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6 Tips for Managing Multi-Author Blogs Without Losing Your Mind

This is a guest contribution from  Alexis Grant, an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist.

Managing multi-author blogs can be a lot of work; you’re juggling contributors, an editing funnel, your calendar and maybe even promotion on social channels. But if you put certain systems in place, stay organized and know where to focus your efforts, you can decrease your time spent on the project while significantly increasing your blog traffic.

Because my company, Socialexis, manages several large blogs, we’ve discovered a few handy tips for being both efficient and effective. Here are six ideas for handling posts from a variety of contributors in a way that will help you grow your traffic and your community:

1. Create contributor guidelines.

Putting some work into this up front will make your life much easier later. Rather than explain again and again what you’re looking for and how to submit, create guidelines and post them on your site, so you can refer potential contributors to that page.

But don’t stop there. Over time, make note of questions potential contributors ask, and add the answers to that web page. My team also likes to create bit.ly links for contributor guidelines, so we can easily remember and share the links.

For solid examples of contributor guidelines, check out guidelines for Muck Rack and Get Rich Slowly. If you can let your publication’s voice and personality shine in those guidelines, even better.

2. Take advantage of free tools.

There’s a huge range of blog management tools out there, but you can usually get by with free tools, especially if you’re not running a high-volume site. We use Google Calendar as an editorial calendar and share it with anyone within the organization who needs to know when certain posts will run.

We also use WordPress’s Editorial Calendar plug-in, which lets you drag and drop drafts if you need to change your schedule. And Google Docs — also free — is a great tool for collaborative editing, so the author can see what changes we’ve made.

3. Use Canned Responses.

This Gmail Lab is brilliant when it comes to emails you send again and again.

Keep receiving requests to write for your blog? Create a Canned Response that says you’d love to consider a post, with a link to your guidelines. Get a lot of pitches that aren’t a good fit? A Canned Response that says something along the lines of “Thanks, but this isn’t right for our audience” will do the trick.

To add Canned Responses to your Gmail, navigate to Settings, then Labs, then search for Canned Responses.

4. Create a database of writers.

To avoid finding yourself without solid blog posts, keep track of quality writers, and encourage one-time contributors to submit again. We ask writers to add themselves to our database of freelance writers, but you could also keep track via a simple Google spreadsheet. (If you’re a writer who wants to add yourself to our database, go ahead.)

This works whether you’ve got a particular topic you want someone to blog about (you can ask a blogger to write that post) or if your pitch well has gone dry (you can email the list letting them know you need submissions).

5. Optimize your headlines for SEO.

This is one of the best things you can do to help new readers find your site, and once you get the hang of it, it only takes a minute or two per post — putting it smack in the middle of the big-bang-for-your-buck category.

Sometimes, your SEO efforts will only send a trickle of traffic to the site until… BAM! One day, a post catches on in Google, and you land hundreds or thousands of new subscribers. Be consistent about tweaking your headlines so readers can find you via search, and your efforts will pay off in the long run. The increase in traffic will bring more potential contributors to your site, which makes your job as editor easier.

6. Work ahead.

When we respond to writers and let them know their post will run in three or four weeks, they’re often surprised to hear we schedule content that far in advance. But working ahead is the best way to minimize stress, increase quality and, yes, maintain your sanity.

When you schedule blog posts in advance, you’re far less likely to fall into the trap of publishing sub-par content just to get something on the blog by your deadline. This also gives you time to put posts aside and look at them with fresh eyes, which is one of the best ways to catch grammatical errors. Working ahead sounds simple, but it’s a great strategy for reaching your goals.

Follow these tips — along with offering valuable, relevant content — and you’ll be on your way to an awesome multi-author blog.

 Alexis Grant is an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist. She and her team manage several large blogs, including a new site for writers, The Write Life.
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Comments

  1. Solid tips Alexis! Setting up strict guidelines saves yourself so many headaches in the future when managing multi author blogs. Establish order and answer questions before you are asked.

    I like the idea of creating a database of writers. Orderly and smart.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  2. James Melbin says:

    When compared with a single author blog a multiauthor blog is more stressful to manage. So, I was just thinking of how much this post will help multi author bloggers who will consider making use of the tips in this post.
    Thanks for this post, Alexis.

  3. Mel says:

    Good tips, Alexis. We’re using several of them already, but you gave me a couple of new ideas to test.

    One thing I can suggest is to go a step further than your guidelines and create an actual manual for regular contributors/staff writers. We have step by step instructions for posting, SEO tips, headline suggestions, photo editing guidelines, plus stock questions unique to our site and behavior guidelines for when our writers are representing us at press events. It took about a week to pull the manual together, but has saved me so much more time not needing to answer the same questions over and over.

  4. Zenelia says:

    Nice Write up … well its always difficult to manage multi author blog…well the idea of setting up the guidelines is quite beneficial and helpful one and even stress breaker too….

    Nice tips thanks for sharing

    Keep Posting

  5. Alexis Grant says:

    Glad you found it helpful, Ryan and James! ~@alexisgrant

  6. Azalea Pena says:

    Indeed, a multi-author blog is much much more stressful than running your own one. And the main reason is because you are managing several authors and contributors all at the same time compared to your own blog site where you only have to worry about your own posts.

    These tips are handy and offers good managing advice to people who are managing multi-author blog sites. But in general, it all boils down to organization. Be more organized and don’t be afraid to use tools that can help your job become easier (that’s what they are for anyway). If authors develop an organized way of handling these tasks, it should be easy breezy from here on out.

  7. Ammar Elahi says:

    Very useful and concise tips, I am bookmarking this post !

  8. Martin says:

    The post is very useful for me. I have no lot of experience like you. I planed to build multi author blog. I will use your instructions. Thank you very much to publish the exclusive post.

  9. Cool, detailed list Alexis, I love the tip number 2.

    Nice

    Thanks

    Daniel

    The web content writer

  10. Alexis
    As I’ve just discovered to my peril, scheduling in advance is just as important when you only have the one blog to contend with.

    And it’s not just spelling and grammatical mistakes you notice when you return with a fresh pair of eyes.

    When I finished writing my latest post, I published it immediately. But when I came back to it a couple days later I couldn’t believe my eyes. The whole dynamics of the post were completely wrong and it was just far too bloaty.

    OK, you can fix these things easily enough. But once you’ve published it, syndicated it and put the word out the damage is already done.

  11. Thank you Alexis! Your post speaks directly to what we do here on our sites. Not only am I managing (along with my editor) a multi-post blog, we manage it in eight (yes 8!) different languages across eight regional TLD’s. Seems like it would be akin to herding cats. But with committed writers who are genuinely interested in the subject matter, posting their articles and essays for publication becomes less a chore and more a labor of love.

    And the above leads me to your comment about creating a database of writers. My own experience is that when I travel, domestically or abroad, I connect with like-minded souls and more often than note they come to me asking if they can contribute. I like this process more than reaching out to ask writers. Means that my writers are working from their own sense of commitment and their own enthusiasm. Yes, there are times when I have to send out a publication date reminder but given the quality of content that I receive, and the fact that it’s performed gratis, it’s a small price to pay for high-quality content – which further strengthens my sites and my standing among visitors, readers and subscribers.

    Yes, yes, yes! regarding optimizing the headline. This almost goes without saying. About working ahead…again we’re in agreement. I work about a month in advance. Each post that I publish is accompanied by a video (including closed captions) that we produce each month. Lot of work? Yes. Needed? Absolutely, if I’m serious about serving my target readers and increase my subscribers.

    Thanks again Alexis for an inspired and inspiring post.

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Hi George — Great to hear from others who are working on similar projects. Yes, for the database of writers, that’s what I was doing, too, but after I while I found it difficult to keep track of everyone I wanted to write for us! I actually asked all the people who had written strong posts for me before to add themselves to the database, then went in and marked them for my own benefit. So while the database does have a good number of random people, it also has a lot of folks who are sort of hand-picked.

  12. I use a google docs spreadsheet to maintain a list of article ideas with related keywords. The challenge for me is in finding good, inexpensive writers. I’m currently testing a couple of new writes at Elance.

  13. Your posts are always so interesting to read, and I’d love to see more!.. Thanks for sharing… :)

  14. Nikhil says:

    Managing a multi-author blog is sometimes become headache.
    I get new idea after reading this post for managing users ……
    thank you for sharing this post…. :)

  15. John W. says:

    I think this is the best tips on managing multi author blogs without losing your mind.

    But it will be good if you maintain only one user per site. If you have only one user it will never be headache for you.

  16. I’ll follow your steps and try. But how do you find these authors at the first place? Any tips?

  17. It takes a lot to manage a multi-author blog. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs. If you are able to really get it off the ground, it really helps you to build something that is bigger than yourself.Thanks for sharing these tips!