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Guest blogging is a strategy used during the last couple of years to expand your reach across your market or even into a brand new market by contributing an article (or a series or become a regular contributor) to another – often bigger name blogger – in your niche.

Why is this guest blogging strategy popular? Simply because it’s a win-win situation for both the writer and the blog owner. You – the guest blogger – get your name and your website link in front of new eyes and if your copy is compelling, these new readers will click your link and visit your site. The blog owner also benefits by having original content added to his/her blog without doing much work.

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach guest blogging and having guidelines in place before accepting guest blog posts is definitely beneficial. Here’s my very own case study…

Avoid Open Submissions for Guest Blog Posts

I’m the Content Manager for one of my clients and in an effort to increase the amount of posts being published to his site (which of course, increases traffic and community engagement) we started accepting open submissions for guest bloggers. Since he already has a high traffic volume, it didn’t take much publicizing before we received emails inquiring about the guest blogging opportunity.

This was like music to my ears because I figured it would lessen my workload a bit since I’d be organizing these guest blogging articles instead of doing the actual writing. Instead, I was faced with dozens upon dozens of articles that were mediocre, at best. So now my job was actually made busier because I now had to edit these articles or ask the writers for a rewrite.

What’s that old saying? “If you need something done right, do it yourself.”

Some of the articles were decent so those were published but then we realized that the writers all but disappeared. They wouldn’t return emails and wouldn’t answer questions posted in the comments section. They weren’t really interested in contributing regular content for our readers; they just wanted a backlink from a high-ranking website.

What to Look for in a Guest Blogger

Before accepting guest blogging submissions, my client and I developed some ground rules and we stuck by them very strictly. However, even with the best foundation, we still had our share of mistakes with a few articles that probably shouldn’t have been published. Feel free to follow these guidelines and add your own to help ease the process.

Guest Blogging Guidelines for Fresh and Unique Content

  • Check the Author’s Track Record – freelance writers are wonderful and certainly come in handy but if you want real expertise and real life examples to include in each post, you’ll be better off personally inviting some real industry experts to join as contributors.
  • Watch the Number of Outgoing Links – the quid pro quo for guest blogging is that the author gets an outgoing link in his/her bio, leading to their site, newsletter or product. In general, articles with multiple links can look spammy however including resource links throughout the article can improve the value of the content. Beware of an author that only has links headed to their website.
  • Be Picky About Content Quality – remember, ultimately this is YOUR website so you are responsible for what gets published. If the guest blog post doesn’t have enough details, grammatical errors, too much filler or simply doesn’t make sense, send it back to the writer and decide if you want to review the rewritten version. The choice is yours whether you want to edit it on your own but that’s extra work on your part and then should the author really get credit?
  • Set Up User Accounts Carefully – if you have a WordPress website, then it’s very easy to set up each guest blogger as a new user, which then allows their name to appear under each title. However, only set them up as a ‘contributor’ so every post gets approval before publishing. Again, this is YOUR site so don’t give free publishing reign to your guest writers.
  • Only Accept Original, Unpublished Articles – Your readers will find more value in your site if you publish original articles. Always copy a few sentences of each article and put those sentences – with beginning and ending quotation marks – in the Google search box and you’ll find out in seconds if an article has been published before. Not only will you have trouble ranking for a keyword if the article is already published but if your readers do a search, they may land on a competitor’s page instead of yours.
  • Encourage Authors to Interact with Your Readers – this doesn’t require any time commitment. The author will be notified by email when someone leaves a comment or question so all they have to do is answer the question or thank the reader for their comments. This can easily start a conversation or debate and the author can also expand their reach by interacting with the readers. It’s the polite thing to do.

No matter how careful you are, you will certainly find some challenges when it comes to guest blogging and accepting articles from new writers. Just stick to your high quality standards and don’t be afraid to let your writers know if there’s a problem. Remember, this is supposed to be a win-win situation for you as well as the writer.

Do you have any guest blogging stories to tell? Tips to make the experience better? Let us know in the comment section below!