Multi-Author WordPress.com Blogs

puzzle  piecesTo create an effective and successful blog the blogger must become a prolific writer of quality content. Fresh and interesting content is what readers come to our blogs to read and discuss.

Provided your writing is engaging the enthusiasm you have for your topic makes your blog worth reading.  Enthusiasm plus even more content and a wider range of viewpoints for readers to consider makes multi-author blogs worth reading.

  1. Does your blog need more content?
  2. Does your blog need more exposure?
  3. Would you like some support to reach your goals?
  4. Have you considered creating a multi-author WordPress.com blog?

Without doubt multiple authors can publish more content than one blogger can,  but little things make a big difference in small groups and teamwork comes with challenges.

Despite the challenges that we have looked at here, multi-author blogs still bring great opportunities. In fact, many of the challenges above can be turned into strengths if they are properly handled. — Daniel in The Challenges of Multi-Author Blogs

Successful groups have a clearly defined purpose and committed members.

Small group success depends on three types of functions being performed – task, maintenance, and personal functions -

  • task functions help to keep the group focused and directed towards achieving its goals;
  • maintenance functions help group members to stay involved, and ensure that everyone is able to contribute to their maximum potential;
  • personal functions address the personal needs of group members to ensure that the group functions in the best possible way – these activities include the ways in which conflicts and disruptive behaviours are handled.

These functions are complementary, which means they must all be performed if a group is to work well. – Small Group Skills

puzzle  piecesPreparation

Recruit additional enthusiastic authors for your WordPress.com multi-author blog.  Set some ground rules by deciding who will do what by when (deadlines) and be sure that everyone commits to doing their part.   Be sure to schedule ample time for content creation, promotion, answering comments, locating similar blogs, reading and leaving comments on related blogs, link building and relationship building.  Lay out a method for how, when, and how often you will communicate as a group. For some tips on what to cover see Submission Guidelines on my Guest Posts page.

Evaluate the theme

Assess whether or not your blog’s appearance and structure are the best ones for a WordPress.com multi-author blog or if changes need to be made.  The results of your evaluation may be branding changes, reflecting new goals,  a change in theme,  CSS customization of the existing theme or another one, or even a complete blog make-over. — 12 Step Blog Evaluation

You can view free themes and paid premium themes in the Themes Showcase where feature filters can be used to select the theme that will best suit your multi-author WordPress.com blog. Or you can locate the theme you want to use here > Appearance > Themes. Each theme has a thumbshot and a features summary description. You can browse and when you find one of interest you can click “Preview”. When you are ready to make your selection you can click “Activate”.

Note 1:   Regardless of the theme, bylines will only display now if there are at least two authors who both have at least one published post in the blog. Work-around for single Author bloggers who do wish to have a byline display on their postsSome themes display full articles on Categories and Archives pages and some don’t.

Note 2: Chateau, Choco, Duster, Elegant Grunge, Enterprise, Liquorice, Matala, Mystique, The Morning After, Next Saturday, Pink Touch 2, Selecta, Skeptical and Twenty Eleven, Twenty Ten, Vertigo and Vostok display the author’s profile and gravatar when viewing a single post at the end of the post.

puzzle  piecesCreate a custom menu

The arrival of custom menus at WordPress.com provided bloggers with the ability to structure their blog like a website. What’s critical is to understand when creating a website structure is the differences between pages and posts, and the impact of restructuring.

We organize our posts by use of categories. There is only one dynamic page in a blog for posts andwe cannot post to more than that one page. However, we can create the appearance that we are posting to multiple pages by setting up a custom menu and displaying Categories in tabs along the top horizontal navigation menu. Here’s a custom menu walk-through.

Create a Custom menu for a multi-author WordPress.com blog > Appearance > Menu

To create a custom menu, give it a name and click Create Menu. Then choose items like pages, categories or custom links from the left column to add to this menu.

After you have added your items, drag and drop to put them in the order you want. You can also click each item to reveal additional configuration options.

When you have finished building your custom menu, make sure you go to the “theme location” module at upper left on the menu page. Select your custom menu name from the pulldown labeled “primary location.” Click the save button in that module.

Refresh your browser so that it isn’t possibly pulling a cached page and view your blog see your new menu.

puzzle  piecesUser Roles – Adding Users

You may select which team members have administrative authority multi-author WordPress.com blog and which are authors only. Wen founding a multi-author blog consider the range of user roles and functions, and note having a single blog Administrator may be the best choice to make.  Add the users following this guide.

Your new user will receive an email inviting them to sign up for a WordPress.com account (and, optionally, create their own blog if they want). Once they have signed up, you’ll see them listed as a Contributor on your Users tab. You can change their role (to Author or Editor) later if you’d like.

Ask your new Authors to create and register an Avatar, Gravatar, Blavatar and to complete the information on their Users Profile page.

WordPress.com provides Authors widgets. The widget can display the names or avatars of all your blog’s authors, links to a list of all their former posts, as well as links to posts they’ve recently written.

WordPress.com provides an Authors grid widget. The Author Grid Widget is a great way to showcase your blog’s authors in your sidebar. The widget displays the avatars of all your blog’s authors, which link to a list of posts they’ve each written.

By creating a Category for each authors name and having the authors assign that Category to every post they create and publish:

WordPress has a built-in multi-author editing safe-guard. If an author attempts to edit a post that another is working on in a WordPress.com multi-author blog a warning will display.

45 thoughts on “Multi-Author WordPress.com Blogs

  1. timethief, i should’ve stolen into your clock myself long time ago. finally admitting need for help ( a male thing wife tells me ). for half a year we’ve been at it on a group writers blog mtdorawriters.wordpress.com .

    some of our writers started to get nervous about public readers stealing their work. others worried about copyright and whether they could submit works as non-published contest entries. so as admin i finally took the blog private, switching it back to public just now so you can have a look.

    meantime, a month ago i went to wordpress.com forums asking can a contributor add his choice of readers to a private blog. nada. finally this – while private, no listed contributors have been able to sign on. i’m considering dropping the whole thing. yet convinced we’re on to something.

    i guess what it all comes down to – such a thing as group writers blog ? if so, how to ?

    ps – wonder about my own blog too shemovesme.com , an aggregated exploration for mother earth going well for over a year now. sure, a few issues here & there as well. just discovered @ wordpress.com store upgrade to premium is unavailable for my blog. what ?

    look fwd to your ticking

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    • Thanks I’m watching for an answer too. If Staff has removed this then my post needs to be edited so I’m not misleading people. It doesn’t work for me I have tried it in my test blog. :(

  9. Anyone know how to activate this feature in Pilcrow (which I’m using):

    Pilcrow themes display brief Author profiles drawn from the user’s Profile page under each post.

  10. Note 2: The Choco, Elegant Grunge, Twenty Ten and Pilcrow themes display brief Author profiles drawn from the user’s Profile page under each post. <<< How to generate this?

    I have changed my turtle's blog into pilcrow but the author profile stillmissing

  11. The other option is to configure wordpress.com blog for contributors to email in the blog post with extra shortcodes so that it doesn’t get published immediately before blogmaster reviews the article(s).

    I seriously wouldn’t suggest setting a multi-author blog blindly unless the others do write and administer their own wordpress.com blog. That’s proof that they actually understand the software at the back end and know technical basics of blogging.

    • Thanks for commenting again Jean. I have the same apprehensions that you do about providing Admin access to people who may not even have their own wordpress.com blog.

  12. Hi Timethief, I hope things are better and that the weather has calmed down for you out there.

    Last year I rashly tried to set up a group blog for a baking weekend with very mixed results, partly due to the theme we chose and partly due to the inexperience/lack of interest of many of the participants in learning how to use a blog, but we muddled through and I think they got something out of it.

    Once we had finished using the blog space, I took myself off as ‘administrator’ and passed it over to the organisers of the weekend. This resulted in all the posts I had written as ‘administrator’ looking as if they had been written by the other ‘administrator’, and I disappeared completely from the ‘Bakers’ author widgets that we had put in the sidebar.

    My comments and replies stayed as ‘me’, so the blog reads a little curiously now. We put me back as an ‘author’ the other day to see if they would revert, but they didn’t. Maybe this is something I should share to WordPress, but I thought it might be relevant here to people who are running multi author blogs.
    They aren’t easy to run unless you have far more experience than me, just getting the others ‘set up’ to write as authors was a bit of a struggle at times. Though of course, when they got there finally, they were very pleased with themselves and it helped the group cohere before we all got together. It was an interesting exercise. :) best wishes Jo

    • Hello Joanna,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I haven’t been a contributor to a multi-author blog but I sense there could be a lot of issues to work out. You have just pointed out how the software works. If your name had been assigned to a Category it would have been a better choice. The changing of roles the way the theme functions would have been the same but the Category (your name) would still be there. When clicked it would bring up every post you authored and assigned the Category to.

  13. Hello Time Thief,
    You seem to be the person in the know and I really enjoy your blog. I was wondering if you could tell me what the widget sidebar titled “Subscribe and Follow” is called and how you got those nice looking buttons on it? Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
    Sincerely,
    Casey

  14. Honestly, given the edicts to constantly publish, tweet, comment on related blogs, create your tribe, comment on FB, etc. I’m starting to suspect that a multi-author blog is becoming a basic survival requirement.

  15. Actually it was an internal group of people outside of the writers, who exported the whole content into .org new blog from .com version.

    I’ve sent a note to the blogmaster who determines and sets blog access for writers, on the 404 page problem of missing content. If you noticed, it has to be fixed.

    I appreciate the counter suggestion. Good to know for other blogs. :) I would be surprised that Inside Vancouver would allow it.

    • You are fortunate that the whole move and set up was done by others.
      “I would be surprised that Inside Vancouver would allow it.”
      I din’t think so either but I thought I’d mention it. :)

  16. Thank you for the insights. I have mentally filed the idea of creating a category for each author’s name – for if I ever want to set up a group cooperative blog.

  17. Hmm. We will be attempting at a multi-author blog but it would more like your set-up for guest blogger writers. I don’t have time to give others editorial access or be a contributor.

    It’s a wordpress.org blog which makes me even more leery for others to dip in. And in the end, an author might choose to volunteer only 1-2 articles –hardly worth the hassle/monitoring per author.

    Look here where the team blog template shifted from .com to .org theme: http://insidevancouver.ca And now, I can’t see total reader statistics. :( I have no idea the amount of traffic for my own articles.

  18. This reminds me very much of work that I’ve done in education with wikis, which are designed to have multiple authors. I’m not sure if having a multi-authored blog would be more advantageous than simply using a wiki. In spite of that, I can see how this might work in a community of like minded writers. For example, as you know, I write poetry, but I don’t post every day. I aim for once a week. If there were compatible poets that were also interested in posting a poem a week, then perhaps this kind of collaboration would make sense. Not that I would necessarily like to share the place that belongs to my voice.
    I guess that one of the things that I like about blogs (that I follow) is that I like the person’s ‘voice’ or persona. It’s often what keeps me coming back. It would be tricky to have a multi-authored blog that spoke with the same ‘voice’. This very personal aspect of a blog would be hard to duplicate with multiple authors.

    • I really appreciate what you have shared. I was into contributing to wikis about 5 years ago now but I drifted away. I wanted to focus on my own blogs and the more I think about being part of a multi-author blog the less appealing it is to me. I try to post twice weekly to both blogs and I usually do. But these last couple have months have been filled with unexpected events and obligations. I’m so glad my blogs are not team blogs because if they were I would have failed to make deadlines and let the group down.

      I agree with what you say in your last paragraph. I wouldn’t consider changing my personal blog into a multi-author blog for a single moment. It would be impossible to create a single “voice” in that blog. Thanks for your feedback. Have a great rest of the weekend. :)

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