If you want to increase the reach of your blog and the value it delivers to your readers, consider starting a guest blogger program. Before you start inviting people to contribute, though, read through these do’s and don’ts to ensure the program runs smoothly and actually meets your goals.
Do: Invite people you trust and respect
You need guest bloggers who can not only deliver engaging content, but who also deliver it on time, respond to you fairly quickly, and are generally easy to work with. There’s no need to work with someone who is high maintenance if it will only cause you aggravation.
Don’t: Reach out to strangers
I would think twice about reaching out to a stranger, even if they are an influential expert in your field – and not because they will probably say no, but because you have no idea what it is like to work with that person. Again, avoid headaches.
Do: Ask for writing samples
No matter how much you like and respect someone, ask for writing samples on the topics you’d like them to cover – or that they would like to cover – to ensure they can actually, um, write.
Don’t: Assume people will write in “your” style
Just because your style is informal and conversational doesn’t mean theirs will be. It might be more reserved and formal, or full of meandering stories that eventually make a point. That’s OK – see my next point.
Do: Put together a style guide
A blog style guide need not be long – one page should do. Include tone of voice (formal or informal, warm and friendly or more professorial), word usage (Is slang OK? Cultural references? Jargon?), general length, and style (Should blog posts be educational or actionable? Are opinion piece or personal or customer stories to illustrate a point OK?). Your goal is to ensure consistency.
Don’t: Rewrite what they submit
If, even after distributing the style guide, you receive a blog post that is a hot mess, don’t rewrite it. Make suggestions on how to improve it, and send it back. If version 2 is still way off-base, consider a brief conversation to help steer them in the right direction. If version 3 is still awful, well, you’ve done all you can. Thank them for their time.
Do: Structure your program
Set up a spreadsheet in the cloud (Google Drive or Dropbox), and give your guest bloggers access. Ask them to choose a date and fill in their topic and the general points they will make (give yourself a few days lead time for editing). Once they pick a date, send them a calendar reminder.
Don’t: Be inflexible
Life is full of surprises. Your guest bloggers might fail to deliver a blog post when they say they will due to many reasons, some of which will be legitimate, and some of which will not. Try to be flexible and understanding – and always have a backup blog post.
Do: Encourage them to share
If one of your goals is to increase your blog’s reach, encourage and remind your guest bloggers to share their blog posts with their network – on social media, in their newsletter, on their website, etc.
Don’t: Forget to highlight your guest bloggers
Include a short bio with links to their social media accounts, email, and/or website at the beginning or end of each of their blog posts. When you share their blog posts, tag them.
Do you have a guest blogger program? What has worked well for you? What mistakes have you made?
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