This post is written based on my experience working as an author of a team blog.
I used to think, running a blog alone is much easier than running a team blog. When you blog alone, you decide the fate of the blog yourself. The blog’s future is in your hands, and no other. Whether you want to make it a personal blog, a tech blog, a joke blog or any other form, it’s up to you to decide. But then, it became so repetitive, I lost the interest to continue that after approximately six months on Blogspot platform. Mr. I then offered me a chance to do a team blog, which I accepted since I thought it’s a very unique opportunity and have been doing it up until now.
Running a team blog is a common thing in the blogosphere. But how many of them are able to achieve success? Running a team blog means you work with other bloggers, and working together is very different than working alone. You also need to adjust your habits, preferences, and communication so the whole team can act in harmony.
Here are the ‘bad, ugly and good things’ I encountered when I blog in a team:
Time Zone Difference.
If you form a blogging team with a person in a distant country, chances are that you are separated with a big time zone difference. I am taking BWS authors as an example, I reside in Japan, and SBA is in US. We’re 12 hours apart, when I am awake, she’s asleep, and when I am asleep, she’s awake. Funny? No, it’s natural. So how do we solve this?
The answer is simple, we don’t do anything. As I said, it’s a natural thing, and nature can’t be beaten, right? That’s how we fill the gap in between, we do nothing. Consider yourself lucky if you are able to form a team with a person who lives nearby.
Alright, it’s not entirely ‘don’t do anything’. We’re trying to arrange the time to do ’email chat’ by adjusting the sleep hours. With it, I need to stay awake at least until 10 pm of my time, whereas SBA needs to wake up early and to be in front of computer in the morning. We also make sure we finish anything that the other person needs by the time they ‘wake up.’ We can also take turns replying to comments as they come in and spotting spam around the clock! One of us always has an eye open.
PS: We’re trying a different approach now. Can you guess it? …..it’s a Forum!
Communicating with the other team members.
Ah, another major problem. Language barrier is a nightmare, really. English is a second language for me, so that’s why I put this here. The rest of the blog members are English speaking, though. Often I don’t know the words to speak of (lol so sad…) hence a simple translator is needed. I don’t use it to translate the entire paragraph I would like to write on email or post, just a word or two since the translator isn’t that good to translate the whole paragraph anyway.
Unfortunately, a real time communication is always not possible for us three (read #1), such as: Chat (Yahoo Messenger, GTalk etc). We have used Google Groups in the past, but I don’t know why- it didn’t work out. The remaining way is by utilizing old fashioned email. It’s only three members anyway, so this is the best way. In our emails we try to be as clear and specific as possible to avoid followup questions that may not be seen until the next day.
But then, email sometimes doesn’t convey the idea and the emotion of the writer, so can be misleading although it’s not done intentionally. Maybe we need to abuse those emoticons Google has provided?
In the end, I have thought all communication method possible, but can’t find any better than email. If you know something better, you know I wait for the answer you have.
Consolidating the ideas, plans etc.
Here goes. Since you don’t communicate with the rest of the members that fast, consolidating the plans and ideas often is difficult. We’ve had several experiences in the past about the post publishing date. When the schedule has been set, it’s not easy to replace it or swap the post. You need confirmation before you swap or change the schedule, but the response can be very late and in the end, no changes. The solution is to plan more in advance, then focus on the priorities. Room always has to be left for ‘best judgement’ decision by a single person. We’ve learned from mistakes made by rushing when planning and discussion gets a better outcome. Teams need to set goals to guide them.
Maintaining a commitment level
So far, we have lost 2 members. Both had a second blog they owned. Currently only SBA keeps a Blogspot blog (barely breathing… as she says). There were many factors that caused that, such as real life work, family etc. But overall, all of them can be simplified into one problem ‘not enough commitment’. Even when you blog alone, you make a commitment for that to your own self (to maintain it, to put new content into it and many others), so it’s entirely logical when you do a team blog, you’re asked to maintain the same level of commitment at all time to both of your team blog and to the other members.If you somehow can’t make a commitment temporarily for any reason, do let the rest of the members know. They might be disappointed, refuse or accept it, but at least they know you have a problem right now and they can step in for you.I hate to say this, but this is the ugliest side of a team blog.
There you go, I’ve done complaining and whining about how hard team blogging is. Now may I give some praise about how good blogging together is?
Getting help quicker.
Of course you can rely on forums or mailing lists, but asking a help from your friend is better. Besides, they wholeheartedly help you, since you and they are on the same ship. Each team member picks up skills and attitudes from the others (e.g. using StumbleUpon, Twitter, people & communication skills.) Each grows into a better blogger.
Dividing the workload, making it easier to run a blog.
It’s obvious, isn’t it? Each person has her own characteristic/skill set, and dividing the workload is the most logical thing to do when running a team blog. If you can do theme editing, then do it, give the others the rest of the jobs like writing a post, editing, planning, promoting, designing etc. It doesn’t make sense to have one person doing all jobs all the time. It’s inefficient and puts more burden, and the affected person wouldn’t be able to draw her full potential.Oh wait… Mr. I from BWS is an exception… He’s doing all types of jobs, from promoting, designing to drafting lots of posts, an all in one soldier he is…
Also, when you’re not able to blog for a while, your teammates can cover your spot. For this, BWS was hit by illness and ISP/PC problems that took down several of our members, one after another. And indeed the impact was great, but we managed to get through it.
Getting an easier learning curve.
I recalled once on that blogspot platform, I wanted to make a top commentator sidebar, like I usually saw on many blogs. I had to search Google thoroughly to get the correct snippet (I was but a newbie, mind you… oh wait.. I am still newbie until now lol), and wasted too much time on it just trying to learn how to insert the snippet into my blog. Things are so different now, since the rest of this blog members are both.. crazy, all I need to do is watch them do their crazyness and laugh when something bad happens.
As funny as it is, just by laughing… I learn something. So many things I learn from them, and it helps me to improve myself to be a better blogger! Surely it’s easier learning curve now, than when I was alone on Blogger platform…
Ah well… how nostalgic.
That’s it. With this I hope you will be interested in starting your team blog (or no? it’s 5 negatives against 3 anyway lol.). And when you do, make sure you drop your experience here. You might say it is similar to soccer betting, if you win you get many things, but if you lose, you might lose everything. Consider it also as a challenge to help you improve. The best bloggers respond to challenges and learn from mistakes.