How to Crowdsource Phenomenal Blog Content: The Complete Guide

Do you struggle to consistently come up with brilliant blog ideas and create enough high-quality content to meet your publishing goals? Are you looking for new ways to engage your community and provide them real value? If so, consider crowdsourcing original content from your audience.

By tapping into the collective wisdom and experiences of your customers, employees, partners and fans, you can generate truly authentic, trustworthy and compelling content—while making your community feel valued and invested in your brand.

Sound intriguing? In this ultimate guide, we‘ll walk through the step-by-step process of crowdsourcing amazing blog content, from setting clear objectives to publishing and promoting posts. We‘ll cover best practices and potential pitfalls to avoid. And you‘ll see inspiring examples of crowdsourced content done right.

Why Crowdsource Blog Content?

Before we get into the how-to, let‘s recap the key benefits of crowdsourcing content from your community:

Engage your audience: Inviting your audience to contribute content makes them feel heard, appreciated and more loyal to your brand. 70% of consumers say user-generated content (UGC) makes them feel a closer connection to brands (Stackla).

Boost trust and credibility: Real content from real people is inherently more relatable and trustworthy than content from your brand. Millennials say UGC is 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than other media (Crowdtap).

Get fresh insights and perspectives: Your community can surface new topics, angles and ideas you may not have thought of. Diverse voices add depth and flavor to your content.

Expand your expertise: Featuring curated insights from experts both in and outside of your company establishes your brand as a go-to industry resource.

Fill your editorial calendar: Crowdsourcing can provide a steady stream of quality content when your team‘s bandwidth is limited. 85% of brands say they‘re able to consistently publish new content by incorporating UGC (Stackla).

Reach new audiences: When contributors share content they‘re featured in, you gain exposure to their networks and grow your own audience.

Save time and money: While it takes effort to coordinate, crowdsourcing content from your community is more affordable than hiring an army of professional writers.

A caveat: Crowdsourcing works best when you already have an engaged community to tap into. But you can (and should) use crowdsourced content to build and engage a community from scratch too. It just may take more promotion to generate submissions at first.

What Content Can You Crowdsource?

Many types of blog content lend themselves well to crowdsourcing, but some of the best include:

  • Roundup posts featuring tips, insights or examples from experts and/or "everyday" folks in your niche. According to SEO software Ahrefs, roundup posts tend to attract a ton of backlinks.

  • Q&As or interviews with thought leaders, practitioners or customers in your industry. Publishing these can help you build relationships with the interviewees.

  • Customer stories and case studies showcasing how real people are succeeding with your product or in your niche. These make powerful social proof.

  • Opinion pieces and commentary on timely topics in your industry. Crowdsourcing can help you take the pulse of your audience.

  • "How I do it" process posts where practitioners share their workflows and tips. These provide tangible value readers can implement.

  • Curated UGC like customer photos, videos, reviews and social media posts. Visual UGC is especially powerful for building authenticity and engagement.

Of course, you can crowdsource snippets to enhance your own blog posts too, like quotes, examples, data points and anecdotes.

How to Crowdsource Blog Content Step-by-Step

Ready to harness the power of crowdsourced content for your blog? Follow these five steps:

Step 1: Define Your Crowdsourcing Goals & Ideal Contributors

Like any content initiative, crowdsourcing should align with your big-picture business and marketing goals. Start by identifying your objectives, like:

  • Building thought leadership in a category
  • Engaging a specific customer segment
  • Expanding into a new content niche
  • Growing email subscribers
  • Generating leads and revenue

Then determine what type of content you need to support those goals. Is it a series of expert roundup posts? A library of customer success stories spanning every use case? Perhaps a collection of hot takes on a trending topic?

Next, consider who is in the best position to provide the content you‘re looking for. What does your ideal contributor look like in terms of:

  • Expertise and experience
  • Profession or role
  • Perspectives and opinions
  • Industry or niche
  • Audience and reach

Create a contributor persona to represent your target content partners. Give them a name, a face, a background. Having a clear picture of your ideal contributors will help you find them and craft outreach that resonates.

Step 2: Create a Compelling Contributor Outreach Plan

With your crowdsourcing goals and ideal contributors nailed down, map out your plan for recruiting content from your crowd. Consider:

Incentives: What‘s in it for contributors? Recognition, backlinks, access to exclusive content or communities, free products for top submissions? Align incentives to goals. For example, if you aim to build thought leadership, having industry experts‘ names on your blog may be incentive enough.

Outreach channels: Where will you promote your crowdsourcing opportunity for maximum visibility and submissions? Owned channels like email and social media are the lowest-hanging fruit. Employee and partner advocacy can expand your reach. Niche communities relevant to your topic are also prime promotion targets.

Outreach messaging: How will you sell contributing to your audience? Clearly convey the topic, the ask, what contributors get, and how to submit. Lean into benefits like expanded reach and credibility. For cold outreach, reference their work to show you‘re paying attention.

Submission process: How will people submit their content? Via email, a landing page form, a social media hashtag, a file sharing service? Make submission as easy as possible while capturing all needed info like name, headshot, bio, and links.

Timeline: What‘s your deadline for submissions? When will contributors be notified if they‘re selected? When will the crowdsourced content be published? Communicate your timeline clearly and account for extra time for stragglers.

Volume needed: How many contributions do you need to create your crowdsourced content? Generally, assume 5-10% of people you reach out to will actually submit. Scale outreach accordingly.

Once you‘ve ironed out these details, craft your outreach assets like email templates, social media posts, graphics, and submission forms. Create tracking URLs so you can see which channels drive the most participation.

Step 3: Give Clear Content Guidelines and Examples

The clearer your content guidelines for contributors, the more relevant, on-brand submissions you‘ll get back. At minimum, your guidelines should cover:

  • Target content length or word count
  • Specific questions or prompts to answer
  • Desired format and structure
  • Tone and style to adhere to
  • What info to include (and not include)
  • How to submit
  • Your editorial standards and policies
  • Deadline for submissions

Be clear about usage and ownership rights for crowdsourced content too. Most UGC is shared by creators with the assumption it may be republished by the brand. But it‘s best practice to explicitly notify contributors how their content will be used.

Provide examples of strong submissions so creators can model their content accordingly. You may even supply templates or story formulas for them to follow.

Step 4: Promote Your Crowdsourcing Opportunity Like Crazy

With crystal-clear guidelines ready, it‘s time to get the word out to your network of ideal contributors. Focus first on channels where your audience is already engaged, like:

  • Your email newsletter and targeted email outreach
  • Social media channels where you have an active following
  • Niche forums, Slack communities, LinkedIn and Facebook groups
  • Relevant industry blogs and publications
  • Conferences and events (virtual or in-person)

The more targeted, the better. For example, if crowdsourcing a post on remote engineering practices, you‘ll get more qualified submissions by promoting in a Slack group for distributed dev teams vs. blasting your company‘s entire email list.

Support promotion to your own audience with strategic outreach to influencers and experts in your niche. Comb through your CRM for past collaborators and guest bloggers. Research relevant influencers and send them personalized emails or DMs on social. A little ego-stroking goes a long way.

Consider paid promotion too. Social media ads targeted by interest or past engagement, sponsored content in newsletters, even press release distribution can surface your crowdsourcing opportunity to a wider audience.

Regularly mention you‘re accepting contributed content on social media and in your newsletters. Add a "Write for Us" page to your website or blog. The wider you cast your net, the more (and more diverse) the submissions you‘ll reel in.

Step 5: Curate, Polish and Publish Your Crowdsourced Masterpiece

The submissions have rolled in. Now it‘s time to turn that motley assortment of content into a cohesive, compelling blog post.

Review all submissions and select the most relevant, insightful or engaging ones that fit the topic and your guidelines. Aim for a mix of perspectives and experiences, but prioritize quality over quantity or diversity. It‘s okay to only feature the best submissions.

Organize the chosen content in a logical way. Weave contributors‘ submissions together with your own insights, data points and commentary. Use contributors‘ own words as much as possible to maintain their authentic voices.

Ruthlessly edit for clarity, grammar and adherence to your brand voice—without sacrificing contributors‘ original tone. Fact check any stats or claims made, and add in relevant links for further reading.

Give contributors their moment in the sun by including their full names, credentials, headshots and links to their websites or social profiles alongside their contributed content. Seeing their smiling faces and credentials boosts the perceived trustworthiness.

Once the post is polished to perfection, publish it to your usual blog channels. But the crowdsourcing fun doesn‘t stop there.

Close the loop with contributors by emailing them the link to the published post. Thank them again for their stellar submissions. Encourage them to share the post with their networks and subscribe to your blog for future crowdsourced content opportunities.

Repromote the post across all your distribution channels, shouting out contributors. Engage any contributors who share the content or comment. The more valued they feel, the more likely they‘ll contribute again or send their colleagues your way.

Crowdsourcing Inspiration: 4 Content Examples to Emulate

Many heavyweight brands have built loyal communities and dominated search by regularly publishing crowdsourced content. Take notes from these examples:

  1. HubSpot‘s Partner Perspectives – HubSpot publishes agency partner spotlights on topics like conquering client churn and structuring marketing retainers. Partners share advice based on their real experiences, which provides a ton of value to HubSpot‘s agency audience while incentivizing featured partners to share with their networks.

  2. Growth Marketing Pro‘s Growth Interviews – Mark Spera crowdsources in-depth growth marketing advice from leaders at companies like Amazon, LinkedIn and Dropbox. These interviews cement GMP‘s status as an elite growth resource and attract backlinks like flies to honey.

  3. Patagonia‘s Worn Wear – Patagonia publishes customer photos and stories showing their well-loved, well-worn Patagonia gear. This visual UGC provides authentic social proof while aligning with the brand‘s mission of sustainability.

  4. Ahrefs‘ Expert Roundups – Ahrefs publishes expert roundups on meaty SEO and marketing topics featuring tips from industry heavyweights like Brian Dean and Joanna Wiebe. Publishing advice from trusted faces boosts Ahrefs‘ authority. And the ego boost of inclusion makes experts eager to share and link to the posts.

Potential Pitfalls of Crowdsourcing Content

While crowdsourcing has serious upside, it has downsides too.

One of the biggest challenges is maintaining quality control. You‘re relying on people outside your organization to submit content that aligns with your standards and values. No matter how clear your guidelines, some submissions will miss the mark.

Even with clear guidelines, you have limited control over the content that comes in. You may not get the perspectives or volume of submissions you hoped for. If your incentive isn‘t compelling enough, you may get no submissions at all.

There‘s also risk of abuse. Unscrupulous contributors may attempt to sneak in links to spammy sites. Or they may submit plagiarized content. Protect your blog by thoroughly vetting submissions and using strong incentives that attract legit contributors.

And finally, crowdsourcing content is a significant investment of time. Getting your outreach campaign up and running, answering contributor questions, reviewing submissions, chasing down stragglers, editing content and managing community all takes serious effort. You‘ll save time in original content creation, but you‘ll spend it on contributor management instead.

Putting This All Together

Consistently publishing high-quality blog content is hard. It‘s even harder when the burden is entirely on you and your internal team to turn out fresh articles day after day, week after week.

That‘s where crowdsourcing comes in. By inviting your community of customers, employees, industry peers and fans to co-create blog content with you, you tap into new expertise, perspectives and storytelling. You build social proof and credibility. You engage your audience on a deeper level. All while saving time and money on content creation.

To get your crowdsourcing initiative off the ground, follow the five-step process we outlined:

  1. Set goals and define your ideal contributors
  2. Map out your contributor outreach plan
  3. Create crystal-clear content submission guidelines
  4. Promote your opportunity like crazy
  5. Curate, polish, publish and promote the finished product

Above all, make it dead simple for people to contribute and heap recognition on those who do. The easier and more rewarding contributing is, the more high-quality, brand-building UGC you‘ll get.

Like any content initiative, crowdsourcing has its challenges. But with a strong strategy, meticulous execution and commitment to community, the rewards can be enormous.

If you‘re ready to harness the wisdom of your crowd and take your content to the next level, begin building your crowdsourcing plan today. Stay tuned for more tactical guides on crafting irresistible submission guidelines, targeting outreach to influencers, curating UGC at scale and more.