Does this sound familiar?
You get a pitch from someone who wants to write a guest post for you.
It all sounds great; you get free content, and they get some exposure. You devote plenty of time towards developing their topic idea, and finally, you receive the finished article.
The article is thin at best, and it’s clear that this person hasn’t read your blog, or even considered who your audience is.
Your time has been wasted. You can’t publish the article, and you can’t get your time back. And your time is valuable!
I’ve been there myself, and it’s frustrating, to say the least. But the truth is that as bloggers, we have to act as a filter to ensure our audience gets content that is helpful, accurate and worth their time.
If we don’t, we’d be doing them a huge disservice.
So what can you do to vet potential guest bloggers without forcing yourself to live in your inbox?
In this post, I’ll share a straight-forward process that I recently put into action on my marketing agencies blog. So far, I’ve spent 75% less time vetting new contributors by forcing them to jump through a few more hoops.
Pretty good right? Let’s dive in and I’ll show you how it works.
The easy way to vet potential guest bloggers
As bloggers, we wear many hats.
One day we’re a writer, another we’re an editor, and graphic designer the next.
Our time is short, and we could spend a lifetime exchanging emails with potential contributors, without getting anywhere fast.
Now, I manage several different blogs, so I get plenty of pitches. Most of them come from random Gmail accounts and don’t seem real.
My marketing agencies blog isn’t as well established as my other blog (Blogging Wizard), so I wanted to actively encourage marketers & bloggers to get in touch if they’re interested in contributing.
But, at the same time, I want to try and avoid getting bogged down with lengthy email exchanges when trying to vet potential guest contributors.
Here’s the 3 step process I use:
#1. Create a “write for us” page to let people know what you’re after
So I took the typical first step in encouraging potential guest contributors and added a “write for us” page. This covered the basics such as the topics we cover, the type of content we’re looking for and what people will get out of writing for us:
Now, the next two steps are what make this page so much more effective than a regular “write for us” page. So, below I’ll explain how I’ve tailored the rest of this page to force people to de-select themselves from the process and provide everything I need to give a yes/no.
#2. Set some ground rules, so contributors know where they stand
Part of how I tackle my vetting process is to see which instructions people follow, and which they don’t.
And the truth is that some guest bloggers will send terrible pitches, but that doesn’t mean their content will be as bad as their pitch. After all, we all had to start somewhere right?!
So to help them put together a better pitch, I let them know what we expect right out of the gate:
These are just the basics, and I link to a post I wrote on blogger outreach because there’s more to this than what can be covered on this page.
The first point about real world experience doesn’t fit 100% with the nature of this section and is covered somewhat in the next step, but I’ve added it in because it’s so important.
#3. Be clear about what their pitch should include
The key to making this process work is in exactly what information potential contributors include in their pitch and how they frame their pitch.
I give very specific instructions on how to pitch, such as emailing me directly and using the subject line “I want to write for UK Linkology”.
These are all validators. If these criteria aren’t met, I won’t even consider their pitch because it’s obvious they aren’t serious about writing for my agency.
Then I mention everything I need their pitch to include so I can vet them quickly and efficiently.
- My name – any pitch that doesn’t include my name won’t get a reply.
- Why we should consider their pitch – so many pitches are from people who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. I’d be doing my audience a disservice if I let them on our blog.
- Links to personal social profiles and their blog – I need to make sure I’m talking to a real person, and I need to be sure they have a blog. Could be a company blog, but they need to be an active blogger (since a lot of my readers are bloggers).
- Links to 3 previously published articles – these should be published on other blogs. This gives me an idea of the level of quality. Sometimes I get pitches where the blogger links to posts written by other people; they’re not the type of people I want to write for me.
- 3 topic ideas with short descriptions – this helps us cut right to the case. I like to see what ideas people can come up with. It’s also an indicator as to whether or not they’ve read through our blog.
This is still a fairly new process, but it’s already yielding results. Most pitches still don’t include much of the information I mentioned above, and that’s a good thing. I can easily tell whether people have read through the page so I can spend less time doing detective work, and focus my time where it matters.
On Blogging Wizard, I have a different process since it’s a personally branded blog I’m more careful when it comes to accepting guest posts.
A lot of the time I don’t accept them at all. I prefer to work with paid freelance writers because it puts me in control of my editorial calendar and I spend far less time vetting writers.
But, when I do accept guest contributors, they’re generally people who have made an effort to connect with me before pitching me. Or in some cases, I’m already a fan of their work.
Some bloggers have used a far smarter strategy to get around the fact that I don’t publicly say I accept guest posts – Alicia Rades got an introduction from a mutual contact.
The following are also critical factors:
- Articles will be completed to a high standard, and ready to publish – while I expect to make some changes, and I even have an assistant editor to help me, I don’t want to have to make too many changes.
- The finished article should match up with the level of quality in the samples provided – I know editors for some blogs will edit heavily, and I have done in the past too. But if someone sends me a sample, it needs to be what they can write and not how good another editor is at polishing.
- Comments are managed effectively – I expect all guest contributors to reply to comments and it’s in their best interest to.
- Guest bloggers devote time to promoting their posts – sharing on Twitter once isn’t promotion. Effective promotion takes a lot more, and the truth is that with both of us working to promote a post, it’ll gain far more traction.
Given the level of effort that a lot of people put into guest post pitches and securing opportunities to contribute to other sites, it presents a tremendous opportunity for savvy bloggers.
With a bit of creativity, you can make an incredible first impression.
Do you have any tips to share that will help others vet guest bloggers more efficiently? Share them in the comments below!
Images: ” Guest Blogging/Shutterstock.com“
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