Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Squash is recruiting: The case for multi-person blogs

Back when I was a bit of a “WordPress.com celebrity” a week or so ago, I received an email from Dan Wieringa asking for some advice as to how he could improve the traffic on his blog. It appears he sent the mail to all the bloggers who were running at the top of the WordPress rankings at that time, including Scoble, who blogged about it and sparked all manner of conversation on the topic. The best advice I saw was from B5 Media’s Jeremy Wright and I particularly agree with this key comment: You just swap your real life for a virtual one.

The deeper you get into blogging, the more time it saps. At that point in time, I was in the midst of a blogging tear, where I was posting four or five pieces per day and I got to say, it was all coming very easily. By the time I reached #2 on WordPress.com I was feeling like a Blog God. Then I hit Valentines Day and I faced a choice. Spend the night with my lovely wife or keep rolling the blogging snowball I’d gotten started. I chose the missus (although I did manage to sneak in one post when she wasn’t looking). And you know what? One night out of the action, totally tripped up my run.

Not only did I lose the comment/trackback cycle that I found increased massively when I significantly upped my post count, but the next night I really struggled to get back into it. I posted two pretty reasonable posts, but because I didn’t have the ideas/energy/time to pick back up the blogging pace I’d set a few days earlier, it all just felt really, really flat.

Yesterday, I posted two pieces I thought quality-wise were the equal of anything I’d done before. My Google piece got reasonable traction and sat as the second post on memeorandum for a very short time and is still in the WordPress.com top post list but my overall traffic was still about a third of what it was those few days earlier. Still much, much better than a couple of weeks ago but it kind of sucks to look at your WordPress Blog Stats and see that big slide down to your current traffic levels.

So I seriously considered squashing Squash. I pretty much started Squash as a lark; an experiment from which I hoped to begin to understand what the blogosphere is actually all about and how it’s going to impact media going forward because my day job requires me to really ‘get’ that stuff.

Only problem is I’ve become pretty attached to the little bugger. I think Squash is kinda unique and I’ve really enjoyed writing it and reading the comments and trackbacks (even if I’m generally pretty bad at commenting back) as well as the kind of thinking and analysis it draws out of me. But, as I look ahead, my company has a conference that is going to keep me out of action for at least five days coming up and I just know if I let Squash sleep for that long I’ll find it almost impossible to wake her back up again.

And then I got to thinking. Isn’t it funny how the majority of the Web’s best-trafficked and most successful blogs are all ensemble efforts, calling on the talents of a team of bloggers. Yet, 99.9 per cent of blogs are one-person efforts. And people wonder why they struggle to compete?

So why don’t any smaller bloggers join forces? Get four or five writers, with similiar styles, but preferably slightly different areas of expertise and then all post to the same blog. Comment on each other’s work, thus kicking along the conversation as well as enabling you to brainstorm story and blog ideas.

Other benefits: If you do get your blog to take off, you’ll find it far easier to offload if its a multi-person beast and not tied to the personality and writing of one individual. You can take holidays have not have the blog grind to a halt. If you have people in different time zones or who work during different time windows you can keep the blog ticking over constantly. You can share the expenses if you want to invest in a custom theme, development or hosting. And it gives you much greater scope to try and build community and therefore repeat traffic.

Fark, that all sounds pretty neat if you ask me.

So, I’ve decided that my science experiment that I call Squash will, Blog Gods willing, enter Stage Two – the Ensemble Era. And I’m holding auditions now.

So if you want to jump onto the virtual casting couch then drop me a mail at philipsim at gmail.com. Point me to your blog and let’s see if we fit.

Because I do think the most important requirement to establishing a successful multi-person blog is to use writers with similiar styles and outlooks. I’d ever-so-modestly define Squash as being thoughtful, yet irreverent critical analysis with a healthy helping of personality and satire. If you think you’d like to write similiar gear to the kinds of stories you see hear, drop me a line. If you’re writing good gear but are getting frustrated with the lack of traction your blog is getting, drop me a line. If you’re sick of the time needed to keep a blog growing and developing, drop me a line. If you’re interested in seeing how a blog can form the basis of a community or think you’d get a kick with just generally experimenting with a reasonable-sized blog, drop me a line.

I have no idea where this is going to go. Chances are nobody thinks this is a good idea and it goes nowhere. But just maybe it will take off and start a chain of co-operative ,multi-person blogs that form another layer of the blogosphere.

What I would really like is to give this every chance to work, so I’m going to ask a favour. IF YOU’VE EVER READ A PIECE ON THIS BLOG THAT YOU’VE HAD A CHUCKLE AT, OR THAT YOU’VE FOUND INTERESTING OR USEFUL THEN PLEASE THROW A LINK AT THIS POST. IF YOU’RE INTERESTED TO SEE HOW THIS EXPERIMENT WORKS OUT GIMME A LINK. IF YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON AND WOULD LIKE SOME POSITIVE KARMA, LINK ME. I’d like to throw the net as wide as I possibly can, so at least if this flops, it won’t be for lack of giving it a proper go.

Filed under: Blogs

23 Responses

  1. Sim as the next Calacanis or Denton. I like it.

  2. Steven Noble says:

    Damn! Caught by that lack of a Preview button again Phil — time to get one! Must be a not an as the attempt at a closely anchor tag in above post.

  3. […] I’ve been reading Squash pretty much since it started and have thoroughly enjoyed it. There must be something cynical and wrong in my nature that causes me to like it as much as I do. In the latest post Squash is throwing around the idea of multi-person blogging. I like it. I don’t necessarily think that my style, or lack thereof, is a good match but whomever this venture attracts should produce some good stuff. […]

  4. themangle says:

    I like the idea of the multi-user blog – especially for those of us out there who have always preferred team sports. Nothing like a bit of motivation when the team needs you. I have made a couple of entries just for fun in about a month – there is not much inspiration when you are just doing it for yourself …

  5. Mark Jones says:

    I presume you are familiar with these guys? http://www.b5media.com/

  6. the head lemur says:

    we could do the good cop bad cop routine i Call Bad Cop!
    http://headlemur.wordpress.com/

    heh heh

  7. Steve says:

    I like the idea of multi-person blogs. I’ve always wanted to have a general blog to toss my opinions into, but I don’t feel I could sustain it full-time.

  8. […] Hey, Phil, don’t squish Squash before it’s had a chance to play out. […]

  9. Brian Shih says:

    I find it nice to run both a single and multi-person blog. I don’t feel compelled to constantly post on my individual blog because of it. As long as I post around once a day at alwaysBETA, and make sure others do roughly the same, we get constantly generated content without too much work.

    Plus it’s a lot of fun to comment on each other’s articles and engage outside commenters in more a real conversation than is often possible with a one person blog.

    I say go for it.

  10. Phil:

    I think you’re getting overly discouraged by the traffic thing. My experience is that readership goes in waves — it’s never just straight up in an unbroken curve. That’s part of what the “long tail” is about, I think. Just keep posting the stuff you have been and readers will come. Sure, you can try to become a Weblogs Inc. or even a Corante or BoingBoing, but why? To sell ads? Having other posters would just dilute the essential Squashiness of Squash. I say hang in there and ease off on the “gotta be top of memeorandum” thing. That way lies madness.

  11. techandother says:

    I received an email from Dan Wieringa asking for some advice as to how he could improve the traffic on his blog. It appears he sent the mail to all the bloggers who were running at the top of the WordPress rankings at that time, including Scoble, who blogged about it and sparked all manner of conversation on the topic. The best advice I saw was from B5 Media’s Jeremy Wright and I particularly agree with this key comment: You just swap your real life for a virtual one.

    why don’t any smaller bloggers join forces? Get four or five writers, with similiar styles, but preferably slightly different areas of expertise and then all post to the same blog. Comment on each other’s work, thus kicking along the conversation as well as enabling you to brainstorm story and blog ideas.

    Hey, this is Dan. I emailed you and a few others, and while they came up with a few suggestions that overlapped, there were a lot that didn’t. I figure that the shotgun approach would get the most opinions, and I’ve been writing a series on the opinions expressed, plus my own. My hope was to get the widest range of suggestions and share them, and it looks like tht’s what I got.

    In addition, I agree with your team-blogging idea. I made an ‘about’ page, and have been surfing through the blogosphere to find other people that agree with my reasons for blogging. Having trouble finding too many, but the best of luck for ‘Team Squash’

  12. Atariboy says:

    Hey squash, thats not a bad idea at all you have there, i’m up for it if you like.

    Atariboy
    http://atariboy.co.uk/

  13. TDavid says:

    I see you have continued to update your blog after this post, which is good, so maybe squash isn’t getting squished after all.

    I’ve enjoyed some of your blog posts but this one comes off as a little defeatus. Either you enjoy writing and do it on your terms (your schedule) or you don’t.

    To add to what Mathew Ingram wrote above, this post sounds like you are paying too much attention to traffic.

    If the writing is good and you can update at least once in awhile (I remove feeds if they aren’t updated at least once every 60 days), then readership will sustain. Yes, if you post more you’ll get more traffic but it’s possible to reduce posting and maintain traffic too if the quality remains.

    So maybe the answer is just cut back on posting and stop worrying so much about the ebb and flow of traffic? Not saying traffic isn’t important (of course it is) but I’m not coming here to read about your traffic woes or blog posting indecision, I’m coming here for your unique take on things.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with having two or more blogs … one that’s a group blog experiment as you outline and this one which you continue to update when you have something noteworthy to say.

    Just my 2 1/2 rusted pennies. Late to this post, but hopefully worthwhile on some level.

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