Let me guess: you don’t have all day to write posts for your blog.
Yeah, me neither.
As a mother of three little ones that keep me on my toes, I simply don’t have time to write blog posts all day.
Your situation may be different: maybe you’re working a day job, doing client work, or you’re too busy with high-level tasks to create your own content. In any case, we’re in the same boat.
To be honest, I used to write 10K words per week– mostly at night, after the kids had gone to bed.
I was slowing going insane from sleep depravation. (I don’t recommend doing that.)
But now, the majority of my blog posts are written by guest bloggers, and I don’t have to sacrifice quality in order to save tons of time.
How do I do it?
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through my exact process for finding and managing my guest bloggers.
You ready to get started?
Great! Let’s start with the basics…
What are Guest Bloggers?
Guest bloggers are bloggers who write a post for someone else’s blog in exchange for exposure or money.
The big benefits of using guest bloggers are:
- You don’t have to write your own blog posts.
- You can leverage the guest blogger’s audience to get more shares and engagement on your posts.
- You’ll save time, giving you more time for higher-level, higher-earning tasks.
Are Guest Bloggers Paid?
You can pay your guest bloggers if you want. Some blog owners find that doing so increases the quality of writers that they attract.
However, you are not required to pay your guest bloggers. If you can offer them other benefits–primarily, exposure for their own blog or business–many guest bloggers will willingly write posts for you without getting paid.
Is that ethical?
Totally! Exposure in exchange for a blog post is a really great bartering deal for anyone looking to get free PR for their blog or business. In fact, as a guest blogger myself, I would much rather write for exposure than for any amount of money.
(Unless you pay me a million bucks… that offer, I will not refuse!)
Ok, now that you know the basics, let’s talk about how to get guest bloggers for free…
How to Attract Guest Bloggers with a Guest Blogger Page
A guest blogger page can be any page on your site that invites bloggers to write for you. Some people name theirs “Write for Us”, “Guest Blogging Guidelines”, or “Article Submissions”.
Whatever you decide to call it, there are a few important elements that your page needs to include in order to attract high-quality guest bloggers:
1. List the Benefits
List out all the benefits that a guest blogger will receive in exchange for their post. Here are some examples:
- Will you give them a link back to their blog?
- Does your site receive a lot of traffic?
- Does your site have a high domain authority (i.e. lots of “SEO juice”?)
- Do you have an email list that their post will be promoted to?
- Will they be paid?
At the bare minimum, I recommend offering one link back to their blog in the byline (their author bio). This link should NOT be a “no-follow” link– they should receive the SEO juice from it.
Also, their byline should appear directly below their post– do NOT hide it on a separate page. The byline is really important to guest bloggers because this is the place where they get to make their pitch for someone to visit their site.
In addition to a link and prominent byline, I also offer a few other benefits to my guest bloggers: they get promoted to a large email list and Facebook group, plus they get an additional link in the body of their post.
2. Detail Your Guest Blogger Guidelines
Next, you should explain your guidelines for guest bloggers in detail. For example:
- What topics are you looking for?
- Do you require a minimum or maximum word count?
- What do you look for in a really excellent guest post?
- What are you NOT looking for, and what is not allowed?
- Do you require that they submit a pitch/proposed headline to you first, or do you need to see the complete post?
- How should guest bloggers submit their pitch or post?
Detailing your guest blogging guidelines is really important for ensuring high-quality applicants, so take the time now to write all of this down. It will also save you from having to repeat yourself!
3. Include an Application Form (Optional)
You may prefer for guest bloggers to submit their pitch or full draft via an application form– this allows you to get specific information from every applicant, such as blog URL, writing samples, proposed headlines, etc.
The plugin I use to create my application form is called WPForms: it’s a simple drag & drop form builder with powerful features.
Want to see an example of a guest blogger page? Check out my “Write for Us” page here.
Where to Find Guest Bloggers
My favorite place to find guest bloggers is on competitor sites.
Simply visit other blogs in your niche that also accept guest authors, and see who’s writing for them. Chances are, they may be interested in writing for your blog too. Plus, you get to sample their writing ahead of time, and only contact those who’s writing style fits your blog.
Another good place to find guest bloggers is in Facebook groups.
Join Facebook groups that serve bloggers in your niche (like the Persuasion Nation group), and put your guest blogging opportunity out there. I’ve seen lots of bloggers in Facebook groups who are looking to write guest posts!
(Just be careful not to break any of the group rules: read them carefully before posting anything to the group.)
How to Approach and Recruit Guest Bloggers
OK, now that you know how to attract and find guest bloggers, how do you approach them to write for you?
My biggest tip is to approach potential guest bloggers with a formal invitation. Make them feel special that they are one of the few people you are personally reaching out to.
Your invitation can include everything that you included on your guest blogger page: a list of benefits, your guidelines, and instructions for how to apply (or a link to your application form).
Here’s an example of a guest blogging invitation that I sent to someone I found in a Facebook group. First, I asked them if they were interested, and then I asked them for their email address.
How to Manage Guest Bloggers
Once you recruit a guest blogger for your site, your job isn’t done. Now you need to make sure that they produce the highest-quality content possible.
Managing guest bloggers doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming, but you do need to have a system in place.
First, unless you require a full draft up front, I highly recommend that you always ask for an outline. Taking the time to approve an outline prior to the post being written will save you a ton of time in editing (or sending back multiple drafts) later.
Once I’ve approved their outline, I will usually set up new guest bloggers with a contributor account on my WordPress site so that they can begin drafting their post.
How to Set Up Guest Bloggers on WordPress
First, go to Users » Add New from your WordPress dashboard.
Next, choose a username and enter their email and name. Check the box next to “Send User Notification”. Then select “Contributor” from the Role dropdown menu.
Your guest blogger will now receive an email with instructions on how to log in to their account. Since you made them a Contributor, they will only have access to certain capabilities, such as editing and reading posts (they will NOT be able to publish posts).
If you want your guest blogger to have more capabilities (such as the ability to upload images), you have a few options. One option is to set their role to “Author”. The downside to this, however, is that now they’ll be able to publish posts– I don’t recommend allowing this unless you completely trust this person and you want them to be a regular contributor with no supervision.
A better option is to completely customize their capabilities using the Capability Manager Enhanced plugin. Once you install and activate this plugin, you’ll be able to modify the capabilities for every role on your site by going to Users » Capabilities. I use this plugin to give my Contributors the ability to upload files and moderate comments.
That’s it! Now your guest blogger is all set up and ready to start drafting posts on your site.
To assign a post to a guest blogger, simply go to the Edit Post screen and scroll down to the Author section. You’ll be able to select a particular guest blogger from the dropdown menu.
Guest Blogger Plugins
Aside from the Capability Manager Enhanced plugin, there are a couple other plugins I use to manage guest bloggers on my site.
The first is the Edit Flow plugin. This plugin is perfect if you have multiple guest bloggers that you are managing at the same time. Here are some of the features it adds for managing guest bloggers:
Calendar – see when blog posts are scheduled at a glance, and quickly rearrange them on your content calendar.
Custom Statuses – see what posts are pitches, currently assigned to a guest blogger, in progress, or pending review.
Editorial Comments – write comments to your guest blogger directly inside the Edit Post screen.
Editorial Metadata – keep track of important details and deadlines, such as when the first draft is due.
Story Budget – view your upcoming posts by category, guest blogger or status.
The other plugin I use to manage guest bloggers is the Author Bio Box plugin. This plugin allows me to display a different byline below each post depending on who authored it.
All the guest blogger has to do to customize their byline is to go to Users » Your Profile and type inside the Biographical Info box.
They can also change the headshot that appears next to their byline by creating a free Gravatar account for their email address.
Once your guest blogger has drafted their post, don’t skimp on the editing.
Many blog owners are afraid to edit guest posts because they don’t want to offend the guest blogger. I totally understand that concern. However, if you don’t edit their posts enough, you will end up publishing posts that do not meet your quality standards. This is bad for both you AND the guest blogger, because it means that their post will not get the best possible results.
I heavily edit guest posts prior to publishing them on my blog. This ensures that my quality standards are met, and that the content is consistent throughout my site, regardless of who wrote the post. Don’t be afraid to rewrite and rearrange entire sections, change certain details, swap out links and images, and even alter the voice of the author.
It’s your blog, so it’s your prerogative!
At the same time, make sure to give your guest blogger a chance to review the edits before their post goes live, and praise them for all their hard work. It’s the worst feeling in the world to spend hours writing a guest post without any appreciation, so make your guest bloggers feel loved.
If a guest blogger is feeling a bit hurt that I edited their post so much, I’ll make sure they understand that it is not a reflection on their writing– I simply need to stay consistent with my blog’s unique style. (This hardly ever happens though, because I always let my guest bloggers know how much I appreciate them.)
How to Protect Yourself Against Guest Blogger Abuses
While using guest bloggers saves a ton of content creation time and resources, it is not without risk. If you aren’t prepared to deal with the potential ways that guest bloggers can abuse their privileges, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
The biggest red flag to look out for is guest bloggers who are getting paid by clients to write their guest posts. These guest bloggers are incentivized to include links to their client’s sites, whether or not those links are worthy resources.
Paid links are penalized by Google, so your site could end up taking the fall if a guest blogger isn’t honest about their client relationships!
To protect yourself from “link abuse”, visit every link that was included before publishing the post. If you find an affiliate link, replace it (unless you allow affiliate links as a benefit, and you have a proper FTC Disclosure on your site). If you find that a link is going to a poor, low-quality resource, replace it.
Also, because it is so easy for a guest blogger to change their byline at any time, someone may try to sneak in a prohibited link when you aren’t paying attention. That’s why I highly recommend that you lay down your guidelines ahead of time, including what you do and don’t allow (e.g. “no affiliate or paid links allowed”).
Finally, never set a guest blogger up with their own Contributor account on your WordPress site unless you really trust them.
Guest bloggers are valuable contributors who you should cherish. They save you a ton of time and money, while bringing you high-quality content and new readers.
In this guide, you learned how to attract, find, and manage guest bloggers. You also learned how to protect yourself from the “bad apples”. Now, all you need to do is get started!
Begin by creating a guest blogger page. Then, reach out to a few bloggers from competitor sites or on Facebook.
Stop spinning your wheels by being the content creator all the time. Start being the content editor, and use your freed-up time to work on your business.