This guest post is by Joel Zaslofsky of Value of Simple.
Is there a sign on your blog silently screaming, “Please don’t help me grow?”
It’s a shame that most of us put that sign up without even noticing.
From the newest bloggers to the most well-established ones, that’s what happens when you don’t have clear and public guest post submission guidelines.
Even if you don’t want guest posts right now, this is still crucial.
And it’s vital for publishing that first guest post on your blog or breathing some fresh air into a stagnant posting pattern.
There are surprising benefits to creating or updating your guidelines, not to mention huge perks in making them public. Here, I’ll share these hidden benefits with you and explain how even little blogging fish can become bigger, stronger swimmers.
A sad and frustrating story
I don’t need to remind you of the value in guest posting for others. But how many times have you wanted to guest post somewhere and given up because you had no idea:
- what the submission process was (e.g. who to contact and how)
- what topics they’re interested in
- items to include in your pitch to increase your chance of a “yes”
- when to expect a response and what will be in it
- what the post specifications are
- how they will promote your guest post if it’s published
- whether they’re even taking guest posts right now?
It’s annoying when this happens, right? “Well, it’s their loss,” you think as you lament how much they’re missing out or resent the unnecessary barriers they put up.
Don’t make other people think this about you! Don’t scare away great guest posters and make people give up without you ever knowing.
When I first started guest posting, I was ripping out the little hair left on my very bald head. Why couldn’t someone take a few minutes to let me know how I should approach them, what to include in a submission, and if they even take guest posts?
You’ll never have to worry about this again by creating (or updating) your guest post submission guidelines.
Now, some people have accused me of going overboard in my own guest post submission guidelines.
Yeah, they’re long. But navigation is easy and I cover dang near any question someone could dream up. When I scare people off, it’s not because I didn’t set expectations or tell them how it could all go down.
Benefits of creating guidelines
As I fused my own guidelines from the best ones I could find—and with the help of the awesome resources for creating your own coming up at the end of this post—I became better at pitching guest posts.
How? Here are just a few ways:
- Steve Kamb’s guidelines at Nerd Fitness say I should have credible examples and sources to back up my writing? I better promise my guest post will be more than just my opinion.
- ProBlogger’s guidelines say it can take up to 10 days to review a submission? I better not annoy them with a quick follow up asking for a status.
- Tyler Tervooren’s guidelines at Advanced Riskology say he does field reports instead of guest posts? I better prove how I’m a pillar in his community and explain the story I plan to tell.
I also became a better writer by seeing what was important to some of the best writers around. If writing a post in a certain style, voice, or format was essential to the top dogs, maybe it should be essential to me too.
As you explore other people’s guidelines, you better understand how certain topics are huge and why they’re relevant to being a great blogger. Your knowledge about word counts, picture formats, writing a good by-line, and the appropriate use of links will skyrocket.
You also realize there are some mandatory parts of good guidelines—like how the submission process works and what topics you’ll consider—but much of this is personal preference. While there are many wrong ways to write your guidelines, there certainly isn’t “one true way” to do it.
So what about the benefits of publishing your guidelines?
Stellar perks of publishing guidelines
This is where the real magic begins. Polished guidelines have more perks than you can shake a stick at! I’m tempted to list them all, but here’s just a sampling.
1. Heighten legitimacy
If you went through all that trouble to write awesome guidelines, it must be because people are banging down your door to guest post. Right? *Wink wink, nudge nudge* And everyone wants to run with the cool and popular kids. Newer and smaller bloggers take note.
2. Reduce poor quality, poor-fit pitches
People know you mean business with your guidelines and therefore need to step their game up. You’ll still get an occasional poor pitch from someone who didn’t read the guidelines, but at least you’ve done your part.
3. Limit annoying back-and-forth
If a person gets the submission right the first time, you won’t have to exchange twenty emails setting expectations and getting what you need.
4. Avoid formatting hell
When you spell out how you want an accepted guest post formatted, you spend less time and generate less stress manually tweaking it.
5. Reject submissions using objective criteria
It’s much easier to say no to someone—and they’re less likely to be offended—when you rationally justify why their pitch isn’t a match for your blog. Just point them to the guidelines.
6. Get more breaks
Ultimately, getting more guest posts you want to publish means you can work on something else. Or perhaps do something we all need more of, like take a breather.
Amazing guideline resources
I promised some awesome guideline creation resources a moment ago and now I’m delivering. If you want to learn how to create the best dang guidelines in the business, you want to read all of these articles.
- How to Create Guest Post Guidelines for Your Blog by Men with Pens.
- The Two Sides of the Guest Post Story by Cathy Miller on All Freelance Writing.
- The Ultimate Guide to Accepting Guest Posts on Your Blog by Ann Smarty on Blogging Pro.
This isn’t where the story ends
After you publish your guidelines (which you’re going to do now, right?), don’t feel the need to justify them. Your blog is your platform. It’s your online home. And nobody comes into your house and tells you how to run it.
I’ll just add one more thing that Georgina pointed out to me in an email exchange.
Guest posts on your blog get shared, get noticed, and help you attract people to your community who might never have come otherwise. My first guest post hosted on the Value of Simple was humbly promoted by an author who just so happened to have a large community. And by following my guidelines, we knew his guest post was a perfect fit for my community and would have the greatest possible impact for both of us.
You could get amazing pitches for guest posts without guidelines, but the odds are stacked against you. Why cause needless pain and frustration when guaranteeing welcomed, qualified, and inspired submissions are just a guidelines page away?
Joel Zaslofsky is the architect of the free Personal User Guide and helps people like you Start Investing with $100. When he’s not enjoying nature or chasing his son around the house, he’s doing a Continuous Creation Challenge at Value of Simple to help you cultivate a simplified, organized, and money wise life.