Guest posting can be an incredibly valuable marketing tactic. For most, guest posting is all about publishing your content on other websites. However, there is also a big opportunity when you allow others to guest post on your website.
Accepting guest posts is a great way to grow your blog without having to do a ton of work. Guest posters will share their content when it’s published and will subsequently promote your blog. Free marketing! That free marketing can lead to more social media shares and, hopefully, links to your site.
But accepting guest posts isn’t easy in the beginning. You need to prepare.
Here are six things you must do before you ever accept guest posts.
Publishing guest posts on your blog is almost guaranteed to bring in new visitors to your website. So what are your goals for these extra visitors?
Whatever your endgame might be, it’s important to put some thought into it before you allow people to start guest posting. You can then prepare your website to best utilize the extra traffic to meet your specific goals. A big mistake companies make is running toward this strategy hoping to reap all the benefits, and oftentimes their website is unprepared and they end up actually missing opportunities.
If you want people to sign up for your email list, include a contact form and maybe even a sign-up incentive on the first page of your site so no one will miss it. If you want to increase conversions, consider running a sale or promotion around the same time you publish your first guest post. Set a goal (or a few), prepare your site, then let your guests do the marketing for you.
Once you open your blog to guest posts you’re bound to get a lot of inquiries about your expectations for posts. You can save yourself some time and easily address these questions by posting a guidelines page (check out SEJ’s rules for guest contributors page as one example). This will also let visitors know that you’re open to guest posts and hopefully encourage them to contact you.
Consider including information about how long you want posts to be, some possible topics you’re interested in, your preferred style of writing, and any incentives you might be willing to offer.
For instance, SEJ’s Writer’s Program page lists a few nice perks to attract writers:
You can also optimize your guidelines page by including keywords like “guest post guidelines” or “write for us.”
Again, no one is going to write for you for free, so make sure you can explain why it’s worth it for them to choose you. You should have statistics readily available like how many monthly visits your site attracts, audience demographics, or how many people are signed up for your newsletter or email list.
They might want to know how many Twitter followers you have, or what your following looks like on LinkedIn or Facebook. While they have access to some of this information without your help, it will look good if you can immediately answer their questions with some hard stats.
If not all of your numbers are great (because whose are?), try to just focus on the best statistics — something that’s easier to do if you have control of the conversation.
Another thing that guest posters might be wondering about is how you plan on advertising their post after they’re done writing it. It’s just as important for your success to have a plan in mind as it is for theirs.
If social media is a big part of your marketing plan, then emphasize that. Share how often you usually tweet new posts, or how many shares you get when you post content on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you generally share your posts through a newsletter or email list then explain that to your guests.
You should promote guest posts exactly the same way you promote your own content; this is definitely not a time to slack off in that area. Remember, the more you promote the post, the more others will be motivated to do the same, and this will result in increased traffic for your website.
In addition, have an idea of where you’ll put their author bio. Guest posters should submit a nice photo and specific (but not too detailed) author bio, and they’ll want this information displayed prominently somewhere on your website. Knowing where you’ll put it ahead of time will send the message that you value their work and are proud to promote it.
This has more to do with you than with your guests, but it’s important nonetheless. Think about what message you want to send to all these new visitors.
What’s the first thing visitors going to see when they arrive on your page? Is it representative of your brand and your company? If not, it’s time for a revision.
Think specifically in terms of content — if a visitor reads one post and ends up on your site, they might be motivated to read more. You want to make sure the articles they see first are some of your best work, and it doesn’t hurt to feature a few with engaging headlines (as long as the content inside the article is valuable, which it always should be).
There’s nothing wrong with using the increased traffic generated from guest posting to give your social media presence a little “pick-me-up.” In fact, it’s encouraged!
You can do this by making sure your Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media sites you use have buttons visible on your website so people can easily access these websites.
Consider including your Twitter handle or LinkedIn web address in your contact form, which should also be displayed somewhere prominently on your site.
There are many benefits to allowing guest posts on your website:
Just make sure you’re prepared to accept guest posts. Remember, there are plenty of other great blogs looking to attract guest writers. Following these six tips will help make sure your blog looks professional and stands out as one of the best in your industry.
All screenshots taken by author March, 2017