3 Usability Tips For Creating the Perfect Guest Post Experience & Attract More Writers

Guest posting is a crucial, highly effective way to pour traffic in to your site and rapidly build a name for yourself. No doubt it fits perfectly into any content marketing strategy.

You’ve read plenty of are articles on how to write a great guest post. But how about attracting more writers to your own site?

Guest writers are always looking for the right website to submit their guest post to. Sites like Copyblogger, ProBlogger or Think Traffic probably get dozens of guest post submissions every day.

How can your own site, which probably gets a significantly lower amount of traffic and buzz, get any guest post submissions at all?

Here’s what guest writers are looking for when selecting the site they want to send their guest post to:

Trust.

There are a lot of things that factor into the selection process. Like anything else, nothing outweighs the big trust factor.

If you don’t look like a site that can be trusted — you have a long way to go before you get anyone wanting to write for you.

How do you build trust with guest writers? The obvious things stand out, like writing consistently, building a reader base, a social media presence, etc. etc.

But if you really want people’s guest posting testosterone to kick in, try implementing these 3 tricks now:

1. Make Your Content Beautiful

Beautiful Blog ContentThe design of your site is the sole most important thing your website has going for it. So, it better look stunning.

This includes the content of your post. You know, having great typography, pretty-looking headlines, post images, author boxes, etc.

If you use one of my Thesis skins, you’re pretty much covered there. A well-designed content area (it doesn’t hurt to actually write good content too) can be the difference between getting a guest post and losing out.

You wouldn’t want your child running around a gas station all day, just as a guest writer wouldn’t want their post on a site that looks like it was designed in a gas station.

Think about it like this:

You have to drop your child off at a daycare center. Are you going to bring them to the one that looks like a gas station, or the one that looks like a legitimate daycare center?

You wouldn’t want your child running around a gas station all day, just as a guest writer wouldn’t want their post on a site that looks like it was designed in a gas station.

Design is important. Take extra time to make your posts look stunning and make people want their content on your site.

2. Making Submission Easier

Everyone wants the easiest way to do something. Guest post submissions need to be easy, or writers may bail at the last minute and submit their post elsewhere.

From my blogging experience, I’ve found the best way to handle a guest post is to give the writer control, and keep everything streamlined by:

Create a Guidelines + Formatting Page

When I was managing my old site, Blogussion, I created a page that explained the following things:

  • Basic rules for writing a post (originality, grammar, quality, etc.)
  • Explained the process, and how getting a guest post published would go
  • Created dummy content with examples of the custom post formatting in posts

You can see that page here, to get an idea.

By creating this page, it really cleared up a lot of questions people had about writing a post. It would be wise of you to do the same.

Easy Submission Form

Easy contact formApart from having guest post guidelines, it’s vital to make contacting you easy.

I recommend building a custom contact form. That way, you can personalize your submission form and make the whole process easier.

I use Contact Form 7 (and Andrew Norcross’ optimization trick), as you can build unlimited forms and quickly insert them into pages.

Allow Registrations

I’d always recommend letting your writers register to your site. That way, they can submit their post to your actual site instead of doing it through email.

This also creates a new level of trust and personalization. You’re giving them their own account to fill their profile information in and essentially become a part of your site.

Speaking of filling in profile information…

3. Create Custom Profile Fields

The “holy grail” of guest posting is the quick author biography that gets put at the bottom of each post. In that biography, is usually a quick link back to the author’s site.

I usually let my writers fill in their biography by editing their profile and adding their own link in themselves.

Now, WordPress can do a lot. But the profile manager sort of… sucks. For whatever reason, you can enter your AIM, Yahoo IM and Jabber usernames to your profile, but not Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

I don’t even know what Yabber is, and I haven’t used AIM since I was in 7th grade. And I’d bet that 99.9% of my guest posters would rather have their Twitter link in their author biography over this other stuff.

So, I created extra profile fields for my guest writers to input their information in and make customizing their profile easier (this is also in Marketers Delight):

Custom Profile Fields WordPress

The profile stuff (Twitter, Facebook, Google+) links at the top are generated from these fileds in each users profile on Kolakube

Here’s how you can do it too.

First, place this function in your themes functions.php file (if you use Thesis, use custom_functions.php):

[php]
/*
Adds tables to profile page
Always match the labels for each profile field. For example,
change KOL_TWITTER to whatever label you want in both the
kolakube_bonus_fields() and kolakube_save_bonus_fields()
functions.
*/

function kolakube_bonus_fields($user)
{
?>
<table class="form-table">
<tr>
<th>
<label for="kol_twitter"><?php _e("Your Twitter Username:"); ?></label>
</th>
<td>
<input type="text" name="kol_twitter" id="kol_twitter" value="<?php echo esc_attr(get_the_author_meta(‘kol_twitter’, $user->ID)); ?>" class="regular-text" /><br />
<?php _e("Exclude @ symbol. Example: <a href=\"http://twitter.com/afrais/\" target=\"blank\">afrais</a>"); ?>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
<?php
}
add_action(‘show_user_profile’, ‘kolakube_bonus_fields’);
add_action(‘edit_user_profile’, ‘kolakube_bonus_fields’);

// Saves data

function kolakube_save_bonus_fields($user_id)
{
if(!current_user_can(‘edit_user’, $user_id))
{
return false;
}
update_usermeta($user_id, ‘kol_twitter’, $_POST[‘kol_twitter’]);
}
add_action(‘personal_options_update’, ‘kolakube_save_bonus_fields’);
add_action(‘edit_user_profile_update’, ‘kolakube_save_bonus_fields’);
[/php]

To add new fields, simply add a new table row after the last row:

[html]
<tr>
<th>
<label for="kol_twitter"><?php _e("Your Twitter Username:"); ?></label>
</th>
<td>
<input type="text" name="kol_twitter" id="kol_twitter" value="<?php echo esc_attr(get_the_author_meta(‘kol_twitter’, $user->ID)); ?>" class="regular-text" /><br />
<?php _e("Exclude @ symbol. Example: <a href=\"http://twitter.com/afrais/\" target=\"blank\">afrais</a>"); ?>
</td>
</tr>
[/html]

…and add a new save command to the function kolakube_save_bonus_fields:

[php]
update_usermeta($user_id, ‘kol_twitter’, $_POST[‘kol_twitter’]);
[/php]

You can output the field information on your website by putting this line of code in your templates:

[php]
<?php get_the_author_meta(‘kol_twitter’); ?>
[/php]

Your Writers Will Thank You

Following these 3 tips will ensure your writers are always happy and, your blog full of great guest posts.

What tips would you add to this list? I can think of a few, more obvious things that what I talked about above. But what are your thoughts? Don’t be afraid to leave a comment below!


Featured post image by Der Toco

15 comments comments closed

  1. Excellent stuff here, Alex. Love the gas station analogy.

    I think another great tip (depending on the frequency of submissions) would be to request an outline, or quick bullets, of what the post/topic is about.

    Figure that high traffic sites are already getting swamped with submissions, and a great way to help with that process is to outline what your original, valuable, content will be about (emphasis on original and valuable).

    • I try to get as much detail as possible before they actually write the post. That way, it’ll save both ends a lot of time.

      Some people see it as being a hard ass, I see it as quality control management.

  2. Terrific timing Alex. I have “start guest blogging relationships” as a To Do in my journal. You have just changed my approach to attracting guest writers. I certainly wouldn’t have done it as well as you’ve just suggested. Thanks for the useful guide.

    I like Jason Anthony’s outline/bullets submission idea as well. Great sharing gents.

    • I really took the time to refine my guest posting process on my old site, and am more than happy to share these tips! Maybe when I decide to go public about taking guest posts, I’ll come up with something even cooler. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by Jason.

  3. Gravatar recognition and upload in that ‘easy submission form’ of yours. Also how about a section displaying some guest post picks by you, the main author/ owner.

    Strongly believe that WordPress needs to redesign the functionality behind adding and organizing users in the dashboard. Sidenote.

  4. This is a great article Alex. I think most of us as we first get into blogging are afraid to go out of our comfort shell and approach other people in our field…this is especially true for those of us who just kind of landed in it. I figure most people though fit into this category. You start writing then next thing you know bam… you have something that seems to be working, and it grows and then things like the term “guest blogging” actually start to have some meaning. But this should come as no surprise. We are more likely to trust someone when they associate with other people we trust in the filed. Weather in a relationship or the blogosphere.

    I am impressed by your design chops and after working with your premium thesis themes I am sold they are the best out there. They are clean, modern and well thought out. Great article and great work. You do this better than most people twice your age in the field!!!!

    • Thanks Stephen, glad you liked it!

      I feel like once you start writing a bunch for your blog and gain some confidence there, you’ll get out of the comfort zone you mentioned and start going places.

      Psyched to hear you like my work! Have some even cooler things in the mix for the future, so PLEASE stick around.

  5. I imagine following these tips would also attract the higher quality guest posts as well. I feel like there’s always something to learn from you, Alex. Is there anything else you do to keep the I-just-want-a-link guest posters away?

    • If you show people you’re legit, you’ll get more quality guest posters.

      Hmmm…that’s something I’m still trying to figure out myself. I just don’t think you can really do this apart from telling them “no” during the application process.

  6. Great tips Alex 🙂 Definitely an easy submission interface is a BIG one.

    People are a lot lazier than we give them credit for!

  7. I have had a recent surge in the requests for guest posts that I have been posting more guest posts than original articles. But, I guess it is doing good enough to incite enough attention of the guest posters.

    Thanks for the tips. I am using custom guest post author profiles with social media leverage with good feedback.

  8. Great post Alex. I use BloggerLinkUp to get guest posters and that works really well. Since my blog is relatively new, I don’t have much traffic. However, the trust part you talked about worked well for my blog. Never has one guest poster who contacted me gone away without giving any guest blog!!!