We get a LOT of guest submissions. That makes us happy—we love how popular this blog is with young professionals, and we want to continue featuring your advice so your peers can learn from both your successes and your failures.
Because we get so many submissions, we notice trends in what works and what doesn’t. We’ve outlined many of those trends in our submission guidelines telling potential writers what we like to see in guest posts.
But what about what we don’t like to see? What big mistakes do writers make when pitching guest posts?
The biggest mistake by far is pitching a topic that’s not relevant for our audience of young professionals. But for this post, we want to take it a step further, letting you in on mistakes we commonly see even in posts on well-thought-out topics.
So here are the two most common mistakes we see writers make when submitting posts to Brazen Life. We’ve also made suggestions on how to fix these problems, so you can increase your chances of seeing your byline on this blog.
1. Writing a weak introduction
The introduction is the most important part of your piece because it’s your one chance to rope in the reader and convince them that they should keep reading.
In journalism, we call this the lead. It needs to be awesome.
Yet too many writers focus solely on the content of their post, letting the lead falter or forgetting to write an introduction altogether. The worst kind of introduction we see in our editing queue (and it’s terribly common) is one that begins with a statistic:
Four out of five graduates who earn a degree in happiness can’t find a job.
We all know the job market is less than stellar, with 85 percent of aliens unable to land work.
Both of those statistics are made up, but you get the idea. Starting with a statistic is boring. It also usually tells us something we already know: that the job market sucks.
Instead, start with a line that will resonate with your reader! Here are a few recent examples from our blog:
What group of employees can’t fathom starting work before 10:00 a.m., require heaps of praise for even the most remedial tasks, turn to Google for everything and make up excuses to take days off work? (Read the entire post here.)
We all have that one thing in our lives we keep around without really knowing why. (Read the full post here.)
Dealing with the rejection and subsequent dejection that often accompanies an extended job search can be difficult. And then someone has to come along and dump salt in the wound by asking, “So…how’s the job search going?” (Read the full post here.)
Don’t start your post by telling us how terrible the job market is, and please, please, PLEASE don’t start it with a statistic.
2. Starting your post in the I voice rather than the you voice
On your personal blog, first-person stories might work well. Your readers likely already feel a bond with you, so they enjoy hearing about your personal experience right from the start.
But Brazen Life is a multi-author blog, and many of our writers are first-time contributors. That means it’s pretty likely our readers won’t be familiar with you. Because of that, we find first-person introductions aren’t as effective.
Instead, write your first paragraph or two in the you voice, talking to our readers about how whatever issue you’re writing about affects their lives.
Not sure what the you voice means? Here’s a real example from our blog:
Are you thinking about taking some time off to figure out your next career step? (Read the entire post here.)
This is far more effective than starting a post with something like:
When I took time off from my career, I made some big mistakes.
Want more examples? Check out Step No. 1 of this Problogger post.
This doesn’t mean you can never write I. First-person examples often help prove the point you’re trying to make, so long as you can tell your own story effectively. We love personal examples sprinkled into a blog post; we just don’t want the entire post to be about you.
Focus on the reader, and that reader will be more likely to relate to your post.
If you’re really stuck on how to present your idea in an effective way, try following this formula for the perfect blog post.
Interested in writing for Brazen Life? Here are our guidelines.