Tips for Creating Guest Post Submission Guidelines

I act as the gatekeeper for two different sites when it comes to guest posts. I often see very poor quality guest posts come through. At first, I spent a great deal of time editing these guest posts, convinced that I should give everyone a chance to appear. However, I soon realized that I could spend all of my time fixing blog posts that didn’t meet quality standards. It was at that point that suggested to one of my clients that he come up with guest post submission guidelines for the site.

How Guest Post Submission Guidelines Can Help You

While it is true that it is your blog, and you have the right to reject a guest post for any reason, it can help to share that sentiment. People are less resentful when they know going in that their submissions might be rejected. But trying to create a reasonable expectation amongst guest posters is not the only way that guidelines can help. With submission guidelines laid out, you can get help with the following items:

  • Properly formatted submissions
  • Smaller number of low-quality submissions
  • Higher number of submissions written with proper grammar
  • Fewer irrelevant submissions
  • Less time spent fixing links to meet your specifications

Take some time to think about what you would like to see in guest post submissions, and then formulate guidelines that can be shared with site visitors.

Expectations for Better Content from Guest Posters

You guest post submission guidelines are your expectations for better content. Remember: Your site has your name on it. Even though someone is guest posting, your name will still be connected with what you publish. Make sure that it meets your approval.

When crafting your guest post submission guidelines, be sure to include the following items:

  • Basic post requirements: These are the parameters for the post. You want to include word count (I like to use a range, such as 400 to 800 words), expectations for correct grammar and usage, and preferred topics. Be clear that you want guest posts on topics relevant to your blog.
  • Originality and republishing policies: State whether or not you expect a piece to be original. Additionally, decide whether or not you will allow the guest poster to republish the piece elsewhere. Some bloggers will allow guest posters to republish after 30 days, or after 60 days. Be clear about your expectations in terms of original content, and republishing.
  • Linking policies: Decide how you want to handle links. Many people don’t allow affiliate links in guest posts, but you might decide to allow it. Specify the number of links that can be used in the body of the post, as well as in the bio. Also, be clear about whether or not guest posters can use SEO anchor text when linking. Some blogs forbid links to homepages, although they will allow links to pages within a site, or to other blog posts. You need to be clear about linking policies, including whether or not you are charging for links they want to include in submissions.
  • Image requirements: If you allow images, make sure you are clear about what images can be used, and ask for proper attribution and sourcing for the images. Many blog owners, though, find it easier to just find their own images to accompany a guest post, rather than relying on the guest poster to get the image.
  • Submission and formatting preferences: Decide how you want guests to submit their posts. In WordPress, it’s possible to set up accounts with limited privileges and let guest posts submit their posts to the platform for your review. You can also ask for posts to be formatted with certain tags (headers, bullets, etc.). If you prefer posts to be sent to you as Word docs, or in Text file, specify. Also, specify whether or not you want submissions to be sent with html code.

While you don’t want to be stifling to submitters, you do want to make it clear that it is important that they meet certain quality requirements and submit posts in a way that is easy for you to publish. After all, you don’t want a guest post to be more work than writing your own post.


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  • Hi Miranda, these are some great tips!

    I require that my guests get a user account and log in the to my WordPress dashboard as contributors. They also must provide links to writing samples so I can see what other blogs they have been writing for and check their engagement level.

    I have a plugin installed that helps guide them through the SEO process but it also helps me to easily check the structure and content level of the post. Once I stopped accepting posts via email the whole process became easier for me. After all, if we have to spend time we working the post, we might as well write it in the first place 🙂

  • emory @ clickfire

    I like this, Miranda. There seems to be a fine line between stifling and getting a clean post.

  • HI Miranda, great list. I also like to include a list of acceptable topic categories in my \”want to guest post\” section. This helps people understand if their post idea fits with my theme or not and saves me some extra moderation.

  • […] Getting the best from your guest. Guest posting is all the rage—it can give you great content, help you forge your online network, build traffic and more. But unless you want to be a slave to your spell check, you might want to set up a few ground rules for getting the most from your guest posts. #FinCon12 […]

  • […] Time consuming to look for bloggers: First of all, you have to find bloggers in the appropriate niche that accept guest posts. It can be time consuming to compile a list of possibilities, and then verify all of the guest posting guidelines. […]