Accepting guest posts can be beneficial on many levels:
- [Diversity]: This may bring some fun and diversity to your blogging schedule: variety in style, topics and opinions. (Of course, if your blog is very personal or you are afraid it might lose its identity, you don’t want to feature guest posts too often. However, publishing one in a week or two will refresh your blogging routine and entertain your readers.)
- [Rest]: This makes it possible to take a break. Many bloggers announce “guest posting months” (or weeks) inviting guest authors for as long as they plan to take a vacation, while traveling or during the holidays.
- [Networking]: This can bring in some new readers and more traffic. Guest authors usually share their posts with their social media friends – this means your blog gets exposed to new social media channels which consequently equates to more traffic and new contacts.
So if you plan to start accepting guest posts (regularly or on occasion), here’s a complete guide so you can make the most of the experience:
1. Get Properly Prepared
Before starting, you need to know all the ins and outs of guest posting. It is quickly becoming a popular marketing tactic – which unfortunately may cause spammers to surface.
So make sure you are aware of this and protect yourself from people who are trying to abuse the concept.
Start with creating a guest posting policy.
Here’s a detailed checklist on creating guest posting guidelines for your blog. In short, the items that can be mentioned are:
- Your basic quality requirements (the length of the post in words and the novelty of the concept). Just make sure to note that you are looking for “high-quality” content (to cut down on 300-word mediocre submissions);
- The topics you would like to see covered;
- Your linking policies (how many links the guest author will get in return – this is to avoid the link stuffing from within the post);
Note: your linking requirements are up to you. Many bloggers I know only allow one link (with no keywords in the link text). I think they have their right to do so. My own take is that if the author provides quality, s/he deserves to be treated with generosity. (I usually allow 3-4 links with at least one “SEOed” link text in there, but again, that’s up to you and your policies.)
- Your republishing policies (I usually require that guest post published at my sites are never republished anywhere else)
- Your editing tactics: will you edit the guest post and to what extent?
Another step in the getting-prepared phase is to make sure the process is optimized and clear.
Optimize your blog for guest posting:
If you are going to add bloggers to your blog wp-admin as contributors, you will love this WordPress Plugin: it notifies the author of the post status change and keep everyone properly updated:
- When a Contributor submits an article for review: The plugin notifies you via email (so that you can login and review the post)
- When a post is approved: The Contributor gets an e-mail saying that their post has been approved, who it was approved by and when it will go live;
- When a post’s status is changed back to “draft” from “pending”: The Contributor gets an e-mail saying that their post has been reverted back to a draft, along with a link to edit and re-submit the post.
This plugin by the same author is also a good one to consider. It allows you to add “notes” to each post, so you can communicate with your authors without leaving the WordPress post editor.
If you would like guest authors to email you the posts, consider adding some “smart” contact form that would allow to attach an image, submit formatted text and insert notes. CformsII is a good free plugin to use for that.
2. Find Great Contributors
You already have your guidelines. Now link to it from a prominent place on your blog and add a call-to-action: “Contribute a guest post!”, “Write for us!”, “Become our guest blogger!” – remember to get more people contribute, let them feel really welcome.
Note: Don’t forget that this page is going to get ranked in Google for the terms you use to link to it. So make sure to be descriptive when both naming and linking to it.
Now, try doing the following:
- Write a new post to announce your blog is open for guest contributors and listing all the benefits (as well as requirements);
- Tweet your announcement;
- Join MyBlogGuest and post your announcement at the Forums in the best category:
3. Nurture Your Contributors: Build the Community
If you are lucky enough, soon after you start inviting guest contributors, you will build a strong community around your blog. These will be only few people but they will come regularly to contribute some new awesome content, comment on your posts and share them via their social media profiles.
And the best thing is that they will be doing that for free!
To build that strong community of guest contributors, you need to take an effort, though:
- Never make your contributors wait too long before reviewing the post (even if you are too busy!). Remember your contributor has spent much time and effort writing a post – if you neglect it, he will be offended.
- Help them promote their posts: That’s also (and even in the first place) benefits you personally. The more you both promote the contributor’s content, the more traffic and leads you are going to get!
- Reward the contributor with social credit. Are you going to Tweet the post? – Add “by @guest-name” for public credit. Going to share on Facebook? – Tag your contributor in the message for him to receive the credit.
- Share your feedback and appreciation in the public comment. Take a few seconds to comment on the post to express why you feel lucky to have such a great contributor.
Remember guest posting is not only about free content for the blog owner and free links for the blogger. This is about a more important benefit: building a community and strong contacts in the blogosphere.
If you understand that and take effort to achieve more essential goals, you will make the most of both accepting guest posts and writing guest posts yourself!