Setting Up a Multi-Author Website (the Pros and Cons)

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Starting a Website

Setting up your very own niche website is exciting, and even better if a number of like-minded peers agree to join you in the endeavour. However, I must warn you that whenever a group of people is involved in creating and running any project, personality clashes, and disagreements on ideas are inevitable. Be prepared!

When starting out, especially if you are not technically minded and Internet savvy yourself, it will be very tempting to accept any “free” help you can get. If, after hearing your idea, an acquaintance offers to save you money by hosting your website on their server, volunteers to set the site up, and install themes and plug-ins, you will probably jump at the offer and accept it gratefully.

This was the case in my situation and, in my personal opinion, was a good choice apart from the decision not to pay for separate hosting (and then have to transfer it later). Our volunteer administrator/technician did a great job setting up and managing the site, and I will be forever grateful. Disagreements, however, arose within the site’s management team when it was time to transfer to an alternate host, and how the transfer was to be conducted. This resulted in some unwelcome animosity and ill-will.

Free or Not for Free

In view of the above, always be aware that there could be a catch, or ramifications down the line if others don’t agree with how the site is being maintained, or if there is a falling out. This is when the “value” of the volunteer offer to “do it for free” will be brought up and you will be informed of the “hundreds of dollars” worth of that person’s time, effort, and expertise you received for no payment.

So, my suggestion in hindsight here is: If you can afford to pay a website designer, host etc, do it! If not, then by all means accept any “free” volunteer offers you can get, but go in eyes wide open and be prepared for a few obstacles down the line.

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The Website Manager

The Website Manager, whether it is you or someone you appointed, needs to have good people skills, be an excellent mediator, and problem solver. Believe me, they will need it! On my particular website I have had a number of situations to deal with (some even before the site was set up). These have included: personality clashes, name calling and disrespect for other members, threats to resign, actual resignations, users being banned, and disagreements on technical issues. I am proud that, as the Website Manager, I was able to stay focussed in these situations and in most cases offer a level-headed solution, or at least calm the waters.

You also need to set, and maintain site rules as best you can. However, you need to avoid tunnel-vision, and remain flexible to change if it is in the best interests of your website and its members. For example, if something is obviously not working or the majority of members don’t like it … take a vote… and change it! This is bound to happen in any new endeavour. You need to deal with these teething problems early and learn from them.

Be willing to listen to ideas and suggestions put forward by your members. Show you are interested, and give them feedback (be it positive or negative). They will be discouraged if they presume their ideas are not taken seriously, or even considered.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

To be successful on the Internet it is essential that you make your website Google and SEO friendly, and believe me, that isn’t easy, especially with a niche ‘poetry and creative writing’ site like the one I refer to, "The Creative Exiles."

We do utilize the YOAST SEO plug-in that is a feature of Word Press created sites, even though it wasn’t designed with creative writing in mind. That being said, I do think it is valuable for all writers to become familiar with it, and how SEO works in general.

No one can see we didn’t try everything we could to get our site noticed by the Google gods. Our mentors do a great job that all our authors’ posts at least meet YOAST’s recommended minimum SEO standards.

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10 Tips for Setting-up a Multi-Author Website

  1. Come up with the idea for your website. To be successful it needs to be an original idea that you predict will prove popular or a new take on a popular existing topic/niche.
  2. Research to gauge demand for your niche search keywords, conduct surveys, ask your peers and friends their opinion.
  3. Gather the names of other people, authors, writers interested in joining and contributing.
  4. Think of a catchy but search engine friendly name for your website.
  5. Set-up a Facebook page or group to gather members and discuss ideas.
  6. Select a management team (manager, technician, selection committee, treasurer etc.)
  7. Purchase the domain/site name, and select and pay for web hosting.
  8. Choose a website creator/design platform such as Word Press, Weebly, GoDaddy, or Wix.
  9. Write up a list of basic rules for your website as well as a “Terms of Service” document (this should be done professionally to meet legal requirements).
  10. Choose a “theme” or website design template. There are hundreds to choose from, some free, some quite expensive.

Which website creator/design platform have you used or would recommend?

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Additional Suggestions

  • Forums: I think it is a good idea to incorporate a forum feature on your multi-author website so members can express their opinions, interact, and get feedback. This also helps to add a sense of community to the site (something a personal blog lacks).
  • Newsletters: Recently, at The Creative Exiles we have begun issuing a weekly newsletter in an attempt to promote the site and attract new members. So far after just two issues we have gained eight new subscribers. This should continue to increase with further editions of the TCE Gazette (subscribe here)

The Creative Exiles

I am tremendously proud of the website and believe it offers a real alternative for poets and short fiction writers to highlight their work and get feedback from their peers. We have assembled some of the best creative writers from throughout the Internet, and welcome applications from other interested writers.

Come read and see what it is like when poets and fiction writers are set free to be all they can be.

Special Thanks and Acknowledgements

I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the following people, without whom The Creative Exiles would never have gotten off the ground and become a reality:

  • Phyllis Doyle
  • Ralph Swartz
  • Chris Mills
  • Jackie Lynnley
  • Marisa Wright
  • All the authors and contributors without whose work we wouldn’t have a website

When all is said and done your main focus should be to make your website the best it can be, and to offer its particular information, product, or topic better than any other.

We have just published our first anthology of poetry from the site. Everyone has worked so hard to make this a reality. The book is available on Amazon and eBook on Kindle.

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© 2016 John Hansen

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73 comments

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 6 months ago from San Diego California

Good luck on your endeavor, I'll probably pop by to give it a look.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 6 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Huge Congratulations and much luck & success to you and everyone involved in this new and creative site. I trust the time & work you have all put forth into your work of love, will reap many good things for you.

This hub is appreciated. It's an ideal explanation with necessary information to individuals interested in going this route.

I look forward to visiting your new and fascinating site. Wishing you all the very best. Peace, Paula


clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 6 months ago from Nibiru

Good move, make some money. Write what our mind.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 months ago from Southern Illinois

Anytime you go to a new site, you find it's different. I want to express my appreciation to Phyllis who helped me get started on the site. What I like most about the site is pure poetry, some of the best ever! I have been a follower of Vincent Moore for six years, when I saw that he was writing on that site, it drew me in. I have just begun to read other poets on the site, and I am impressed. I hope the site does well and money will follow. Thank you John for making it possible to write on a site freely without judgement....


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 6 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

John, well done you! I stumbled on your site and took a look around. I must say, I was massively impressed. Keep up the good work, I wish you and the team every success in the future.


NateB11 profile image

NateB11 6 months ago from California, United States of America

Hi, Jodah. I wasn't aware of some of the issues that arose during the management of the site (though I did notice some heated discussion in the Facebook group), I suppose it is to be expected, as you said, and you handled it well. Most of all, I think it is a positive move for a group of people to get together and make something happen with something that is creative and gives people a space for doing what they want and love.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Mel. It all seems to be going well at the moment. Stop by for a look.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Paula. Thank you for the well wishes and the generous comment. I noticed a lot of creative writers expressing their interest in such a venture so we decided to make it a reality. Exciting times ahead I hope. Please do visit and join if you feel like exploring you're poetry side..I love it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Clive. We aren't making any money yet, but we're working on it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ruby, thanks for the endorsement of The Creative Exiles. I was glad when you joined us. Yes, Phyllis was instrumental in encouraging me to go ahead with the idea and is a big help in the running. Yes, we do have some amazing poets and fiction writers on board.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Jo. Glad you were impressed by the site. Love your poetry hint hint.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Nate, yes we certainly have had some issues but that should have been expected. Hopefully we can deal with any further ones quickly and efficiently, but at the moment it appears to be plain sailing. You are a valuable member and I look forward to seeing more of your poetry at the site.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I am watching and reading you guys over there. This was really neat to get the inside scoop on things. You have some great writers.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 6 months ago from Florida

Whew! I don't know John, but that sounded so stressful. However, now that it is up and running, it seems it may be smooth sailing for a while. I wish you and the others much luck. I'll try to check it out from time to time.

I attempted my own blog one time, and it was challenging to try to bring people into reading my material and subscribing to my site. I started off good, then fizzled out. I eventually decided that it would be better to try my luck here on HP and gain more experience. I am still up and down on the popularity scale I think. Some people seem to like what I put out and write, some think opposite.

I was invited by my very smart cousin to join his writing site one time. Every year I believe they publish a book. It was an interesting site. The writers would have to write a complete short story within like three lines, and it had to be understood. I was not confident enough to join their site, but I felt honored to be asked.

I hope you have much luck on your site. I hope it doesn't eventually drive you away from coming here. However, I hope it flourishes the way you want it to. ~Missy


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

Good for you! I'm happy for you that you are pursuing this. It will provide you another avenue. Sharing the trials and tribulations was beneficial. Not everyone will agree all the time.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 6 months ago from Dubai

Great work and because of you and all the other people who worked at putting this site together, I have another site to contribute, thank you.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Eric, it was good to see you visiting The Creative Exiles. Keep on checking it out.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Missy, your cousin's writing site sounds interesting. I have a blog site too but it gets no views so I very rarely write anything new there. It is impossible to please everyone with what we write as long as we feel good about it is what's important. Starting the website was an interesting experience and I have learnt a lot. I won't be leaving HP, I like it too much and have too many friends here.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks, Flourish. It has been an interesting learning experience, and it seems to be going along smoothly now. I appreciate your comment.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Vellur, it is good to have you as a member of The Creative Exiles. I am grateful to everyone involved.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 6 months ago from southern USA

Excellent and detailed article here of the ups and downs of starting your own site, John! The firsthand knowledge articles are the best for obvious reasons as you can certainly share your firsthand experiences in such endeavors.

I can imagine all of the personalty conflicts arising for sure and the desire for the control aspect.

Yes, "free" is never truly "free" is it ...

Your site is stellar and I'm sure as time goes on, all the kinks will be worked out. You are a good mediator who has a lot of patience to deal with all that comes up no doubt.

I'll have to pop over again and visit being there are more who have joined by now. I am enjoying this Monday off.

Peace and blessings always


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for those kind words , Theresa. You are right..there is very little that is "trukt free'. Oh, please do come to visit the site again.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 months ago from Olympia, WA

I wish you the very best, John! Your words of wisdom, born from experience, will surely help someone else considering this. Well done!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks, Bill. It's going fine at the moment. Hard to believe the site was only started less than three months ago.


SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 6 months ago from Arkansas USA

What a beautiful, professional-looking site. Love the name! Wishing your team of authors the very best.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for taking a look at The Creative Exiles website, Susan. Thank you for your kind words and well wishes too.


Surabhi Kaura profile image

Surabhi Kaura 6 months ago from Toronto, Canada

Thanks for the valuable information, Jodah. I just looked at your website and it looks very professional. A noble cause. Hand in hand we learn and make the world a creative place. I look forward to join. WordPress seems to be the best suited for the authors. My best wishes!


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 6 months ago from london

Very informative stuff. Well done, and I daresay that something like this is needed. I wish you continued progress in your endeavours.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 6 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Usually kinks and what-not's need to be worked out in the beginning of a new venture. I do know that when a group of creative and intellectual people come together things can become heated. But your site is awesome and I have been very impressed with the poetry and short-stories I have read.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Surabi, you would be most welcome at The Creative Exiles and I look forward to you joining.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the heads-up Manatita. Yes, I am sure it was needed.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes, Dana, we knew there would be kinks starting off so we set up a Facebook group first so we could discuss and work things out. That was a big help. Glad you were impressed by the site and content, our main problem now is getting noticed by search engines.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 6 months ago from The Beautiful South

Guess I am the dingbat of the group, I had no idea you had all those problems. I mean I am aware of a few disagreements about writing and SEO and all that, but sure glad I missed the awful stuff! lol

I think it is wonderful being there and I know it is just going to get better and better and I will share this around so all those who were first told will know they can come on in!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 6 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Fantastic and well-written article, John. It is very informative and beneficial for others who are considering a project like this. I am proud to be a member of your team and so very proud of The Creative Exiles. I could not ask for a better manager to work with. Your leadership and people skills are phenomenal. Well done, Jodah!!!


calvinaustins profile image

calvinaustins 6 months ago from UK

I have found very useful detailing. Please keep sharing awesome stuff like this...

Cheers


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Phyllis,

Thank you for reading this and all your help with setting up and running The Creative Exiles. I am proud of our team and what we have achieved.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Calvin, I appreciate your comment. Hopefully, I can share more useful hubs.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Jackie, you are fortunate not to have been involved in some of the teething problems, but you are a valuable member of the team. Thanks for the kind words and for sharing.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 6 months ago from Shelton

Free is never free.. that much is true.. LOL this is helpful sharing your experience getting your model off the drawing board.. pros and cons here will help any other writer/producer want to be to help get started and see the snarls that might tangle them up a bit.. great hub my friend :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Frank. Your wise comments are always most welcome.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 6 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

It sounds like you have an interesting project. I wish you best of luck with your efforts and hope all goes well from here on out. I am sure any of this stuff would be way over my head unless I was to take a study course on the subject. I am glad you are giving us advice should we find ourselves in such a jam. I know I need to get busy to ever understand how SEO works. I never get enough traffic here to know if I'm wasting my time posting things or not.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 6 months ago from Oklahoma

Great overview!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes, Diana it was a very worthwhile and satisfying project in the long run. I am still learning, and never knew a thing about SEO before hand, so it has been helpful.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you, Larry. I hoped this may be helpful to others.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 6 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

John, I wish you well. Please allow yourself time to write.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

That is the most difficult thing, Mike...dividing my writing between HubPages, The Creative Exiles, and my paid freelance work....but I am enjoying the challenge.


DDE profile image

DDE 6 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sounds an interesting adventure! Thank you for sharing this information.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes, it certainly is an adventure, Devika, and it has only just begun. Thanks for reading this.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 5 months ago

This is valuable advice for those who seek this type of set up. SEO is such an important part of any online venture. Thanks for the information.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 5 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Sounds like you and everyone on your team has a quality site. I think someone mentioned this to me several months ago, and I promptly forgot it. I have so much on my plate now, anything new is not possible. In any event, congrats, and you and everyone else has my full support.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 5 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading, Dianna. Glad you found the information useful.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 5 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Deb, I am quite proud of the site and its quality. I understand that it would be difficult to become involved in anything else when your life is already full. If you ever have time though just check out The Creative Exiles..even if it is just to read a poem or story. Cheers.


EsJam profile image

EsJam 5 months ago from Southern California

Awesome!! Totally!! I need to get over there and check that out. I think I may have even saved a bookmark but got sidetracked. SO glad I came across this Hub! Thank you! essie


Jodah profile image

Jodah 5 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi, Essie, by all means take a look. There is some wonderful writing there. You may even like it so much you want to join. We always welcome new members. Thank you.


EsJam profile image

EsJam 5 months ago from Southern California

I already took a gander and signed up for the newsletter. I'm excited for you!! AND the Team. Great job. I will be checking in to read! I am in process of finishing up some uncompleted writing and will definitely be coming to your site. Thank you for the opportunity.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 5 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good for you Essie. Thanks.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 5 months ago from Central Florida

I'm glad you wrote this post, John. I've been meaning to check out your site. Now I have the link to take me there.

Congratulations on creating a site where you can set your own constraints and not be at the mercy of those set by others.

Is your site setup to make money for the contributors?


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 5 months ago from Central Florida

Hmmmm. I left a comment and don't see it now. However, I wanted to let you know, I just clicked on the link embedded in your site name and it took me to an HP page. You may want to double check.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 5 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for letting me know about the links. There are two links and they both take you to the HP page?? I will have to change that, until then you can go to the site by typing: creativeexiles.com

No, the site isn't set up yet to make money for contributors though we are working on it. We need Google to start sending traffic there and advertising. We are an affiliate for the Book Depository and authors can advertise and put links to their own books. Eventually we want to have paid writing contests.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 5 months ago from Central Florida

I saw your affiliation. I did have to go into your site by putting the name in Google's search engine. Yes, both links go to an HP page, not where you want them to go. Don't know if HP did that or not....


Jodah profile image

Jodah 5 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Shauna, HP must be responsible. I have just fixed the links to go to The Creative Exiles...see how long that lasts.


CYong74 profile image

CYong74 5 months ago from Singapore

Great to see someone else has noticed that Yoast is not geared towards creative writing. In fact, I would say it's completely not! The latest upgrades in the past two months seem to have made it worst. The "readability" tab practically aims to wring every drop of colour from your writing. I'm beginning to wonder whether it is a better idea to just ignore everything there.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 5 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for your input, CYong74. We have found that poetry and short fiction that was previously rated "good" by Yoast SEO is now only rated "fair." It is becoming harder to be a creative writer online and have your work recognised by Google and other search engines.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 5 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Actually, the latest update from Yoast is rating our creative writing better than before. They took out the Fleishman (sp?) reading scale and most poems/stories are rated OK or GOOD. And the SEO part

is scoring better, making it easier for editors - we usually only have to add a meta description and alt text and that greens up the posts to GOOD. I like this new version of Yoast - we are getting better scores on our posts.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 5 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

PS: I forgot to mention that most of our posts that were rated OK before the latest version of Yoast are now rated GOOD. And there are two parts now to the scoring. Reading and SEO are rated separately, which is good. For instance if there is a poem with no punctuation it can be rated "needs improvement", but if the SEO is GOOD the entire score is green. If punctuation is added to the poem by the author it will improve the reading score.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 2 months ago

It was only right that one of the finest writers out there began this endeavor ! John , I can only image the patience and good will that inspired your journey , A heartfelt Than You ! The glory is yours to own ! And More than anything , Thank You !


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

yes, Phyllis. YOAST SEO is easier on us than it was at the beginning.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ed, thank you for such a generous comment. I really am passionate about getting this site to be successful. There have been some personality clashes, but I guess that is to be expected with writers who tend to be passionate, emotional and opinionated :) Very exciting that the book has been published.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 2 months ago

John , without you , This would never have been !


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

John our book "The Creative Exiles an anthology of poems: Let The Words Speak", is going to be a great success. I am thrilled with it and know all our authors are. I hope we get a lot more members to encourage them to write their best so they can be in our next book. This is so exciting. Thanks to you and Tony for doing this for us.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 2 months ago

If ANYONE wants a purely perfect place just for creative writing TCE is the best one that I have ever joined ! I have belonged to a few and they all seem to peter out in one way or another however TCE is filled with good management and sharing souls.

Join Now ! It is what Hub pages perhaps used to be like , at least it was for me .


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes, Phyllis I am excited about the book and how quickly it all came together. The team did a great job.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for such kind words, Ed. You are one of the valuable members and authors at TCE and I am glad you are enjoying the sense of community there.

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