Most blogs begin as a one-person operation. You have a topic that you’re really interested in and launch a site to talk about it. After a while the site begins to grow and there is simply not enough time to create as much content for it as you would really like, or you may feel like it needs a new voice to freshen things up. In order to continue its growth you make the decision that you need to bring in a few more writers.
Before you transform your blog into a multi-author website you should put a few fundamental processes in place. You will need things like contributor guidelines and an editorial calendar in order to make your life easier in the future.
Once the site is up and running with several contributors, managing everything becomes a little more difficult. There are various editorial duties such as keeping on top of multiple writers and all of the assignment deadlines for them, as well as making sure that the content written fits in with your vision for the site and is published on a regular basis.
Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you with the management of your multi-author blog and to keep you sane as your site grows.
1. Always Work Ahead
This is closely tied into your editorial calendar that you created before you launched the site, (you did create an editorial calendar, didn’t you?). When you have more than one writer for a site it is a good idea to assign topics in advance, each with a deadline at least a week before the post is scheduled to go live.
Working ahead in this manner gives you time to edit the post, give feedback to the writer and ensures you have content prepared for the site for a few weeks. With a lot of content scheduled in advance you then have freedom to bring posts forward in the publishing schedule in order to cover any problems you have with your writers.
Working ahead will save your sanity more than any other tip in this list.
2. Create a “Write For Us” Page
If you are open to being pitched by writers you should have a page on your blog that makes it easy for them to approach you.
This page should include all the information the writer will need in order to pitch you correctly. This could include a link to your contributor guidelines, the exact method in which you want to be pitched or simply just somewhere they can enter their information so that you can approach them.
This page is a tool to make your life easier in the future. The bigger your website grows the more writers will want to write for you. If there are no clear processes in place you will spend most of your time wading through pitches from writers in a range of styles, none of which may be appropriate for your site.
3. Assign a Single Editor
In the beginning of your blog there should only be one editorial voice. Whether that’s you or someone you hire to do the job, they should have a hand in every post published to your site. Having a single editor, along with your contributor guidelines, allows for a consistent style throughout the site that will be a benefit to both your writers and your readers.
As the site grows you may need to add additional editors for various sections, or simply because there is too much work for one person. If you have a clear voice for the site from the beginning then one way to fill these editor positions would be by promoting your regular contributors who have shown their quality. They are already used to working with the style set out by the senior editor, and will be able to enforce that for any new writers they have writing for them in the future.
4. Create a Writer Database
You are going to be approached by a lot of writers who want to write for your site. Some are going to be great, some are not. Either way you should have that information to hand, as well as their contact details, what assignments they have completed or have outstanding and how to pay them once their assignment has been handed in.
A writer database is an ideal way to do this. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and you could simply create a spreadsheet with all of this information or use an online CRM tool such as Highrise.
However you approach the database it should be something you constantly update with every new writer and every assignment you give out to your current writers.
5. Communicate With Your Writers
You must communicate with your writers on a regular basis. That communication can range from having a canned response email for new writers who want to write for you, to feedback on drafts your current writers have sent in. The more you communicate with your writers, especially when they first start working for you, the more you will get out of them.
You don’t want to bombard your writers with emails while they are trying to write a post for you though. You should be available to answer their questions and give them feedback if they need it.
You should also always communicate promptly with them once the assignment is done and it’s time to pay them. There’s nothing that can sour a working relationship quicker than writers having to chase you for a promised payment.
Be friendly and professional and that will see you through most situations. These communications are a good way to gauge a writer’s true personality. If they don’t communicate well with you, why would you want to work with them in the future? It’s always easier to work with a good writer who is professional over a great writer who is flaky.
Professional communication from both sides is extremely important.
6. Showcase Your Writers
I’ve talked about this before, but use a plugin such as Fanciest Author Box to showcase all of your writers. Writers love to see their name in a byline, or an author box on a website. If they have some means to link to their work on your site then you are getting free marketing from them when they share their work over social media.
As well as giving each author their own post archive — which will happen when you give them individual logins rather than using a guest author login — you can create a contributor’s page that lists all of your writers and gives them pride of ownership over what they write. It will make them work harder for you and give them that extra little push to make every article they write for your site the highest quality they are capable of.
Another way to showcase your writers who contribute on a regular basis is to give them a “promotion”. Give them a title in their author box that reflects the contribution they are making to your site and breaks them away from your general contributors. It could be something as simple as calling them a “Senior Writer” or making them the lead writer for a specific topic. It will increase their profile and make them work harder to stand out from the crowd to justify their elevation above the other writers.
Do You Have Any Further Advice?
I hope these tips help you with the difficult process of managing a multi-author website. This is by no means an extensive list of advice, but these tips should keep you on track with a lot of the issues that will arise.
Do you manage a multi-author website? Do you have any advice that we haven’t covered here? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.