Does your blog have guests with benefits?

If it does, follow these 13 guest blogging policies so you don’t run into any complications.

Just as beach and weekend homeowners get guest requests, so do popular blogs. The reason is simple: location, location, location. Whether it’s a vacation home or a popular blog, it’s where everyone wants to be and be seen.

Why invite guest bloggers? 5 benefits

From a blog owner’s perspective, here are five benefits guest bloggers bring to your blog. (Here’s an outline of the benefits for guest bloggers.) Guest bloggers:

Reduce your content creation. This is especially useful during busy periods or vacation(s).

Offer a different perspective on topics important to your audience. This is useful for dialog on your blog.

Present information that’s not part of your expertise. Using guest experts shows that you’re in the know, which reflects well on you.

Attract new readers to your blog. Guest bloggers may bring their followers and/or new readers interested in the additional content.

Promote your blog to their readers. Ask guests to let their friends and followers know about their post on your site.

13 guest guidelines

While it’s great to have people visit, you don’t want to feel like your vacation home is a hotel where you’re the maid. The same applies to guest writers on your blog. To this end, create a set of guidelines to post on your blog to set parameters for guest authors based on your blog topic, brand and goals.

1. Topic. Who chooses the post topic, the writer or the blog owner? If the writer decides, do you as the blog owner need to approve the topic? Do you need to see the entire post before you accept it? Do you require additional proof of writing ability such as other guest posts, columns and/or a blog?

2. Post length. How long do you want guest posts to be? Length should be similar to the rest of your posts. You don’t want a 400-word post if your average post is 700 words.

3. Timing. How far in advance of the publication date should the writer sbumit the post? Don’t overlook the time needed to edit and add technical elements.

4. Content. Do you require guests to write original content? Can they repurpose or reprint material? Do you have other content requirements? Do you have any requirements regarding the language they use, such as four-letter words? Do you expect writers to actively respond to comments?

5. Keywords. Do you ask guest writers to include specific keywords or write about certain topics on your website? Do you provide these?

6. Links. Do you allow writers to have links to their blog or website in the body of their content? If so, do you have any limitations on the use of links such as the number of links and where they can link to? For example, no links to a competitor or product.

7. Presentation. Do you want the writer to include graphics, photographs, presentations and/or videos? If so, who’s responsible for checking the IP rights? Do you have any specific guidelines regarding size, etc.?

8. Author bio. How do you want to represent guest writers on your blog? Remember the focus is the guest’s content, not their bio. How many words can the bio include? How many links do you allow in the bio and to where (the writer’s blog or website, social media profiles, email)? Does the writer need a photo or avatar?

9. Copyediting. Will you edit the post after the writer submits it? Do guest authors have input after they submit the article? Remember, language can be a big issue for both the blog owner and the writer. From a blog owner’s perspective, a guest post is a big endorsement. Therefore, the post should be edited in line with the blog’s editorial policy. If there are significant issues, discuss them with the author to maintain good relations.

10. Compensation. While most guest posts are done for the exposure, there are cases where there’s compensation. Clearly define who gets compensated, when and how much. Do you expect to be able to have reciprocal columns on their site? Make sure this is well understood before you accept a guest post.

11. Promotion. It’s accepted practice that a guest post shouldn’t include any promotion. Further, assume that if you refer to a book or other product with related affiliate revenues, those revenues accrue to the blog owner. For articles related to specific businesses, what qualifies as promotion may be more subjective. Define what’s acceptable on your blog as much as possible.

12. Social sharing. Do you request that guest authors promote their posts using social media, their blog or newsletter, or other platforms?

13. IP rights. Who owns the guest authored content? Do you require writers to sign a release? How long until they can republish the article elsewhere?

Remember that the goal of guest post guidelines is to provide a framework for a working relationship where both the blog owner and the guest writer benefit. To build a good relationship, discuss any points that might be an issue for either of you.

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

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