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Guest Posting Guidelines: 12 Responsibilities of a Blog Publisher

When guest posting guidelines are discussed, usually they’re aimed at the content submitter. Here we’re going to discuss guest posting guidelines as they relate to blog publishers. Why?

Because in wake of the popularity of content marketing, guest posting has become a mainstream marketing technique, and some rules need to be laid down on both side sof the table for it to be effective.

As the publisher of a blog that accepts guest posts, I thought I’d outline the responsibilities of the blog owner/publisher. Why? Well because, quite frankly, accepting content from others for your blog is not as easy as it may seem – that is if you want to maintain its integrity and focus.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

Guest Posting Guidelines for Blog Owners / Site Publishers

Hence, following are – in my opinion and experience – some responsibilities you take on when you decide to accept guest posts for your blog/website.

1. Make Sure All Guest Posts Support Your Blog’s Mission

Or said another way, that the info is on topic. This may be obvious, but I start with it because even though some posts I get REFERENCE writing, it doesn’t help the end user achieve the ultimate goal of this blog, which is to help them make money writing.

Guest Blog Post Example

One poster sent in a post about using controversy in your writing. It missed the mark just a bit and I asked the writer to revise it – and he did, beautifully so. Following is the email I sent, which explains why I asked him to revise the post.

As for your post — loved it! However, a little feedback . . .

Inkwell Editorial is a blog about freelance writing, so I need all posts to speak to freelance writers directly. For example, this post could have been couched in terms of “Should you write controversially for your clients,” or “Will writing controversially land you more clients, or not?”

The way your post is written now, it’s just about addressing controversial topics as a writer, not how “writing controversially” can possibly hurt/help a freelance writer’s career.

I realize it’s a fine line, but Inkwell Editorial is not a “writing” blog (eg, a blog that teaches people how to write). It’s a blog that teaches people how to start successful freelance writing careers. (emphasis added).

With this in mind, can you revamp this post and/or send in another one?

So be on the lookout for this; you owe it to your core audience. One question I always ask myself when I read a guest post submission is, “How does this help readers of this blog advance their dreams of making money writing?” If the post doesn’t speak to this mission, I don’t publish it.

2. Have a Clear Publish DateGuest Posting Guidelines for Blog Publishers

I’ve submitted guest posts to a couple of big name blogs – and failed to ever hear from them again.

One told me that the post would be published in four to six weeks. More than six MONTHS later, I was still waiting – in spite of the fact that I’ve followed up three times.

I eventually found another blog to submit the post to because it was over 1,000 words long and contained some really good info about how to market a freelance writing business.

And even though the blog publisher never got back to me, I still adhered to my professional principles and let them know that I was pulling the piece and it was going to be published elsewhere.

Yet another big-name blogger didn’t get back to me within 3 months (the time I think it’s reasonable to give a big-name blog time to publish), so I sent the piece to another uber-popular blog and it got published there — within a week no less.

Did You Ever Submit a Guest Post and Have This Happen?

Another time, I responded to a poster in an affiliate marketing Facebook group I belong to. Many bloggers in this group solicit guest posts, or ask for submissions on “roundup” post. I responded to one roundup post request, and submitted a guest post to another. Following is the note I posted in the group regarding these two submissions:

When you ask someone to contribute to a post for your blog and/or write a guest post for you, please do what you promised. Publish it, and/or let the person(s) know so they’re not wondering what’s going on with the content and/or can publish it on their blog or find another home for it.

I’ve had to contact 2 ppl this morning about content I submitted over a month ago in one case, and over 2 months ago in another case. I’m EXTREMELY busy — as most of us are who run online businesses. When I take time out of my day to contribute, it’s time that could have been spent on something else.

If I say I’ll contribute, I always do because as a freelance writer, I know the importance of editorial calendars and keeping deadlines. All I ask is that you do the same. It’s just the professional thing to do.

Both people got back to me. One, who kept moving the date for when he was gonna publish the round-up post I contributed to, said it would be published within a couple of weeks.

The other — a guest post I wrote for a blogger who had never even confirmed receipt of the post I sent, said she was gonna be publishing it — a full five months after I submitted it! Say what?! If I had known that, I might not have written it to begin with.

You see, when you write a guest post, usually, you’re looking for some immediate payoff, ie, site traffic. Now if a blog is a well-known one with tons of traffic, then I make time to submit no matter when they say they’re gonna publish. But otherwise, I think anything longer than 30 days is too long, UNLESS you let the guest poster know up front. That way, then they can decide if it’s worth their time at that moment.

Inkwell Editorial Guest Posting Guidelines

To me, it’s disrespectful not to let potential guest publishers know when and/or if you’ll publish their post. At Inkwell Editorial, our guidelines are:

If you HAVEN’T heard anything within 14 days of us receiving your post, it means we’ve decided NOT to publish it. Please do not email us constantly asking if we’re going to publish your post. Again, if you haven’t heard anything within 14 days, we have decided not to publish your post.

I used to tell submitters that I’d get back to them within a week or two. But I was spending a lot of time responding to what I call garbage submissions (those so off topic and badly written that they had no chance whatsoever of being published on this blog).

So I switched it to let future guest post submitters know that if they haven’t heard anything within 14 days, then we weren’t interested. This meant I didn’t have to do anything if I decided not to publish a post – and it’s quick enough that it allows bloggers to submit their work elsewhere.

3. Have Clear Guest Posting Guidelines

Again, this is obvious, but bears repeating.

11 Things Your Guest Posting Guidelines Should Include

Some biggies to address in my opinion include:

a) Whether or not to submit graphics;

b) Format you’d like for them submit (eg, HTML, MS Word, rich text, etc.);

c) How many self-promotional links you allow;

d) Their bio (including length) info and photo specs if you want them to submit one;

e) Their social media profile links;

f) What they can/can’t link to;

g) Whether they should reference a post on your blog;

h) Whether or not you reserve the right to make changes;

i) Republish rights;

j) How long/short the post should be; and

k) Whether or not you pay for guest posts.

Rack your brain; what could you add to this list of guest post guidelines?

4. Promote Guest Posts

Getting great content for your blog – especially if you don’t pay guest posters – is a huge score. So, part of your “payment” for this is to promote the content as vigorously as you do your own. This should be a cornerstone of any guest posting guidelines you post.

For example, when guest posters submit to Inkwell Editorial, we promote the posts on all of our social media accounts, as well as in a newsletter which is sent out twice a week. I also link back to them in future posts where possible.

5. Publish Comments Timely

If you have your blog set up where comments have to be approved before being published, in my opinion, you should make every effort to publish those comments as soon as possible (my goal is always within 24 hours) – but if it’s a regular work day, I do it as soon as possible, of course.

This starts a conversation among your readers – one that can cause a post to go viral as a lot of times, the comments can be a lot more insightful than the initial post.

6. Pretty It Up

I create graphics for the guest posts on my blog. The reason for this is two-fold:

(i) SEO (search engine juice): Search engines index graphics just like they do content and all other media (eg, video, slideshares, podcasts, etc.), so I describe them to maximize the chance that the post will be found if someone is searching for info on that particular topic via images; and

(ii) readers are drawn to graphics: Did you know that according to research, almost two-thirds (65%) of us are visual learners? It’s true. Hence, it’s more than worth your time to create graphics for your posts, or use other visual mediums, eg, video, slideshares, infographics, etc.

My skills in this area aren’t great (as this post about, ironically, how to become a sought-after guest poster, highlights). But, I do the best I can to make the graphic catchy and/or clear about what the content discusses.

Also, when it comes to graphics, if you’re not on Pinterest, you’re missing out on googobs of site traffic. Learn how to get more site traffic using Pinterest.

7. Add Substance Where Possible

I do a lot of reading, especially about online marketing, so where possible, I’ll add statistics or supportive evidence to help give the post some “informative heft.” It’s all in the name of helping the end reader (this blog’s niche/core audience) to better understand the topic and/or give them more in-depth insight so that they can achieve their end goal – ie, become successful at making money writing.

Again, never forget your blog’s mission — which is to help your core audienceNote: Learn how to start a niche blog that earns big bucks!

8. Study How to Write Effective Headlines

I’m a Type-A personality, so I can’t help but “touch” posts that come in. Most of them are so good that I just have to add an SEO touch or two here or there. One of the changes I make the most often though is changing the title/headline.

Writing great headlines is an area I struggle with and constantly study, so if I feel that a post could be titled better to draw in more readers, I’ll change it. Remember your goal is to get as many eyeballs on your guest poster’s content as possible. This helps you and them. Don’t forget to properly SEO your headline.

9. Send a Link to the Guest Poster

Even though many of the guest posters on Inkwell Editorial are subscribers to its newsletter, I send them a link when their post is live anyway. This way, even if they’re not a subscriber, they know that it’s live, can access it right away without having to hunt for it, and can start sharing it with their networks.

10. Add a Call-To-Action Statement

Many of the blog posts I receive, while great, don’t have a call to action statement. And that’s fine with me, because I usually like to add it myself — asking them to do something related to this site, as opposed to their site. If they add one, of course, I leave it, but if not, I add it myself with this site in mind.

Guest Posting Guidelines Call to Action StatementWhat Is a Call-to-Action?

As explained in this post, “a call to action (by definition) is an imperative sentence that instructs the reader to perform a task.

They’re absolutely crucial because once you’ve hooked your audience on your brand, they need to know what steps to take in order to obtain your product or service.”

I’m pretty bad about adding call-to-action statements, but it should definitely be part of the guest posting guidelines you follow as a blog publisher. Over the years, the more I’ve learned about affiliate marketing, the more I’ve come to realize just how critical it is.

After all, if you’ve provided all this great content, but haven’t told readers what you want them to do once they finish reading it, it’s a waste. A simple, but effective call-to-action statement? Asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter.

They’re much more likely too once they’ve read a helpful piece of content, and it builds your mailing list. Win win!

11. SEO the Content

This has been referred to a few times, but it bears repeating again because many of  the guest posters who submit to you won’t know a thing bout SEO. Hence, it’s up to you  as the publisher to make sure that the post is properly SEO’d.

And, if you don’t know anything about search engine optimization, you might as well be blogging just for fun. You’re highly unlikely to get any site traffic. Without traffic, there are no sales — and if you blog for profit, which I assume you do if you bother to accept guest posts, then you must must must know SEO in order to get content to rank well in Google. So get on it. You won’t regret it, I promise. And, ti’s not nearly as complicated as you think.

12. Say Thank You

While this may be obvious, this little phrase is becoming so obsolete in our society I think it needs to be stated.

When you run across a writer who adds value to your blog by taking time out of their schedule to customize a piece of writing just for your audience, saying thank you is the very least you can do.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve submitted content and even when it’s published, never hear from the blog owner again. I accept that this is the way the world operates these days, but it always kinda reminds me, “Hey Yuwanda, things are not like when you grew up.”

You see, I was born and raised southern (father from Alabama; mother from Florida, step-father from Georgia). Good manners like saying “please,” “thank you,” and “yes sir / yes ma’am” are part of who I am. And even though people might not think much of it when you DO say it; trust me, it kinda sticks out when you DON’T.

I’m sure there are many more guest posting guidelines blog publishers/owners should adhere to, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind.

Guest Posting Guidelines for Bloggers That Help Get Your Posts Published

Now head on over to a post which outlines some of the most important guest posting guidelines many bloggers run afoul of. Follow these rules to get your posts accepted and published.

Submit a Guest Post: Inkwell Editorial’s Guest Posting Guidelines

Check out our guest posting guidelines. Inkwell Editorial is one of the most recognized sites in the freelance, “make money writing” niches on the web. So if you have something to say to this audience, this site is a good place to submit a guest post.

Note: This post was originally published on December 18, 2013 and was entitled, Guest Posting: 10 Responsibilities of a Blog Publisher. It was updated and re-titled in July 2017.

What Say You about Accepting Guest Posts?

What guest posting guidelines for blog publishers would you add to this list? Do you have guest posting guidelines lised on your site? Please share the link and any comments in the section below.

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