As we have been examining several aspects of blogging, we have generally been assuming that you are blogging alone. This is probably the most common scenario that you will find yourself in. Sometimes, though, you may find yourself working with someone else. One case would be with guest posting.
Another situation may involve a multi-author project, such as was the case with Jim Woods and Erik J. Fisher. I was able to talk to them about their process of working together on a writing project (writing two books together) back in Semester 1, Session 17. They shared some great insight and things to consider when approaching a partnership like that.
Now, their project didn’t really involve blogging, although Jim did blog about several of the concepts while they were in the writing process. Many of the principles, though, can apply to a blog-based project with multiple authors.
There are many sites that utilize multiple authors. Much like an online newspaper or magazine, these authors contribute articles (blog posts) on a regular basis. There is usually some sort of schedule where each one will post a certain times.
This can be a great option for some people. You could draw from many different sources and points of view. You can also provide a higher volume of high-quality content by having daily postings (or several times a day). This can provide a great increase in website traffic and, as a result, higher chance of monetizing through the site.
Some draw backs could be that individuals get lost behind the overall brand of the site. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can see the author getting overlooked because the reader is just concentrating on the actual content itself.
Another format is where multiple people collaborate together to provide a single piece of content, much like Jim and Erik did with their books. There can be an even greater chance of the individual getting lost behind the brand, but there can be some great benefits, too.
I started such a project. It started back in May/June of 2013. That is when it was announced that a new season of “24” would be coming the following year. I had been podcasting for a few months at that time, so the thought of starting a podcast based on the show came to mind. I didn’t want to do the show myself, so I looked for a possible co-host.
I remember my friend, Mark Sieverkropp, mentioning once that he loved the show, so I asked him if he’d be interested in joining me. After a couple e-mail exchanges, he agreed. We spent June and July watching the news and planning how we would approach it. We decided that we would try to cover each of the previous seasons before the new season started. We launched the podcast (The 24 Podcast) in August, giving us about 9 months to cover the 8 seasons of the show.
It was an intense 9 months because we were trying to re-watch as much of the show as possible. What we couldn’t watch, we looked for summaries to jog our memories. We were also able to get two other guys to come on as guest hosts periodically.
As the new season started, we would watch the episode that Monday (or Tuesday morning online). We would then record and episode on Tuesday or Wednesday, giving our commentary on it. We got a lot of great feedback and interaction from people on Twitter.
Then, the season came to an end.
We were faced with a decision: what do we do now? We didn’t know if another season would come or not and we had already recapped the entire series.
One thing we had done throughout the podcast was give our predictions and story ideas. Some of them panned out, and others flopped. But that gave me the idea to try writing our own story line. A fan-fiction project. This idea was also mentioned by Jim Woods, who had no idea I was already thinking about it.
At the time, I had no idea what it would really look like or what it would involve. But I got some positive feedback about it, so I pressed forward. Mark and the other two guys had some other commitments, but several people contacted me and said they wanted to help. There was originally about 15 people, but that list dwindled down to 5.
One of them jumped on board right away and had a story line started. I had my own ideas, so he and I did much of the groundwork for the beginning direction. The others joined us about a month later, and we held a meeting via Google hangouts – difficult because some of the people live on the other side of the world. We were able to flush out some ideas and got everyone on the same page. We organized a general schedule and began moving forward.
There are several lessons that I have learned so far in this process of starting a multi-author project.
1. A great team is vital
A need for a team is probably an assumption when talking about multi-author projects. But it’s more than gathering warm bodies together.
There needs to be cohesion.
Everyone needs to be on the same page. For us, we all have a love for 24. We also love to write. It doesn’t seem that people are afraid to speak their ideas, shoot ideas down, tweak the ideas, and work together to develop them into a great product.
2. There must be a leader
While a team is vital, one person must be the leader to make final decisions. As the founder, I am the leader of this project. I definitely lean on the skills and input from the others, but I get to make the ultimate decisions.
3. A plan is necessary
If we had no plan, we wouldn’t make it very far. I had to establish what our goal was and communicate that to the others. At first, the goal was very general, but as we discussed the different ideas, the goal became more specific and direct.
Our project is a 12-part story based on 24. We plan on releasing one per month in 2015. The first part released on Monday, January 12. Each consecutive part should release during the first week of each month.
To try to stay ahead of the publishing schedule, we are trying to having each part ready at least a few weeks, if not a month, ahead of time. Right now (January 19), the first part is published, the second is going through some editing, and the third part is outlined and the writing has started.
4. Everyone does their part
The way we have set this project up is not just a general collaboration. Each person will take a part of the story and write it by themselves (for the most part). They will first look at the work that has already been done, look at the general direction that has been discussed, and come up with the next part of the story line.
After the person is done writing, we work together to edit the piece. We get general feedback from everyone, but have at least two people edit/proofread in more detail. With this part, one will mark changes, then the next will work from that.
I am set up as the final one in the editing process. I take a final look at it, make sure it is good, then set it to publish.
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