Friday Fun – The Art of Group Blogging

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: This week’s question comes from reader Kernan Manion, MD. He writes, “I’d love to hear how you – as a group – have decided to keep to a schedule, decide on a topic, and hold each other accountable.” Great question, Kernan. Thanks!

Jamie WallaceI have had the good fortune to be part of several group blogs and in each case team members take full responsibility for their own schedules, topics, and deadlines. Here at Live to Write – Write to Live, we are all professional writers of one kind of another, so we’re used to working independently, managing our time, and meeting deadlines. That said, one of the best parts of group blogging is knowing you’ve got a team of partners who have your back if you run into a crisis and need some extra support. We’ve all been there, and we’re always happy to help each other out in a pinch.

Our editorial calendar is a simple spreadsheet (hosted on Google Drive) where we keep track of who is posting on which day. Other group blogs I’ve worked with have included additional detail in the editorial calendar, such as topic, keywords, etc.; but we seem to do okay here with just the bare bones spreadsheet. Simplicity is a good thing.

While we do our writing and posting independently, we do come together (usually via email) to discuss any “bigger picture” items such as our recent theme switch. Also, if someone is planning a post that’s a little bit different than our usual fare (such as a survey, contest, or slightly promotional piece), the author of that post will typically run it by the team via an informal email.

So, for the most part I guess I’d say that our “process” is pretty casual, collaborative where it needs to be, and low tech in terms of coordination. And that works just fine for us! 😉

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: Jamie covered the answer quite well. The Google calendar makes scheduling posts easy. When we started we not only picked dates we’d post, but also supplied the topic of the post thinking to avoid duplicate topics in the same week, but that part of the scheduling quickly fell by the wayside, as most of us (I believe) queue up our posts and the topics are decided in-the-moment for the most part.

Now, for me, I’m going to start posting a grammar topic once a month, but the other posts will be whatever I’m inspired to write at the moment.

Knowing the blog is a group effort takes some pressure off — it’s nice not to be responsible for *all* the content, and I’m always curious to see what my fellow bloggers post each week. We have a nice flow going here!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: Lisa and Jamie have covered the topic well, so I’ll just add that I post every other Thursday because that’s what I feel is doable for me right now. I put my name in the every other Thursday slot for as far out as the calendar goes (usually about three months) but in my mind I know it’s every other Thursday for the rest of the year. That helps me plan my time. Also, once the calendar is up, if a Thursday slot is taken by one of my fellow bloggers, I just put my name on the date closest to the date I had planned to post. It works out well for me and I don’t wonder when I’m responsible for posting.

Also, I really appreciate the flexibility of the group and the way we’ve been able to jump in for each other when something comes up that prevents a scheduled post from going up.

Lee Laughlin CU 7-13

Lee Laughlin: We all have active lives outside of this blog, I think the qualities that make it work are realistic expectations, professionalism and respect. We’re all busy, so when life occasionally goes off the rails and the scheduled author misses a post, if someone else can jump in, they do, if not, we recognize, the world probably won’t end. 🙂 We’re all professional writers who are passionate about what we do. We earn our keep via words, so we strive to put forth our best efforts. For all of our similarities, we do have diverse points of view. We work to be respectful of everyone’s efforts and schedules.  How we got here is a little serendipitous, some of us met via an in-person writers group and other members were added via recommendation. In a sense we lucked out that our little writer’s posse is such a strong group, but I also believe that everything happens for a reason.

10 thoughts on “Friday Fun – The Art of Group Blogging

  1. This is the first time I have come across the concept of a group blog. Sounds good in that the writers have a support system which would keep them motivated to keep on. . I have just started blogging and so I have a really long way to go. I am busy lapping up any info that comes my way! Thank you!

  2. Thank you (meaning “you’all” – my Southern roots) so much for your thoughtful response. Bet you thought “where the hell’d that guy go?!” Sorry for delayed response. Amazing thing about blogs – the original writing doesn’t necessarily get posted on the day it’s written; its reading doesn’t necessarily take place on the same day as the posting; and a reader’s reply doesn’t necessarily take place in immediate proximity to the reading. I’ve found myself commenting on blog posts that were several years old – only because the post and the conversation thread spoke to me and I wanted to contribute to the dialog!

    That was really helpful to hear your group process. Thanks for taking the time to mull it over and answer collectively. It really gives me great incentive to find a writers’ group – actually, more specifically, a bloggers’ group. One of the challenges I face is that I have a multiplicity of interests that I find myself blogging and commenting about, curiously nearly none of which pertain to my actual business!

    Interesting thing about comments, I suspect they serve to ignite a larger dialog. Perceived listenership / readership are bound to increase the motivation for the blog author to communicate. It’s one thing to write for the hell of it, as if simply journaling, putting our thinking out there in front of us so we can make sense of it. Or perhaps as a public display of a writers’ group at work. But when something we say resonates with another, with a reader who is avidly interested in what we have to say, I believe it makes the desire to write stronger. I am guessing the motivation to write your blog was not simply a form of a writer’ group prompt exercise, i.e. compelling each other to “produce something” just to keep one’s commitments. (Though, come to think about it, that would be a fine strategy for a writers’ group – to compel each to contribute one’s writing not only to the group, but to get the hang of “putting it out there.”) I haven’t yet, but I think I’ll go back through earlier posts to see whether you’all (that contraction simply cannot be beat) explored your shared vision for the blog.

    A funny parallel came to mind. One can imagine the excitement and intrigue that must always be aroused among NASA scientists, long beaming out electronic emissions in silent labs, when one reports that their group’s signals, detected via increasingly sophisticated scientific instruments, seem to indicate that life may exist on another planet or even another galaxy. My guess is we communicators in the blogosphere get the same thrill. “We’ve picked up a life form, an actual reader who may speak our language, who … who … may have our same interests!”

    Thanks again for sharing your process and resources. Continued enthusiastic blogging and success in your writing endeavors!

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