Once you decide to extend your platform to other bloggers, it’s a good idea to put a system in place so you can avoid low-quality contributions. If this is your first time working with guest posters, it may be a bit tricky to figure out how to create guidelines that attract amazing contributions.
To create these talent-attracting guidelines, you’ll need to first establish your blog’s standards and goals. From there, it’s a matter of formatting those standards clearly for your potential guest bloggers to read and follow. I’ve perfected this practice on blogs of my own, so my methods are based on practical experience! Once you’ve set up your process, accepting or rejecting new post ideas can be pretty smooth sailing.
In this article, I’ll show you step-by-step how to set up guidelines, start attracting submissions, and then handle pitches when they come in. Let’s jump in so you can open up your platform to other writers!
1. Establish Clear Submission Guidelines
So, you want to accept new guest bloggers on your site? Having guest post guidelines in place is the first step to creating a successful guest posting program. Without clear submission guidelines, you’ll get plenty of low quality requests and few (if any!) strong ones.
This is because even a great writer can’t read your mind! Established guidelines helps potential contributors put together post ideas you’re proud to share with your audience. Meanwhile, having strict rules in place helps to sort out bad pitches. It becomes easier to say, “Sorry, but your post pitch doesn’t meet my standards.”
There are several must-haves to include in your guidelines. I recommend setting up each point with their own headline and a short paragraph to elaborate on each, but you can also make a simple bullet point list to answer each question.
- Who are you looking for? “I’m looking for experienced full-time freelance bloggers.”
- Who aren’t you looking for? “I’m not looking for business executives who treat blogging as a hobby.”
- What kind of content do you want to see? “I’m looking for in-depth, actionable content about how to write stellar blog posts.”
- What other expectations do you have? This could include having left comments on the blog, being a long time reader, or anything you please.
- What are pitch requirements? You can specify a three sentence paragraph (recommended), outline, or even a full draft ready to go.
- Optional: Include a post style guide. In this section you can list details about your typical post expectations, including length of article and writing style.
When I first started accepting guest posts on Without Boxes, it was a disaster. Almost every submission was awful, most writers just wanted to promote their own businesses. Putting guidelines together fixed this for us! While there are still many who send in generic pitch ideas, it’s much easier to see who took the time to deliver what we’re asking for.
2. Invite Contributors by Sharing Your Guidelines
Your guidelines are set up and ready to go! Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step towards running a guest posting blog. However, you’ll only hear crickets if you don’t make your guidelines public.
Now it’s time to publish these guidelines as a page on your blog! Depending on how public you want to go, this page could be included as a link in your header, footer, sidebar, or even somewhere on the homepage. You can go the extra mile and set up a custom contact form with your guidelines to help people send you well-formatted post pitches.
Your custom contact form could include:
- The title of their post idea
- The overall takeaways for readers
- A three sentence paragraph summarizing the idea
With a form like this, it will be difficult for submitters to mess up a submission.
Once your guidelines are up and running, it’s time to spread the news. You can post it to social media, dedicate a blog post to announce submissions being open, and send it to specific bloggers you’d like to feature. Send an email blast announcing to your subscribers that your blog is open for new writers.
When I first published our guest post submissions page, nothing much happened other than an increase in spam emails. However, by sharing our post guidelines with people we’d like to see contribute, we’ve significantly improved our guest post features.
3. Use Templates for Accepting (Or Rejecting!) Post Ideas
By now, your guidelines are up and you’ve been spreading the word about your new guest posting program. Hopefully at this point, you’re receiving a lot of submissions! Unfortunately, a lot of them are simply going to suck. Trust me.
It can be exhausting to deal with all these submissions without having a procedure in place for handling them. Standard rejection and acceptance templates takes a weight off your shoulders by removing the need to pick apart every submission piece by piece, significantly speeding up the process.
Here is a simplified example of my acceptance template, where I outline why I liked their post and what to do next:
Thanks for your pitch. Currently, your post idea [GOOD POST IDEA HERE] sticks out as something we might be interested in. We particularly liked [LIST SPECIAL ELEMENTS HERE].
This brings us to the next step, the outline! Can you complete an outline of this post idea by [PROPOSED DEADLINE]?
However, you’ll probably also need to send out quite a few rejections. Here is an example of my rejection letter:
Thanks for getting in touch with us! Unfortunately, we cannot accept your proposal as-is. That being said, we believe in second chances so you are welcome to take another look at our requirements and re-submit your ideas.
You can revisit our submission rules at [LINK HERE]
Of course, be sure to replace the content in brackets with the relevant information for your blog. You can customize these templates to your needs, using them whenever a new post idea comes in. If you want to get fancy, try using Gmail’s Canned Responses feature to speed up the process. These templates have saved my team and I a lot of heartache, and taught me a lot about working with other writers.
Does this process sound fun to you, but you don’t actually run a blog yet? It’s never too late to get started! If you need a little help, we’re always here to help you set up your new blog with the Leaving Work Behind Blogging Mentorship Program.
Expanding your platform and inviting guest bloggers is an exciting step, but can be overwhelming without having a process for handling new submissions. It only takes a few steps to create guidelines to help weed out low-quality submissions and encourage great ones.
To recap, you can follow these three steps to successfully invite guest bloggers on your platform:
- Establish clear submission guidelines.
- Make your guidelines public and readily available.
- Use templates to enforce your guidelines for incoming submissions.
What questions do you have about inviting new guest bloggers to post content on your site? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!
Image Credit: Raw Pixel.