Even though guest blogging is a two-way street, more often than not we hear advice from the blogger’s perspective on how they can make the most out of blogging with a third party. This is often fairly standard: bloggers will pitch topics that are relevant to that particular blog’s audience, follow their editorial guidelines, and proofread content before submitting their submission.
On the flip side of the coin, there’s the owner or editor behind the third party website. Giving guest bloggers the opportunity to blog on your site is about so much more than creating fresh, new content. It’s about establishing a rapport together and building a valuable connection that will (ideally) take both parties far. If you’re in the process of having guest bloggers join you for the first time, here are a few helpful practices to ensure they’re prepped for how to work with you while building and maintaining a solid rapport together.
Give them editorial guidelines.
So, you have a blogger interested in contributing a post with you — great! What comes next? Your relationship with guest bloggers begins when you introduce yourself to them, approve their pitch, and send along editorial guidelines to follow. If you have never created rules like these before, here’s a quick rundown of requirements that should be included.
- Word count. What’s the minimum and maximum length a blog post should be?
- Structure and tone. Advise the blogger to take a look at existing posts on your blog to get a feel for its formatting and tone. This should be easily obvious, even after skimming a few articles, as to whether you prefer to share long-form content, bullet points or listicles, and whether the manner in which you write is playful or serious.
- Links. No matter if you’re a guest blogger or the owner of the website, the general blogging rule of thumb is to never self promote yourself. Your blog is built on your expertise within a specific field, not about you talking about how awesome you are in every post (no disrespect intended either!). And vice versa — guest bloggers joining you shouldn’t be plugging their own products and services nonstop within their posts. Make sure to specify to the guest writer that links used in the article should be appropriate within its context and that you have the right to not publish anything that goes against the rules.
- Author bios. Make sure to specify if the guest blogger needs to send over their headshot, biography, or social media links to accompany the piece.
- Images. Much like the bios, you’ll also want to let the blogger know if they should supply their own images. If so, include specs on where they can get/find said imagery and sizing requirements.
- Deadlines and publishing dates. As the site’s owner, you likely have an editorial calendar in place and a good idea of when there will be openings on your schedule for guest posts. It’s completely optional as to whether or not you want to send your guest blogger base information about these calendars or monthly themes/topic ideas to write about, but if you know you have a packed editorial calendar let them know ahead of time that there may be potential publishing delays and to be patient about the process.
- Editing practices. If you need to edit a post, let the blogger know the method that you plan on providing them with feedback such as using track changes to share with the blogger and show them what you did.
Once you’ve sent these guidelines over, encourage the guest blogger to email you if they have any questions.
Promote them via social media.
Remember when I mentioned that your guidelines should include the guest writer’s social media links? On the day that the post goes live, promote their piece and tag them with their social handles while doing so. Encourage the guest blogger to do the same with your handles — which should all be included in your editorial guidelines — too. It’s a little extra publicity on both sides and a thank you from your end for being a part of their blog.
Another area to keep in consideration? Don’t just promote guest bloggers once via social. Share the love a few more times throughout the year on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Tinker with the format a bit to make sure that you’re not just copying and pasting the same tweet or post over and over again. Add a fun GIF, include a relevant hashtag, and change up the caption to keep it fresh for new audiences.
While it’s great to have another like-minded writer join you on your blog, not everyone needs to be a writer. Encourage guests to be creative and put their own unique spin on content. Maybe they’ll create a quiz instead of a traditional post, film a vlog with commentary on a topical trending issue, or whip up a listicle filled with GIFs for a humorous look at how people in your industry really feel when [xyz moment] happens.
Start connecting with the blogger elsewhere.
Ultimately, by doing a little bit of all of the above, you’re discovering more about your guest blogger’s writing style and their interests. Communicate and connect with them beyond emails together. Reach out on LinkedIn and follow their social media handles. If you feel like there’s the potential for a good partnership or bigger role they could play in your business together, schedule a time to talk over the phone or even meet in person if they’re within the vicinity. From here on out, you can begin to brainstorm ways to work together that goes beyond the blog and works to benefit both parties.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation and Deborah at @deborahsweeney.
Main Street ROI is a digital marketing agency based in New York City.
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