How to Encourage (and Accept) User Submissions
Today's Editor's Picks
Opening your website to user submissions can be a great way to fill in the gaps between your regular content schedules. It also provides you a great way to introduce new topics to the community through a different set of eyes and expertise.
Once your site has begun to build momentum you will certainly receive unsolicited requests from agencies trying to push guest post content. More often than note – it’s a lot of junk.
What you really desire is genuine content created by site followers and other authorities in the niche.
How do you solicit quality user content?
You merely need to be direct with your desires. Explain the benefits. Streamline the process. Make the necessary tweaks. And work hand-in-hand to see to its success.
It’s these actions …
Action 1: Tell Them What You Want/Need
A blogger coming to your site in hopes of writing for it needs to know what you need. Don’t bother letting them take random guesses – create an outline of what’s required when submitting guest content.
An Example Guest Blog Submission Guideline:
- Topics desired: [List]
- Posts must be between 800 – 1,200 words
- Explain that the content could be other media (collection of photos, video, or audio)
- Please include 1 – 2 sentence author bio (may include one authority URL)
- Post must be submitted in Word or HTML
- Here are guest articles I liked: [Link]
You could include whatever else you desire from them within your submission page but at least cover the basics. Also, you may want to place a few qualifiers such as “no agencies” or “must submit pitch before full submission” to weed out an onslaught of unsolicited contacts.
Action 2: Show Them the Benefits
There is a twinge of selfishness when it comes to guest posting. Yes, bloggers want to show off their expertise but it’s really about gaining exposure and (hopefully) developing leads to their site. You already know this and since you seek content you’re willing to sweeten the pot with benefits.
An Example of What You can give them:
- A do-follow link from your domain
- A featured spot on your main content slider
- Inclusion into your newsletter or social feeds
- The ability to promote a product or service (of theirs)
- Potential for on-going submissions to the site
The key is to give them what they need (usually links and promotion) but do it in a way that you can build a lasting relationship with the content creator. This connection will come in handy when you need additional content or wish to guest post on their domain as a trade.
Action 3: Make Submission Easy
I’d recommend two methods of submission:
- Have it done through a separate email account (just for user submissions)
- Utilize a contact form plugin or tool
The goal is to make this submission as easy as possible but still somewhat frustrating to deter agencies and individuals that are doing a “shotgun” approach to spamming guest submissions.
If You Do It By Email:
- Tell them the subject line required when submitting (to qualify the submission)
- Include your email on the page (but maybe do so like [name] @ [domain.com] to stop bots)
- Consider displaying an email template to make it easier to submit
If You Want to Use a Tool:
- Create a landing page specific for soliciting user submissions
- Use a flexible contact form tool for easy setup (bonus if it includes file submission)
- A follow up message (on the page) thanking them for the submission
Throughout this entire process of submission be sure to keep open dialog and communication. Be quick to give feedback and critique. Submitters want to know they’ve reached you – not wait a week and a half to hear back that you’re no longer accepting posts. Give them the courtesy.
Action 4: Become the Editor
Part of your user submission guidelines should include the fact that you may make necessary edits if need be – this is to prevent any copyright problems, tweaks to help the content match the site, or add new elements to help readers engage and convert.
Some of the Actions You May Want to Take:
- Tweak the headlines to something fitting to your niche and tone
- Add media in areas that could benefit from a visual representation of the info
- Inject your personal opinions (only when necessary) if there are conflicts
- Break down longer submissions into slideshows or multiple pages
- Add additional internal links (but not too many)
Hopefully the creator has already done much of the leg work but take the time to do any last minute edits before you hit publish. These edits could spice up the piece and give it extra oomph. Do the edits – just don’t do too many otherwise you lose a lot of the original intent from the content creator.
Action 5: Promote Together
And once it’s published it’s time to team up and start promoting the piece. Both of you should work together – it will double down on gaining traffic, exposure, and conversions. In fact, you should make this a requirement in your submission guidelines (like sharing on social or responding to comments).
Promotional Activities You Could Both Do Include:
- Post to owned Facebook fan pages (and comment on each other’s posts)
- Share on Twitter and expand on the topics by discussing key points to draw in others
- Email your lists updating them about the new piece of content
- Reference the piece in future endeavors to create on-going link building and exposure
You’re now a team.
Each individual wins when they promote the work so doing it together will double the outcome.
If the post was a success it’s likely they’ll return. That’s fresh content for you. Great exposure for them. And plenty to give to your community. It all moves forward to conversions.