The blog isn’t dead, no matter how many times people claim otherwise. Your brand’s blog can still create awareness, demonstrate expertise and build SEO value. And you aren’t limited to in-house content: Guest bloggers are still a valuable way to post more often, bring in new perspectives and amplify your brand.

Read on to learn why blog contributors can help your brand, how to find guest bloggers and how to craft contributor guidelines. 

Why Are Guest Blog Posts Valuable?

Guest blogging is a great way for brands and contributors alike to extend their reach, build relationships and benefit from each other’s reputation. 

For brands looking to expand their reach and offer expertise beyond their walls, guest blog posts are a simple and cost-effective path. Blog contributors can diversify the topics covered on your blog and fill any holes in your content calendar. Visitors, including potential customers, will see new informative and authoritative content each time they visit.

When planning your content calendar, it’s not always easy to find time to write about things that aren’t your own products or viewpoints. That’s OK, but it can make your brand blog seem less informational and more promotional. This is where guest bloggers provide a perfect counterweight: They bring perspectives, opinion, data and research that align with your brand and show that you’re a thought leader, not just pushing a sale.

When you work with guest contributors, you’re building relationships that could bear fruit far beyond the post itself. A guest blogger choosing to publish with you can be seen as a form of endorsement for your brand — and vice versa. They’ll point their audiences and networks to your site. Many of these readers will encounter your business for the first time — potentially making this seemingly ordinary blog post the start of a new customer journey.

Once you get a guest-contributor program going, success tends to build on itself. You can feel more comfortable pitching key influencers and experts for content (guest posts, Q&As or something else) because you can point them to an active, credible blog. 

With well-written pieces from industry leaders and influencers, visitors to your site build trust in your viewpoint, expertise and, hopefully, your products and services. Even if they don’t buy right away, they’re more likely to remember your brand and positively associate it with expertise.

Why Your Brand Needs Blog Contributor Guidelines

As you explore how to get contributors for your blog, start by defining what you’re looking for. Just as your brand has clear guidelines for everything it produces, so should guest contributors. Guest post guidelines might even be more important because these writers are borrowing your platform, and they need to reflect your brand values, style and voice. 

Guidelines also reduce confusion, disagreement and bad fits, as any potential contributor can see whether they want to — or should — publish with your brand.

When defining what types of blog posts you’ll publish, consider what aligns with your company’s vision and goals — and what doesn’t. For example, you don’t want to publish blog posts that promote your competitors or cover topics your brand doesn’t align with. Some brands would prefer guest posts that touch on specific subjects, or those that are fact- and research-based rather than pure opinion. Whatever your criteria, put them in your guidelines. 

Here are just some of the criteria your brand might include:

  • Core topics and subjects your brand blog publishes
  • Word count
  • What kind of promotion is allowed (if any)
  • Whether you run previously published content
  • Policies on outside links, author bios, images, etc.
  • How you’ll distribute or promote this content — and any expectations for the guest author
  • Whether you pay for guest blog posts, and under what circumstances. Some brands will pay for reported articles, for example, but not opinion pieces.
  • Who owns the copyright
  • How to contact your brand.

Strong contributor guidelines make it clear what types of content your brand will publish and what points of view you’re seeking. This helps your brand stay consistent and helps serious contributors know whether you’re the right fit for them. 

Check out the Managing Editor contributor guidelines for a real-world example you can use for inspiration. After you write your guidelines, make sure they’re published and shared in an easily accessible location, such as a “how to write for us” page on your blog or main website. 

How to Work With Guest Bloggers

If you don’t already have outside contributors writing for your brand’s blog, there are a few ways to get started. Tapping into your network, including clients, can help you get off the ground.

But to build a lasting guest contributor program, you need to create processes that help you attract the right pitches and manage those requests efficiently. You’ll also need to incorporate guest writers into your editorial calendar and develop a plan for distribution and promoting their work. Here are some key areas to address as you solicit guest bloggers.

Contributor Sourcing

The first step is to decide whether your focus will be to directly recruit contributors or take in-bound pitches. Leveraging your professional relationships, including clients, can be a good way to get started quickly and with people you already know. For example, you might ask for guest posts from subject matter experts you’re already using for other content marketing projects, such as original research or webinars. 

To attract a wider range of perspectives, you’ll need to make it known that you’re taking guest submissions — and make the process easy. Create an easy-to-find guest contributors page on your website so people can learn more and inquire from there. Let your audiences know that you’re open to pitches in social media posts, email newsletters and freelance job boards, among other places. 

Public relations teams are another valuable source of guest post ideas. Countless executives, authors and thought leaders want to be featured, including through full-length blog posts. Building relationships with thoughtful PR professionals can help you get their best, most relevant pitches from well-known experts.

As you seek out guest contributions, consider creating a dedicated email address for pitches. This puts less pressure on one staff member to manage pitches along with all the other email they’re getting.

Assessing, Editing and Scheduling

No matter where a guest blog post originates, your content marketing team should have a process for reviewing these submissions, making edits and communicating with guest bloggers in a timely fashion. Whenever possible, fit these processes into your regular content marketing workflows for convenience and consistency. 

Rely on your content calendar to help you schedule guest posts. If you’re on the verge of a major marketing campaign, for example, you might not want to have guest posts competing. At the same time, a topical guest post during a slow period can be a great way to maintain a regular publishing schedule. This is where having a robust content management system can help you track all this in one place. 

Communication with guest bloggers is key during this process. Promptly let them know whether you’ve accepted their pitch, what kind of edits or questions you have, and when you expect to publish. Remember that, while your brand has every right to make changes, the author should know about major or material edits going out under their byline. Better to reject a guest post that doesn’t match your brand standards than to misrepresent the author.

Distribution and Promotion

Some brands don’t do much other than publish content and hope people find it. You’re looking to do more than that, of course. Consider how you already promote content, including social media posts (organic or paid), press releases, newsletter features or getting your employees to share brand content

Additionally, encourage the author to share through their channels. Tag them on social posts linking to the blog post, and interact with their posts, too. All of these efforts (and other channels) help increase visibility and reach, which benefits your brand and shows the guest blogger that their effort isn’t being wasted.

Evaluating Results

What are you hoping to achieve with your guest blog program? Are you trying to increase site traffic and build brand awareness? Are you hoping to convert guest bloggers into brand advocates or customers? Whatever the reasons, measuring content marketing ROI starts with knowing what you want to achieve.

While pageviews aren’t the only way to measure success, it’s worth watching which guest posts (and writers) generate traffic, and from what sources. The data might reveal popular topics your marketing efforts previously overlooked. Or you might find certain guest bloggers bring in new audiences from channels where your brand lacks a presence. All of these data points can help you determine whether you’re meeting your goals.

Boost Your Brand With Outside Voices

Publishing content from guest bloggers can be a win-win. Your brand gets regular content, new perspectives and, potentially, new audiences. Guest bloggers get to associate with your brand while spreading their message.

Leveraging guest bloggers as part of your content marketing strategy can extend your reach, discover new viewpoints and trends, and build meaningful relationships with influencers and thought leaders. A great blog contributor network can give you content today and long-lasting business relationships for years to come.Want more content marketing insights from Managing Editor? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.