Accepting Guest Posts on Your Blog: the Four Cardinal Rules


Guest posts on other blogs in your chosen niche are often recommended as an effective method to boost your blog’s web traffic, Google SEO, and visibility.  But what happens when other people ask to write posts for your blog?  

As your blog grows in popularity, you are likely to receive such requests from bloggers in your field. Alternatively, you may choose to circulate a request for guest posts.  Some of the respondents may be known to you already; others may be unknown quantities.  Unless you are happy to feature any old tosh on your blog – and I presume that you are not! – consider implementing a short but sweet quality control process.

Here are my four cardinal rules for accepting guest posts:

1. Check the article writer’s credentials. If you haven’t heard of the writer, then Google is your friend! A search takes seconds, and could save you a lot of trouble further down the line. Every niche has its chancers and phoneys; keep egg off your face – and your blog – by giving these people a wide berth.

Here is a perfect example, straight from my own inbox. Earlier today I received the following email (identifying information removed), from somebody who wanted to write a guest post for Corporate Blogger:

“Hi Karyn,

[redacted]

My name is [redacted], e-commerce manager of [interiors company].

I was wondering if you’d consider allowing me to write a guest post for
your blog on behalf of [my boss] the co-founder of [interiors company]. In case you want a break from blogging ;)

I came across your blog post the other day titled Five ways in which a
blog will benefit your business
and thought that together with [my boss]
we could do a follow up post titled ‘five ways to increase your blog’s
visibility’.

Perhaps if you like the direction I could send you the post to review when
we are done for your consideration. The post will be informative, not a
selling tool for our brand.

I hope to hear from you. Thanks for reading my email.

Thank you.”

So what does this request amount to? Well first up, it sounds as if someone wants to ghost a post on behalf of their boss. That isn’t unusual – indeed, it is common practice amongst companies of a certain size and above – but if you are going to accept third party posts on your blog, it is worth considering beforehand if you are happy to feature ghosted content.  Some bloggers are; others abhor the idea. It’s your call.

I hadn’t heard of the boss and I wanted to check out the company’s blog, so before responding I searched for both.   Guess what: there was no blog! When I queried this with my correspondent, I discovered that “[the boss] doesn’t have a blog yet”.

Unsurprisingly, I politely declined this offer of a guest post. This person simply wasn’t qualified to write about techniques to increase a blog’s visibility; by accepting the offer and publishing this effort – and goodness only knows what I would have ended up with – my blog’s credibility could have been compromised. Thanks but no thanks!

2. Set the bar. This brings me neatly to the second rule. If the prospective guest poster checks out and you accept their offer, make it clear from the outset that only posts which meet your editorial standards will be published. When I started blogging I didn’t do this; when I received guest posts that weren’t up to par, with the writers anticipating imminent publication, I therefore felt uncomfortable about letting them know that their attempts had been spiked or required additional work. I soon learned though!

Even if you have lined up a guest poster who writes beautifully and has an excellent reputation (the best kind of guest poster, in other words), be sure to emphasise that publication is not guaranteed. That way, if you need to request changes or a rewrite, you can do so briskly and guiltlessly.

3. Edit. Remember: the editorial control is yours. It’s your blog! Don’t be shy about correcting spelling mistakes, grammatical bloopers or typographical errors within any guest post that you receive. Major edits should be cleared with the author beforehand, as a matter of courtesy, but minor edits are unlikely to cause offence.

4. Ask for a link. Seasoned bloggers and guest posters will likely link back to their guest post on your blog, again as a matter of courtesy. With newer bloggers, it’s best to ask. What do you have to lose?

All this hand-wringing and concern about causing offence: you can probably tell I’m a Brit! But in matters such as these – particularly if you are fairly new to blogging – decisions should be taken with care, and I hope that these Four Cardinal Rules are useful. After all, the quality of a guest post is a reflection upon the overall quality of your blog. Why settle for second best?


  14 comments for “Accepting Guest Posts on Your Blog: the Four Cardinal Rules

  1. February 11, 2010 at 4:08 am

    Not knocking your person inquiring about guest posting, but I am still trying to figure out where the idea of guest-posting-while-still-cold-to-blogging came from.

    I guess the idea is supposed to be: “hey see, this is content that you don’t have to write, it kind of relates to what your blog’s doing, so you’ll obviously save yourself some work and put it up, right?”

    Who knows, maybe guest post inquiries like these have worked in a few cases, enough to encourage others to give it a shot?

    Anyway, excellent rules you mention, Kathryn.

  2. February 11, 2010 at 4:44 am

    Karyn – Thanks for sharing these precautionary measures. Do you realize most of them mentioned here are followed by theBloggersBulletin too.

  3. February 11, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Karyn, these are excellent rules and thanks a lot for sharing your experience.

    I’ve been heavily into guest posting recently and I am excited of what I am getting from that.

    I’ve had some luck with the new forum: http://myblogguest.com/ That’s a community of guest bloggers. There are many great blogs there accepting guest posts as well as authors willing to guest post. And the rules are very strict, the administrator makes sure that the members do not go into link buying/selling or anything like that.

  4. February 11, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Karyn,

    These are jolly good rules, and ones that I also apply to guest posts for my own blog. I would add a few more tips:

    1) If your blog is based a particular topic be clear that the content needs to tie into that topic. For instance, my blog is about communications strategy — if someone is writing a guest post, they need to write it with a slant toward how the subject matter applies to strategic communications.

    There is wiggle room, of course, but guest posts should relate to the type of content your readers expect from your blog. This sounds like a no-brainer, but better to state this up-front to avoid a mismatch (or bollocks as you might say).

    2)You don’t have to, but it’s nice for you as the blog owner to write a short intro to your guest’s post

    3) Express thanks. This can be done off-line, but be sure to let a guest blogger know of your appreciation for providing good content.

  5. February 11, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Jesse – I like your idea with myblogguest.com. High-quality links are always of interest to us at The Bloggers’ Bulletin, regardless of whether they are from our own personal blogs, our readers’ blogs or perhaps even from demonstrably qualified guest bloggers we potentially work with

  6. February 11, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Great you liked the tip. Hopefully you’ll find the forum useful as well.

  7. February 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for comments!

    @Chris: That enquirer deserved a knock! I am sure that I was not the only blogger to be approached, and I will be interested to see if any others take up the offer…

    @Rahul: So I should hope! ;)

    @Jessy: I have heard good things about myblogguest and will definitely be checking it out.

    @Deni: Wow, great tips! Thanks lots. Especially no. 3 – doh. Maybe I should have FIVE cardinal rules!

  8. February 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Karyn, Thanks for your cardinal rules! They are very timely for me as I have recently begun to feature a guest blogger every other week. I decided to feature guest bloggers regularly after seeing how the practice boosted traffic, eased my work load and provided my readers with relevant content from a different perspective. I love your idea of providing guest bloggers with clear, unbiased guidelines from the start as to avoid awkwardness or bad feelings down the road.

  9. February 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing this! :o )

  10. February 16, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Nice work, Karyn — The well read SM site, Kikolani.com,
    http://kikolani.com/fetching-friday-resources-mashup-kitty.html showed a link to your “…4 Cardinal Rules” post near to top of its mashup list of best articles last week. Apparently Kristi at Kikolani found your post via Stumbleupon.

  11. March 22, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Great post and so timely for me. Recently I started receiving requests to host guest bloggers.

    I am wondering about some requests you didn’t mention and if they are common? For example, I was asked how much I would be willing to pay for a guest blog.

    I’ve also had a prospective guest blogger request about blogging on subjects completely foreign to my very specific topic. My topic is hair, beauty, fashion and they wanted to blog about politics without any bridge to my topic.

    Finally, I’ve had guest bloggers wanting me to promote their blog links on my Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and daily newsletters.

    All of those requests seemed odd to me at the time so I declined, but the guest bloggers wanting to know how much I would pay were akin to someone asking if they could stay in my guest bedroom and then asking how much I would pay them to stay there.

    Is it common for guest bloggers to ask for payment?

    Thanks again for a fab list of rule. They helped me so much.

  12. March 22, 2010 at 2:12 am

    @Karen: Thanks for the comment and question. I must admit, I have never had guest bloggers ask for payment! That’s very unusual, in my book, and I think you were right to decline these requests.

    Guest bloggers asking for their posts to be promoted via other social channels – that’s fine. After all, when you are promoting their guest post, you are also promoting your own blog!

  13. March 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Karyn,

    Thanks for your feedback. When all else fails I always listen to my gut. Glad to know guest blogging is not normally a paid art.

    Happy blogging!

  14. May 25, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    A great benefit of allowing guest posting is that it gives your readers an impression that your are a quality writer if the guest posts are of great quality.
    Good writers only accept good guest writers and vice versa.

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