We’ve all been there. 

Clambering over the blogging roadblocks: finding relevant content, writer’s block, writing about something we can’t quite relate to, NOT ENOUGH TIME. 

That’s where (cue hero music) guest bloggers can come to the rescue! 

Opening up your writing bench to include your community has many benefits. Guest bloggers can bring a fresh and unique perspective to experiences, save you valuable time by being the content generator, and add authenticity and range to your overall voice. 

Beyond this, you are opening up your content voice to the diversity of your stomping grounds — creating connections to similar niche audiences. A look through the eyes of locals and why they love where they live. Guest blogging provides the reader insights in terms of different neighborhoods, race/culture, age, abilities, relationship status, price points — the list goes on.

But not to jump directly into the deep end, we’ve gathered some tips and guidance to help you start your guest-blogging journey. 

The Writer Bonanza

You’re the destination marketing organization (DMO), which means you know people. Connections, businesses, thought leaders, quirky promoters, that guy who shows up to every event and dances in flower bell-bottom pants — these are your destination ambassadors. 

Use them as your starting point. 

Look at the people you know who are great at promoting their businesses. The person who has a great story about the city or has connections rooted in its culture. Those who already have published writing. They are your low-hanging fruit.

Using guest bloggers helped us showcase different aspects of what we had to offer other than what we would normally provide.

Don’t get caught up in the thought that ‘guest bloggers’ equals ‘influencers’ equals ‘this will cost a lot of money to implement.’ You can always work up to offering compensation, but that’s not where you need to start when establishing your footing for your guest blog program. Influencers can have their place in DMO content strategies, but that is the subject of another post

But in the vast digital sea of content, cross-promotion with guest bloggers is your buried treasure, and using it can give your budget a break. You promote them, and they promote you, with no money changing hands. Be sure you have a clear way to promote and share their website, blog, and social media. While that can sometimes be a difficult selling point for established bloggers, you are actually providing a service many are seeking. 

When making your pitch, sneak in some of these little hook nuggets:

  • Exposure to a broader, far-reaching audience
  • Linking to their website builds their domain authority
  • Google goodness by providing valuable backlinks and referral traffic
  • Networking and relationship-building with other bloggers or influencers in their niche

Narrow it Down

This is a very important step. 

It may be hard to think about casting a net and reeling in a group of enthusiastic community members and potentially having to tell them, ‘No thanks.’ But without proper vetting, you may be creating more work for yourself in the end. It’s perfectly okay to set that expectation from the get-go. 

Start with reviewing a sample of the potential guest blogger’s work. If they are published or have a website, you can start there. If they are unpublished, request a writing sample. Have a topic or two on hand in case it’s something they need to create for you. 

Take time to thoroughly review their writing skills and voice relevance. It should have the ability to broadly sit under your branding umbrella, even if it has a toe or two in the sun. 

It also can be helpful to review their social media. Look for the quality of their posts and how they engage with their fans. This is important as you want to make sure that who you partner with will treat any referrals positively.

Planning, Prepping and Building — Oh My!

With our new writers in hand, it’s time to nestle them into our content calendar. 

If you don’t already have a calendar set up — Now. Is. The. Time. 

Content calendars are essential for planning, organizing and tracking your content. This will help identify content needs, organize topics, timelines, authors, and more. Your calendar also will help you plan out future content, like events, seasons, and when to refurbish past content.

It can be as simple as something you add to your current online calendar or as robust as third-party software that can automate and organize to a T. 

This is also a great time to build out a guideline or contract for your writers. A simple one-sheet that gives expectations and parameters for their piece is incredibly helpful. Established writers will expect this. 

Guides can include things such as:

  • Word count
  • Image quality, size, aspect ratio
  • Stance on using foul language
  • Stance on broaching political or religious topics
  • Hard deadlines
  • Review and publishing process
  • A kind thank you 

The content calendar can feed your deadlines and topic needs. 

Like a great meal, you’re now planned, prepped and have the proper ingredients — it’s time to cook up your content. Work with your writers, make sure they have all their questions answered, and consider sending some of your best-performing blogs around the topic for inspiration. 

The Final Push

Even with the relief of writing duties and a plan in place, it’ll serve you well to bake into your content deadlines some review and revision time for all submitted work. 

Remember, even in the editing process, you don’t want to edit out their voice. Keep to things that were outlined in your guide and basic editing, such as grammatical errors. With that being said, there will come a time when you will also have to make content revisions. Do so with good reasoning and in keeping to their tone and writing style. 

Take a look at all submitted images but know that there may be a possibility that either the image or the rights cannot be obtained, so it’s helpful to be prepared to have images at the ready from your own library. 

Lastly, don’t forget to include their bio when you run their article. It’s a great way to highlight them as a writer and give insight to their voice and authority as a community member. Be sure to include any website or social media links for that cross-promotional value. 

Now you’re ready! It’s time to step out and bring in your bevy of content creators to build a strong strategy to better promote your destination, its people and its businesses.