It can feel like quite an undertaking to accept guest writers on your blog. However, by accepting guest bloggers on your site, you are able to have more content on your site AND a bigger reach for your content (since the author will likely share the article on social media).
But, if you set up a system ahead of time, you can get rid of a lot of wasted time and guess work accepting guest bloggers.
Before anything else the instructions on this post are for WordPress. If you use a different service, some of the mentioned processes or plugins may not be possible or available.
These instructions and ideas are thorough. Take what works for you and leave the rest. This page is full of information and will look very overwhelming.
Just take one section at a time! Don’t try to do all of the steps at once!
So let’s get right to it:
- Covering Yourself Legally
- Finding Guest Bloggers
- How To Accept Ideas
- Communicating With Writers
- Access To The Backend
- Guest Blogger Submits For Review
- Author Credit
- Finalizing Guest Posts
- Final Thoughts
Covering Yourself Legally
While this is NOT a requirement, you will be using content (text and, potentially, images) from other bloggers. To reduce your chances of a legal dispute down the road you should at least consider getting some templates to use to cover you legally.
Finding Guest Bloggers
To find guest bloggers to post on your site, you can join blogging networks on Facebook or create Pinterest pins that will, hopefully, be found through search. You can also find a blog you love and email the creator to see if they would be interested in guest posting on your blog.
Whether or not someone will be interested may be determined by the status of your blog – if you are new to blogging, you will likely need to find other new bloggers when you first start out. Once your blog has a large following, you are better able to attract the bloggers you really want.
How To Accept Ideas
The first step for potential bloggers is to submit an idea for a post to the blog. But how do you accept these ideas?
Here is an example from this mama’s site KrisBeeMama: Write For KrisBeeMama (this will be referenced later).
Accepting Post Ideas
Some bloggers just ask for ideas through email, but you can also create an online form to ensure you receive all the information needed without having to potentially email back and forth with a writer.
Rather than write emails back and forth (and back and forth), KrisBeeMama uses the free version of WPForms to collect guest blogger information.
Previously, Contact Form 7 (free) was used but it was terribly unfriendly to work with.
Below I will give examples of using this plugin, but on BloggingAboutMomming I use Formidable Forms (stores the entries for each form so if you miss an email you still have access to the entry!). See how I use it here (I use it sooooo many ways!).
With either of the form builders I recommend, you create your forms in the plugin and then insert a shortcode (see image below for an example) in your page where you want the form to appear (this is in your visual editor, not your HTML/code view).
Here are the fields included (* means the field is required):
- Blog URL*
- Post idea 1*
- Post idea 2
- Post idea 3
- About me*
- Checkbox to accept the guidelines/agreements*
On the page where bloggers enter their information, there are some basic highlights on topics accepted, content requirements, the benefits of blogging for KrisBeeMama and brand standards.
While this is in no way a requirement, there is also a document writers must read and agree to as they submit the form (see the page to read the document).
Why do you have writers agree to your guidelines?
That’s simple: have a reference for both of you in the case of a conflict, either with submitted content issues or copyright. While the document was not written by a lawyer, it has been helpful when writers have questions.
Communicating With Writers
Once the form is submitted, you will receive an email with all the information. Now it’s time to communicate back with your potential writer.
There are a few emails that you can create as templates. You can store these on your computer or anywhere else you can have access to them (like Google Docs so you can cut and paste them from anywhere).
Below is a list of example email templates to create:
- Idea/topic approved, select due date: You like the idea and the blogger’s writing style. Now it’s time to agree on a due date.
- Idea/topic needs refinement: There may be times when you need to tell your potential writer that the topics aren’t a good fit. Do this kindly because your potential writer is a resource for you as much as you are a resource for them! Maybe just ask for a few more ideas that would fit within your guidelines and brand.
- Due date approved, next steps: To confirm what has been agreed upon, send the article topic and due date in this email. Then add information about what to expect next (like an email asking to create a password for the backend – covered later) and, if you choose to add another page to your blog, a link to the page to help the writer (example: How To Write For KrisBeeMama).
- Article reviewed, needs edits: Once the writer has submitted their content for review, this is what you send when edits are needed. Email to ask for x/y to change before approval. This can be anything from punctuation to changes to meet your brand and blog style.
- Article Approved, Publish Date and URL: Once any edits are completed and the copy is approved, send a confirmation email stating the final article title, URL and publish date (now or when scheduled). You can also reiterate any actions you will take for the article like sharing on social media, and, if the experience was great for both parties, add a blurb about welcoming them back again for another article in the future.
- Article Published: Once the article is published, you can send a confirmation email stating the writer can feel free to share the article on social media.
There is one other email that writers will receive from the backend of your site, but that will be covered later (if you choose to allow your writers to create their articles directly on your site).
Access To The Backend
If you decide to allow users to enter their posts directly in your backend, just go to Users > Add New. All you need is a name and email address to create a new user, but you can also add the blog URL if it was provded.
IMPORTANT: In order to restrict access to their own posts, you will set them up as a Contributor. They will be able to create posts (but not publish, only submit for review) and access their user info.
On the How To Write For KrisBeeMama page, there is a how-to document for using the backend for guest writers. If you wish to create something similar, you can create a fake user and take screenshots for the images.
Post Images and Author Photo
Contributors will NOT be able to upload media (photos and videos). This includes the ability to add a user (profile) image of themselves.
To cut down on potential copyright issues, you may choose a policy to provide all media and marketing images.
If a user asks to use their own images, ask the writer to email the images (and give you rights to use them) or create a shared folder in Box.com or other online sharing service where the writer can upload their images.
You can use an author box (covered later) at the end of each post. This will pull any Gravatar they have set up or they will need to send their thumbnail image to use (add this language to the “Due date approved, next steps” email template).
Guest Blogger Submits For Review
Once a writer has completed their article (hopefully by the due date), they will merely click “Submit For Review” (which is where the usual Publish button is for you).
The status will now change to Pending. You will see this in your post list.
If you want to receive a notification of the submission, you can use a plugin to notify you (like Pending Submission Notification).
Some bloggers choose to just add a blurb at the end of each article about the author.
However, you can use a plugin to automatically pull the authors info from their user profile in the backend. After some research, KrisBeeMama settled on Simple Author Box (paid) though there are free ones out there.
This plugin also allows you to modify the look and feel of the displayed box to fit your site design and brand.
In addition to the blog URL and social links, if a reader clicks on the author’s name it takes them to a page within the blog to show all articles by that blogger.
One drawback to this plugin is that there is a separate area to fill out with social links in the user section. 75% of the time, guest bloggers will fill out the wrong fields even though it’s outlined in the how-to document.
Before publishing an article, look at the author’s user profile to check everything is filled out correctly (for ths pugin that requires a name, blog URL, bio image, written bio and social links).
Finalizing Guest Posts
Other than working with your guest writer to finish the article copy, you will also be responsible for creating and uploading the following:
- All images (including any you want for marketing, like a Pinterest pin or Instagram image)
- Selecting post categories
- Writing a meta description (“snippet”)
Once everything is ready to go, you will need to schedule or publish the post (the guest writer will not have this option, even after the post is live – if they go back and edit anything the writer can only resubmit for review).
Tracking Guest Posts
There are tons of ways you can track your guest posts.
You can use a spreadsheet, physical notebook with notes and many online services (free or paid).
One way you can keep track of all your guest posts (and the steps involved) is to use Trello (free, though there is a paid version – I’ve never paid them a dime and have used them for YEARS).
You can access Trello online or on your phone through their app.
If you choose to use Trello, simply create a card for each post with the writer name and blog name (e.g. Sally Smith (Blog Name)). You can also paste the info the writer submitted in the form for reference:
In Trello, you can create a checklist on a card and then use it again on any other card.
This means you can keep one card for notes and anything else needed to share not related to a specific guest writer. On this card, store a master checklist for each guest post.
You will notice that the checklist below closely resembles the columns used as a visual indicator (outlined later) of progress (without having to open each card):
“KBM” indicates a task for KrisBeeMama on the post (this mama), meaning a task for you, after the article is approved. Note that this is just an example and may change over time for every blog as you learn more (including this mama).
Even though you have a checklist, you have to open each card to view them.
So to know what stage each guest post is in, drag the card to an appropriate column (which you name yourself). Here are some suggestions on column headings to track progress:
Note: See the Communication section of this page for explanations of the emails noted for each stage (found in quotes).
- Awaiting Online Form: Used only if someone contacts you about guest blogging but has not filled out the online form.
- Awaiting Email About Topic: If the form has been received, but a clarifying email was needed (“Idea/topic needs refinement”).
- Awaiting Due Date: Topic is confirmed but waiting on a response to the email “Due date approved, next steps”.
- Awaiting Post Completion: If a due date has been approved and you are just waiting on the completed content. This also confirms you’ve added them in the backend.
- Awaiting Edits: If there are any required edits from the writer and you have sent the “Article reviewed, needs edit” email.
- Approved, MY tasks: If the article was approved and you have sent the “Article Approved, Publish Date and URL” email. Now it’s time for you to complete tasks!
- Scheduled, Awaiting Posting: The article is approved and scheduled.
- Completed: The post is published and all tasks have been done.
- Declined: This is an optional column to track any blogger who wants to guest write on your blog but was (for one reason or another) declined.
You can use services like Dropbox to protect your files in the case of your computer hard drive failing (or other issue).
To keep your guest posts organized, have a Guest Posts folder that contains a sub-folder for each post (with the due date or publish date to keep them in order).
To have a single reference of posts, you can create a spreadsheet. This mama has a master list of all published blog posts with a column added for guest blogger info (when applicable).
Allowing others to guest post on your blog is mutually beneficial – you get more content on your blog (with potential traffic from the guest blogger) and the guest blogger gets a backlink (and exposure).
You can make the process of accepting guest bloggers as simple or as complex as you can. The main goal is to make it as easy as possible for everyone involved.
When you can take the guesswork out of the process, you will save yourself time and energy you can put back into writing your own great content.
Don’t forget to pin this for later
About Kristine Beaves
Hi, I’m Kristine, a blogger, organization nerd, and mom of 2. You’ll find all my tips, tricks, and know-how on cutting through the crap-load of info out there about blogging with WordPress right here.