WordPress is so versatile that you can use it as a blog, static business website, community, or CMS (content management system), pretty much anything you need to do, you should reach for WordPress. Lately, I’ve had a lot of requests for information on multi-author blogs. Using the leverage of multiple authors is a great idea, but you should plan out your strategy before you begin. You will leverage the time of more people for both content and promotion. When you start a website like this, the website owner assumes the role of community manager and has to keep the blog running smoothly. Don’t expect the blog to just take off because you have more content then before, you still have to run it like a professional blog. What platform to use, how will you find bloggers, How to reward your bloggers are a few good questions to start with.
What community blogging platform to use?
Worpdress (WP) and WPMU (WordPress Multi-user) are both great platforms for a multi-author blog. I have found that a if you want to create a WordPress website it is good for a close knit group of bloggers, that communicate regularly and understand the overall strategy for the website. Examples on this type of website is Mashable.com. WPMU on the other hand is better for a blogging website where the bloggers don’t really know each other, but all have similar interests in the overall blog topics. WPMU powers wordpress.com.
A WP website is much easier to run compared to a WPMU site, but the WPMU site can grow to be much larger because a WPMU site creates subdomains for each author. Each subdomain can use different themes, plugins, etc, they are each individual webistes. You can think of it as each website made by WPMU is a normal WP website. WPMU will always be under attack by people trying to make a fake blogs and game your system, but there are many plugins and strategies to stop this.
An example of a WPMU structure will be as follows. maindomain.com will be main website and all sites built under it will aggregate to it. Now as authors start blogs, each one will have a subdomain. Let’s say this is a car site. honda.maindomain.com, toyota.maindomain.com are examples on subdomains.
If you really want to make your WPMU community take off, you can offer Top Level Domains. Besically the author that made honda.maindomain.com, can upgrade to hondacars.com… Now that author can have subdomains under them. CRV.hondacars.com… As you can see it can go on forever and can offer much more benefits that a normal WP install. Again, it will take more effort from the community manage to keep things running smoothly.
How to find Authors for your multi-author website?
When I get approached for a multi-author blog, The first question I ask is “How will you get people to blog or interact on the website?”. Most often, this causes a long pause…
Setting up a blog takes very little time, but the website owner quickly finds out that it is very hard to get people to commit to join their blog as an author or guest blogger. Try to make it beneficial to the authors and make a win-win for everyone. Most authors will have their own personal blogs or websites. It defintely helps if you have a large social following to start, In other words, build your community and group of authors before you start the website.
Rewarding Authors to make your community grow
Your website will live or die by the content and participation. You need to make it worthwhile for high quality authors to contribute. Points systems have long been used to identify the best authors, but this doesn’t always mean you will get good content… and of course if you run a WPMU blog, you will find a lot of authors trying to game the system to get more exposure. Therefore, if you do use a point system, place higher points for creating conversations. Comments, retweets, bookmarks, etc… should get the most points, while blog posts get very few.
Make sure you provide ways to get your blogs’ authors content out into the wild. The community manager should tweet every post, submit it to sharing sites, and make sure the website is running high SEO. Let your authors see the analytics so they can see what organic searches are used to find their content. Not only will they see that you (the community manager) is promoting the site and driving traffic to it, but they will also know what to write about and what people are looking for.
This post was written by Matt Dunlap. He specializes in building WordPress community websites for small businesses and loves to help anyone with their wordpress problems.He has written a really helpful tutorial on how to start a WPMU website on a shared host