Please note: I’m not accepting guest posts right now on my blog.
If you have been blogging for any amount of time, you have probably already realized that blogging requires a lot of effort on your side. You have to be able to create blog post after blog post on a continuous basis. In addition, you need to have plenty of topic ideas on your topic list, so that you don’t run into the dreaded writer’s block.
Especially if you are publishing on your blog many times per week, the demands grow even bigger. The audience expects you to provide new content, and you have to give it to them. And even if you can create the content, there may be moments when you feel that all this content creation is just too much.
What’s wrong with accepting guest posts?
Then at some point, you decide to accept guest posts on your blog, since the workload is getting too heavy. You want to free up your time, so that you can work on other projects related to your blog. Also, this way you can have more people visit your blog and promote the content for you.
After opening the gates for guest posting, the results are more or less a disappointment. Sure, you get a lot of propositions for posts, but most of them are just rubbish. Unfortunately, sorting out the good posts from the bad takes up a lot of your time.
The situation has turned into a burden instead of a relief. Allowing guest posts has generated more work and additional stress, and that’s not what you want.
Where are the instructions?
Letting others write for you is a fine way to get solid content on your blog. Unfortunately, without proper guidelines you can make guest posting a source of stress if you are not careful.
What I’m talking about are the instructions for the potential guest posters. If they don’t exist or they are on a very vague level, the result is not going to be pretty. You’ll soon realize that there are going to be a lot of people trying to get their posts published on your blog – and the post quality is far from your standards.
A missing guest post policy is one thing, but another issue you have to deal with are the e-mail conversations that you’ll have with potential guest posters.
Especially in the case of declining or giving negative feedback for the guest poster, you should be ready to handle those kinds of situations as well. Otherwise you start procrastinating on sending the declining e-mails and things won’t move forward.
With those two missing components on your side, you make guest posting harder than what it is.
Spend time to gain more time
If things are getting more and more stressful, it’s probably because you never took the time to create clear policies in the first place. If you always felt busy doing something else and perhaps overlooked this simple task, this is the result.
It’s also not enough just to write the guest posting policy – you’ll also have to keep it up-to-date. Your standards may change along with the type of content you want. That’s why you have to reflect these changes on the policy as well.
Finally, if you haven’t defined the exact topic areas to write about, this can be another source of confusion.
For instance, if your blog is about marathon running for beginners, should you allow a guest post about how to train for 100 meter dashes – no matter how well it’s written? Probably not. Even if the proposed guest post talks about running, it still doesn’t align to your blog’s topic, which is different.
Time blocking to the rescue
It’s time to use a traditional time management method to tackle all these issues: time blocking. It means that you use a dedicated time block to do some work and in this case to create the guest post policy page. And while you have created the policy page, you also figure out the rest of the procedures that are related to guest posting on your blog.
The key is to just get started and get the initial version of the page done. There is always time to fix and improve the guidelines as time goes on. It’s the same with defining the processes (how to reject a post, how to accept a post).
Once you have these tasks ready (and they should be after your time block), you are much better prepared for guest posts – whether they are good or bad.
How to handle the guest posts proposals – the good and the bad
1. Use time blocking. Decide to work for one hour on this task – in a place without any distraction. If you finish your work before the one hour mark, that’s totally fine. In general, one hour should be enough for the initial version of the policy page and the associated processes (see step #3).
2. Create the explicit guidelines. OK, so you pretty much got this point already: create clear instructions on what kinds of posts you want. If you don’t know where to start, you can take a look at my guest posting policy.
3. Send a reply back with three different variations. I use three types of reply e-mails when people submit guest posts for my blog:
a) I accept the post and I tell the person when the post goes live.
b) I reply with a link to a policy page. This happens when someone submits a post or pitches me an idea which I like, but the person clearly hasn’t read the guidelines
c) Reject it. When the post has nothing to do with the topic I blog about or I spot that the guest poster is an SEO company working for someone else, I reject the post.
The sooner I say it the better, and this prevents any procrastination on my part.
4. Link to your policy page on your contact page. This is a single reminder for anyone who wants to post on my site. I have a link on my contact page to my guest post policy page. That way whoever is submitting the posts for my approval has to read the policies first.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that the person reads the policy page, but at least he/she has been informed that a policy exists.
5. Do your part of the promotion. If I accept the post, I also promote it – both on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, BizSugar) and to my e-mail list.
I also let the person know that the post is live (with a link to a post) and I remind him/her to read and reply to all the comments.
Guest posting is a fine way to get good content on your blog. However, you have to make sure that you define clear rules to play by. This way you are getting the content you want with the least amount of hassle.
I encourage you to take a look at my guest post policy (Update: Not accepting guest posts right now) page and submit a guest post for my review! I’m always happy to publish solid content since we all benefit from it: you, me and my audience :)
Over to you: If you accepting guest posts on your blog, how do you make sure you get the ones you want?