Opening your blog up to guest bloggers can be a sensitive thing. You’re exposing your precious readers to someone who, besides the technological universe, is a stranger to you. How can you be sure this person will care for your pages and your readers as much as you?
The decision process can easily have you flip-flopping. Overwhelming submissions, unaccredited “link grabbers” and submissions that have nothing to do with you or your brand may make you want to just call the whole thing off.
But don’t – opening yourself up to guest blogging can be a fulfilling and beneficial experience for a blog owner; you just need to get yourself properly set up. Follow these three steps, and then gladly open up the floodgates:
The reason guest blogging may have you on the fence is because, well, it could potentially turn into a big pain in the butt. In order to avoid the headache, then, you’ve got to protect yourself by only letting qualified and caring guest bloggers get through.
Start Out With A Designated Guest Blogger Tab – Your guest blogger tab will present your guest blogger guidelines which will have one carefully placed landmine. This will save your general contact email from an overload of offensively annoying emails that start with:
“Didn’t know where to send this so…”
Stay In Control, Designate A New Email For Guest Submissions – Of course, be friendly and fair, but also be explicit in what you will and will not tolerate. I.e., “In an effort to keep this organized I’ll only be able to accept guest post submissions that are sent to this designated email. Submissions made through any other form of contact will unfortunately not be up for consideration.
Finally, Your Landmine – This is what will set the champion bloggers apart from the lazy. You can make it as simple as a subject line request, and again, don’t be afraid to lay your terms out in simple black and white:
“Be sure to type ‘Joyful Blogger’ in the subject line of your submission email. I’ll have to delete any submissions that are not labeled this way, thanks!”
A tactic like this makes it simple for you to weed out those who did not take the two minutes it takes to read your editorial guidelines. You won’t lose those submissions either, you’ll just know that – for the sake of your time, interest and effort – those entries deserve to be at the bottom of the pile for now.
Evaluate The Person, Exercise Your Calendar
Before you invest the time in reading all of those submissions that got through, take a minute to learn about your author. Again, this can be something in your editorial guidelines as simple as requesting two sample links of relevant work.
When evaluating the authors look at the type of audiences they write for. Feel out if their tone and style is a compliment to your blog. Find out if they keep a solid reputation in the blogging community by keeping up with their own social media and by interacting with comments.
Once you streamline entries, you’ll read them and then select those that you want to publish. Decide your editorial needs before you go down this path (Are you willing to publish a guest post one a week, what about once a day?). This decision will automatically create your editorial calendar and publishing pacing.
Define in your guidelines how you plan on following up. Do yourself a favor and don’t be vague like:
“We will contact you if we are interested,” because it will just flood your inbox with follow-up inquires even more.
Do both yourself and those guest bloggers a favor, and set a limit to reviewing submissions. For example:
“While I wish I could respond to everyone, due to overwhelming submissions I can’t. If I do not contact you within 10 days from your sent submission, please understand that I appreciate your effort but it was just not the right fit for my blog.”
By committing to only a 10-day submission window, it will naturally make you stay on top of things. It also is a fair way to let exclusive authors know where they stand so that after 10 days, they can try to get published elsewhere.
Finally, don’t be afraid to neither accept nor reject bloggers. You may encounter a post from time to time that has a great idea, or a strong voice, but the content just isn’t there yet.
Take an extra step with potential and don’t be afraid to ask authors to give a draft a revision. Those that really want to get published will make the extra effort. If not, there’s plenty more guest bloggers in the deep, blue Internet Sea.
What other ways can you make guest blogging work for you? Share Your Thoughts!
Image Credit: Stuart Miles / freedigitalphoto.net