Getting Started With Guest Posters: What to Know Before You Begin

Written by Laura Roeder

On April 25, 2017

Keeping your blog consistently interesting and engaging for your readers over time can be challenging.

When you first start, creating valuable, traffic-driving content might feel easy – the ideas just keep on flowing!

But as time goes on and your audience expects something fantastic and new on a regular basis, the pressure makes writing feel like just another chore to check off your to-do list.

After a while, it can start to feel like you’ve already tackled everything you want to say. Twice.

Before your writer’s block makes you want to resort to publishing The 5 Cutest Things My Cat Did Yesterday, though, you might think about the value that other voices can bring to your blog.

This is where guest posters come in.

Opening up your blog to guest posters doesn’t just take some of the burden of posting off of you – it allows you to showcase a variety of perspectives, and benefit from expertise other than your own!

Guest posters: a reciprocal relationship

You can always hire writers for your blog – even freelancers who contribute a set amount of posts per month, or help you build up a batch of evergreen backups you can choose from when you aren’t feeling inspired to write.

But building reciprocal relationships with guest posters who are experts or thought leaders is another way to ensure you have great content – AND expand your reach.

Sometimes reciprocity means finding someone to trade blog posts with – someone whose blog would benefit from your unique expertise. Other times, it can mean thinking strategically about what you can offer a guest poster whose top priority is benefiting from the exposure your site has to offer!

What to look for in a guest poster

If you’re a solopreneur or small business, a smart choice for a guest poster is someone who is either in or related to your field, but not really a direct competitor.

If you’re in real estate, for example, and you post about buying and selling homes on your blog, an interior decorator would be a strong fit!

What’s in it for them?

  • Access to an audience that likely could use their services
  • Credibility through the association with your established real estate agency
  • Backlinks to their own website (which can be valuable for SEO)
  • Traffic to their content from your social channels and/or your newsletter

What’s in it for you?

  • Access to an audience who has used the designer in the past – and may consider you in the future when they sell their home
  • Quality content from someone whose area of expertise is different from your own
  • Ability to demonstrate that your interests and resources are varied
  • Building a relationship that can be mutually beneficial in the future

Of course, it’s also important when you’re considering these benefits that you don’t resort to any potentially questionable tactics.

While guest posters may be interested in non-monetary benefits like the ones described above, professional writers and career freelancers shouldn’t be expected to provide free content in exchange for promises of “exposure” or “experience.”

(There’s a big difference between offering opportunities to people actively interested in exposure and trying to convince professionals that their work isn’t worth being paid for!)

Make sure that when you’re looking for new voices to add to your blog, you’re looking for the right types of people – and respecting the expectations of professionals.

Setting standards

Your potential guest poster shouldn’t be using your blog solely as a free platform to advertise their services. Instead, they should be building trust with your audience by sharing valuable information – just like you do!

Do you have a blog style guide? Creating one can provide useful direction for anyone interested in writing for your blog – and save you from having to continually answer the same questions over and over.

Questions like:

  • How long should posts be?
  • Do you tell your story in words only, or can you publish posts that primarily feature infographics, slideshows, etc.?
  • Do you have any hard and fast rules about topics?
  • What about narrative voice? Can the guest poster write in their personal voice, or do you require a journalistic style where the author is credited but never refers to themselves?
  • Are there guidelines about acceptable sources to link to?
  • Can they publish their post elsewhere, or is it exclusive to you?

Your guidelines can also link to examples of stellar guest posts you’ve already published, if you’ve got ’em!

You should also include any guidelines or tips you may have for your guest posters about how to share their content. Maybe you mutually agree you’ll tweet out the post a certain number of times after it goes live, and that you’ll each send it to your list.

There’s a fine line between setting standards and making unreasonable demands.

Building a relationship with a guest poster takes trust and respect. You’re asking someone to share a part of themselves – not placing an order in a restaurant!

If you’re seeking experts and thought leaders to write for you, building a relationship that allows for your guest poster to be themselves, contribute unique content, and do it on a schedule comfortable for them is paramount.

(Super strict deadlines and style restraints might make them feel like you’re just trying to squeeze a free article out of ‘em.)

However, if find yourself getting approached with a high volume of requests, you can be a little more forthcoming and selective about your guidelines – because if people are contacting you in droves, they clearly already see a benefit.

Copyblogger, for example, has a landing page with guest post guidelines that you might use as a model.

Just always make your terms clear up front (especially if you aren’t offering pay), so that no one wastes their time simply hoping your expectations are the same.

Let your community know what you’re looking for

Why do you need guest posters to begin with? Well, to make sure your readers continue to love everything you publish!

Asking your readers what they think shows them that they’re valued, so listen to their feedback and tell them what you’re looking for in guest posters.

It may feel weird to have someone else write for your blog, but it’s something to celebrate – not hide!

You’re showing that you care not only about your own field of expertise, but about the experience and knowledge of others in related fields – and that when you don’t know something, you seek out the answer.

Have you built relationships with guest posters for your blog? How did these posts benefit your business?

Do have any guidelines or tips to share about getting great content from guest posters?

Let us know in the comments below!

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