Multi-author blogs are a great way to attract readers by offering an array of different viewpoints, topics, and voices. They can also become disorganized chaos if you don’t have a good system of maintaining posts, scheduling, author payments, and everything else that comes with running a multi-author blog on WordPress.
Luckily, with some helpful plugins and solid advice, your site can run a multi-author blog smoothly and efficiently.
I’ll be going over:
- Why have a multi-author blog
- How multi-author plugins can help
- 12 Best Multi-Author Plugins
- Tips for managing a multi-author blog
And plenty more!
If you haven’t started a multi-author blog and are considering it, or if you have one already established on WordPress and it needs some modifications, this post will show you what needs to be done, how to do it, and what it takes to keep it maintained.
You’ll then have happy authors and happy readers that will return multi-ple times.
If you’re not familiar with multi-author blogs, or if you are but never considered why to have one, this will help shed some light on them.
There are many reasons to have one. Need an example? You’re on one right now!
WPMU DEV puts great emphasis on our blog. It’s a platform for numerous authors, experts, and our whole team here.
We cover a wide scope of WordPress topics, ideas, news, reviews, lists, and tutorials that aim to be informational, useful, and entertaining for our visitors, members, and blog readers.
This blog has helped establish our brand and our voice.
As well as helping to establish your brand, a multi-author blog can provide you with regular updates, different viewpoints, and help you cover more topics.
Multi-author blogs can also bring your team together, as writers can learn from each other and work towards a common goal of delivering the best darn content possible.
It can also become a community for your readers with their comments, perspective, and insight.
Plus, multi-author blogs are a good segue to other things.
For example, as our team shares information about our plugins, hosting, support, and upcoming features, this collaborative effort leads to new customers for our membership and hosting, increased activity in our forums, ideas for improving our products and services with new features, and a whole lot more.
With a multi-author site, you can publish an ongoing stream of articles about your products and services, tutorials and announcements about their features and benefits, and in return, start generating income.
Excited yet? I thought so.
However, before launching your multi-author blog, there are…
As you can see, multi-author blogs have tons of benefits. But, they’re similar to owning — let’s say — a cute kitten. You love your new furry friend, but it requires a litter box, food, fuzzy toys, healthcare, and more. Multi-author blogs are similar (except for the spay or neutered part).
With a multi-author blog, you may need to address challenges like:
- More editing: Nobody wants to comb through bad grammar, typos, and awful sentence structure when reading a blog. So, if you have writers that aren’t editors, you may have to wrangle editing yourself or appoint someone to it (which, as you’ll see later, is highly recommended). It’s a bit more challenging than keeping just yourself edited. (Editor’s note: I agree!)
- Payments: Depending on how your operations run, you may have to pay authors. Of course, if they deliver quality content, it’s well worth it (any author needs to be paid well). Financially though, make sure you’re prepared to do so if your situation calls for it.
- Many voices: I mentioned that having many voices is beneficial, however, it can also be detrimental. If your audience only wants to hear from you, then having a multi-author site might not be a good thing. Also, you may have some writers that just don’t match the tone of your blog.
- Lose a personal connection: This goes hand-in-hand with having many voices. You don’t want to lose a personal connection with your readers if the WordPress site is strictly about you. Be careful not to disconnect with your audience when you feature numerous authors.
It’s typically best to establish a multi-author blog right from the beginning. If you don’t, you can still create one. Just be sure to take measures of letting your audience know. You can do this by announcing that it’s coming, or slowly start including other authors.
As long as you’re transparent with your audience and they know what to expect, you should be fine.
Your blog will then be manageable and won’t stink (like a dirty litter box).
Plugins. They are the answer to all of life’s problems, right? Well, at least when it comes to WordPress.
Multi-author plugins make your blog run more smoothly, clearly, and keep it organized. Rather than, for example, creating an author list widget on your own, there is a plugin for that (I’ll be showing you soon).
In general, using plugins can help to make running a multi-author blog easier. It can also prevent challenges by:
- Making it clear who the author is (and feature the author in an attractive way too!)
- Keeping design consistency
- Allowing for more information regarding author bios, links, etc.
- Improving organization (e.g. editorial calendar)
- Keeping track of payments
- Improving general areas of WordPress like security, opt-in forms, and social media
Now that we’ve covered some of the pros and cons of running a multi-author WordPress site, let’s take a look at 12 multi-author plugins that can really help you out in areas like functionality, design, communication, organization, payments, and more:
1. Simple Author Box
Simple Author Box is a quick way to add an attractive author box that can include social links, the author’s gravatar, email, and more. You can easily customize almost every aspect of the box to include exactly what you want.
The plugin makes it easy to adjust everything about your bio box. All the different settings and features are really helpful to have.
You can see in my example I created a custom avatar, included a bio, and mentioned my name.
One thing to consider about this plugin is that to allow guest authors and co-authors, you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version.
Currently, the cost is $499 per year for an Agency account, $69 a year for a Trio account, and $29 per year for a Mono account. Beyond having an upgraded account for multi-authors, you’ll be able to change box positions, linking to websites, and more.
They include various features, as seen below:
Click here for more information and details about an upgraded account.
For simplicity and a fair price, the Simple Author Box is a great way to display each author in a professional way.
Also, for additional information on author box plugins, be sure to read our article all about them.
2. Edit Flow
Edit Flow is an amazing all-in-one work area for organizing your entire editorial team directly in WordPress. Once installed, you have access to a content calendar, editorial comments, budgets, user groups, and more.
It’s convenient how all the functions are displayed in one area directly in your WordPress admin. You can see all of the impressive features that can be edited and configured in this area, such as notifications, story budgets, user groups, and editorial comments.
The plugin is free to use and there are no upgrades needed to organize your multi-author blog.
Beyond WordPress.org, they also have a website where you can learn more about all that Edit Flow can accomplish.
With a solid 4-star rating and over 10K active installations, it might be a fantastic fit for your organizational multi-author needs and worth checking out.
3. Co-Authors Plus
Co-Authors Plus was created to assign multiple bylines to posts and pages. Co-authored posts will appear on a co-author archive page and also in their feed. You can create a guest author profile and also allow co-authors to edit unpublished posts.
The authors can be arranged by a simple drag-and-drop process. This allows you to feature the main author on top and a secondary author(s) below. They then appear in the post with their name and avatar.
It can be used for multisite, however, guest authors will exist on a site by site basis.
This very simple and free plugin is good for arranging the order of any authors that contribute to a post.
4. Post Status Notifier Lite
There are rules you can set up that will send a notification when a new post gets submitted for review. You can also set up rules that send an email to the author of a post when it becomes published.
This plugin is free to use, however, the PRO version comes with advanced features like custom notification rules, individual email texts, and HTML emails. The price range is $26 to $115, depending on what type of license you’d like to purchase.
It’s an option to keep tabs on any changes, publications, and workflow with posts.
5. Post Pay Counter Stats
Post Pay Counter Stats is a way to simply calculate and handle authors’ pay by displaying payment, comments, the date, and more in one area. It’s specifically made for multi-author blogs.
You can set up the payment criteria and let the plugin post-payment to your authors. It’s awesome for implementing a revenue-sharing system and paid model for your website.
This plugin has a pay per post, word, visit, image, and comment feature. Also, there are sortable stats, personalized user settings, and customizable permissions to prevent your users from seeing stats.
They do have a PRO version that includes analytics visits payment, Adsense revenues sharing, payments management, and PayPal payments. The basic package starts at around $38 per year to around $93 (prices are in Euros and subject to change).
If you have a payroll or are profiting off of your blog, this plugin may do the trick to help keep your payments in check.
6. Author Avatars List/Block
Author Avatars List/Block makes it a cinch to display lists of user avatars that are grouped by user roles. You can also insert single avatars for blog users or any email address into a post or page.
It can be inserted into your sidebar via widget or into posts and pages with shortcodes.
The customization options are easy to adjust. It’s a simplistic plugin, but great for displaying avatars on a WordPress multi-author site.
If you have multiple authors, it’s an attractive way to feature them and put a face directly out there with the name.
For additional ways to show all of your authors together, check out our article on the topic.
7. PublishPress Revisions
PublishPress Revisions lets your users submit change requests for published posts, which is great for any multi-author site. Any user you have can update posts using the WordPress editor, but any changes they make will not be published automatically. Instead, they’re kept as “pending revision” that any editor can approve or reject.
Once you have PublishPress activated, all published posts will give you the option to Save Revision.
It will then be added to a queue, where it can easily be accessed.
It has impressive features, such as email notifications for revisions, revision permissions, frontend moderation of revisions, scheduled revisions, and more.
You will need to upgrade to a PRO version from $59 to $199 per year, to use it for multi-author. The upgrade also includes additional features, such as advanced custom fields, WooCommerce compatibility, Yoast SEO compatibility, and support.
This is an efficient plugin to help organize workflow, editing, and — of course — keep tabs on revisions.
8. User Submitted Posts
User Submitted Posts is a plugin for user-generation. It enables visitors to submit posts from the frontend of your WordPress site.
It’s an extremely easy to use plugin. You simply add a shortcode to any post, page, or widget, and then that will let your visitors submit posts and upload images.
It includes a fast & secure post submission form, tags to display submitted post content, and automatically displays all submitted content on the frontend.
You can edit the form as much as you’d like. Then, have it displayed accordingly.
They also have a PRO version that lets you develop auto-display images, registration forms, and allows users to upload videos. Prices start at $45 to $550, depending on use and how many sites you have.
This simple to use plugin is nice for allowing guest posts and letting your audience engage directly with your site.
9. WP User Frontend
WP User Frontend is a frontend builder plugin that includes a frontend dashboard, frontend editor & publishing, and frontend uploader for user profiles, post submissions, and memberships.
Users can easily make new posts and edit their profiles all from the site frontend, which prevents them from any need to enter the backend admin panel to perform any action.
These actions are done by the editor, or admin, creating a drag and drop form that, when published, is available on the frontend.
Once the form is created, it’s compiled into an easy to access list in the WordPress admin. The shortcode for the form is available and can be used in any post, page, or widget.
You can also enable guests to post from your site frontend without registering, enable certain user roles, submit and update anything from the frontend, and more.
They also offer a PRO version that starts at $49 to $159 per year that has features such as private messaging, Paid Membership Pro, reports, and live chat support.
This well-developed plugin is a great attribute for any multi-author WordPress site.
10. Pre-Publish Checklist
Pre-Publish Checklist is a simple way to ensure your page or post is ready to go live. It lets you create a checklist that you wish to maintain for every post type on your WordPress site.
This plugin is especially perfect for multi-author so that your authors can check-off everything for their posts — and any editor can, too.
The key features are managed checklists for your pages & posts, personalized checklists, and an overview of the progress of posts and pages.
The checklist shows up within a metabox on the post or page edit page.
If all of the items on the checklist are not completed, you can create a message that will be displayed when they hit the publish button.
If you’re looking for quality control with your post, this is a perfect plugin to ensure all the boxes are ticked and any author’s post is ready to be published.
11. Editorial Calendar
Editorial Calendar is a way to keep track of drafts, scheduled posts, and published articles for your multi-author site. You can easily drag and drop to move posts around, edit posts by clicking on them on the calendar, and manage your entire WordPress blog.
It’s simple to get to the calendar by clicking on Posts and then Calendar in the WordPress admin.
The main features are:
- Capability to see all of your posts and when they’ll be posted
- Drag and drop changes to post dates
- Able to manage drafts with their drafts drawer
- Check the status of posts
- Multi-author friendly
It’s a very impressive free and easy to use plugin that really makes keeping tabs on posts simple and accessible. It’s one of those plugins that will make you wonder how you’ve lived without it if you have a multi-author website.
12. User Blocker
User Blocker provides the ability for admin to block or unblock user accounts in a quick and effortless way. You can specify if a user is blocked for a certain amount of time or permanently. Then, when that blocked user tries to log in, they’ll be welcomed with a friendly error message on the login screen.
You can always unblock accounts at any time. Admin always has access to view blocked accounts and can edit.
It’s a free plugin that combats spam and also will remove a user from a specific role on a multi-author site.
We now have a nice foundation for a multi-author site, with reasons to have one, plugins to enhance it, and more. So, you launch your very own multi-author site. Yippee! Now what?
Beyond plugins, here are some tips to keeping it managed well and running like a well-oiled multi-author machine:
1. Create a Contributors Guidelines Page: You should be open to being pitched by amazing writers. Any opportunity for talent that can help your blog shouldn’t be dismissed. If you create a good writer’s guideline, it will help the process by guiding the writers in the right direction on what to pitch, how to do it, and how to submit.
2. Work Ahead: It’s a good idea to stay ahead of the game. That’s especially true when you have posts that need to be published regularly. The further you work ahead the better. That way if something comes up (e.g. one of your writer’s falls ill), you’ll be prepared with the material.
Plus, you want to have ample time to give feedback, gather illustrations/visuals, and revisions.
In general, nobody is a huge fan of last-minute edits and details right before publication, so working ahead can alleviate a lot of that stress (and headache).
3. Assign an Editor: Depending on the size of your blog and the number of posts being published, one editor might be all you need. However, as it grows, you may need several more. Either way, it’s essential to have a go-to editor to make the final call on edits, revisions, and ensure the quality of the posts are up to par.
Without an editor, a lot can slip through the cracks. Sometimes it takes a second pair of eyes for typos, grammar, suggestions, and more. (Editor’s note: I agree!)
4. Have a Database for Writers: A writer database helps keep track of writers who have contacted you about contributing, current writers, and what they’ve written, contact information, and assignments.
You don’t need to have anything fancy in regards to this. A spreadsheet or whatever method works best for you will do the trick.
5. Communicate Well: Communication is key when it comes to having (and maintaining) good content on a multi-author blog. The better the communication, the better the blog.
It’s essential that all the writers are on the same page.
Also, be professional. Nobody wants to have a jerk at the helm of a multi-site blog, so communicate friendly, professionally, and just be cool. Don’t be the person that nobody wants to communicate with due to a poor attitude.
With different viewpoints, topics, ideas, and features, a multi-author blog can be a great contribution to the WordPress community. Hey, we have ours here at WPMU DEV — and you can, too!
It can also be a great way to bring in income, create a fanbase, get users excited about your brand, and so much more.
With the help of plugins, knowledge, and a handful of good writers, there’s always room in the WordPress world for emerging multi-author blogs to break-through and become an essential read for thousands (or millions) of readers.
And hopefully, now you know how to do it write.