So you have a website, and you keep getting numerous guest blogging pitches whether you like it or not.
I’m sure some of those pitches are great.
But others are probably poke-my-eyes-out dreadful.
Well, that’s just life and the way that the online publishing space operates now.
But please don’t get me wrong, guest blogging is a great way to broaden your reach and introduce new people to your business. But at the same time, you will also often find yourself on the other side of the barricade – having to deal with other bloggers sending articles to you.
This is something I partly talked about in one of the previous posts here. It was an in-depth look at your options when it comes to managing the stuff people send to you.
So today, let’s take one step back and focus on how to actually instruct those people to send you only quality pitches in the first place.
Why you need a guest blogging guidelines page
A good guidelines page serves two purposes:
- If you do accept guest posts, it lets your audience know what you expect from guest authors, how to write a great article and how to pitch it to you.
- If you don’t accept guest posts, the guidelines page is the best place to make this fact public.
That second reason is exactly why you still need a guidelines page, even if you don’t accept guest posts.
Every serious guest blogger will always start their research by looking for your guidelines page. So once they find it and see that there’s an embargo on guest posts, they will just leave you alone. The page will, therefore, save both your and their time.
Now, let’s go through the main elements of a good guidelines page:
Pick the right title for your guidelines page
This might seem basic, but the title of the page really does matter. You need to make sure that everyone who’s interested in finding this page can identify it right away (especially if they’re doing their research via Google).
I’ve seen loads of different titles over the years, but by far the best one possible is:
“Write for Us”
It conveys the purpose of the page right away and it also occupies a lot less space in the menu than, say, “Guest Blogging Guidelines.”
Use a minimal intro
The introductory paragraphs of your page should be rather short. You don’t actually need to pitch people on why they should post for you, or what great audience your site has (they already know this since they’re interested in guest posting).
So saying stuff like “YourSite.com is visited by X people every month and we have more than X followers […]” isn’t really necessary.
I mean, if you want to brag a little, go ahead, but just be aware that most people will just scroll through it without really getting into the details.
For example, there’s a great intro at WTD. It only says:
Note. If you’re putting an embargo on guest posts then the whole content of your guidelines page will be just the paragraph letting people know about this.
Here’s how ProBlogger does this:
Mention what the waiting time is
As far as I can recall, the longest I had to wait to have a guest post published after being approved is around six months.
On that particular occasion, I was okay with it, but it’s not always the case. Depending on the benefit that someone is expecting to get out of guest posting on your site, the length of your publishing queue might be an important factor.
Letting everybody know that they will have to wait X number of days on average before their post goes live is a fair thing to do.
Probably it will also decrease the number of guest posts you’ll be getting.
Request a safeword
This is a tricky thing to do, but it will make the process of going through pitches much quicker for you.
It’s simple, somewhere in your guidelines – right in the middle is the best bet – place a sentence like this:
“Oh, and by the way, make sure to use the word ‘porker’ somewhere in your pitch. That way I know you’ve read the guidelines.”
After doing so, whenever you receive a pitch, do a search for the word, and if it’s not there, you can delete the pitch without even reading it, guilt free.
(Use a word that’s not common in the English language.)
Set the general guidelines
Every guidelines page should let people know about the general rules that they need to keep in mind before sending you anything.
First of all, state the obvious, which is that you only accept original content that hasn’t been published elsewhere.
Next, consider writing about the following:
- Types of content you accept. For example: list posts, tutorials, case studies, infographics, whatever tickles your fancy.
- The expected length. I’d advise not to set the limit below 1,000 words. Many SEO-writers tend to go after sites that accept short articles, and they won’t go the extra mile to write something truly in-depth, so ruling them out is a good idea.
- Whether or not you require images to go along with the post.
- Internal links. Request that every guest post features at least X links pointing to other posts on your site.
- Requirements for the bio box. Telling people to keep the bio short is a good idea. Also, do they need to include social media links?
- Your linking policy. Explain whether or not you allow people to have do-follow links in their bio. Also, let them know if in-content links are okay.
Link to example posts
It’s always a good idea to link to 4-5 example posts that are a good benchmark of the post quality and style that you expect to be pitched to you.
If you don’t have any good guest post examples on your site yet, then link to some posts of your own.
Tell them how to submit a post
Some people like to get pitched on a post idea first, and only then receive the complete draft afterwards.
Others like to get everything (plus some images) right up front, so they can make a decision whether to publish the post right then and there.
Whatever your personal preference is, share it with the world.
This will save you a lot of work later on because it will decrease the number of submissions that don’t follow your preferred publishing process.
Here’s an example:
How to get your work published at YourSite.com:
- Start by coming up with 3 headline ideas that you think could work well on the site.
- Send them over via the form below, along with some links to your previous work.
- I will take a look at them, reach back to you and let you know what’s next.
Note. For more ideas on how to handle the actual submissions and work with your guest contributors later down the line, make sure to check this out: how to manage guest posts other bloggers send to you.
Putting it all together
Although we went through a lot of stuff here, your actual guidelines page should be relatively short.
The main thing to remember when creating it is to keep things to the point. Otherwise, no one will go through the page from top to bottom, and this basically defeats the purpose of having a guest blogging guidelines page altogether.
Finally, if you want to get more info just like this, plus advice on how to do guest posting yourself for maximum publicity and traffic, make sure to join our newsletter.