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Guest posts are one of the hottest strategies for increasing online visibility. Like most marketing strategies, there are different opinions on how to do it right. I am not a fan of the do it this way, not that way mantra. You need to find what works for you. However, there are two sides to the guest post story – the side of the guest blogger and the one of the host blogger. And, therein lies the problem. If the two don’t mesh, it’s not going to happen.

The Host Blogger

I appreciated Jennifer Mattern’s guidelines in Accepting May Guest Posts. It provides clear instructions and sets the expectation of what All Freelance Writing accepts in the way of guest posts. I liked them so much, I plan on using them to develop my own Guest Post Policy.

I’ve been remiss in posting guidelines. Let’s be real. It’s only been fairly recent that I had any need to post a Guest Post Policy. I figure you can’t complain about the garbage requests you receive if you don’t let readers know what you accept. That doesn’t mean you won’t still receive garbage requests, but at least you’ve tried to provide guidelines.

Here are guest post recommendations for a host blogger.

  1. Post your Guest Post Policy
  2. If there are sites you do not accept, list them
  3. Include your contact information
  4. Identify acceptable forms for submission (e.g., Word document)
  5. Include general instructions on content (e.g., fits one of your blog’s categories)
  6. Specify an acceptable post length (e.g., 300 to 500 words)
  7. Provide bio requirements regarding length/photo/links
  8. Detail your acceptance of links throughout the post (e.g., see Jenn’s #3)
  9. Advise of any expectations regarding the guest blogger responding to comments
  10. Indicate if you accept/expect photos/images

Tip: Request the link of the image and spell out it should be from a creative commons/public domain site. Many newbies do not understand image Copyright laws. Sure, it’s not your responsibility to educate them, but a brief reference in your guidelines may raise awareness and protect you in the process.

You do not have to justify your Guest Post Policy. It’s your blog – your baby. For me, I think about it as if it was my home. Would I feel comfortable letting the person into my home?

One last recommendation – send a response to guest bloggers who follow your guidelines – whether it’s yay or nay.

The Guest Blogger

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Shortly after reading Jenn’s post, I saw a guest post at Daily Blogging Tips, The Frustrations of a Guest Blogger. That got me thinking about the two sides of the guest post story. The guest blogger had some valid points regarding unclear guidelines and communication.

Simple, clear guidelines help eliminate frustrations on both ends. If you require a specific format for submission, say so. Do you want it emailed or submitted on your online form? Guest bloggers who ignore your guidelines are like guests who ignore the RSVP on your party invitation. They should not be surprised when they show up and find an annoyed host who guessed wrong on the number of servings.

The second point of the guest blogger about communication is a bit stickier. Spammers have made the online world more suspicious. In freelance writing years, I’m still a pup. (At my age, I love being able to say that). I did not start blogging until 2008, so I am not that far removed from newbie status.  I have empathy for the guest blogger who does not have a clear lay of the land. In the beginning, I answered every request for a guest post and even offered suggestions for improving their request. I’m either a frustrated teacher or a total putz – perhaps both.

My inbox creaks with the load of guest post requests. I admit that I have taken to ignoring the spammier-looking requests. Then my guilt sets in that maybe it’s a newbie. So, on behalf of newbies everywhere, here are some guest post recommendations for guest bloggers.

  1. Look for a Guest Post Policy – if there – read it
  2. Follow the guidelines
  3. Do your homework – review the categories, read the posts, understand the audience
  4. Suggest a topic(s) – provide a brief description
  5. Explain why you think it fits the blog
  6. Do not ask the host blogger for ideas (unless you know them well)
  7. Do not take rejection personally
  8. Thank the host blogger for ANY response
  9. Before submitting a request, become part of the community
  10. Leave thoughtful comments

For me, and many of my colleagues, those last two points are huge. Remember, our blog is our home. We want to know who you are before we open the door to a guest post. Have we ever made exceptions? Sure, but only if you follow our guidelines.

What are your recommendations for guest posts?

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Cathy has been writing professionally for over 30 years. She loves making the complex simple and offering business communication tips at her blog, Simply Stated Business. She also loves walking 60 miles in 3 days for the Walk for the Cure, which Cathy has done since 2003. Visit her Why 60 Miles site to read about this passion.

Cathy Miller has a business writing blog at Simply stated business, a health care blog at Simply stated health care and her personal blog, millercathy: A Baby Boomer's Second Life.

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