NB: I write that title with a conscious sense of irony. I am chuckling to myself as I write this.
Hello, I’m a digital marketer, and it took me about two years to actually grasp the nettle as they say, and actually build my site, Digital Drum.
By the end of January 2016, it went live with sod all content on it - other than about four blogs which I’d written the previous autumn. I was starting a sideline in digital marketing freelancing, which was what finally spurred me into making the site, but it quickly turned into a hub which I could return to, to house my digital marketing blogs; or more accurately, rants and plain-speaking blogs related to digital marketing.
I quickly realised that, working two jobs, it was pretty tough to try and publish a blog every week or two, so I began to reach out to peers on LinkedIn, where I’d spotted the occasional article on my newsfeed that really seemed to tick the boxes. They were interesting. They contained insight. They were written by someone who could write in their own voice, rather than the bland, non-boat-rocking voice that was probably expected of them by some publishers.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
I started approaching people to conduct interviews, run topical discussions, and request permission to use their content. The vast majority of people have been happy to oblige.
So here are five quick pointers from me about how to treat your guest contributors.
ONE: MAKE YOUR INTENTIONS CLEAR
You’ve identified something that would fit well with your own content – great. That’s the first obstacle overcome (I know I'm quite picky).
There’s no need to beat around the bush. I’ve always found it fine to drop someone a DM on LinkedIn as soon as you’re sure you’d like to feature their work, but introduce yourself briefly, get to the point about what you want from them, and don’t waffle on. If you’re willing to offer them a backlink / plug, then say so. It will help them weigh up the pros and cons more quickly, and make a decision on it.
Also: provide a link to your site, so they can have a quick gander at where their content will end up.
Let there be no mystery in the arrangement. Be upfront and clear in what you want from them, and what they’ll get from you - it means that expectations are set from the start, and there’s then no backtracking or awkwardness later on.
I’ve been in a situation as a contributor before, where the host a) changed the title of my blog without asking and b) refused to link back to my site and credit me fully. It meant I pulled the content back from them straight away, and said FORGET IT.
TWO: BE A GENTLEMAN (WITH THEIR CONTENT)
Now that you’ve got the permission to use their content, make sure you do so without any urges to rip it apart, re-edit it, cut massive chunks out, or worst of all, put your own views and content in.
There are times though, when a shortened title or a ‘neatened-up’ passage is reasonable, but make sure you put forward any proposed changes asap, and then get your guest blogger’s permission to make these amendments. I’ve been lucky to work with some lovely guest bloggers, and they are always open to this kind of feedback. Some are even grateful for me picking up a missed typo, which they then go about correcting on their own site.
THREE: CHECK THEY'RE HAPPY TO BE IN YOUR COMPANY
Once you’re ready to go live with the guest content, the courteous thing to do is send your guest contributor a link so they can see their work in-situ.
If you’ve proofed the piece and picked up the odd typo, make them aware (usually people are grateful for the fresh pair of eyes!).
Checking they’re 100% happy with how it looks and how it’s laid out will ensure that you can be fully confident in sharing and promoting this post.
It also means that they’re now far more likely to lend a hand when it comes to promoting the guest blog. Meaning more reach, and more traffic driven to your site too. Peachy.
FOUR: SAY THEIR NAME
Remember that when you’re touting their content about on your owned platforms, you need to fully credit them through mentioning them (ideally tagging them) in any initial stages of social media promotion.
For things like Twitter, once some time’s elapsed from the first promotional push, you can stop tagging them in, because it’ll just becomes annoying for them. Whilst they may be happy to share / re-tweet / post something including your link to help you, I never really ask for guest bloggers to do this, and I never expect it of them. Everyone’s busy – people are different, and may not appreciate a fanfare.
FIVE: SAY THANKS
Ok, I admit - I've run out of ideas for these ‘themed’ sub-headings.
Sounds obvious, but at the point of getting things live and setting up the content promotion aspect, there’s a risk you might forget to thank your guest blogger. So, make sure you email or DM them to let them know that you really do appreciate them letting you republish their words, ideas, and name.
Following these five steps has stood me in good stead, and I've had many guest contributors returning for more spots on the site. See your republishing of their content as a privilege and not a right, and you won’t go far wrong in how you treat them.