How to Reward Your Guest Authors and Build a Strong Community
The best (and I’d say the only) way to create a strong community of talented guest authors around your blog is to offer incentives. You want your guest bloggers to be sincere in their desire to provide quality – so you want to be sincere in your desire to pay back.
No, it is not about money. Guest blogging is about benefit exchange: the authors give your blog high-quality content (and thus traffic and leads) and you give your guests exposure.
So do you promote your guest authors enough?
Rewarding with Backlinks
You may not really like that but let’s face it: most (even awesome) guest authors contribute content for links. Being generous in linking is the sure-fire way to get plenty of active guest contributors.
Important note: your linking policies are up to you. My own take is that if the author provides awesome content, he 100% deserves at least two or three keyword-rich (or "SEOed") links. But that’s up to you, your niche, your experience and what you belief in. I absolutely believe there is no right or wrong way to do that.
Let me make it clear that you really should be careful with linking (at least to some extent):
- If you are too generous and let your guest authors link back to whatever they want, you have good chances to attract plenty of spammers;
- Links are not just for search engines, they are primarily for users: make sure the links are useful for your blog readers in the first place.
Here is what I can recommend:
- Always find out which web pages your guest blogger is willing to link back to (before letting him write the post for the first time);
- Maintain high standards in your linking policies and make it clear that backlinks are NOT the hugest benefit your guest bloggers are getting.
(Personal) Brand Awareness: Author Boxes and Profiles
Another great way to give your authors more exposure is to work on your blog author boxes:
- Demonstrate that your blog has the diversity of voices;
- Let your authors build their (personal) brand awareness (and thus encourage them to contribute more often).
Make sure to read this post on WordPress customizations that requires no plugins. The very first tip mentioned there is actually about creating a cool author box without any plugin needed – which may ultimately mean more freedom and customization available. Here’s another great article by Franky describing how to optimize the author pages with the description, info and Gravatar photos.
If you prefer to use a plugin, here are a few options (tested and found compatible with the most recent WordPress edition):
Author Exposed is an absolutely clutter-free nice-looking plugin that can be used in combination with any design hacks you have at your site. With it, the author info is visible only after a click: by clicking on the author name the layer pops up with author info generated from the profile page, plus gravatar photo:
Cool Author Box: This plugin creates an author box below the post displaying:
- The name and the bio of the author of the post or page
- Gravatar of the author
- Link to other posts by the same author
- Link to author’s website
I wish it were a bit more customizable in terms of look and feel:
Author Spotlight: This plugin works as the sidebar widget. It automatically detects the author of the current post (which means the widget is hidden on the home page and category pages) and displays the following author information:
- The author’s name;
- The author’s website;
- The author’s bio (with the link to the full bio);
- The link to the author’s posts.
The plugin text can be customized:
Rewarding with the Words of Appreciation
Tangible incentives (like links and author photos) are great but no community is strong enough unless its members feel welcomed and appreciated. So don’t forget to express you positive feedback in public:
- Always comment actively at your guest authors’ posts. Make it obvious you are proud of their contribution;
- If you tweet your contributor’s post, credit him publicly (by including "by @author-username" part);
- If you share at Facebook, tag your contributor for him to receive it and appreciate the credit.
Building the solid and active community of guest bloggers around your blog takes time and effort (and you obviously need to pay back) but the outcome is priceless!
Do you reward your guest authors well enough to encourage them to provide high-quality content in exchange?
This is a guest post by Ann Smarty building an ethical community of guest bloggers at MyBlogGuest.com – join and enjoy if you are serious about guest blogging!