by Nicole Dean
I love having other really smart people write content for my sites. Obviously, so does The Future of Ink as I’m willingly doing exactly that at the moment.
In fact, getting guest contributors to write for your site, when done right, can be a win-win-win.
The Three Wins of Guest Contributors: Why Welcome Guest Bloggers?
Let’s use the Future of Ink as an example. They get free informational content published on their site without having to write it themselves. They can also “borrow” credibility from the author. Think about it. Who is the biggest name in your industry? What if you were able to get that person to write a special blog post to your audience? Could that possibly be a good thing for you? Of course!
Win #2. The guest expert benefits.
The expert (in this case, me) gets his or her content published on an authority site. Not only is this free visibility, but it is actually viewed as an endorsement of that person to the readers of that authority site. Again, using me as an example. I didn’t purchase an advertisement on the Future of Ink. I’m a featured expert. Therefore, I get instant credibility from anyone who regularly views this site and trusts it. You can not buy advertising like that.
Win #3. The readers benefit.
If the guest expert does his or her job, the readers will benefit by having access to valuable, informational content. Hopefully you will agree by the time you get to the end of this article.
The Problem with Guest Contributors
If not done right, having Guest Contributors can be more work than it’s worth. And, in my experience, most people, when attracting and working with Guest Contributors, over complicate the process, simply because they don’t know how easy it is to streamline.
For instance, back in 2009, I went on a Summer Blog World Tour. For 15 weeks (basically all summer long), I hopped from blog to blog, as a guest expert, writing Monday through Friday at each one. And, yes, for those of you doing the math, that adds up to 75 guest blog posts during the summer.
Now, my goal in this insane ordeal was to make it IMPOSSIBLE for the blog owners to say “no” to my offer. They had an audience that I wanted to reach, and I wanted nothing to stand in my way.
That meant that I had to make it three things for the blog owner:
~ Effortless to Them
~ Beneficial to their Readers
~ Profitable for All of Us
I will go into the nitty gritty of how this all worked in later columns here. For now, I want to talk to you about the “Effortless” part of the equation.
Email Is Not the Way to Go
You may just think “I’ll just have my Contributors send their posts to me via email and I’ll post them on the blog.”
No. Nein. Nyet. (Shaking head and waggling finger your way.)
Three reasons come to mind why this is not the best way to handle this situation:
1. It is not a scalable system. Your time is involved (up to 20 minutes per post) to grab the blog post and copy it over to your blog, add pictures, and publish the post.
2. Email is the devil. ok. Well, not totally so, but if I’m a guest contributor to your site and I send you my blog post via email, it is then out of sight, out of mind. If you lose the post or you forget about it, it may be totally gone. That’s a way to lose your relationship with your guest contributors – fast.
3. Funky formatting. I don’t know about you, but any time I copy over a post from a Word Doc into WordPress, all kinds of Gremlins strike. It’s just not the best plan of action.
The Exception? Rachel Ray.
The exception to this rule is if you have a big-name person who you REALLY want on your blog who is not techie or familiar with WordPress at all. For instance, if Rachel Ray wanted to write an article for your cooking blog – you would pretty much let her call the shots.
So What Should You Do Instead?
WordPress is designed to allow you to add “Users” with various levels of control. See WordPress.org for detailed info here: WordPress Roles and Capabilities
The two Roles that you would consider using would be:
~ Author – This role allows a person to write, edit, and publish their own posts. When the Author hits Publish, the post is live. Authors can not edit anyone else’s posts.
~ Contributor – This role allows a person to write and edit their own posts but they can not publish them When a contributor is done writing a post, he or she submits the Draft and you can then Edit, Approve and Schedule the blog post.
Neither an Author or a Contributor can access any of the Admin panels, Settings, or your Plugins.
In most cases, I set up (and ask to be set up) as a Contributor. However, if I’m blogging for a close friend, I am set up as an Author so that I can just publish my own guest posts.
If a blog owner tries to give me access as an Admin, I politely decline.
If they have already included the Admin User & PW in their email, I ask them to please change both.
Why? Simple. I don’t want the liability. If, heaven forbid, their site gets hacked, the last thing I want them to think is “I gave that Dean chick my Admin logins”.
Be safe. Never give anyone your admin user or password unless they specifically need it. For instance, if you have a tech person who manages your plugins. Always give the lowest level of access needed to protect your business.
How to Set up a Guest Contributor
It’s really quite simple to set up a Guest Contributor on your WordPress blog:
1. Log into your WordPress Dashboard. (That’s where you would normally go to write a new post.)
2. Once you’re in, look down the left side of your screen until you see “Users”.
It will look like this:
3. Hold your mouse over the word “Users” and then click on “Add New”. You will be taken to this screen.
While it’s fairly self-explanatory, I’ll go through each step just to make sure you understand. The numbers in the image above match to the steps below:
1. Enter a Username for the Contributor. I prefer using first and last name here for simplicity sake. “Nicole Dean”.
2. Add the person’s email address here. This helps that person to recover their password if needed later, and allows them to see comments that are written on their posts.
3. First Name. Enter the Contributor’s First Name here.
4. Last Name. Enter the Contributor’s Last Name.
5. You can enter their website here, but it may not be necessary. I believe that it is only used in certain themes.
6. Enter a secure password here – twice. Once on the top line and once on the next line to make sure they match. Please use a combination of letters and numbers. While this isn’t as important as your Admin password, you can never be too safe. (For my rant on Password Safety, read this blog post: Don’t Make Me Beg!)
7. The Strength Indicator will show you how safe your password is. Make sure that it doesn’t say “Weak”. If it does, add more letters and numbers.
8. Send Password? This will email the login to your Contributor. Unless you have a reason not to, I always click this.
9. Role? Here’s where you choose either “Contributor” or “Author”. Do NOT choose “Admin” … please.
10. Click to Add New User.
That’s all there is to it.
After that’s done, it’s nice if you personally contact your Guest Contributor and let them know that they will receive an email with their account information and to let you know if they don’t get the email shortly.
Then, depending on whether you set the person up as a “Contributor” or as an “Author” you may want to let them know some additional info.
~ If they are a Contributor and not an Author, they will need to notify you when they’ve submitted a new blog post so you can go an approve it.
~ If they are an Author, perhaps let them know which dates are best to publish.
Either way, be sure they know who your audience is and what your expectations are. I, personally, have a much easier time guest blogging when I know who I’m talking to.
If you’re doing this with people who you know personally, and respect, this can be pretty informal.
If you’re doing this as part of a totally “Contributor – based” site, like an Article Directory, it’s smart to have an actual list of the rules that Contributors must follow.
For instance, I have several sites that are totally Contributor-based, and for those, I have a page of rules.
One is a Directory of Infoproduct Sellers (Mostly Ebook Authors) who wish to attract more affiliates to promote their products. You can see the “Rules” page here for ideas: Submit to FreeAffiliateArticles.com
Well, that’s a wrap. I hope, if you already have Guest Contributors, this makes your life easier. And, if you don’t yet, this gets you motivated to go get a few.
I’ll see you soon in my next post.