“Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”
When we started, there were four of us, bumping along with a germ of an idea that we would write about whatever interested us. So we did. Then two got busy and pretty much dropped away. Then we were joined by a third who posts infrequently in small batches. Along the way we picked up a couple of guest posts and solicited the occasional post from colleagues at another on-line publication. Now we’re joined by a fourth regular contributor and the missing two are about to re-join.
It’s a collaborative blog and we’re going to have to manage multiple authors. The site needs an unique voice (I hesitate to call it ‘style’), yet we have currently six unique voices, plus some multi-national guest posts.
We don’t want to reduce all that uniqueness to compost, but it’s enough to make Jim Phelps weep.
There are two routes we could follow, but given the personalities, this is going to take some thought;
- one comedy writer with a distinct cynical voice and a background in brochure publishing, technical training and documentation
- one ‘proper’ journalist who plays it by the book – his own freelancer’s book
- one Oxford MA, author, proof-reader, copy-editor and all-round stickler for doing things the ‘right’ way
- one part-timer from the media industry studying with the Open University
- one former civil servant with an Honours degree in English and a background in performance and training
- one writer/director coming fresh to the web channel.
Mike Brown of BrainZooming (Implementing a Collaborative Blog – 7 Ways to Deliver Better Stories) describes the differences between a typical multiple author blog and a professional multiple author blog:
“The typical multi-author blog has:
- A vague sense of who the blog’s target audience is and what’s of interest to them.
- Only rough blogging guidelines governing the authors’ efforts.
- A mix-and-match approach to writing styles among the authors actively contributing.
- No editorial plan – so subject matter coordination happens by accident, if at all.
- Challenges in coordinating content submissions for timely publishing.
- Potentially uneven editing, with it being done individually, by an ad hoc editor, or not at all.
- A blogging platform intended for individual efforts being forced to fit with a multiple contributor environment, often with publishing responsibility heaped on one person.
Contrast this with a strategic, collaborative blog which features:
- A well-developed persona (or potentially multiple ones) to guide audience-based content creation.
- A team inside the organization is trained in blogging and contributes to the collaborative blogging effort’s strategic direction.
- Individual writing styles are arranged and balanced for a better reader experience.
- Subject matter coordinated to deliver a more strategic mix of content.
- A planned calendar with posts in reserve to ensure a consistent publishing schedule.
- A designated blog admin and review process ensure the content is strong, compelling, and well-written.
- A collaborative blogging application which facilitates reminders, content management, and multiple contributors actively participating.”
We’re somewhere between the two, with more check-marks than crosses in both lists. How we keep the best of both, keeping a shape that suits us without chaining ourselves to a rigid and joyless treadmill – that’s the art of collaboration.
More in Part Two – Editorial – next time. The Editors