Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 8/7/2007
A New Trend
Blogging is about to grow up. In case you are not sure what I mean, let me explain. While roaming around the Internet looking for ways to make more people aware of my book, Searching for Mom, I came across a blog called Girls, God and the Good Life. The girls mentioned in the title seem to be female authors of Christian Chic Lit and Young Adult fiction. While Searching for Mom does not match perfectly with their genre, it has a similar audience, so the site intrigued me, but what was more interesting was that this blog is something of an association of Christian women authors. The authors are located in various states, but they each have part of the responsibility of writing for the blog. The benefits are obvious. No one has to write something everyday. Each author brings with her an audience that increases the audience of the blog. If nothing else, the blog posts are guaranteed to have readers because the associated authors will be reading the posts by the other authors.
Most of the authors have their own blogs, including one T. Suzanne Eller. On her blog, I found a link to another blog with multiple contributors called, Boundless Line. Unlike the other blog, Boundless Line is a commercial blog that is funded by Focus on the Family. It is treated very much like a magazine, but it is put together like a blog. Once again we see great benefits because no one person must post to the blog on a daily basis.
What we are seeing is a type of consolidation of blogs and websites. People are coming together in loose associations or more formal organizations to draw more people in to hear the message that they are presenting. The time will come when the individual blogger will have a hard time competing for readers. That is not to say that independent blogs will completely disappear, but blogs created by multiple writers who cover similar subjects have a better chance of attracting a faithful audience.
Making it Work
Blogs that have a specific theme do much better than the online diaries that many individual bloggers maintain. Because of the many different points of view, a collaborative blog has the potential to be even more disjointed than that of an individual blogger. Few people will return to a blog if one post is about raising children, the next post is about overhauling an engine, the next post is about what is wrong with the world and then it goes back to being about raising children. For a collaborative blog to work, the writers must share a common interest and there must be some rules concerning what may and may not be posted to the blog.
A good collaborative blog needs an editor. Ideally, the editor will actually edit the posts to the blog, monitor comments, enforce the rules and seek out additional writers. It is unlikely that the editor will edit the posts, but it is a good idea. There always has to be someone who has the ultimate responsibility for a website. This duty falls to the editor of the blog.
Finding the people to be involved in the blog may be easy or it may be difficult. If people have already associated together for another purpose, it may be a natural step to create a collaborative blog. A book club might have a blog in which they review books. A garden club might have a blog about gardening. At one of their meetings, they might decide to have a blog. Even a church could decide to have a collaborative blog. The leader of the group might naturally become the editor of the blog. It is more difficult when the desire is to come together for creating a blog. Authors tend to be independent. Even authors who share a publisher may not see each other, so unless the publisher is involved it may be difficult for authors with similar interests to come together, even though it is likely to increase book sales. Someone must take the initiative to find people with similar interests and encourage them to have a collaborative blog.
There must be rules for a collaborative blog to work. The rules may be formal or informal, but there must be some rules concerning how things work. One of the rules should be concerning the number of times a person is expected to post to the blog. Since it is best to have new content everyday, the contributors may be assigned a schedule. On person might post on Sunday, another on Monday, another on Tuesday. The schedule may be based on the days of the month. Some bloggers may be posting on the same day as others. However the schedule is set up, it should be fair to all of the contributors.
There should be some very clear rules concerning what is acceptable and what is not. A company-sponsored blog may not be the best place for a person to talk about his dog, but then again, it could be. A person who contributes to the blog should have a good idea whether what he is posting is considered acceptable or not. Without rules saying what he can and cannot post, he may spend a great deal of time on the post, only to have the editor reject it outright. The rules should limit content to the theme of the site. If the site is about dogs, then the posts should all be about dogs. If the site is about books, then the posts should all be about books.
The End and the Beginning
It will be some time before we see collaborative blogs reach their full potential, but I believe we will see more of them. As collaborative blogs grow in number and influence, we will also see a decline in the individual blogs. The only individual blogs that will survive will the online diaries and the occasional individual blog that covers a very unique topic.