Remember the lessons you learned as a child about being a good guest? Mind your manners. Respect your host’s rules. Perhaps most importantly, don’t make life more difficult for the people who’ve offered you their hospitality.
These rules also apply to guest blogging. While we tend to focus on the ethical side of being a good guest in our discussions (link stuffing and other forms of blatant self-promotion), there are also a number of practical considerations that will make the experience much more pleasant for your publisher/host… and increase the likelihood that an editor will want to feature your content on his/her site again.
As someone who’s spent hours at times cleaning up otherwise well-written posts for publication, I can say with certainty that following the suggestions below will keep you in you host editors’ good graces… rather than making them grimace when they see your next post submission in their inbox.
Send clean code: While I’ve never actually measured it, I’m almost certain my blood pressure rises when I see code stuffed with <div>, <font>, and <span> tags. Perhaps I’m just not as tech savvy as others, but, so far, the way I’ve found to clean up these tags (which will otherwise destroy the format of the published post in my WordPress blog) is to edit them out of the code manually… which leads to the occasional hours of clean-up I mentioned earlier.
Want to make sure you’re sending “plug and play” code to your editors? Follow these tips:
- Write the post in WordPress: From my experience, nothing produces cleaner code than WordPress. So, when I write a guest post for submission (and I’m doing this right now), I write it in the interface for my own WP blog, switch to the HTML view when I’m finished, and then copy and paste that code into a text document. An editor should be able to copy and paste that code into any blogging platform and get a clean post.
- Avoid Google tools: I love Google applications, and use them for many things… but not for writing guest posts. Think you can use the HTML view in Google docs or Blogger instead of WP? Guess again… in most cases, it’s going to require heavy code-level editing.
- If not WP, than Word: Most blogging platforms can convert Word documents to usable code with relative ease these days. Check with the editor first to make sure s/he can use it, and then only include your text in the Word document… not images (more on that in a second).
- Avoid colored or unusual fonts: You may think that section in purple looks really cool… there’s a good chance your editor won’t, and will grumble about one more little thing to fix…
Send images as separate files: It’s so easy to just link to an image… but what if the host of that image takes it down, or puts something else in its place? Your host is left with either an ugly missing image space, or something inappropriate for the post. I’m always much happier when I see images attached to the email with the text. Sure, I have to download them and then upload them to my blog host, but that’s much easier than dealing with missing images later… or then copying them out of a Word doc into an image file, and then editing them, etc., etc.
Link to your sources: Remember how your English teacher taught you to cite your sources? This still matters in the blogosphere, and you definitely don’t want to give your host editor headaches by leaving it to him/her to find these sources, or to deal with complaints about unsubstantiated or uncredited information. You only need to link to your source… and no editor’s going to mind these links (unless, of course, you’re just citing information from your own sites).
Use (and credit) images and multimedia under alternative copyrights or public domain: Like the last point, your editor shouldn’t have to deal with intellectual property complaints about images and multimedia. Videos are usually simple: if it’s embeddable, it’s fair game. For images and other forms of media, stick to the following:
- material under Creative Commons or other forms of alternative copyright.
- material under public domain.
- material from company press pages and packets.
With alternative copyrights, make sure you’re following the specific license requirements for each piece of media, and make sure to attribute it to its creator (with appropriate links). Keep in mind that even with some media from government and other largely public domain sites, or from company media pages, you may still need to include some form of attribution. Remember that between Flickr’s Creative Commons collection (even just the “Attribution Only” section), and Wikimedia Commons, you’re likely to numerous high-quality images for your post.
Any guest poster who uses these suggestions when sending a post to me makes me a happy, happy editor… who’s probably going to want to feature more posts from that writer. If you’ve got other suggestions on making life easier for guest post editors, please share them…
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainability blog and green product comparison engine sustainablog, which features a wide range of eco-friendly products such as Citizen Eco Drive watches.
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