Many blogs on the internet fail due to underestimating the time and effort required for managing the content. The fact is it is not always possible for single blogger to manage everything on a website. You can outsource content writing to freelancers and third-party companies if you have sufficient budget. Otherwise, WordPress is the best blogging platform, and you can utilize it in a variety of ways to collect content from your readers and followers. This article will show you how to accept user-submitted content to contribute blog entries to your WordPress site using the User Submitted Posts plugin.
What is User-Submitted Content?
User-submitted content is any form of content created by your site’s visitors. Examples of this content include:
- Accepting guest posts to keep your blog updated and offer a platform for authors.
- Publish sponsored post to earn additional income.
- Reviews submitted on your blog posts or products.
- Comments received when you have enabled commenting for blog posts.
- Discussions on bulletin board and forum postings.
- Feedback in social media campaigns and blog articles.
These are amazing ways of automatically adding content to your site. It can help to increase the visibility and user engagement of your blog thus improving the overall SEO of your blog.
Benefits of User Generated Content
Usually, the website’s owner will not allow visitors to submit articles or posts to the site. But what if you want your WordPress site to accept user-generated content? You can use user-submitted content to increase your readership, publish more content on your website, and engage your community.
- By allowing your users to submit content to your website, you will have more content to publish on your blog and will be able to cover a broader range of ideas in your niche.
- If you have a solid content strategy in place and strive to publish fresh, relevant, and high-quality content on your website or blog, you will boost your chances of attracting a larger audience and a loyal following. That is especially beneficial if you enjoy guest blogging.
- Even if you have your writing team that publishes content regularly on your website, your audience may have a strong opinion on the subject – that aids in boosting your readership and providing a variety of views on vital aspects.
You might be amazed by the outcomes if you allow readers of your site to post their new ideas and produce and recommend their own posts.
Caution Before Accepting User Generated Content
Besides all the above good points, you will be wondered why no popular WordPress blogs accept user generated posts from frontend submission. In fact, many blogs, disable comments and closed their forum to disable user engagement on their site. The reason is simple that in most cases, user generated content hurts your ranking in Google due to the following reasons.
- Linking is the primary objective of any user generated content thus reducing the quality of content. WordPress by default assigns rel=ugc and rel=nofollow attributes to the user generated links like comment author link. However, you have to manually take care of this when accepting guest posts from frontend submission. Similarly, when accepting sponsored posts, make sure to add rel=sponsored attribute to hyperlinks to inform search engines that the post is a paid submission.
- Reviewing and moderating user generated content is as difficult as creating a new content due to the above mentioned link insertion problem.
- Managing spam submission will be another headache. Though User Submitted Posts plugin allows Google reCAPTCHA and challenge question, you will still receive lot of manual spam content that you have to review manually.
In summary, make sure to review and add correct link attributes when you accept user-submitted content in WordPress.
Accepting User-Submitted Content in WordPress with User Submitted Posts Plugin
User Submitted Posts is a free WordPress plugin that adds a frontend form to your site. You can embed the submission form anywhere on your site using a template tag or with a shortcode. To use the shortcode, simply paste it into any post, page, or in widgets area. It includes a sophisticated post-submission form that allows users to submit a form directly from the front-end. Users want to send an article, can submit their content and upload images through the form right from their browser. You may also use the plugin to translate your content into over 20 different languages.
Additionally, the plugin auto-detects logged-in users, allows you to assign submitted posts to any registered user and supports multiple emails with email alerts.
Installing User Submitted Posts Plugin
Since this is a free plugin, you can install and activate it directly from your WordPress admin panel by navigating to “Plugins > Add New” section. After that, go to your dashboard and scroll down to the “Settings” menu. The plugin will add a new submenu named “User Submitted Posts” and click on it. The plugin offers large number of options to setup the form under various categories. We will go through the details in the below sections.
Setup Form Fields
As you know, publishing a WordPress blog post needs many mandatory and optional fields. For example, assigning a category is mandatory while adding tags is optional for a blog post in WordPress. If you do not assign a category, WordPress will assign the default category from your admin settings. You can enable the required fields and disable those not needed for your case by selecting them from the dropdown against each field. User Name, User Email, Post Title, Post Tags, and other fields fall into this category. The submission form in the frontend will show all the enabled fields and user needs to fill out those details for successfully submitting the content.
Next section is “General Settings” that allows you to customize the appearance of your post submission form.
- Select your form style from one of the available options. HTML5 form with default CSS is useful in many cases as it allows submitters to focus on the content instead of designing with custom CSS.
- On the “Targeted Loading” box, you can provide the pages or posts URL(s) where you will show the submission form. Since you will be using the form on only one or two pages, make sure to provide those URLs with comma separated format. This will help the plugin to load CSS/JS assets just on that page without affecting any other pages on your site. You can leave this box blank to load the plugin resources on all pages which is not recommended as it will affect the page loading speed of pages which do not have the form.
- For the “Post Type”, you can choose the recommended “WP Post” option. This will include the submitted post in the regular blog index and archive pages like category and tags. It is also possible to keep the submitted content as a page or include them as custom post. In these cases, you will not find the post in the regular blog index and archives.
- Select a “Post Status” and specify whether users should submit their posts as drafts, leave them pending, or publish them right away from the drop-down menu that appears. As explained above, user generated content can affect your SEO due to bad links. Therefore, use the default pending option and avoid directly publishing without review.
- Under “Redirect URL”, you can specify a URL for redirecting users after submission of the form. Alternatively, you can leave this as blank to keep the user on the same page.
- Type a message displayed if post submission is successful in the “Success Message” box.
- Go to the “Error Message” box and compose an error message displayed if the submission fails.
- Navigate to the “Custom Content” box and create a text to be included before the submission form. Leave it blank if you want to disable the functionality.
- Below the custom content, you will see checkboxes; Rich Text Editor, Unique Titles, Disable Required, and Enable Shortcodes in widgets. Check the required checkboxes if you want to activate the functionalities.
Privacy and Categories Setup
By default, the plugin will record the IP address of the user submitting the content. You can disable IP tracking by checking the “Disable IP Tracking” box under “Privacy” section. You can add a custom message in the form and ask users to accept your terms or services before submitting the content. This is useful for handing GDPR and other privacy laws to get user consent on how you will process the received content. First enable “Display Checkbox” then fill out name, error message and text in the available text boxes.
Next, move to “Categories & Tags” section and click on link against “Categories” option to select from the available categories in your site. These categories will show in the form and user can select the appropriate one based on the content. Check the “Multiple Categories” checkbox if you want to allow users to select multiple categories. Similarly, if you do not want users to select categories, check “Hidden/Default Category” option. As mentioned above, WordPress needs a category for publishing a blog post. Therefore, you have to assign one or multiple category IDs in the next checkbox that shows “Category ID for Hidden Field”.
Next option is to allow uses to select tags from the available items from your site. Since tags are optional in WordPress, you can leave this as blank. Also, leave it as blank if you have hundreds of tags used on your site. otherwise, the dropdown will be big enough to freeze the page when user clicks the dropdown.
WordPress blog posts need an author and you can customize the author for submitted posts under this “Users” section. User Submitted Posts plugin allows you to do this in two ways. You can either create a generic username and accept posts under that author or ask uses to register before submitting the content.
- Scroll down to “Users” section and select an author name already available in your site. All submitted posts will be automatically assigned to this author name which you can change if required before publishing the article. We recommend creating a “Guest User” and assign here so that you can easily identify all user-submitted posts based on that author name.
- Alternatively, you can check the Registered Username, Registered Email, User Profile URL, and Require User Login checkboxes. Note that these checkboxes are only valid when the user submitting the form is logged in to WordPress. You can also enable “Disable Replace Author” checkbox not to replace the post author with the submitted username.
Custom Fields and Challenge Questions
You can use custom fields to collect addition post meta information. Check out our earlier article on how to use custom fields in WordPress blog, however, here you can disable this as you need further coding to output the collected information. If you really want to enable custom fields then you can do so by using the “Form Fields” setting as explained in the above section. After enabling, change the custom field’s name and label in the corresponding boxes.
Next is the important “Challenge Question” section to prevent spam form submission. Add a challenge question and a response. The “Challenge Response” should be the correct answer to the “Challenge Question” which will allow users to submit the form. Check the “Case Sensitive” Checkbox if you want the “Challenge Response” to be case-sensitive.
If you want use CAPTCHA protection, go to the “Google reCAPTCHA” section and enter your public/private keys. Click on the “reCAPTCHA Version” and choose the version you desire from the drop-down menu.
Email alerts can help you to get an instant email notification whenever user submits the form. Navigate to the “Email Alerts” section and enable the “Receive Email Alerts” checkbox. You can also choose to enable HTML format for the email. Enter the email to receive all alerts, mention the from address, alert subject and message details. Nevertheless, you can leave them blank to use the defaults settings and also use list of available variables to insert content like post title, author, etc.
Image Uploads and Auto Display Settings
These are the final settings before you finish the customizations.
- Scroll down to the “Image Uploads” section, check the “Featured Image” checkbox if you want, and compose an upload message that will appear next to the upload field. You can also choose whether or not to allow users to post images, restrict the minimum and the maximum number of photos users can upload, the smallest and largest image widths, as well as the largest and smallest image height.
- Under “Auto-Display Content” section, you can decide to show the uploaded images and submitted email. We recommend disabling these options though you can show on top or bottom of the post content by enabling corresponding checkboxes.
Similarly, go to the “Auto-Display Name”, “Auto-Display URL”, and “Auto-Display Custom Field” and check the “Do not auto-display …” options for each one of them.
Now that you have finished the setup, you have multiple options to showcase the form on your site to allow users submitting articles. First, click the “Save Settings” button to apply your changes. Next thing you need to do is go to the “Display the Form” section and look for the shortcode. The plugin offers different shortcodes that you need to insert on your page to add the submission form to that page.
You can get different shortcodes for post submission, user login/registration, display submitted posts, image gallery, reset form button and access control. Copy the required shortcodes based on your customizations.
Inserting Submission Form
You may now add the user-submitted posts form after copying the shortcode. Simply create a new page in WordPress or edit one that already exist to display the form. After that, paste the shortcode into your editor, save the draft, update and finally publish it.
To see your user-submitted posts form in action, visit the page. The image below shows how your submission form will look like when users visit the page.
This post has given you a detailed guide on allowing and accepting user-submitted content on your WordPress site. User can publish posts in few simple steps using a submission form added with the help of User Submitted Posts plugin. Though the setup needs some patience and time, users will simply see a form similar to a contact form and submit their content effortlessly.
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