The Art of Blogging: How Does Guest Blogging Work?
As I start my two months of celebrating blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress in honor of the second anniversary of WordPress.com and my blog, I shared with you last week some of the articles I’d found on how to guest blog and host guest bloggers.
I also came up with some questions I’m still struggling to answer on how the process of hosting guest bloggers and what guest bloggers need to know in order to blog for me.
Deciding on the Best Guest Blogger Strategy
When hosting guest bloggers, you have four options:
- Add them to your blog users and allow them to publish their posts and monitor comments.
- Add them to your blog, but do not allow them to do more than contribute content.
- Add them to your blog, but hold their blog posts until you review and publish them.
- Ask guest bloggers to email you posts which you publish yourself.
There are pros and cons to each method. The first three allow some element of control over how your guest bloggers interact with your blog and how much access you give them. The last one is the total control option, where you control everything that happens, and when it happens.
The problem with publishing emailed contributions is the byline. If your blog has a prominent byline, how are you going to overcome that to let your readers know that you didn’t publish this post? If it doesn’t, you still have to let readers know who the author is, so how are you going to do that?
There is no right or wrong answer. Which method you choose for hosting bloggers is up to you and the confidence and trust you have in your guest bloggers, as well as with yourself and your blog.
Controlling the Guest Blogging Agenda
Part of your guest blogging strategy is determining which bloggers to ask and what topics to cover. It works best when you match topics with bloggers, but how much control do you want over their content?
In my two month series of guest bloggers, I choose August as “blogging about blogging” and September for “WordPress Tips”, creating bodies of work by month. As I worked with individual guest bloggers, I’d make recommendations for what I’d like to see them do, based upon their expertise and unique perspective, but I left the door wide open.
You can guide your guest blogger or let them decide for themselves. It’s up to you to decide how much control you want over the guest blogging experience. Personally, I like a little guidance and direction.
Asking Bloggers to Guest Blog
The first thought to keep in your head when you start the invitation-to-blog process is “Ask without expectation.” This is important. Ask, but be prepared for any answer, or no answer. You may get a yes, you may get no. You may get “too busy” or “maybe later”, but don’t anticipate a response. Just let it happen and be patient.
I’ve had to turn away many guest blogging requests when my schedule just wouldn’t allow it. I’ve also kept putting off guest blogging offers that I agreed to because of time constraints and work issues. Some bloggers are incredibly patient, while others aren’t, so some I win and some I lose. I keep it from impacting my relationship with the blogger as much as possible.
It’s the same when you request bloggers to guest blog. Take their answer with a grain of salt if it is negative, but keep the doors open. You never know.
How Do You Ask?
It helps to know the blogger and their blog(s). Those with whom you’ve built a relationship will be more willing to respond to your request.
Avoid cold calling bloggers, especially the popular bloggers. Not just because they are busy and might have to turn you down, but also because they are often busy but feel obligated to say yes when they really don’t have the time. Some people just don’t know how to say no.
The problem with this is that you might get a bit of a half post because they didn’t have the time they could have given the full post. Start with lessor known bloggers to give them a boost, unless you are on intimate terms with top bloggers.
Cold calling bloggers means contacting bloggers you don’t know and have little or no relationship with. This is very hard and may get you more negative responses, but you never know. They might say yes, if you ask nice enough.
I’ve found that giving the guest blogger a theme, a point in the right direction, helps. As I’ve talked with each blogger, I’ve told them what I liked best about their blogging subjects and style and given them a few pointers on the types of subjects I’d love best from them which will work with my readers. They can take these or toss these, it doesn’t matter, but it gives the blogger some sense of direction for where they need to go.
The hardest guest blogging I’ve done is when they say, “Oh, write about any old thing.” That’s no help. Especially if I’m not very familiar with their post content. And it makes it harder for me to come up with an idea as I’m overwhelmed by a million thoughts and not the one to five cohesive ideas that might potentially work. So I personally like a little direction. Doesn’t mean I’ll follow it, but it does narrow the path I may take.
The Guest Blogger Hosting Logistics
The logistics for inviting people to blog on your blog consists of:
- Inviting bloggers to guest blog.
- Setting up a user profile and access to your blog and/or blog service.
- Determine dates and a schedule.
- Set the blogging topic limits and restrictions, if any.
- Develop a logistical guide to blogging on your blog, featuring information on how to use your blog, set the byline, profile information, use design elements like headings and blockquotes, and other blog posting instructions.
- Set the ground rules (responding to comments, handling comment spam, splogs, copyright protections and violations, etc.).
- Help them manage their guest blogging process and provide support.
The logistics for setting up a guest blogger on a WordPress and WordPress.com blog consists of:
- Creating a user profile for the user. WordPress.com users use their WordPress.com login access.
- Setting the permissions level (author or contributor are typical choices).
- Contacting the blogger with any information pertaining to the login process.
WordPress makes it easy, and WordPress.com makes it even easier. On WordPress.com, enter in their email address of the guest blogger in the lower portion of the Users > Authors & Users panel. If they are registered with WordPress.com, they will immediately appear in your list of users, with their user name and other information. If they are not, you will be asked to invite them to register with WordPress.com.
Tomorrow, I’ll tackle the guidelines for your guest bloggers, the information you need to provide to help them guest blog better on your blog.
The Art of Guest Blogging Series
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Lorelle, that is very useful information, especially topical as I was thinking about asking a few bloggers if they would want to be a guest blogger on my blog sometime in the near future.
Now I’ve read your article I won’t rush in unprepared and will have some ideas and guidelines in mind.
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