There might come a point in time when you realize you can't do it alone. You want more content for your blog, you want to spend more time developing the business end, or building the site, but your readers want YOU. It's a tough call because that relationship between you and your bloggers is golden.
So how do you scale up? Bloggers like Tavi, launched the multi-contributor magazine Rookie, Into The Gloss has brought on Nick Axelrod, Man Repeller is rumored to be building an editorial team. Sometimes it can be a success, like Rookie, other times it can lead to a drop in readership. Others like ProBlogger seem to have lost their luster since Darren Rowse stopped posting as much and substituted his expertise with guest posts.
Since April, IFB's traffic has doubled and I believe it has to do with the efforts of the team, Taylor, Amanda and Chelsea. Even though I'm not technically writing each post, I am deeply involved with the editorial process and constantly working on the direction. Getting to this point hasn't been easy, and learning how to build a team didn't happen over night. My first experiences with contributors were having friends contribute, and eventually paying bloggers to post regularly. Finding the right fit wasn't easy and learning how to lead was even less easy.
I certainly don't feel like I “get it” but I have made enough mistakes to share what not to do, and a couple of things that have worked as well.
Know your working style
When I first started working with people, I thought everyone worked like me. I despise being told what to do. Telling other people what to do was the last thing I ever wanted. It turned out that not everyone likes to figure things out, and actually like being told what they need to do (politely at first). It also turned out that I particularly don't work well with people who need a lot of validation and guidance. It's not that that type of worker isn't good, they just aren't good for me.
It's important to know what works for you when looking for people to work with. Do you like giving direction? Do you like getting guidance? Or are you more hands off, and like seeing what people are capable of creating, it's important to know that. Just think of the types of bosses you have that you liked. What did you like, and dislike about them? This should give you an idea about your working relationship.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
When you are leading a team, it's important that you communicate what you want if you expect to get it. If you don't like something communicate that. If you DO like something, by gosh, communicate it! It's so important that the people you work with know both the good and the bad. It's hard at first, but gets easier with practice. Basically every point I have below is some aspect of communicating what works, and helps keep everyone on the same page.
Create Editorial Guidelines
When I first started growing the IFB team, I threw an intern on Twitter and let her tweet. Within minutes, I got DMs asking if the IFB Twitter account was hacked. Why? Because the tweets were off-message, and things I would never deem appropriate for the IFB brand. Hence, the need for editorial guidelines. This doesn't have to be too fancy, just a document with your mission statement, and a few do's and don'ts to share with other people so they know what you want. That way if someone goes off brand in a post, you can always refer back to the document.
Set Clear Goals & Clear Expectations
How do you know if your team is succeeding? One way I use as a mark of success is to set goals for the team. At IFB, I have high level goals, and then break them down to weekly and even daily goals (sometimes even hourly). If your team is aware of their goals, they have the power to figure out how to make it happen. People generally like to please others.
Create Your Editorial Calendar
Editorial calendars are important for blogs with even one person running them, and with multiple contributors, editorial calendars are essential. Editorial calendars help you map the content to make sure there are no overlaps, they help you make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what they have to do for the week. It's also easier to make sure every post is adhering to the editorial guidelines of the blog when content is mapped out ahead of time.
Review Posts Before Publishing
Making sure your posts have the right tone, message and are hitting the mark with the readers requires reviewing before publishing. Your contributors may not have all the knowledge in your niche you have, so you might also catch mistakes as well. It's so important to read every post that goes out, as more often than not, there will be tweaks in contributors content.
Managing Contributors is Still Work
Getting contributors does not get you off the hook with your workload, you still need to be involved with the process to make sure your blog is staying on track. When I started bringing people on to help with the workload, I thought it meant it would mean less work for me, and while it certainly helps (I couldn't possibly publish five posts per day) it still requires attention and care to keep the team inspired and achieving the set goals. At first I didn't know how to do this and made a lot of mistakes, in the end I started learning about leadership which helps, but it's a never ending process.image credit: Shutterstock