Adventures in Co-Blogging: Starting a Group Blog

Adventures in Co-Blogging: Starting a Group Blog
Adventures in Co-Blogging

Adventures in Co-Blogging is a monthly feature where we discuss what it’s like to blog with a group of people. We talk about tips and tricks, what we’ve learned, how we accomplished things, challenges, benefits, and more! To see all of the posts we have so far for this series, check out our Adventures in Co-Blogging tag.


Starting a Group Blog

When Leanne, Kelley, and I decided to start a group blog, we thought it would be a good idea to occasionally post about our experiences with others. Group blogs do exist in the blogosphere, but I often feel like any kind of how-to or helpful posts are aimed more at individual blogs instead of group blogs. By posting about our own experience, we’re hoping to help any others out there who are considering a group blog as an option due to the high pressured demands of the blogosphere.

To start off with, I thought I would share all the different things that Leanne, Kelley, and I had to discuss prior to the launch of Oh, the Books! We tended to just email each other each time something would pop up that so that we could share opinions, and while it worked it often became a mess of random email chains that we quickly forgot. Having a checklist would have been extremely helpful when starting our blog, and so I have compiled a checklist based on the things we discussed for any future team who wants to start a similar adventure. (Of course, I think it’s important to mention that this list is not all-inclusive and will likely vary depending on the specific circumstances one finds themselves when starting this adventure. Oh, and it’s not in any specific order.)


Starting a Group Blog

Name
  • What is your blog going to be called?
  • Is your blog name going to be completely random, or connect to each blogger in some special way?

[stextbox id=”asti2″ image=”null”]Fun Fact: Our blog name was a complete accident. I was just making a temporary header graphic to see how the theme would look, but we hadn’t come up with a name yet, so I just put “Oh, the Books!” because it popped into my head. We ended up liking it so much that we decided to keep it! I feel certain that my subconscious was clearly inspired by Oh, Chrys! ~Kelley[/stextbox]

Design
  • What type of overall design does your group prefer? (Minimalist, vintage, etc.)
  • Do you want each blogger’s posts to be easily identifiable, or is the overall group image more important? (In some blogs it is hard to tell who is posting unless you look at the author name, whereas with ours it should be straightforward due to the design – or so we hope.)
  • What font types are you going to use?
  • What are your headers going to look like? Your blockquotes? Captions?
  • What is your color palette?
  • Are you going to be using shortcodes?
  • How do you want your navigation?
  • What should go in the sidebar?
Goal
  • Why have you decided to join this group blog?
  • What do you hope to achieve with the group blog?
  • Does your goals match your co-bloggers?
Schedule
  • When are going to launch the blog?
  • Are you going to have designated days for posting or is it first come first serve?
  • What time do you want your posts to go live?
Content
  • What type of content do you want to feature on your group blog?
  • Do you want any restrictions when it comes to certain posts?
  • Does it matter when/how often these different type of posts are used (are you worried about there being one week of all reviews and one week of all memes)?
Social Media
  • Which social media accounts are you going to create?
  • Who is going to be in charge of updating or monitoring the accounts?
Communication
  • What methods of communication are you going to use to discuss blogging related things with your co-bloggers?
  • How are you going to reach each other in case of a blogging emergency?

[stextbox id=”asti2″ image=”null”]Fun Fact: Our group decided to use emails to keep in touch. Since January 6th, 2014 I have accumulated over 275 emails containing discussions about Oh, the Books! ~Asti[/stextbox]

Hosting
  • Is your group blog going to be self-hosted?
  • Which host are you going to go with?
  • How are you going to split charges?
  • Even if you’re not going to self-host your blog, you’ll still have to answer the question: Blogger or WordPress (or some other alternative)?
Migrating
  • Are you going to continue your old blog (if you were blogging solo before)?
  • Are you going to migrate your content to the new blog?
  • How are you going to go about the migration?
  • When are you going to do it?
Plug-ins
  • What plug-ins are you going to use?
  • Do you agree on the settings for the plug-ins (such as the Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-in)?
Pages
  • What pages do you want for your group blog?
  • Who is going to be in charge of creating and maintaing them?
  • Will the pages all be group-focused or will each individual blogger have their own personal pages as well?
Affiliates
  • Are you going to use affiliate links?
  • If so, which ones?
  • What are you going to do with the earnings?
Consequences
  • How is the blogosphere going to react to your new group blog?
  • What possible negative effects can this group blog have?
  • What does this mean for you and your old blog?

[stextbox id=”asti2″ image=”null”]Fun Fact: If I had to choose  which one of us was most paranoid about the negative consequences of our group blog, it would definitely be Kelley. I find that funny, seeming as she is the one who takes all the credit for making this happen in her Grand Opening post ;) ~Asti[/stextbox]


Your Turn!

Phew! Did you know there was all this stuff to discuss when starting a group blog? There is so much! And of course I didn’t include everything – one thing that I probably should’ve mentioned was co-blogging compatibility. So important!

Anyways, now it’s your turn… If you’re part of a group blog, do you think I’ve covered everything? If not, what am I missing? And if you aren’t a part of a group blog, what do you think of this new feature? Do you think it will be helpful to learn about our co-blogging experiences?

Asti

Read 42 comments

  1. This is certainly an interesting post, especially for me. But I’m keeping hush on that one.

    For us, our mode of communication was WeChat, although that’s turned into more of a sharing experience than a discussion of plans, haha. Which is why I still don’t when are we going to start.

    JUST BE PREPARED. *ominous music plays*

  2. Interesting post! I feel like it would be more fun to co-blog with someone, not to mention that it would take some of the stress off, but I find it hard to find people who would want to do this? How did you guys get to know each other and did one of you just ask one day if you would want to give up on your old blog and start sth new together?

    • Oh it’s definitely something that you can’t really just up and do, I don’t think. It seems most people either do it because both parties are struggling and see the benefit on both sides, or get someone else who hasn’t blogged to join (which can be difficult since you might not have a relationship).

      For Kelley and I, it was more of an on-again off-again conversation. We would sporadically bring it up when things got rough, but I think tip-toed around it because we were each proud of our separate blogs. It was only when I got to the point where I really felt like I couldn’t get on on my own – and she wanted to just talk about the idea – that we did. And even then, I don’t think we had planned on it actually happened. We just sort of tossed around the idea, and then it clicked, and then she emailed Leanne, and it clicked some more, and here we are (that is obviously the condensed form). But yeah, Kelley and I had been talking for about ten months before we actually seriously thought about this – and not just talking on Twitter or anything but sending emails to each other regularly just chatting about life in general and sharing experiences and whatnot. And of course Kelley has known Leanne forever so yeah, I think having some sort of previous relationship helps… I don’t think I would have been able to do this if I didn’t already feel comfortable with these two.

      That being said, I know a handful of bloggers just put up a notice, see what responses they get, and then select a new person to co-blog with them. They may not know anything about the person prior to starting the blog but it seems to end up working out. I think the hardest thing is just opening your blog up and knowing what you’re comfortable with!

  3. Oh boy seeing this post is definitely really daunting! Co-blogging may be in my future very soon… *lips sealed*

    Co-blogging definitely means a lot more freedom and communication between your co-bloggers but I think it’s a wonderful experience and provides the opportunity for you to be closer and get to know your co-bloggers more as well. But yes co-blogger compatibility is so important! I think this is the reason why many bloggers are hesitant to co-blog because they don’t know if they’ll work well together and it takes a leap of faith if you’re taking on someone you’re not very familiar with.

    Would definitely love to see more posts on this topic :)

    • Haha it’s not supposed to be daunting – helpful was the plan! Of course with my long rambles it definitely all adds up to one giant checklist of doom… Whoops!

      I definitely think co-blogging has it’s pros, especially if you’re leading a busy life. We’ve only been live with ours for two weeks now but it’s already been a life-saver for me. And you’re right, it really helps you get to know more about your co-bloggers – an added bonus!

      There’ll definitely be more posts on the topic, so hopefully they are useful to you and your future endeavors (which I’m super-curious about, btw!)

  4. Yep. Get that name right too. We changed our name two months in because it just didn’t work. And be prepared to have a full inbox for a while. I don’t think we got to 250 emails before start-up up by my phone was definitely buzzing for a while.

    • Oh I’m curious to know what your original blog name was! I always find it interesting when blogs make name changes because it seems like such a brave thing to do, but it always tends to work out in the end!

      Ah yes, the emails conversations are crazy! We have died down now that everything is up and running, but there are days when I would wake up to twelve since they would discuss everything while I was sleeping. Madness!

  5. This is such a cool insight. I went through a lot of the same planning just in starting my own blog (I put a lot more thought into this one than blogs in the past, which I tended to just throw together a name and a theme and start posting on a whim), but it’s interesting just HOW MUCH you all have to coordinate and agree on! Like you can’t make the smallest decision without running it by the others. I don’t know if I could ever do it… but never say never, I guess.

    • I think maybe in other blogs it would work a little different, where one person could make a majority of the decisions without the others… I think it’s just something you’d have to agree on advance. We’re lucky in that we all three sort of look at the blog in a similar way and are often having the same thoughts, so our checking in is generally a formality to avoid anyone feeling left out. But I’m pretty sure if I told either one of them – Hey, I don’t care what you do just do it, then they’d leave me alone. haha.

      I think it’s quite cool you thought about a lot of these things when starting your own blog though! I definitely was more on the lines of a wing-it-as-you-go person. I had some vague ideas what I wanted to do, but in the end things just got settled as I had to deal with them. I think that worked on when it was just me because I had no one else to blame if things went wrong, but with a group blog I like knowing everything is taken care of in advance. :)

      • Yeah, I think I’d do much better in a situation where one person is essentially the “editor” and in charge of maintaining the site, and the other person just helps supply the content. Being so completely collaborative I think would stress me out more. But it’s good you guys have found a way to make it work for all of you!

  6. I don’t think I could work with a co-blogger (but that’s just because I can handle my blog on my own and I’m too much of a perfectionist to let go), That is a lot of thinking work! I like how you guys came up with this name, haha. Nice and random :D

    • Nothing wrong with that! I think those people who manage doing it on their own deserve a lot of respect (but that those who co-blog deserve just as much). Really, blogging is just hard in general! As long as you’re doing what works best for you, then you’re amazing. (Not like I didn’t already know you were amazing, geesh. :P)

      And haha, yes, the name is a bit random. But I like how it’s sounds… surprising. Oh!

  7. Co-blogging is something I know I will never do – as dormant as my blog is right now. I think I am too picky for it! This is such resourceful master sheet though. I am seeing a rise in co-blogging, so I can imagine how many people will be helped by this feature! One major pro of a group blog is the variation that can come with it. I must admit that this is the first group book blog that I have seen with so many personalized features! Your identities are not lumped into one. And lol at the first Fun Fact. Hehe.

    • I definitely think you have to be open to the idea of co-blogging for it to work, so if you know you’re too picky then you’re doing the right thing! Plus, we all know everyone will still love you no matter how often you post so you have nothing to worry about ;)

      It does seem that co-blogging talk is all over the blogosphere lately! I’m quite curious about it. Has blogging become that much more of a stressful thing than it was in the past? Or is it just we all want to do too much these days? I’m not quite sure. But hey, I’m glad to help in any way I can!

      And oh yes, we definitely still have all our features! I mean, I have so many that with my two posts a week I could go a month or two before repeating one. It’s nice though because that means I just write whatever one I feel like writing at any given time, and everyday is something new and exciting here on the blog! :)

  8. Goodness gracious, that is a lot to consider. You definitely would have to have the compatibility element otherwise I would think everyone would go crazy in the process. Thanks for sharing this, I’m noting it for the future. :)

  9. I already co-blog with my sister, but I also group blog in a few other places (mostly just once a month on each of them, so it’s not too overwhelming. ;) ) There’s definitely a lot to think about!! And a lot to discuss. We used to have a staff blog, but now we do group emails to discuss matters and I think it works so much better. I LOVE your title “Oh, the Books” too, btw. It’s perfect. :)

    • I think communication is definitely key to working with others, but that’s not anything new and surprising, it its? I do like group emails, though sometimes they can be quite overwhelming when you open you rail and see a bunch of them! haha.

      Thanks Cait :)

  10. April had already started the blog so some or a lot of things were already set but as we became a partnership a lot of things then had to be discussed. I can’t even imagine having to get three people to agree!

  11. When I made Owl Read It, it was originally just Meghan and I. then we added in Kristal and it was okay for awhile, then kind of just fell apart. Both of them just kind of let me do whatever and did the minimum that they could, so eventually it was too much for me to have to remind them that they missed a few weeks of posts and whatnot. And then it died when I got pregnant because I couldn’t handle it all anymore. Maybe if we had of done something like this it would have gone better.

    • Yeah, I do think laying everything out in the beginning helps, but I almost wonder if it would have in your situation. It just seems that they weren’t as passionate as you were, and you can’t really account for that can you? I mean, people lose their desire to blog all the time. I don’t think Kelley, Leanne, and I have discussed what we would do if one of us quit. We do have it set up so if someone can’t post one of the other two will just move their scheduled posts over but hmm… I think that you were just unfortunate in how everything worked out for you. Which sucks because you’re so amazing <3

  12. I just have to say that I love the new blog – the look, the feel and so far the awesome content! I hope it all works for the best for all of you! When I started My Shelf Confessions I never dreamed it would end up being a co-blogger blog. I figured it’d be little ol’ me forever. But I couldn’t let Pabkins/Tabitha get away without blogging somewhere when I found out she was blogless and I made the leap of my life- I just asked her if she’d liked to join me, without even thinking about it. Looking back I’m like “holy cow I didn’t think of the consequences! I didn’t analyze it to death like I normally would a decision that big!” But I think it was meant to be. Our personalities on blogging mesh rather well, we’ve managed to get a decent schedule going – at first it was totally higgedly piggedly, and now it’s much more organized and yet still flexible, something we both desire.

    It especially works well with us because she reads more of a scifi/fantasy genre and I lean a lot more towards mystery/thrillers. Once in awhile we overlap but we get a good mix going for anyone stopping by.

    I would say that anyone who is thinking about co-blogging or sharing a blog with a group of people MUST consider how they’re going to fit in – do you mesh well personally with the person or group? Are you friends? Could this become something contentious that could ruin a friendship – is there a backup plan in case the co-blogging thing doesn’t work? I think personality is a huge part – and also schedules too – are you going to schedule time to talk about things beforehand or are you each going to have separate responsibilities and have minimal regular contact for basic things? Is your co-blogger in a time-zone that’s convenient to have good contact if you need to talk to them in an emergency or are they available a lot of the time around the internet/social media? I know Pabkins and I pretty much talk every day, even if it’s not about blogging things and we don’t have to talk to each other as much as we used to about our blogging things because we pretty much have it set so each person has their role – the thing we discuss the most these days is when to move around certain posts during the week and then if one of us gets offered something we think the other one might like more, etc. In the beginning though it was especially crucial that we had contact with each other as much as we needed to, to smooth things over and integrate her into the blog as seamlessly as possibly, and introduce her to WP (since she’d never blogged with it before.)

    Wishing you girls all the best! I love what I see so far!

    April @ My Shelf Confessions

    • Thanks for the comment April! Lovely to get another person’s opinion on the whole co-blogging scenario. I definitely think you’re right. Compatibility is huge! You have to be able to deal with this person on good days and bad days, and be open to any and all thoughts they have. I think that’s the biggest issue most have with the thought of co-blogging – how do you find a co-blogger who doesn’t already have a blog and that you know you’ll get along with? It’s a bit of a big thing if they do have a blog to suggest starting a new one (it just somehow was the right time for us three). I definitely think you were smart in snagging up Tabitha. She seems like a keeper ;)

      And oh yes time zones! I will admit since I’m in a different country right now than the other two I’ll sometimes wake up to like twelve emails where they’ve been communicating back and forth at night while I’m sleeping, but it’s never anything that needed my immediate input anyways and I’m pretty regular at checking mine and responding so it hasn’t been an issue. I’m sure that could be an issue for others though depending on how far apart they are and whatnot, so I think it’s good you mentioned it!

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  15. Nice post! I co-blog with 5 wonderful ladies at Badass Book Reviews. We kind of inherited the blog and its name from the blog creator. It’s really nice to have a group of people to fall back on, especially when you are in a reading and writing rut. What’s nice about co-blogging is that we have different tastes, so we have a greater range of books we like to read and review. We also have different strengths – so we tend to work off those. And – we are a good combination of Type A personalities and laid back ones.

    • It’s great to hear that co-blogging has worked so well for you! And I agree, it’s quite nice to have a place where you can share multiple point of views. That’s actually happening here. Leanne wrote a post about author events that went up this week, and Kelley is currently in the process of writing a rebuttal. It’s nice to see everyone inspire each other and work together to create a diverse range of content! :)

  16. WOW! That is one heck of a master list! I mean, subconsciously I know that all these decisions have to be made regardless of whether you’re a solo blogger or part of a co-blogging op but when you’re solo, you hardly stop to think about a lot of those points. At least for me, I do whatever comes to me as the next logical step. Only when I’ve exhausted these steps do I slow down to construct a list. Seeing everything broken down into bits and pieces is actually kind mind-blowing. Haha.

    No wonder you guys managed to pull off a collaborative effort right from the start/ *hats off*

    • (I swore I responded to this comment when you left it, but I don’t see my response here so let me try again ><) Haha yes, only doing it when the things pop up can be less overwhelming than trying to do it in checklist form in the beginning! It's crazy seeing all the things we have to think about as bloggers all laid out. It should make us feel that much more proud that we could even start a blog to begin with! Thanks Josephine :)

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  20. Hey there! I just came across your blog because I wanted to start a group blog with my friend. Can I ask how you got your posts to differ by color depending on the author?! That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to see if it was possible!

    • Hi Joanne! Thanks for checking out our co-blogging posts. I write a whole post on that topic: Maintaining Individual Personality on a Group Blog, so check it out to see how we accomplished it. The main thing is to find a theme that supports different post formats (like video, quote, image — like you see on tumblr), and then you can alter the look of each “format” and have each author use their personal “format” for their posts. I hope that helps. Come back and let us know about your new co-blog once you’ve got it set up! :)

  21. Hi,
    I was wondering how do you meet the people to make a group blog. I was hoping to get a coblogger for my blog. And I’m not sure how to find people. I know I’ll get busy later. What should I do?

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