A Step by Step Guide for Hosting Guest Bloggers
July 3, 2014 - Marketing
A Guide for Hosting Guest BloggersNumerous posts have been published about guest blogging and there are a number of resources available for those looking to guest post. However, there is very little information about the process of accepting posts to your website and I feel those details are often glazed over. The process and the suggestions are from my personal experience and I think you’ll find it useful if you allow guest writers on your website. This is not a research paper but more of a quick summary and guide to refer back to. Hosting guest bloggers is a lot like inviting someone in your home, only your home in this case is your website. You have to set ground rules and make sure this person is trustworthy and has good intentions. Every detail of these posts become magnified when it’s your brand on the line. Since Matt Cutts made his announcement about Google’s plans for 2014 in regards to guest posting, the frequency of high quality posts that have real value will rise, while poor quality, link-laden posts will fall slowly by the wayside. Guest posting still has tremendous advantages for both the guest blogger and the hosting website. For the party hosting, the entire process from setting up posting guidelines, creating questionnaires for potential writers, accepting high quality submissions, and promoting live posts can be extremely time consuming. In addition to that, each submission must be informative, powerful, and inspiring to your audience. This also happens to be one of the largest reasons blog owners hesitate to even toss around the idea of allowing guest bloggers to write for them. It’s easy to forget that everything on your site is a direct reflection of your business/brand and should not be taken lightly. With all that in mind, once the framework has been established, you may be surprised by how seamless the process can be.
Accepting Unique ContributionsIt goes without saying that accepting engaging content that provides added value to your readers is pretty standard for most blog owners. Just like having guests in your house, it’s a good idea to set a few ground rules or expectations for them before coming into your home. It took a lot of effort and hard work for the industry to adjust to the level of writing the users are looking for. With so many people trying to feed the algorithm instead of users, we almost forgot how to write and the overall purpose of it. Set the writing ground rules to cater to users and be clear about spammy content, misleading links, shallow content, and weird author bios. One way to ensure that you only accept submissions that are uniquely qualified to make a contribution to your blog is to send each person who emails a request a questionnaire or survey (this is really going the extra mile). You may even have this survey directly on a submissions page on your blog. Ask the types of questions that would ensure you are dealing with an ethical guest poster with good intentions. Here are a set of six example questions you may want to ask and responses to look for: Explain the reasoning behind the title of the post and explain why you feel my readers will respond to it. Look for a clear understanding of the title and how it represents the post and a clear explanation of why the title might be intriguing to your readers. Why do you feel we should accept this submission from the hundreds of submissions we receive every week? What makes this one so special? Take a close look at this response because essentially this question is asking “What are you giving my readers that is unique and influential?” Give good thought and look out for generic, vague answers like “I think they would like it”. How do you want the reader to feel when they have finished reading this post? How will it benefit my readers? Words like accomplished, knowledgeable, powerful, up-to-date, inspired, informed are all great. There must be real, optimal benefits for readers taking time out of their day to read your content. Have you submitted this post to any other blog and been rejected? The obvious answer for this is no and any other responses serve as a red flag. Any previously rejected posts should not be in consideration for the blog. You want to uphold high standards and only accept the best of the best content. Is this post 100% original? If not, which quotes or sections are not and why? All sections which are not clearly noted as other’s work or properly given credit should not be accepted until revisions have been made and sources have been cited. All posts should be 100% original and this should be stated in your submission guidelines. What do you expect from submitting your post on my blog? What do you gain from the experience? Look for answers that sound genuine, honest, and in the best interest of your blog.
Dictating Post StandardsAs I said before, having a clear set of guidelines is the first step to accepting high quality guest posts. As the blog accepting guest posts, you have every right to dictate exactly what type of guest posts you will accept, including the following features: [custom_list]
- Style – If you are extremely choosy, requiring writing styles such as AP, Chicago, APA, or other styles is perfectly acceptable. Alternatively, you can accept all styles and have an editor unify all the incoming posts before you publish on you website.
- Format – You have every right to dictate title length (in words, characters, and/or characters w/spaces) as well as the number of subtitles, length of paragraphs, images and/or videos, appropriate use of bold and italics, bullet point, and even the use or placement of keywords.
- Voice – Insisting upon posts with a unique voice is up to you. You may want a formal voice, informal, humorous, or any combination thereof.
- Length – Many webmasters prefer posts with a specific word length, such as, no more than 500 words or as many as several thousand words. The average is between 500 and 2500.
Streamlining the processMost of us don’t have time to sit and read long submissions, review questionnaires, constantly respond to monotonous emails, or manage guest blog submissions. If you aren’t keen on putting forth the effort to host guest bloggers, there are ways to put a system in place so it’s readily available. We often hear about the guidelines and best practices when considering a submission, but rarely do we hear about ways to simplify and expedite this process.
Time Saving Tips
- Allow potential writers to upload their own drafts to your blog hosting platform. This will save you the time of having to upload and optimize posts to go live. Simply pick the desired role for the guest bloggers and grant them access. Make sure you have all privacy settings right before introducing this to bloggers. (All CMS based websites will have the options to do this, we use WordPress)
- Reach out to previously well-received writers and you may save time as these writers already know the drill and are privy to your guidelines. This gives you less back and forth and less time spent in the approval process. Plus, you have the added bonus of such bloggers bringing a large following back with them (we use BuzzStream to reconnect with our regular writers).
- Require writers to send a title suggestion and brief outline of their post. This not only saves time, but gives blog owners the ability to share their input and particular needs. When we ask for title suggestions, we use the following template:
- Using tools like Copyscape is a quick way to check if content is original and notifies you of any duplicate content found. Make it clear that all content must 100% pass through Copyscape in order to even be in consideration.
In house editingThe importance of the editing process upon receiving guest post submissions cannot be stressed enough. You have to be picky. Every piece of writing is a complete representation of your business and even the slightest mistakes can diminish a positive reputation. Always edit the post with your audience in mind and think about any questions they may have when reading it. Make sure to then edit by answering those questions and clarifying anything vague. After having gone over it once, take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes. Read it aloud and pinpoint any last errors. The most important take away for editing a guest post is to constantly bring to the front of your mind the thought of, “What will my readers gain from reading this post?” You can write a process and make sure the editor follows it. When you have it set, you can always go back and improve it. Some highlights to the editor are: [custom_list]
- Proofread grammar and spelling
- Remove weird sentence structure, promotional language, and repetitive keywords
- Makes sure the text is structured for web (short paragraphs, sub headers, etc.)
- Add pictures, graphs, quotes (give credit if necessary)
- Check that all outgoing links are giving some sort of added value to your user and that the content you are referring to also meets your quality standards
- Make sure there is a proper author bio with a link to Google+’s real person