More and more blogs open up their doors to guest contributions. Guest blogging has become a powerful way to build links and network with influencers; for the blog editors it's a great source of fresh unique content.
I've been accepting guest posts for one of the largest search marketing blogs for about three years now. I AM a huge believer in the power of guest blogging (that's the only reason I once launched My Blog Guest in an effort to make guest blogging easier for both the parties). However being a huge fan of guest blogging, I am still aware of various issues people may face when starting to guest post or accept guest contributions.
This article is about opening up your blog for guest articles – what you need to prepare yourself for and how:
1. Setting Your Quality Standards
(And sticking to them)
No one knows your blog and readership better than you. So you are the one who can make guest blogging work for your blog (and change it for the better). All you need is a clear well-written guest posting policy and the quality standard checklist.
- Is the post relevant to the theme of my blog?
- Is the post original? (a quick Copyscape or exact-match Google search are usually enough to tell);
- Is the post grammatically correct? (I am totally fine with a couple of errors here and then. We are all humans. I'll be happy to correct those mistakes if I notice them. However I won't proofread a poorly-written article and rewrite each sentence to make it sound ok).
- Is the post useful? Does it provide some advice, list useful tools or offer a solution to a relevant issue? (I can't stand purely theoretical "clever" articles which have nothing to do with reality. But that's me.)
- Is the post innovative at least in some way?*
- Is the post stuffed with (irrelevant) self-served links that are obviously optimized for some keywords and look unnatural? (I always welcome natural links though: those that allow readers to learn more about the mentioned concept)
- Do I think/feel it will be interesting to my readers? (This one is just my gut feeling. This can include any subjective criticism that is hard to explain: Do I think the post is boring? Do I think the topic covered is already discussed to death? etc)
*Let me clarify #4 because I am too tired of search community discussions whether an article is "old news" or not. I've been blogging for more than 3 years now and one thing I clearly understand is: Whatever you write, there's a high probability that it has already been covered by someone else. I don't expect my guest authors to re-invent a bicycle. All I ask is a unique perspective, a unique style and/or probably a unique angle.
That's also another way guest blogging is different from article marketing: a guest post needs to have a unique voice and personal touch.
2. Learning to Say "NO"
I always love at people telling you NOT to open up blogs for guest posts JUST because it will make you more attractive targets to spammy pitches. If you are afraid of unsolicited attempts to get in touch with you, close comments, get rid of any way that people can use to get in touch with you… and block your blog from people.
You are not bugged only if you are alone. The moment your blog starts getting popular, you will be hearing back. Inviting guest contributions won't make it worse. It will just give people yet another reason to get in touch with you…
And yes, there will be numerous attempts to camouflage pure link building attempt by a guest posting pitch. You'll receive quite a few articles written with the sole purpose to embed a dirty link inside.
But you are the one who is free to say "NO". You don't need to approve any post which is sent to you. And there's no reason to be annoyed by those irrelevant pitches as well. Other than asking to publish their articles, those people have no other way to bug or harm you or your blog.
All you need to do is to stop being afraid of rejecting low-quality offers and move on.
3. Being a Good Editor
Building a solid community of guest contributors around your blog is priceless… But it does take an effort. Just saying "no" is not always the way to treat a post that doesn't meet your quality standards. If you see a real effort behind your guest contributor's submission, you should consider giving him a second chance.
Which effort is likely to melt the editor's heart?
- A guest post reflects that the author is really eager to learn. I often see guest contributions that lack expertise (and experience) but they sound so sincere that I can't reject them. You can notice that effort in anything: in multiple examples the author gives, various sources he cites, numerous opinions he lists, etc. I have found a few really awesome and dedicated contributors by not ignoring those "posts with effort" just once.
- A guest post reflects that the author is a long-time reader of my blog. Yes, many guest authors will try to pretend they read and like your blog – but one can't actually fake it. You'll just feel it: by seeing links to your old posts carefully embedded by the author, by noticing some familiar style and details the author mentions, etc. A long-time reader always deserves more attention even if you are very busy. The moment you stop caring about your blog readers, you stop being a good blogger.
Which chance do these guest authors deserve?
In such cases, I usually reply with a good actionable tip on how they can improve their post to get approved: adding (or removing) a section, reading more about some specific thing they are mentioning, etc.
Yes, if you own or operate a huge blog, you may be getting plenty of guest blogging pitches. You may feel tired of replying to everyone. And you may feel tempted to delete pitches that sound immature. But if you care about building an active community of guest bloggers who will both provide you with free awesome content and help you promote it, be sure to take an effort. You need to be patient and attentive to everyone who deserves it.
Please share your own tips and experiences!
Ann Smarty is a blogger and SEO consultant and professional blogger. Check out Ann's personal project My Blog Guest - the forum meant to connect guest bloggers to blog owner for plenty of mutual benefits. Ann also provides guest blogging services.