Many bloggers accept and publish guest posts from other authors, both solicited and unsolicited. Guest posts are beneficial for both parties: for the publisher, it saves them some work, adds another voice, and brings a new readership to their site; for writers, it helps them get more exposure on another blog.
However, sometimes the guest posts received are not up to snuff and can be suspect. Remember, as a publisher, you are under no obligation to publish subpar material. Before publishing a guest post, ask yourself these ten essential checklist questions:
- Is the post what you asked for? Bloggers often give guest bloggers guidelines regarding formatting and agree on a topic for the guest post. Did the author follow your guidelines? Is it formatted correctly? Does it cover the content you expected it would? Remember, as the publishing blogger, you shouldn't have to do a lot of additional work on a guest post.
- Is the post original and exclusive to your blog? This is something that needs to be discussed beforehand, and if you agreed that the post would be exclusive to your site, make sure that it has not already been published—or worse—plagiarized from another source. Easy ways to check are to extract a chunk of the post and Google it, seeing if any exact matches turn up, or to use free services like Copyscape.
- Is the post relevant to your blog’s theme? Guest posts are great because they add fresh perspectives and insight to your blog, but this content should not be too far out of field. Make sure the post fits with the topics you are covering and adds positively to the discourse you are creating.
- Is the post relevant to your audience? Bloggers often forget this, but successful blogs are intended for the people who read them, and not just for those who write them. Think hard about whether your audience—whose eyes and ears you have carefully and persistently earned over time—will find the guest post interesting and helpful for their needs. If not, rethink publishing or request a revision.
- Does the voice of the guest post match the voice of your blog? This goes hand-in-hand with whether a post is relevant to your audience. Does the guest author's voice complement your voice and your blog's other authors? Of course, the voice should not be a carbon copy of what has already been published, but it should align with your blog; for example, you don't want a guest post to reflect the tone of a stately college professor when the tone of your blog is informal and conversational.
- Does the post cover new ground? A guest post should add something new, just like every other post you and your regular authors contribute. Make sure the guest poster has covered new territory rather than just re-hashing a subject your readers are already well-versed in.
- Is the writing level appropriate for your blog? Never settle for something that is poorly written. Your blog has standards, and those standards should be met. Consider whether the guest poster's submission is up to the writing level of your other posts; don't settle for a 6th-grade level post when your audience is college graduates, or vice versa.
- Are there spelling and grammar errors? A typo here and there is often fine as long as the content is valuable and easily understood. However, if there are copious spelling and grammar mistakes, this kind of sloppiness reflects poorly on the post as a whole. Guest posters should take the time to spell-check and proofread, and if they didn't, it’s obvious they didn’t invest much time or energy into the content.
- How will your readers react to the post? You want to add value to your blog through a post, and one of the ways to do so is to provoke discussion amongst your readers. Ask yourself two questions: first, will this post encourage good discussion, and second, will it be the kind of discussion you want for your blog?
- Would this author be someone you would ask to guest post again? If yes, you've got a great new source for potential posts in the future! And if not, don’t be afraid to explain to this person that their particular style of writing just isn’t the kind of content you’re seeking. It’s your blog, so manage it wisely.
We are interested to hear from your experiences with blogging so feel free to post your comments below and share your ideas.
Author: Edward Stern