How do I create content guidelines?

How to give writers instructions and write brand guidelines.

Who's to blame for bad content?

The writer or the instructions?

Oftentimes, the culprit is the latter.

Strong content guidelines improve every assignment you create. Here's a guide for creating them.


What’s the point? Tell them what you want your blog to achieve. Is it there to increase traffic, get more social shares, or generate leads? Do you encourage controversy? Are you trying to rank for certain keywords?

Audience. You cannot give too much detail here. If you don’t lay out precisely whom you’re targeting, don’t be surprised when writers don’t nail it. Take the time to create creative personas.

Original content requirements. All ClearVoice content is run through CopyScape and you'll be emailed if any duplicate content is found. Still, add this requirement to avoid potential headaches.

Voice, tone, and style. Each assignment will have its voice, tone, and style but what about your blog as a whole? I.e BuzzFeed meets New York Times or a conversion-focused blog that educates and sells.

Formatting requirements. Are long paragraphs OK? How about hyperlinks within the article? How many subheads do you require, and should they be H2 or H3?

Topics your blog covers and examples of popular posts. These are great resources for a writer.

Quality expectations. How much editing are you willing to do? What mistakes are tolerated and what will get writers removed from your team?

Images and media expectations. See How do I get photos/images in my post?


Linking. What type of outbound links are allowed? What about internal links? Reviewing and changing links is time-consuming and takes up editing time, so provide info accordingly.

Bylines and bios. Will writers be provided an author bio with a link? Will the content be ghostwritten? Ask them to provide their bio if needed.

Sharing. Encourage contributors to share and promote the articles they write for your blog.

Community participation & sharing. Encourage writers to share their work when it's live. Additionally, they should get a conversation going through social as much as they can and respond to comments on the post if applicable.

More Info

ClearVoice Blog - How to Create Contributor Guidelines That Get You Great Content Every Time