte’s “Hacking Kickstarter – How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days.”
- Chad Mureta’s “How to Build an App Empire.”
Please DON’T ask me last-minute favors. Give me at least 3-4 weeks to schedule.
This is a very active blog, and I get a lot of guest post requests. Please treat me as you would an editor at a “real” media outlet. This blog has about half the subscriber base of The Wall Street Journal, so it’s a reasonable request. If your email is last-minute, I’ll sadly almost always have to politely pass.
IMPORTANT: Send me a few topic ideas before drafting anything.
Before you write a post, email me 3-5 of your best topic ideas based on all the above points, including prospective titles and a few bulleted “takeaways” for each. If you draft something without my thumbs up, I can’t help if I then reject it as unsuitable!
When in doubt, link it out.
My readers come to me for ease-of-use and resources. So, if you write, “I once went to Saison restaurant in SF, where I learned about the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing from a friend,” you should link out to what I bolded. Make it easy for readers to dig deeper! TECHNICAL REQUEST: Always have links open in a new tab, please. In other words, I don’t want people to leave my site. Here’s how to format links to open in a new tab.
Next, for bonus credit, please suggest further reading from past posts on my blog that are relevant, and link to them. Search the “Topics” sidebar for ideas. In all cases: always TEST your links before sending the draft to me.
Include actionable takeaways and recommended next steps.
Readers care about your story, of course, but they also need to learn specific lessons from your post. Ramit Sethi is particularly good at giving readers actionable “next steps” they can take, and you can clearly see this in his guest post on “The Psychology of Automation.”
Create quality “evergreen” content.
Nearly all of the posts on this blog are written to be just as relevant, if not more relevant, five years from now. The most popular post from the last four years is “How to Lose 20 Pounds of Fat in 30 Days… without Exercise.” No matter what year that post is read, the content will always be relevant and people will tell their friends about it. Having evergreen content is what made this blog successful, and it’s the most important thing to keep in mind when writing your post.
Send me the right formats.
– Please send me the post in two formats: 1) Word doc and 2) HTML, the latter formatted for WordPress. I don’t want to spend hours reformatting after copying and pasting from Word, but I like to print from Word to hand edit first.
– Do NOT send me just a single Word doc with blue links — can’t use it.
– If possible, please host any images on your own servers (or Flickr, or whatever), and format them to display at 500 pixels wide. All that said, still email me the image as attachments, just in case I need to access them or tweak something. If you aren’t able to figure out the hosting, I can do it, but it can delay publication.
Remember and accept that I have final editorial call.
This means that I might want to delete or rework sections entirely. If you’re not OK with me freely editing your stuff (mostly for clarity and format), my blog isn’t the right place for your piece. For what it’s worth, most writers enjoy my edits and appreciate them. I do the least necessary, not the most possible.
Have fun with it!
If it’s not fun for you to write on some level, it won’t be fun for my readers to read. Tell stories, crack jokes if you like, and be yourself. Try and enjoy the process and the end product will be better.
One of the most popular guest post is Gary Arndt’s “20 Things I’ve Learned from Traveling Around the World for Three Years.” It resonated with people and made good use of pictures, but it was also very easy to read because of the list structure. You don’t have to use lists, but they are effective.
Another hugely popular list-based guest post was “Playing B-Ball with Obama: 6 Steps to Crossing Anything Off Your Bucket List.”
Having pictures and/or video can provide a richer reading experience, assuming the pics/videos are high quality. One example of a guest post that made good use of video was “Clinton’s Reality Distortion Field Charisma,” where Michael Ellsberg incorporated a clip of Clinton at the end and provided his play-by-play analysis.
You’ll notice I have photos (roughly 500 pixels wide) at the top of almost all posts. It helps things to provide one such picture or find one on Flickr.com (search with checking “creative commons” and sorting by “most interesting”).
Thanks for reading and hope it helps,
Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.
Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.