In every industry, there are people who become known for what they have to say. These prolific bloggers, speakers and activists are the go-to sources for industry news, trends and insights. They have their own websites, generally, but they also contribute to others along the way.
In some respects, it’s a major milestone to receive a guest post from one of these thought leaders. For some sites, it’s within your grasp to attract these content creators as semi-regular or regular contributors. Before you can reach that point, however, you need to attract them. You need to have a site they’re willing to work with. How can you turn your site into an attractive location for thought leader posts?
The “write for us” page is a great passive source of possible writers. A small site may not receive many potential guest posts, and many that they do receive will be spam, but the few valuable posts that slip through are worth it. Setting up a page to attract writers passively gives you an opportunity to be selective with the posts you receive and publish, even if you don’t have as many as you claim you have when you turn down the lowest quality posts.
First, you want to set up a link to the page. This should be fairly prominent, somewhere on your navigation or on-site advertising. You want to look like you encourage user submissions, but discourage low quality posts. This will be true, of course; Google doesn’t like low quality guest posts, so if you’re publishing low quality content, you’re going to run into trouble.
Yes, the point of this is to attract well-known authors in your industry, but in order to do that, you need to establish yourself as a publisher of outside content. If you’re approaching thought leaders and asking for guest posts, and they see a blog with everything published by “admin” and obviously ghostwritten, they’re going to turn you down. It’s not worth their time.
The actual content of the “write for us” page comes next. You want two sections; a guidelines section and a submission section. In the guidelines section, stress quality and your right to turn down any blog post that doesn’t meet your standards. How exactly you do this depends on your outlook on blogging; just check a few live examples to see what you might do.
The submission section can be as simple as a dedicated email@example.com email address, or as complex as an entire submit form with file uploads and optional newsletter opt-in. It depends on how you would prefer to sort through your submissions.
Be aware that having a “write for us” page will make you a target for spammers and low quality blogs looking to push guest posts explicitly for backlinks. It’s a bad technique and can get both your blog and the spammer’s blog penalized. When in doubt, ignore the guest post submission. To help identify if a submission is spam:
Finally, just read the submitted post. Does it read and feel like something you would be proud to publish on your blog? Or is it thin and relatively valueless, even if it uses big words and industry jargon? Never publish a guest post you wouldn’t write yourself, and always reserve the right to remove any links if they don’t meet your standards. Finally, run a search for the content on Copyscape to see if it’s ever been published elsewhere; if it has, blacklist the submitter.
The best way to attract thought leaders to your blog is to become a thought leader yourself. If you were in a position of authority, would you want to use your time to write posts for thin sites you’ve never heard of before? Or would you look for blogs with a reputation to network with, for mutual benefit? Thought leaders need to leverage their time intelligently, and that means making strict decisions on when and where they will offer guest posts.
Some of what it takes to be a thought leader is luck, but a lot is just time and dedication. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be an objective expert, more knowledgeable and intelligent than anyone else in the business. Most thought leaders got to where they are today by learning, collaborating and never being afraid to put themselves out there. More importantly, when they make mistakes – and they do – they admit them, learn, correct them and move on. Make yourself a relative expert, put yourself in a position where you can learn and grow, and you’re well on your way to become a thought leader.
All of the passive acts in the world won’t attract thought leaders who aren’t actively looking for places to post. Some thought leaders seek out new opportunities, but many consider themselves secure in their positions and will only consider new blogs when they are approached. Some, of course, won’t want to write for any sites they don’t own, so you’ll necessarily have to deal with some rejection.
The first step to this blogger outreach is to identify the blogs you consider to be your peers or your betters in the industry. Which blogs are the go-to blogs people look to for news and answers?
Once you’ve identified those blogs, look for the authors who contribute. You’ll probably find a few authors who contribute to many or all of them, and a longer list of authors who only contribute to one or two. You’ll want to gather information about these bloggers, by visiting their personal sites and reading the content they produce.
Once you know these bloggers, you can work to introduce yourself to them through professional channels. Follow them on social media. Follow their blogs, if you haven’t already. Contribute to the discussions around their posts. Integrate yourself into their social circles, as a peer more than a follower.
When you’ve established a position of some reputation and authority, you can reach out to these bloggers and as if they might consider writing something for your blog. You can offer them creative freedom, or you can offer them topics to consider; which you pick depends on your blog and your target writers.
The more time and effort you put into networking, the easier it will be. Further, the more time you put into growing your site, the better positioned you’ll be for getting them to accept.
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