quality-content

Has your blog’s readership never quite been what you wanted? Or it’s plummeted in the last few months? Perhaps it’s because your guest post inbox has started to look like this:

“Hi Editor,

Having experience of 5 years in professional writing and guest blogging,
want to showcase my skills on your site.The glimpse of the article and
blogs which I have seen are very informative and useful. I also want to
contribute a piece of my work at your site and be a part of your site,
counting it as an opportunity I want to share my ideas with you.”

And the content you’re receiving is of a similar calibre.

High-quality content is a large part of what drives readership and, ultimately, business for a website. When looking at how your website design has been performing and where you want it to go, there are more considerations than just user experience.

What about your guest contributors? Chances are, you solicit guest posts because you don’t have time to do all the writing yourself, you want other experts to share their knowledge, and you welcome differing perspectives. But if the pitches you’ve received and the content submitted doesn’t seem publishable, it might not be just the bloggers contacting you that are to blame.

Perhaps it’s time to take a deeper look at your guidelines and make sure they’re as up-to-snuff as the rest of your site. Let’s get started.

Have A Purpose

If your blog publishes niche content, stick to it. If you run a First Person View racing site, then don't welcome posts about military drones as well. Not only does this send mixed signals to writers, it could be playing with fire. If your blog is related to a professional association or a geographical location, and you prefer guest posts from members of that association or people within that geography, be sure to state that.

dontwant

Are there article styles your blog prefers to publish? Link to examples so that potential contributors know exactly how to write for your blog. Or do what the New Statesman does in its guidelines and list precisely what you don’t want:

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Similarly, it’s a smoother transaction for all involved if you accept pitches rather than drafts or completed posts.

pitches

Why? Accepting pitches rather than finished work compels guest writers to do their homework. A professional content writer knows that there’s a human on the other end of the site, and it’s up to her to relate to and appeal to that human.

Be Professional

It’s also your responsibility as site owner and/or editor to make sure those guidelines look as professional as possible. You may think this is a no-brainer, but you’d likely be surprised at how many guidelines look like this:

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Guidelines like these signal to writers that you will accept posts that are of the same quality: poor. Yet grammar and spelling really are important to blogs. Does that mean your guidelines have to be as sterile as a magazine submission site? Definitely not.

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Author Troy Lambert, whose blog is devoted to the business aspects of writing, offers guest posting opportunities to experts in the field, and he does so with his own style. His guidelines are still edited so that there are no spelling errors or blatant grammatical errors.

Offer Something In Return

It’s not necessary that you pay for every guest blog submitted to your site, but don’t expect writers to contribute to your site without some return on their investment. And the quickest way to turn away a high-quality writer is to ask her to pay to write for you.

money

Guest writers are helping you by doing a portion of your work for you. Don’t ask them to pay for the privilege. If you can pay your guest bloggers, by all means do. A professional writer with something great to say will take time to write a post for you. Because this takes time and effort, pay your guest writers if you can, and be sure to state the specifics of remuneration.

There are other incentives besides money. Guest bloggers reach out to high authority sites because these will add to their portfolio. Be sure to offer do-follow links for contributions or the chance to become a regular contributor. Again, being explicit about these opportunities will woo the best writers you can, especially if you want regular members of your writing team.

What are your contributor guidelines? Are they the best they can be?

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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain Dedication (CC0) Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com