Some Tools for Making Group Blogging (and any Group Writing Project) Easier
A few months ago I wrote that the best blogging strategy for nonprofits may be a group blog, where a number of writers are all contributing to creating posts, rather than relying on a single writer. Now I want to share a few tools that can make a group blog--or any group writing project--even easier.
Writing Posts with Google Docs
Google Docs lets you create and share documents online, which means no more emailing different versions of a document around to several different collaborators. Probably the best way to understand how it works is to watch this latest video from Common Craft--Google Docs in Plain English.
The beauty of Google Docs for blog posting is that you can more easily edit and comment on posts prior to posting on your blog. I have to say that I've begun to use it more and more as I collaborate with other bloggers on various projects and I've found it to be a real God-send.
Organizing and Assigning Posts with Rusty Budget
Rusty Budget is an interesting little online service that allows you to better manage your day-to-day story topics. Basically you can create various story folders to manage story ideas, authors, etc. I suggest checking out their short overview demo to get the full picture. The service is free for one editor and author working together and $4/month to add additional authors. Still a pretty decent bargain if you're going to be coordinating with a lot of different people.
I've started playing around with it and found it reasonably intuitive to use. It's a good place to brainstorm story ideas and make assignments.
Organizing with a Blog Editorial Calendar
Another nice tool is this blogging editorial calendar from Andy Wibbel. It's a spreadsheet that, if you watched the Google Docs video above, you know you could also use online in Google. Could be good to use with your Rusty Budget account, or even in place of it.
So now that you have some tools to get you going, maybe it's time to start talking more seriously about setting up that group blog?
This information is very helpful and timely. Thanks so much. I haven't followed all the links yet, but I wonder if group blogs ever use graphics or icon to visually distinguish posts by the different contributors? I haven't seen that before. I ask because I'm still thinking about how to shift the WITS blog so that writers are addressing three different audiences. I am wondering how that might look. Robin
Posted by: Robin Reagler | September 19, 2007 at 11:34 AM
I'm creating a group blog for my neighborhood. The initial group of bloggers is about 30 and we hope to reach about 175. We think it will be part of our new leaders *pipeline*.
The blog editorial calendar will be helpful.
Posted by: Catherine Carey | September 19, 2007 at 04:04 PM
I really like Wikis for this. At least I've found Wikis to be easier than the Google Docs setout ... though I love Google stuff. The new Google Presenter lets collaborators work together on a slideshow online. Great stuff could emerge from that I reckon!
Posted by: Kate Foy | September 19, 2007 at 05:31 PM
Hi Robin--I think that's a great idea to use some kind of icon or color code to differentiate different bloggers. I know that I've seen some blogs where the bloggers have avatars they use for their posts so you know who's posting what, so that might be an option.
Catherine--I'm glad the calendar will be helpful. 175 is a LOT of people to be coordinating! You may want to take Kate's advice and use a wiki, too, as a way to keep everything straight!
And Kate, you're right that a wiki can work as well as Google docs. I use both, but I'm not sure why I do. I think it's because I tend to think of doing a wiki when I basically want it to be some kind of website or know that I have a lot of things to connect and then Google docs for something I'd normally do in Word. I'm excited about presentations though--that could be VERY cool!
Posted by: Michele Martin | September 19, 2007 at 07:59 PM
I love the post here and the tools. I think the calendar is a great idea, although -- I don't think I would use the calendar and commit to a topic list that far in advance. But on the other hand, I could see this a great discipline for an organization implementing a group blog and to leverage a habit.
Posted by: Beth Kanter | September 21, 2007 at 01:53 PM
On other thought I had recently - you could also use google calendar for the editorial calendar, provided everyone was on google aps.
Posted by: Beth Kanter | September 21, 2007 at 01:55 PM
Hi Beth--I like the Google Calendar idea. That might actually have some more functionality for people anyway.
Posted by: Michele Martin | September 21, 2007 at 10:58 PM