This guest post is by Syed Balkhi of WPBeginner.
Running a multi-author blog can become a hassle, especially if you do not have a dedicated content manager for your site.Having run several multi-author blogs myself, I understand the issues you face and decisions you have to make.
If you’re running a multi-author blog, you may have asked yourself questions like, should I give the writer access to my WordPress dashboard? Is it secure? How do I monitor their activities to see they aren’t messing up my website? How do I improve my workflow?
In this article, I will share my personal experience in managing a collaborative WordPress site safely and effectively.
The “t” in “team” is also for “trust”
If you want to improve your workflow, then you will have to give your writers access to your WordPress dashboard. Otherwise, you will find yourself copying and pasting a lot of elements from a Word Document into your WordPress dashboard, attaching images, adding styling elements, and so on.
Fortunately, WordPress comes with numerous user roles with various permission levels.
If you look at the charts above, the two permission levels that make the most sense for multi-author blogs are Contributor and Author.
The biggest issue with Contributors is that they can’t attach images because they do not have the ability to upload files. Since you want your authors to have the ability to upload and attach images to their articles, you will want to give them Author-level permissions.
The big issue with that is that it gives them the ability to publish posts, delete posts, edit published posts, and so on. While I trust all of my authors, I don’t want things to go live without going through an editorial review. So I don’t want them to have this capability.
The good thing about WordPress is that there is a plugin for just about everything. You can use a popular plugin called Members to modify the capabilities of the Author role. Once you install the plugin, go to Users > Roles and modify the Author role. Your final permissions settings should look something like this:
As you notice, the only abilities we’ve given Authors here are editing posts, reading posts, and uploading files.
Security and monitoring
In the past, I have seen hackers trying brute force attacks through the login page. Because each author’s URL contains their username, they only have to guess the password for an author to get access to your site. What’s worse is if your author has used the same password elsewhere, and the hacker knows this.
To prevent this kind of attack, the first thing you need to do is to limit the number of failed login attempts. This means that after three failed login attempts, the user will be locked out.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure that you have a strong WordPress backup solution in place. Of course there are other security measures you can take to protect your site in other ways, but these are the ones that are specific to multi-author blogs.
Improving your workflow
A good editorial workflow can make things a lot easier. The key to a good workflow is communication. I use a plugin called Edit Flow to make things easy for me.
The first step is to define the stages of your workflow. My workflow looks like this:
- Draft: default auto-saved posts, or any un-assigned posts
- Pitch: when an author pitches a post idea
- Assigned: the editor or admin assigns the post idea to a specific author
- In progress: the author puts the article in this mode so everyone knows that someone is working on it
- Pending review: once the author finishes the post, they submit it for an editorial review.
- Ready to publish: once the editorial review is complete, we make the post Ready to publish. From there, I or another admin can take a look at it and schedule it for publication.
This workflow makes the process really easy, especially when we have a lot of writers. This plugin comes with default statuses, but you can always add your custom post statuses.
The best part is that you can sort posts by the custom status. Changing the status is extremely simple.
You can also use the Edit Flow plugin to communicate with the author from within your dashboard. This makes the communication part really easy, and prevents you juggling through emails. Also, when assigning posts to a specific author, you can set deadlines in the Editorial Meta Data option.
The plugin also gives you a convenient month-by-month calendar-view of posts. This lets you know if you have a post scheduled for a specific day or not.
A private area just for contributors
Over time I have learned that I don’t have to do everything myself. I can assign tasks to trusted folks in my team. The best way to establish this trust and find out who is the right person for the job is by judging their interest level. Setting up a private area just for your team members can help you determine that.
I recommend that you set up a site with P2 theme and invite your team members and authors there. Password-protect the site, so only logged-in users can see the content. And when an author stands out in this environment, you can promote them to an Editor or another position within your business.
What’s your workflow process? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Feel free to share your tips and tricks for multi-author blogging, too.
Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest unofficial WordPress resource site that offers free WordPress videos for beginners as well as comprehensive guides like choosing the best WordPress hosting, speeding up WordPress, and many more how-to’s.