Guest posts on other blogs in your chosen niche are often recommended as an effective method to boost your blog’s web traffic, Google SEO, and visibility. But what happens when other people ask to write posts for your blog?
As your blog grows in popularity, you are likely to receive such requests from bloggers in your field. Alternatively, you may choose to circulate a request for guest posts. Some of the respondents may be known to you already; others may be unknown quantities. Unless you are happy to feature any old tosh on your blog – and I presume that you are not! – consider implementing a short but sweet quality control process.
Here are my four cardinal rules for accepting guest posts:
1. Check the article writer’s credentials. If you haven’t heard of the writer, then Google is your friend! A search takes seconds, and could save you a lot of trouble further down the line. Every niche has its chancers and phoneys; keep egg off your face – and your blog – by giving these people a wide berth.
Here is a perfect example, straight from my own inbox. Earlier today I received the following email (identifying information removed), from somebody who wanted to write a guest post for Corporate Blogger:
My name is [redacted], e-commerce manager of [interiors company].
I was wondering if you’d consider allowing me to write a guest post for
your blog on behalf of [my boss] the co-founder of [interiors company]. In case you want a break from blogging 😉
I came across your blog post the other day titled Five ways in which a
blog will benefit your business and thought that together with [my boss] we could do a follow up post titled ‘five ways to increase your blog’s
Perhaps if you like the direction I could send you the post to review when
we are done for your consideration. The post will be informative, not a
selling tool for our brand.
I hope to hear from you. Thanks for reading my email.
So what does this request amount to? Well first up, it sounds as if someone wants to ghost a post on behalf of their boss. That isn’t unusual – indeed, it is common practice amongst companies of a certain size and above – but if you are going to accept third party posts on your blog, it is worth considering beforehand if you are happy to feature ghosted content. Some bloggers are; others abhor the idea. It’s your call.
I hadn’t heard of the boss and I wanted to check out the company’s blog, so before responding I searched for both. Guess what: there was no blog! When I queried this with my correspondent, I discovered that “[the boss] doesn’t have a blog yet”.
Unsurprisingly, I politely declined this offer of a guest post. This person simply wasn’t qualified to write about techniques to increase a blog’s visibility; by accepting the offer and publishing this effort – and goodness only knows what I would have ended up with – my blog’s credibility could have been compromised. Thanks but no thanks!
2. Set the bar. This brings me neatly to the second rule. If the prospective guest poster checks out and you accept their offer, make it clear from the outset that only posts which meet your editorial standards will be published. When I started blogging I didn’t do this; when I received guest posts that weren’t up to par, with the writers anticipating imminent publication, I therefore felt uncomfortable about letting them know that their attempts had been spiked or required additional work. I soon learned though!
Even if you have lined up a guest poster who writes beautifully and has an excellent reputation (the best kind of guest poster, in other words), be sure to emphasise that publication is not guaranteed. That way, if you need to request changes or a rewrite, you can do so briskly and guiltlessly.
3. Edit. Remember: the editorial control is yours. It’s your blog! Don’t be shy about correcting spelling mistakes, grammatical bloopers or typographical errors within any guest post that you receive. Major edits should be cleared with the author beforehand, as a matter of courtesy, but minor edits are unlikely to cause offence.
4. Ask for a link. Seasoned bloggers and guest posters will likely link back to their guest post on your blog, again as a matter of courtesy. With newer bloggers, it’s best to ask. What do you have to lose?
All this hand-wringing and concern about causing offence: you can probably tell I’m a Brit! But in matters such as these – particularly if you are fairly new to blogging – decisions should be taken with care, and I hope that these Four Cardinal Rules are useful. After all, the quality of a guest post is a reflection upon the overall quality of your blog. Why settle for second best?