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How to Create a Multi-User Website on Wordpress
Why write alone, when you can write as part of a supportive team of like-minded writers?
Writing your own blog is a lonely business. That's why revenue-sharing sites like HubPages.com attract writers - they offer the chance to write as part of a supportive writers' community.
However, writing sites have their limitations. The site doesn't belong to you: it could close its doors at any time, and you'll lose all the reputation and loyal readership that you've built. Also, it's well known that specialist websites have more chance of success, and you may not be able to find a writing site that specializes in the field you want.
Start Your Own Multi-Author Site
You could, of course, start your own blog - but as already noted, that can be a lonely business. And it can take a long time for one lone writer to create enough content and build a following. So why not consider a collaborative blog, where you and a group of friends write together? I'll go into the practicalities of it in a moment, but first let's look at the advantages.
More Expertise = More Authority
You may know a lot about your chosen subject, but no one knows everything! By inviting knowledgeable friends to join you, you enlarge the pool of knowledge and enhance your site's reputation.
More Writers = More Writing = A Bigger Site Faster
It's obvious that the more writers contributing, the faster your site will grow. Google favours sites with a lot of content.
More Writers = More Connections
We all understand the importance of social networking and promotion to attract readers to a website. When you have several writers on a blog, each one brings his or her social network to the table. More connections means a ready-made web of personal connections on social media, giving your site a head start in gaining readership.
One oft-quoted negative is the work involved in maintaining quality - but that's only if you have an old-style rev-sharing site where you accept anyone as a writer. If you make your site invitation-only, and invite only a small group of writers whose work you know and respect, quality will look after itself.
The Right Platform
Creating your own multi-user site may sound daunting, but it needn't be. It's just a matter of choosing the right platform
Several website builders allow multiple users, but check carefully what that allows you to do. In most cases (e.g. Weebly), what it means is that any user can edit and change anyone's post - that's not what you want! You want a system where each user can write, edit and change their own work, but can't tamper with anyone else's.
So your best bet is to sign up with a hosting company and use Wordpress software to create your site. Don't get confused - there is a version of Wordpress called "multi-site" but you don't need that. You just need plain ordinary Wordpress. Once installed, you'll find that you can add Users easily.
Once you've got the site up and running, you'll need to manage your team of writers. While you may want to be totally democratic, do remember that old joke about things created by a committee - like it or not, you need a leader who can make a decision in a stalemate, arbitrate disputes and make tough choices when needed. So I would advise that you pay the setup costs and retain the title of CEO - the buck will stop with you!
You'll also need to run the site. Luckily Wordpress has several plugins which can make this less painful.
Google and you'll find plenty of recommendations for plugins to use for a multi-author site - but all of them assume you need to control your authors, monitor and edit their work, etc. If you restrict your site to a small group of trusted authors, that should rarely be necessary.
Here are a few plugins which I would recommend:
Author Avatars List - this plugin allows you to show a list of your authors in the sidebar, or on an "Authors" page, with their avatars (you can ask all your authors to sign up with Gravatar to create their avatar).
Require Featured Image - this plugin ensures that authors don't forget to choose a featured image to go with their post.
Pixabay Images - this plugin adds a button you can click when writing a post, so you can choose a suitable image from Pixabay.
Comment Moderation Email Only to Author - when someone leaves a comment, the default Wordpress behaviour is to notify the site administrator. This plugin changes that so the notification goes to the author of the post.
If you are interested in setting up your own site, by all means contact me, I'm always happy to offer my fellow writers some free pointers.
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