Multi-author blogs are everywhere today, and new ones are being launched every day. This is in part a result of an increasing number of blogs being run as a business, rather than as personal journals. Having a team of writers is necessary for many blogs to produce enough content, plus readers benefit in terms of (potentially) higher quality content, more variety of content, and a mix of writing styles. However, there are also some potential problems that can wind up defeating the purpose of having multiple authors.
First, before going into the potential issues with multiple bloggers, it’s helpful to define a few different types of these blogs:
1 – Company with employees – Some of the larger blogs are actually a business of their own. These sites will have a staff of full-time writers that pump out a significant amount of content. Many of these blogs will be news-related and they make it essentially impossible for any individual blogger to compete with a team of writers for breaking news.
2 – Freelance writers with an editor – Other multi-author blogs that are run as a business will use a group of freelance writers instead of having full-time staff. This is obviously much lower cost. In these cases the writers will submit their articles to an editor, who will ultimately determine what gets published and when. Some examples of this type of blog are PSDTUTS, Freelance Switch, and Daily Blog Tips (although Daniel has recently moved back to being a single-author blog).
3 – Freelance writers with the ability to publish their own posts – On these blogs there is no editor that has to approve an article to be published. Each author has the ability to login, submit, and publish a post. There may or may not be an established posting schedule, but regardless, more responsibility is left to the writer without having an editor. PureBlogging operates in this manner.
4 – Multiple owners / team blog – In this case the writers aren’t freelancers or staff members, the blog is simply run by more than one person.
This excludes blogs that accept occasional guest posts, although they would essentially fall under #2, except the writers would not be paid.
A few specific blogs have recently felt the need to make changes to their approach due to a lack of effectiveness with the current number of authors. Both Blogging Tips and PureBlogging had experienced watered-down content by having a few posts each day. In both instances I think it was more a case of too many writers covering the same topics, rather than it being the fault of the individual writers.
For full disclosure I have been a writer at PureBlogging for about the past six months. Also, last year I wrote a few guest posts for Blogging Tips, although I was never a paid author there.
My opinion is that both blogs have improved as a result of the realigning and refocusing. PureBlogging cut the number of writers and posts in half, which allows each post a bit more face time with visitors, and it keeps readers from getting the same rehashed content. I’m not exactly sure how much was cut out of Blogging Tips, but I know that Kevin took a more strategic approach (you can read it in his own words) by having different writers cover certain topics on a recurring basis, and reducing the overall number of writers. From what I’ve seen as a subscriber I feel that the quality of content has improved with the new focus.
When looking at the types of multi-author blogs above, this problem is really only affecting the third type, those that have freelance writers with the ability to publish their own posts. From my experience, this approach can be good or bad. As we saw from PureBlogging and Blogging Tips it can be a serious challenge for a fairly large team of writers to be on the same page, all present unique content, adequately cover topics, and generally show a unified approach to the blog.
It’s not my intention to imply that any of the writers for either of these blogs is better or worse than other writers, simply that it’s difficult for a group of that size to have a unified approach. At PureBlogging we each had an assigned day of the week to post, but we all had the ability to publish anything. When there are 7 or 8 people writing in a five day period, it can be tempting to slip in a sub-par post and think that no one will really notice because it will just blend in with the other content. I know this for a fact, because I’ve been there myself. Plus, when you’re a freelance writer that has to get a post through an editor, it has to be good enough or it won’t get published and you’ll have to re-work it or not be paid for it. When you can publish your own content you’ll get paid for whatever you determine is good enough. I don’t think the writers of either of these blogs (myself included) abused this privilege, but it can be in the back of your mind when you’re developing a post.
David transformed PureBlogging into 3 writers plus himself, and the results have been positive so far. We still have the ability to publish posts without being edited or moderated by David, but there is a better focus and I think each of us feels like our work will now have more of an impact on the success of the blog.
I also write on another blog, Blogtrepreneur where I publish posts on my own, but right now it is just a team of Adnan and myself and it works out pretty well for us.
In general, my opinion is that if you are a blog owner and you plan to have multiple writers that can publish their own posts, keep the number of writers fairly small and stay as focused as possible. Otherwise, I would encourage you to act as an editor and determine what is published when. No one else will have the same amount of concern over your blog as you do.
I’d love to hear from others who own these types of blogs, those who write for them, and those who read them. What’s you opinion on the issue?