Monday, October 11, 2010

What You Should Know Before Joining a Group Blog

I feel very fortunate to be part of two successful group blogs, Voices from the Heart, and The Lady Scribes. I can take no credit for their success. In both cases, hard-working, talented writers put the blog together, and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate. But through their efforts, I have learned a bit about group blogging.

If you’ve never participated in a group blog before, you might wonder why you would want to join. Like everything else on the internet, it’s a promotional tool, a way to build an audience. Some agents and editors prefer an author who has an online presence. They want to know 1) that you can handle the technology, and 2) That you can be trusted not to embarrass yourself online.

Blogging is not for everyone. Some feel that blogs are outdated, and they prefer to use social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Personally, I think a combination of all three works best. You want some content backing up your tweets. I’m also a firm believer that you’ll be most successful doing what you enjoy. If you don’t like blogging, don’t do it.

But if you think you’d like to give it a try, a group blog is the ideal place to start. You can team up with more experienced friends who will help you learn the ropes. You’ll automatically have a bigger audience because every member brings their readers. With a group blog, the time commitment is minimal, so it won’t cut into your regular writing time. The other members will also keep you motivated and hold you accountable for blogging regularly.

Here are some things to consider before you sign on:

Choose your members wisely. The more members you have, the less often you’ll need to blog. The minimum number is probably about four and the maximum around thirty. But choose those members carefully. You don’t want someone who’s going to post something that will embarrass you. And you want people who can be counted on to post regularly without being reminded. Be aware of potential conflicts. For example, inspy writers and erotica writers may clash because they’re aiming for different audience.

Focus. Your blog will find its niche more easily if you focus from the outset. This is easier if you’re all writing the same sub-genre. What audience are you trying to attract? Look at similar blogs and see what works. What can you do better? Are you blogging for readers or for writers? The difference is significant.

Rules. The best way to avoid conflict is to agree on a set of rules and a schedule before you start. These might be as simple as ‘No politics. No book reviews.’ Give your blog a movie rating—G, PG, XXX- so you can communicate easily to guest bloggers what you’re looking for. Decide in advance what offenses will be cause for removal from the group. Decide what will happen if someone regularly fails to blog on their appointed day.

Invite others. Plan days for contests, interviews, and guest bloggers. All these things will bring new visitors to your blog. If they like what they see, they may become regulars. Create a plan for promoting the blog.

Evolve and innovate. Be prepared for change. You will want to stop periodically, re-evaluate, and change direction. Disagreements will occur, but remember everyone wants the same thing, a successful blog. And if the day should come where you part ways, it will be much easier knowing it was not personal, only business.

So there you have it, my tips for joining a group blog. Did I leave anything out? I would love to hear your advice on participating in group blogs.


Lydia Dare said...

Clarissa, if you left something out, I've missed it. Then again, I usually agree with everything you say. Great advice for others!

Amy DeTrempe said...

Everything you said is spot on, Clarissa. Excellent advice.

Erin Kelly said...

Great thoughts, Clarissa. As a 'single' blogger myself, I know how exhausting it can be to do a blog on your own. If I ever branch out into the group blog world, I will definitely be referring back to this post!

Liz Lipperman said...

I think you touched on most of them, Clarissa. I am fortunate to be on a genre-specific blog with writers who write in that genre. However, the blogs speak to all writers as this one does.

Personally, I think blogs are a great marketing tool. We had a contest on ours and picked up a lot of followers that way. Hopefully, some of them will remember my name and buy my book.

I loved this blog and have added to my Favorites.

Samantha Grace said...

All of my professional life I've worked as part of a team. As you mentioned, there can be some drawbacks if expectations are unclear from the start, or there are disagreements. However, the benefits outweigh the potential negatives.

Besides all the wonderful things you've mentioned already - sharing the burden and sharing readership -a group brings varying viewpoints to lend depth and richness to a blog.

Jill James said...

Clarissa, great details to consider for blogging. Great post. I enjoyed it alot.

B. A. Binns said...

Hi Clarissa, it's me, your old roomie at RWA Nationals. This is timely advice for me, because I'm considering joining a group. Lots of stuff to ponder, so thank you.

Clarissa Southwick said...

Thank you all for the kind comments and suggestions. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a great community.

Gillian Layne said...

Be prepared to participate. :) The biggest complaint I hear from blog hoppers is that they take the time to visit blogs and post comments, but the hosts will only answer a few of the people who comment.

I think your advice is excellent. Great post!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I have been on several blogs and am on three group blogs now. I enjoy them a lot by reading and writing. It's amazing how many facts you can learn by participating. The only thing I would add is to support your sister bloggers. Sometimes you can work a long time on a blog and then nobody comes and comments.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Clarissa, great info. Celia Yeary and I just formed a group blog of 14 contemporary and historical writers whose books are set under Western skies, Sweethearts of the West, I was so happy to see we followed your steps. LOL Celia put the guidelines on a yahoo group she set up for our authors. That way, the rules are posted and there are no misunderstandings. We hope!

Liz Fredericks said...

Clarissa - You've already motivated this blog-novice to post a comment and join with other writers on a new blog. Thanks for the advice as we gear up. Now my challenge will be keeping up with my manuscripts AND reading blogs. A woman's work is never done! ;-)

Joanne said...

This was very helpful and motivating. I, too, belong to 2 successful blogs--this one, and the Pink Fuzzie Slippers.