Accepting Guest Blog Posts? Follow These 6 Steps to Get Great Content

Last week I wrote about pitching a guest blog post that gets accepted. This week I’m focusing on guest blogging again, but from the perspective of blog owners who want to get the most out of the experience.

If you own or manage content for a blog, you’ve probably wondered whether guest blogging will benefit your site. The short answer is yes it will – as long as your manage it properly! In case you’re still in need of a little persuasion, here are some of the advantages that come with opening your blog up to guest posts:

  • Allows you to post more frequently if you’re usually short on content
  • Can give you a brief break from writing content yourself
  • Builds relationships with other bloggers and industry experts
  • Exposes your blog to a wider audience (especially when your guest blogger shares the post with their social network)
  • Lends your site authority and credibility if your guest writer is well known within your industry
  • Offers your readers content from a new perspective, or specialized knowledge and experience you may not have

While all of these points may make it sound tempting to fill your blog with guest posts, remember that quality is much more important than quantity. You have certain standards for your own content, and guest posts shouldn’t be any different. Following these 6 steps will help make the guest blogging process easier, and ensure you end up with top quality posts.

Step 1. Create Guest Post Guidelines

Be My Guest

If you only take away one thing from this post, this is it! Creating a clear set of guest post guidelines will save you a lot of time explaining your expectations to every writer who contacts you. It can also increase the quality of posts you receive by providing useful tips and blog-specific information to writers.

Searching for “guest post guidelines” will give you tonnes of examples, but ultimately your guidelines should be unique; let writers know your rules and the type of content you want to see on your site. Not sure what to include? Here are a few of awesome examples to give you some inspiration.

  • Copyblogger chose to write their guest post guidelines in paragraph format instead of a list. They focus on their expectations of high quality, both in terms of post ideas as well as the writing itself. I really like how they direct writers to their most popular articles section, stating that “to write a great post for Copyblogger, it helps to know what’s worked for us in the past.” After reading their guidelines and checking out their resources, writers should have a very good sense of what their article needs in order to make it onto Copyblogger’s site.
  • Link-Assistant has a detailed set of guidelines that outlines everything from appropriate topics, to word count, formatting, images and more. They describe their audience, telling writers to “aim for advanced readers.” Knowing what level of knowledge the audience has will not only influence the types of post ideas guest bloggers pitch, but also the way they write. For instance, imagine the difference between an article on CRO written for someone who’s never heard the term, versus someone with extensive online marketing experience.

Step 2. Have a Link Policy & Make it Clear

Technically your link policy should be added to your guest post guidelines, but it’s important enough to warrant’s it own step.

As I said last week, guest blogging should be mutually beneficial for both the writer and the blog owner. Guest writers are typically looking for wider exposure and / or links back to their site. In order to attract writers, you should allow 1 or 2 DoFollow links in the author’s bio. At the same time, you don’t want people shaping their guest post around self-promotion, so you may want to limit the number of links to the author’s site allowed within the body of a post.

Specifying the terms of your link policy within your guest post guidelines will help deter writers who just want to stuff their post full of links. Your policy should also be repated when you accept a writer’s pitch, to ensure they understand your expectations.

Step 3. Research Your Potential Writer

Online ResearchYou don’t want to get penalized from Google for publishing spammy or duplicate content, so make sure you trust the people you let post on your blog. When asked about Google’s view on guest blogging for links, Matt Cutts explained that while high quality bloggers can add a lot to your site , certain link builders will take things too far. For instance, you want to be wary of writers who submit the same (or similar) articles to multiple blogs, or people who outsource their post to someone else with less expertise, and just insert their links afterwards.

Accept writers with a good track record. Generally, this can be established pretty quickly if a writer provides links to other things they’ve published as part of their pitch, or if you’re able to find their blog (or a blog they contribute to) online. While you don’t have to make previous blogging experience mandatory, it’s the fastest way to build a sense of trust with guest writers.

Step 4. Ask For a Draft

HubSpot’s guest post guidelines asks writers to submit a title and brief outline of their article idea before writing the full article. Similarly, KISSmetrics asks writers to only email them with a title and an outline. This not only saves the writer time if you decide their post idea isn’t right for your site, but also gives you the opportunity to add your input early on. Offering constructive feedback can help improve the end result, without forcing you to spend ages editing a finished article. Make sure writers are aware that you expect to receive a draft first whenever you accept a guest post pitch.

Step 5. Let Writers Upload their Own Posts

If you want to save time uploading and formatting guest posts, you can give each writer their own WordPress account. In order to maintain control over your site, it’s important that you pick the appropriate role for guest bloggers. In most cases this role will be “Contributor,” which allows users to upload their own post, but not publish it. User Role Editor is a helpful WordPress plugin that lets you set which capabilities are associated with each role. For instance, usually “Contributors” can’t upload files, but if you want your guest writer’s to add their own images you can change this setting.

If you’d prefer uploading posts yourself, you can still save time by specifying information such as formatting and acceptable image file types in your guest post guidelines.

Step 6. Invite Great Writers Back

Welcome MatIf a guest blogger really impresses you, why not invite them to write another post? This is a particularly smart move if your audience responded well to their post by commenting and sharing it online. Just make sure you’re not too demanding with their time – many writers have busy schedules, so set the deadline for the next post far enough in the future that they can plan around it.

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