What’s the difference between collab and guest posts?
Guest posts are a lot more well-known than collab posts but ideally you should be using both of them on your blog. A guest post is a full article on your website that is written by someone else who isn’t the regular author. This could be other bloggers in your niche or new and upcoming writers. It’s customary that the guest blogger will link to their own blog (or another platform) in the article and have their name attributed to the work. In most cases, the reader won’t really be able to tell that the article was written by someone else unless they specifically look at thee author tag.
A collab post is almost like a guest post with many authors. Most of the time collab posts will be lists such as “The best Beaches on the East Coast of Australia”. Each list item will be written by a different blogger and the original blog owner can even write some as well. Collab posts require a lot more editing and work to put together than guest posts. Collabs are also a lot less flexible when it comes to potential topics since it’s very difficult to use them for things other than lists.
For the guest blogger a collab post is a less useful backlink since the link is often diluted by the high number of other bloggers involved and the attention is drawn away from their own site.
Why you should be hosting collab or guest posts on your travel blog
It’s clear that writing collab or guest posts for other sites is useful for building links and building a brand but why should you as a blogger host guest or collab posts on your own platform?
The obvious reason is because you’re essentially getting “free” content. We have to be careful with using the word free here as nothing in this world is free especially not when it comes to the blogging universe. But having someone else write a post for your blog can help you free up some time to focus on other things which is definitely a benefit.
Networking and audience sharing
Hosting guest or collab posts can also have great benefits for networking purposes. You’re getting your name out there and any guest bloggers will most likely promote the post to their own audience as well. Maybe you’ll even make some friends along the way. Having connections is always a plus.
You can’t be an expert in everything
You want to gather as much useful content on your website as possible. However, no on is an expert in everything and there will always be a topic that your readers would love to hear about but you just don’t know anything about. A guest blogger can help you close these knowledge gaps and share an interesting new perspective.
As a travel blogger I always struggle when I visit new places because I want to see absolutely everything. Tourists have the liberty of staying home for an evening because they’ve had enough of sightseeing but for someone who’s job it is to create a list of the things to do in Porto you don’t have the luxury of skipping activities or otherwise your post will be incomplete. A great way to write about places you’ve sort of seen but not really is to host a collab post. Other bloggers will be more than happy to fill the gaps and you don’t have to worry about sharing something that isn’t 100% complete.
Having the right photos is absolutely crucial for a successful blog post. Stock photos are great but a lot of bloggers (me included) notice that original images seem to do best. Also, as a reader I can always spot cheesy stock images and I much prefer someone’s own photography. So what do you do if you’ve got all the information you need but really bad photos? A collab or guest post is definitely the way to go. Just make sure you pick a guest blogger who’s got all the photos you need.
What could be the downsides of hosting collab or guest posts?
Hosting collab or guest posts on your travel blog can have a lot of benefits but don’t overdo it. Too many other bloggers on your website could be confusing and have the opposite effect of what you actually want.
A different writing style or niche
Having different writing styles represented on your blog isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, make sure your guest blogger’s work at least somehow corresponds with your own and that your values align. If you’re a solo female travel blogger you might not want to have someone guest blogging who has a family blog. Try to pick bloggers who you have things in common with or at least let them know what you’re looking for before they start writing. That way they can adjust their style to fit your needs.
Your blog should be branded very carefully which also involves personal information about the authors and a consistent style. Basically, your audience should build a personal connection to you so they can know what to expect when they visit your site. If all your posts are suddenly written by someone else it might be confusing for the reader. That’s why you should use collab and guest posts with caution without overdoing it. Your blog should still be yours. If you’re trying to outsource content permanently maybe look into hiring a ghost writer.
It’s your responsibility to make sure that everything you publish is factually correct. It’s definitely a lot more difficult to fact-check information you haven’t written so only allow trustworthy bloggers to write for you. Do some background research and have a look at their content to make sure what they write matches your standards. Still, there is always a risk of publishing incorrect information and that’s just something you need to be aware of.
Do you need to host collab or guest posts on your travel blog?
The short answer is no. You don’t need to do anything.
If you have enough to write about and lots of time to come up with new content you absolutely don’t need to host collab or guest posts on your travel blog. In fact, many bloggers get by without just fine (or they use ghost writers).
However, if one of the potential benefits of hosting collab or guest posts that I mentioned above sound attractive to you then why not give it a go? A collab post is definitely easier to set up than a guest post and you can always try it once and then decide it isn’t for you. I’ve had both good and bad experiences although the positive tend to far outweigh the negative.
How often should you post collab or guest posts?
There’s a fine line between showing your audience new perspectives from guest bloggers and then having your blog be completely over taken by other authors. Go for a happy medium which will give you a bit more free time without giving your blog away entirely.
There is no set number for how often you should host guest or collab posts on your travel blog. It also depends a lot on how often you post. I would say having between 10%-25% of your posts written by other bloggers should be fine. I post once per week so hosting a collab once every month is the absolute maximum for me. It tends to be one every two months most of the time.
That doesn’t mean that having more is a bad idea. It’s just what works for me but it might be different for other bloggers.
Where to find potential guest bloggers
There are several ways you can find guest bloggers for your travel blog. The smaller your blog is (mostly measured with Domain Authority) the more difficult it will be to find other bloggers willing to contribute. This mostly applies for guest posts though and it shouldn’t be a problem to find participants for collab posts even if your DA is still very low.
In general, it might be wise to work on link building for a while before you try to host guest or collab posts on your travel blog. Once you’ve built an audience it makes a lot more sense to get other bloggers involved.
The best way to find potential guest bloggers is through Facebook Groups. You can keep an eye out for people offering to write for other blogs or post a request which usually has a really positive response. Again, it might be more difficult to find guest authors if your DA is under 25.
What to tell guest bloggers before they start writing
The more specific your instructions are for your guest bloggers the more likely you’ll end up with a usable post that won’t need much editing. You should include all this information in a little PDF document that acts as a brief for potential guest authors. That way all the information is in one place and they can easily reference it later. I made mine using Canva.
Here are some of the most important things to include.
Always specify whether you need any photos for your blog. In some cases, hosting bloggers will want to use their own if they have them but most of the time having photos is a necessary for guest bloggers. Make sure to say how many you need (between 5 and 15 is normal) and whether they should be horizontal or what resolution you need them to be in.
It’s also a good idea to ask for labelled photos so you can add subtitles and locations to them later.
Tell your guest bloggers how many links they can put in the text. The minimum is usually on link per 1000 words although you should offer at least two or even three to make it worth all the work. Just make sure that the guest blogger has relevant posts that will make sense in the text and that you’re not linking to anything irrelevant.
Most bloggers will add a little bio to introduce new guest bloggers. This is useful to let your audience know more about the author and avoid confusion. It can be really easy to forget to ask for this so include it in your guest post instructions from the beginning. A bio can be between 50 and 150 words long and usually also includes a photo of the blogger.
This is an easy one. Simply ask for around the same number of words you would also write on your own blog. A normal length for guest posts is between 800 and 2000 words. Anything more is a bit of a stretch since it involves a lot of work all of which is unpaid. If you do need more words offer more links or some other incentive so it’s worth it for the guest author. Don’t be greedy and try to keep it reasonable.
Blogging styles can vary a lot so make sure to mention a few pointers. Do you want the post to be written in first person? Can it contain personal stories? Should sources be cited? Do you want a very opinionated piece or something more neutral?
All of this is important information and it’s so much easier to state it in the beginning rather than having to go back and edit everything in hindsight.
Giving your guest bloggers keywords to use is extremely helpful and time-saving. They’re working for you for free essentially so making it as easy as possible is the best thing to do. Plus you get to decide which keywords you’d like to have in the article and which ones you’d most likely rank for.
When the post will go live
There’s nothing worse than putting all this energy into a guest post only to have it disappear and never be published. Give your bloggers a rough idea of when the post will go live. It’s not the end of the world if you need to push the publication date back but communication is key.
What information to include in your collab post instructions
Although there are similarities between the two, collab posts are still very different from guest posts. Collab post instructions are usually posted online and bloggers will respond in the comments. You don’t have as much control over who participates but since they’re only writing a short paragraph it doesn’t really matter.
Here is what you should be including in your instructions. Keep in mind that some Facebook groups have their own templates for collab post requests that you need to follow.
- Title – This doesn’t have to be the final title of the blog post but can be a rough idea of what it is about
- Deadline – Give at least a week but don’t put the deadline more than two weeks in the future as people tend to forget.
- Expected Date of Publication – This can be a rough estimate. Just make sure to let people know if publication is delayed
- How many submissions you’re looking for – Try not to do more than 20 or 25 because the links won’t be as valuable if there are too many in one post
- Word count minimum and maximum – Usually this is 150-200 words. More than 300 is too much work for a collab post in my opinion
- Writing Style – Mention whether you’d like the submission written in first or second person and whether there should be personal stories.
- Places you’re looking for – If you have a few places in mind mention them so bloggers can know what to suggest.
- Contents – This is the most important part. Mention what you would like to be included in the text. The more specific the less you’ll have to edit.
- Image requirements – Mention whether you need a horizontal image or whether vertical is fine. Most bloggers will say that they don’t want selfies or blurry images. Some also don’t accept photos with people in them. Always mention whether you’re okay with stock photos
- Ask whether the image can be used for social media – This is really important as some bloggers aren’t okay with other sites using their photos “without credit”.
- Links you’re offering – Mention whether you’re okay with linking to homepages or if you’re only accepting contextual links
- Byline and social media – Have bloggers state their name and blog name to avoid confusion. For example: written by Victoria from Guide your Travel. A social media tag can also be helpful if you want to tag the blogger in the promotion later on.
- Disclaimer – This is the part where you mention all the fine print. It’s useful to tell bloggers that you’ll be editing the submission for SEO, style and grammar purposes
- Email or Google Form – Most collabs are received via email but it might be useful to use Google Forms to avoid lost submissions
- How you would like the submission – It’s common to ask for submissions within the body of the email which saves a lot of time compared to having to download dozens of word documents. Photos should be attachments and not pasted within the email.
- Topics that are already taken – At the end of your post put a list of places that are already taken so you don’t end up with duplicate suggestions.
I know this is a really long list. The truth is the more information you pack into your collab post requirements the smaller the chance of having to answer lots of questions or receiving submissions you need to edit heavily.
Should you pay guest bloggers?
This is a tricky question. If you think about it coming up with a unique blog post with 1000+ words takes at least a few hours, most likely more. Asking someone to do that for free definitely means there needs to be at lest some sort of benefit involved for the other person.
Of course, that’s what backlinks are for but if you’ve ever written a blog post from start to finish you’ll know that a single backlink is just not worth it sometimes.
If you can afford it then by all means pay your guest bloggers. It’s the right thing to do and will probably mean you’ll get high quality articles if you approach the right people. But not every blogger can afford to do that especially if you have a smaller blog.
What I’ve seen some sites do is offer a small gift in return which is more of a gesture than anything else. This could be a 20$ Amazon gift card or a Paypal transfer of a small sum. Even if it’s just 10$ it might be a little way of showing appreciation.
However, it is perfectly acceptable to not pay anything for guest posts. The blogging life isn’t always easy but we’re all in the same boat and everyone needs to guest post for free if they want to work their way up.
Can I ask for multiple drafts and edits?
What do you do if you’ve sent out your guest post requirements and then you receive a post that’s just not what you imagined?
I’m always a big fan of speaking your mind and letting someone know what could be improved. Everything you publish should be absolutely perfect and in the end your name will be associated with the article so don’t settle for anything you don’t absolutely love.
That being said, don’t go too far with this. Remember you’re asking for free work so don’t be that person that sends back an annotated Google Document with hundreds of comments and suggestions. Be prepared to fix minor things yourself. It’s not only way faster but also a lot more efficient since you can get the article to match your exact needs.
For major edits you can of course ask for a redraft but try to reserve this for absolute disaster articles that cannot be saved. This mostly applies to guest posts and definitely applies to collab posts. They’re so short that the time you’ll spend drafting an email will take 5 times time amount it would take to just rewrite the text. Work smarter, not harder.
If you truly feel like someone did a bad job and you don’t want to give the the link back you can always let them know that the submission wasn’t a great fit and move on.
If you do make edits to a guest or collab post just let the author know so they won’t be confused when they read the finished piece. “Hey, I made some minor edits to your text. Let me know if you’d like me to send the article to you again before it goes live” should work perfectly.
What to look for in a potential guest blogger
Should you let just anyone guest post on your blog?
Absolutely not of course.
Try to be a bit picky with the bloggers you select for guest posts. Collab posts it’s more difficult to control and you don’t need to perform a background check on absolutely everyone. For me some important factors include:
- How active is their blog? You don’t want to link to an inactive site
- What’s their niche? Does it roughly match and compliment yours?
- Do they have very similar content? A few of the same topics is fine but avoid linking to a site with too much competing content
- How old is their blog? I try to avoid sites that are less than a year old as they are more likely to be abandoned and have a lot less content
- Does their style match yours? Someone with a very personal writing style might not be the best match for my blog
- What are their photography skills like? I need great photos so I try to find people who I know will have good ones
How to stay organised
Doing few guest posts won’t be a problem but after a while things can get confusing very quickly. I like to keep an Excel (or in my case Google Sheets) spread sheet with all the collab and guest posts I’ve hosted and the bloggers that participated. I also have one for the collabs and guest posts I’ve done myself but that’s a different story.
That way I always have an overview of the bloggers I’ve promoted and can periodically check if their sites are still active.
For collab posts it’s even more important to see who you’ve worked with as there can be so many. I can reference who I’ve linked to and also have a place to collect email contacts which might be helpful for future projects.
What to do after you’ve received a guest or collab post
It’s always good to send out a quick confirmation email so the author knows you’ve received the submission. I’ve had problems with email programs before so knowing if my mail arrived is always really helpful.
Once the post has gone live it’s really important that you let your guest bloggers know. This goes for both collab and guest posts. It’s also helpful to include any links to social media so they can easily promote it with only a few clicks. I also like to follow my guest bloggers on social media so we can stay in touch and possibly work together again in the future. This is not necessary but nice way to connect.