I’m speaking at WebVisions on “Managing Multiple Bloggers in WordPress” on Thursday, May 26, 2011, at 11:30AM in Portland, Oregon. The following is part of a series of articles on the topic and notes from my presentation.
Crap! When it comes to managing multiple bloggers, crap is a word – hell, a sentence – used frequently. Crap that an author blogged off topic. Crap that the code that should work doesn’t. Crap that someone’s bitching about this or that. Crap that multiple contributor sites can attract spammers, hackers, whiners, and troublemakers faster than mosquitoes in summer. Crap that two people covered the same topic from pretty much the same angle. Crap that the site went down and twelve people are screaming at us for access. Crap that the deadline was missed. Crap that we have to track down an errant contributor. Crap that we didn’t know what we needed to know before everyone else knew. And the list goes on.
There is also a lot of joy in working with multiple contributors. Their willingness to risk, be extraordinarily creative, to work together in harmony and appreciation of the opportunities before them, and the energy of working with a team, the design challenges, the variety of content and perspectives – these are just a few of the great joys that come with working on a multiple blogger blog.
However, the C.R.A.P. mentioned in the title of my presentation at WebVisions 2011 has only a little to do with the negative and positive aspects of managing a multiple blogger blog. It spells out: Code, Research, Aggregation, and Plugins.
I have to admit that I didn’t come up with the acronym. My dear friend, DB Ferguson of the No Fact Zone, worked for a couple days to come up with that brilliant combination. However, I’m going to take this in the order of R.A.P.C. which is Research, Aggregation, Plugins, and Code, and probably mix that up even more in this series.
Before you begin a multiple blogger blog, you need to do the research, and there is a lot of it. While you can just start a blog and invite all your friends, it helps to start with a well organized plan. Once you have the research done, the content (aggregation), WordPress Plugins, and code fall right into place as you know what you need to build the site..
In this series, I’m going to focus on a single self-hosted installation of WordPress, though most of this will easily apply to a blog network or multisite WordPress blog. Another alternative is to use the free hosted WordPress.com and timethief of One Cool Site has created a guide to multi-author blogs on WordPress.com as a starting point, then use some of my tips to enhance the site even more.
C.R.A.P.: Research – What’s Most Important to an Author
The key points you must guide you as you move through this entire project are:
Help your authors help themselves.
Help your readers help themselves to your authors.
I think of this as a mathematical formula, a variation on the one taught by Scott Kritzer, renown classical guitar instructor and performer out of Portland, Oregon. He teaches a workshop on performance anxiety and explains how to overcome your performance fears as:
Performance = Potential – Interference
Potential is the end result, not just what you are capable of. You improve your potential through research, study, practice, improvements or changes in your instrument, and time. The more familiar you are with your instrument, with your technique, with the piece you are playing, the better your performance.
Interference is anything that detracts or distracts from your potential, lack of research, study, practice, the wrong instrument, not enough sleep, noise, emotions, work, life, whatever it is that gets in the way of you making the most of your potential.
In this example, performance is the end result, a successful site.
The more you help your authors by removing the obstacles, the things that slow them down or don’t contribute to praising and promoting them to readers and the world, the less harder they will work for you, the less incentive they have to do good work and brag about the site, and the performance on your site, from every angle, will not be a good one. Trust me, dissatisfaction by one spreads to the many.
The same applies to readers. The more the design and content helps readers discover and relate to your authors, the more return traffic, the greater likelihood of increased participation and interaction as the relationships between authors and readers evolves, the better the experience for all, and the greater the spread of good words across the world to build your audience.
Keep this in mind as you research the design, development, structure, and policies of your multiple blogger blog. Help the authors help themselves, and help readers connect to your authors, potential minus interference equals a successful blog performance.
The key elements you need to begin to research are:
- Site Structure
- Content Structure
- Author Elements
- Author Promotion
- Author Policies
If you create an environment, from editorial workflow and support to technical architecture, where authors don’t have to work too hard, where they can just focus on the content and not the struggle to publish the content on your site, you will have much happier contributors. Happy contributors equals happy readers and and positive promotion.
In the upcoming articles in this series on managing a multiple blogger blog on WordPress, I’ll be looking communication issues around a multiple contributor site, making authors happy by increasing their exposure to the public and promoting them within the design as well as inside and outside the site, content aggregation and management, multiple blogger site design elements and examples, and a ton of WordPress Plugins and code to help you manage and design your WordPress site for a richer and easier experience for all.
Article Series on Managing Multiple Authors in WordPress
- WebVisions: Managing Multiple Bloggers in WordPress
- How to Manage Multiple Bloggers on WordPress
- Managing Multiple Authors: Showcasing the Authors
- Managing Multiple Bloggers: Author Content Management on WordPress
- Managing Multiple Authors: Customizing the WordPress Author Page
- Managing Multiple Authors: Customizing the Author Bio Box
- Managing Multiple Authors: Author Lists in WordPress