I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Setting rules for guest posts on your blog

As I have just started using guest bloggers on this blog (see Karol’s post from yesterday as an example), it seemed timely to discuss how you establish guidelines for your guest bloggers.

Why have guest blogger guidelines?

Every blog is different – as are all the bloggers – which means two things.

  1. to keep your blog focussed on your brand and style, you need to define how that happens
  2. not all bloggers will have the same high standards as you  so don’t assume any guest blogger will behave professionally or within your style

Guidelines for guest bloggers helps maintain your blog. Publicly available policies or guidelines will also reduce the number of blog posts you receive that don’t meet your rules.

What goes into guest blogger guidelines?

Well, the short answer is ‘that’s up to you – it’s your blog!’

rules & guidelines for blogs

Fun or formal, long or short, guidelines are handy…

But I’m guessing you want a more detailed answer so here are some important points to consider – you may or may not list all of them for bloggers to see but it’s good to have considered each one relative to your blog.

  1. length of posts – minimums and maximums
  2. unique content vs reused content – including how long after you publish the post can it be used
  3. standard of writing – is average acceptable or do you want great?
  4. standard of content – is it correct and up-to-date? Does it give something new or just spout motherhood statements?
  5. copyright and ownership – be sure the blogger has the right to offer you the post and any accompanying images
  6. how many links can be included in the post? in the bio box?
  7. how long is their bio? will it be shown and can it include images?
  8. do posts have to be informative rather than an ad for someone else?
  9. can affiliate links be included?
  10. what type of content do you want (or not want)? For instance, toplists only takes lists and other sites don’t want reviews
  11. what topics do you want (or not want) covered? Does it have to be something not covered before in your blog?
  12. will links get a dofollow or nofollow attribute?
  13. what promotion do you expect from the guest blogger?
  14. do you expect the guest blogger to visit your site and respond to comments? it’s in their best interests to do so but many don’t
  15. are there suitability factors such as no adult concepts or no swearing?
  16. how often will you post something by the same person?

Which ones do you include in your guest blogger policy (even if it is an unwritten policy so far!)?

Did anything on that list make you say “Oh, that’s a good idea!” and get you thinking?

I’ll post more about hosting guest blog posts soon, but let me know if you have specific questions…

Blog editing policies

The editing of guest blog posts is a perfect example of a blog policy.

It gives the host blog some control over the standard of posts accepted. The host blogger can accept great post ideas and make sure they read well.

Specific policies are more effective

Many blog policies include something like

All guest blog posts may be edited before publishing.

As a potential guest blogger, that makes me nervous. What will they edit? Will they tell me they have edited it before it is published? What if their edits include poor grammar/expression so it looks like I made those mistakes?

As a host blogger, I would feel uncomfortable taking advantage of such a policy and making huge changes to someone else’s post. I would also start to think it would have been easier to write my own post on the topic!

I prefer a more specific policy, such as

Guest blog posts may be edited for spelling and basic grammar.

For full transparency and relationships building, I would add an extra sentence, too:

We will get your approval on any edits other than typo corrections

If you’re submitting guest posts, which blog would you choose if the only difference was in their editing policies?

Blog policies

Blog policies (or guidelines) are simply a set of rules that control your blog.

A blog policy does not have to just be for guest bloggers – it is just how your blog operates. If you do accept guest blog posts (regularly or periodically), make a specific section for guest blog policies.

Having policies can

  1. help you make decisions
    For example, if your policy is to be wholly Australian, it is easy to decide against international advertisers
  2. save people asking you questions
    Policies stating you don’t have advertising or guest blog posts mean fewer people will ask if you will accept their ad or post
  3. reduce arguments
    A no profanity policy is all you need to point out after editing the swearing out of someone’s comment or guest blog post
  4. give comfort to someone looking for information about your and your business
    For instance, if you offer lessons to children, I will trust you more to see your blog is family friendly and moderated
  5. add to your professionalism
    A policy shows you have thought about your blog and what it represents.

Have you made decisions about any blogs based on their policies?

Useful policies are short

If you take the time to prepare a policy or procedure,then you may as well make it accessible to people, right?

Online access and policiesI just read a blog post discussing how the average internet user could spend 76 business days a year reading privacy policies that affect them. 76 days!

That is based on the average policy having 2,514 words. Which is a lot of words for a policy that basically needs to say ‘we will only give your information to Fred under these circumstances’.

And it is an average. Some places have very short privacy policies (for example, if you subscribe to my newsletter you will see a 34 word policy!) so that must mean other places have extremely long policies.

So next time you write or update a policy, keep it as short as possible by

  1. using simple words as much as possible so it is easy to understand
  2. avoiding legalese so it makes sense to everyone and doesn’t look intimidating
  3. think about your reader – what do they want to know and expect to see?
  4. use an active voice as it is generally shorter than a passive version of the same sentence
  5. use bullet points and sub-headings to organise the policy – this is easier to read, often means less repetition is necessary and sentences don’t need to be so complex.

Legally, you may be covered by providing a policy even if people don’t bother reading it (how often do you read the policies you agree to online?) but I wouldn’t be comfortable with including unexpected details that could hurt people later. That is, the legal issue is not always the moral one so I prefer policies people are more likely to read.

As a business owner, do you just want to protect yourself or do you want people to properly understand your policies?