How To Selectively Share a Draft in WordPress

A pretty common problem in WordPress is that you have a draft of a post or page that you want to share with someone (who doesn’t have a login to your WordPress site). By default, sharing a draft link in WordPress to someone who isn’t logged in to your site doesn’t work. They’ll just see your 404 page. This happens to keep your unpublished content properly unpublished.

But when you’re trying to have a guest writer double-check that you didn’t make any errors in transferring their post, it’s a bummer. So you need a solution that lets a post stay unpublished, but make it available to that local business interviewee whose interview you’re going to publish on your site. That’s where the “Public Post Preview” plugin is a big help! And though the name may deceive you, it works for all content types: posts, pages, portfolio items, quick guides, whatever.

As usual, we’ve got a video if that’s your style:

And if it’s not, here are the crucial steps in getting the plugin working to make it easy to share drafts with guests to your WordPress site.

How to Let Selected Visitors See An Unpublished Post on Your WordPress Site, Step-by-Step:

  1. Install the “Public Post Preview” plugin. Then activate it.
  2. Go to the post (or page) you want to share in the editor.
  3. In the upper right “Publish” metabox, if you’ve successfully activated the plugin, you’ll see a new option: “Enable public preview”. Check the box to the left of that text
  4. After you check that box, a text field will drop down with a URL inside of it. To share your draft and let the guest see it, you’ll need to copy that link.
  5. Paste that link into your email/text/Slack/etc message. Get your feedback from the person you needed it from, and publish with confidence!
  6. (Optional) After you’ve gotten your feedback, you can disable the option for that post. Especially if you’re worried about the security for the unpublished draft, that may be a good idea. But if you’re not worried, it’s pretty harmless to leave it on.

One minor nerdy technical detail: what’s happening here is that the “Public Post Preview” plugin appends and relies on an extra “query string” — that is, bit at the end of the URL, it’ll typically look something like &_ppp=123abc12 — to provide access to the person you send it to and not everyone. Someone with the link with the correct query string will be able to see your post. But if they get the normal preview link, WordPress will behave like normal and show a 404 page.

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