A lot of work goes into the recruitment, framing, editing, and proofing of guest blogs, especially as you build readership.
Here are six components to keep in mind as you begin to feature guest articles on your site.
1. Hustling for posts.
If your blog is still pretty young, you’ll likely need to actively recruit people to write for you. If you reach out to people who are a good fit, this should come together without too much trouble. Most entrepreneurs are thrilled to have a new platform to spread their message, but, as you know, they often have crazy busy schedules, too. Take this into account by giving people a long lead time and clear deadlines.
2. Framing the article for your readers.
When someone new writes for your site, it’s your responsibility as a good host to introduce them to everyone who’s already at the party (i.e., your regular readership) and help them see what they have in common. Highlight the author’s expertise or credentials, and give your readers a taste of why they should spend their valuable time on an article from someone they may never have heard of.
3. Making sure posts are on topic.
Help make sure your featured writers know what topics are ideal for your site–and don’t be afraid to offer to help them brainstorm an idea that would be valuable to your readers.
For example, next week’s featured guest will be Abbie Mood, an incredibly savvy and talented businesswoman who has wisdom to share about balancing a startup with the rest of your life. Abbie’s business? Teaching people how to communicate with their dogs. I knew I wanted to introduce Abbie to all of you, but I also knew it wouldn’t work to have her share her tips for talking to Fido. After a little conversation we hit on a topic that would let Abbie shine and serve the needs of my audience. Win-win.
Many entrepreneurs will proof their work before sending it in, but as we all know, typos and other errors can be sneaky. Links are particularly susceptible to problems after the various rounds of copy and paste, so be sure to check each link after you’ve pasted the article into your blogging platform. Remember guest posts are a great way to benefit from each other’s audience (the author gets to share her wisdom with your readership, and she’ll likely promote the link to your site to her own audience), and typos and broken links don’t make either of you look your best.
5. Editing the bio and photo.
I always ask my featured authors to send along a short bio and a picture to include with their post. Part of my mission is to connect passionate entrepreneurs with each other and their ideal clients, so I encourage people to load their bios with links to their site, mentions of product or service launches, and social media contact information. (Though I have a firm pitch-free article policy.) Before I post the bio, I review it to make sure it’s accurate, presents the author in his full brilliance, and has all the appropriate contact information.
6. Establishing guidelines.
Taking some time early on to establish and post guidelines will save you lots of time and energy down the road. Most people are happy to have some instruction—how long should it be, what format works best, should links be included, and so on—before they delve into writing. If you’re not sure what to include, you can see a copy of my guidelines for The Irresistible Business here. Note that I also give a snapshot of my audience, which helps guests frame their articles.
Are guest posts part of your overall blog strategy? What returns have you seen? Or why have you been reluctant to jump in? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.