How to Manage a Multi-Author WordPress Blog
There are lots of great reasons to add authors to your blog. Spread the labor of posting among different departments in your organization. Create and host a blog where your chosen strategic partners contribute content.
Recruit guest bloggers or experts for a better content mix. If you want to dominate your local market, find a group of people to write about topics that pertain to your customer’s world. Create plenty of locally focused content.
All these are good ideas, but if you're managing, promoting and controlling a blog with a lot of contributors, you need some help. These easy-to-use WordPress plugins do a lot to assist a blog editor to mentor authors and develop content.
Promoting your authors
Your system by default allows writers to log in and post under their name. But it's better if you promote a short bio about each writer.
WP Biographia is my favorite tool for this because it adds extra fields to the user-profile screen where you can enter information such as social links. It comes with its own CSS file, so you can style the look of the author box at the beginning or end of each post.
WordPress does not, by default, allow users to upload photos. If you add the User Photo plugin to Biographia, writers will be able to add an image.
Managing the content
When it’s just you posting content, managing the workflow and posting schedule is pretty simple. However, you'll need some tools for tracking posts by multiple authors, controlling when they post and the topics.
WordPress defines set roles, like subscriber or contributor. An author can’t upload images with a default setting. If you have a trusted group of writers creating content, and you want them to add images to their posts, grant that permission with the User Role Editor.
Editorial Calendar creates a monthly calendar. Drag drafts to the dates to create an automatic publishing schedule, spreading out your content to post when you want posts to roll out. For managing bigger groups and creating deadlines, look at DivvyHQ.
Edit Flow might be overkill for someone managing only a couple of guest bloggers. But if you're handling lots of posts, various departments and a wide variety of topics, this is a powerful tool.
It allows you to think and act more like a publisher might. You can create editorial budgets around categories and collaborate with your contributors. Edit Flow also has a calendar function so you can map out an entire month of posts.
Status Notifier is a simple plugin that sends you an e-mail when one of your contributors saves a new draft post. It's a nice tracking tool that saves you time.
Keeping things under control
With multiple authors, you're allowing lots of eyeballs behind the curtains of your blog. What if you want to lock things down? Whether it's for security or just because you don’t want Jimmy in Accounting nuking the site because he's curious what a plugin does, Adminimize is a nifty tool.
It lets you strip away clutter from the dashboard. You, as the admin, don’t use a lot of the functions, so take those away. Some things are naturally hidden by WordPress' default roles, but it's worth displaying a clean posting screen for your contributors by removing whatever they don’t need access to.
Blog Metrics is a handy analytics tool for keeping track of of your writers' contributions. It gives you the raw contributions and some engagement with comments on a published post. As an aside, this tool is from Joost de Valk. Every plugin he makes is brilliant—his WordPress SEO plugin is a must for every blog.
Image credit: eschipul, Flickr CC
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and speaker. He wrote Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and founded the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.