Ironically I wrote this post all by myself I didn’t seek any input or ask for advice. Great start, wouldn’t you say.
I firmly believe that collaborative posts are a great and rewarding experience that you should all try out at some point. They’re a great way to get to know some of your fellow bloggers a little better and to push yourself to do something new. By having to compromise on topics and adjust your writing style to fit the project, you will naturally wander out of your comfort zone, at least a little bit, and challenge yourself as a creator. And of course, they are a great way to potentially reach some readers who might not have otherwise discovered your writing. But like anything else, what you get out of the experience depends on what you are willing to put into it. I’ve collected a few tips from my own attempts that may be useful to those of you looking to create your own collaborations.
Figure out what you want.
If getting more readers (followers) is your only or even main objective, then this may not be the way to go. I would suggest a very clickbaity title and paying for some promoted tweets or Facebook ads. I haven’t done so myself but I’m pretty confident this will net you the most page views. Promoting your own blog should always be viewed as a bonus of your collaboration rather than a goal.
Instead, maybe reach out to someone you would like to get to know better. Either because their writing makes you think you would enjoy a conversation with the person, and in post form, your readers would enjoy that conversation too. Maybe because they always pick such interesting topics and you want to write about something new. Alternatively, you could have a respectful debate with someone you consistently disagree with in order to craft a single post that actually gives both sides of an issue. If you collaborate with someone who’s writing skills are above your own you may pick up a few tips and improve yourself. Really, there are endless reasons to start a collaboration but the main thing you should ask yourself is: will this make a post I’m happy with. If the answer is yes, go for it!
Choose Your Partner Carefully
Once you’ve decided the general type of post you want to craft you should figure out who you want to write with. You may have already decided, you could even have based your choice of post on who you would like to write it with. Either works fine. You don’t have to limit yourself to a single blogger either. However, I would urge you to be cautious at this point. Don’t assume anything from a single post. Go back and read at least a dozen or more of that bloggers posts (if available) to get a real sense of their writing. Just because you agreed with one post doesn’t mean you’ll be just as enthusiastic once you get to know them a little better. Also ask yourself whether your individual styles will really blend well together. There are some bloggers out there who I truly admire but I doubt I could contribute much of interest to one of their pieces. My own style would clash and I can’t adjust it enough to make it work.
We don’t tend to deal with particularly controversial subject matter but you may also want to make sure your values generally align. It will avoid some awkward conversations down the line.
You should understand that even though you went through all that trouble to select someone and you’re offering a collaboration because you truly like their work, bloggers are under no obligation to accept. Some bloggers simply do not take part in collaborations, ever. Others might not have time at the moment. We’ve all been there! Don’t be too disappointed if you get turned down (I do ALL THE TIME!) and it’s o.k. to have a backup in mind. You’re not cheating. Hey you could even suggest a three-way. What were we talking about?
Do your homework
Ok so you’ve read through enough of your chosen partner’s posts to consider them a friend. You have a good idea of the type of project you would like to put together, now you just need to reach out to them. Well there’s a bit more to it than that. Just offering a collaboration with no context isn’t all that appealing for the other person, on the other hand coming up with a rigid structure might not be something they’re interested in either. I would suggest you outline the type of post you want to do (a debate, a joint review, a humorous essay, an opinion piece, an informative article…) then give them a few options on a more specific topic (actual show or subject) and offer them the option to suggest something on their side as well.
You’ve been thinking about this potential collaboration for a while but this is out of the blue for the other person. By providing some foundations it will make it much easier for them to start putting together a potential post on their end as well. It’s a little unfair to just expect the other person to do all the work. This said, you have to know when to give a little too. If you see they seem to have their heart set on something specific that wasn’t your original intent, take it into consideration. Don’t feel obligated to go with something that doesn’t interest you though, it will make for boring reading anyway.
Logisitcs and tools
The groundwork is set, the creative endeavour is on its way but how do you actually work together on a practical basis.
First, you’ve got to sort out your virtual toolkit. I like to keep it fairly simple and old school. I create a GoogleDoc and give access to every member of the collaboration. GoggleDocs is free and as far as I know, easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection making it a simple and easy choice. You should also find a way to quickly communicate and update each other. Twitter, Discord, (apparently there’s this thing called Line). Really any type of messenger app you all have, will do.
This is less crucial if you’re simply planning on doing individual posts on suggested subjects (or on the same subject) but it’s still a good way to give each other previews of what you plan to publish and if you want to adjust your writing according to the other person’s post.
Then you also have to figure out the actual publishing. If you are doing separate stand alone posts, you can of course simply post it on your own blog as you would any other or you could consider switching them and posting the other person’s post on your own blog and vice versa (as a guest post while explaining you will guest on their blog). I haven’t seen anyone do this yet but I would, I think it’s fun.
If you’re working on a single post to which more than one author has contributed, it will depend on the size (if it’s short you may each want to post it in its entirety) and readership, if you have vastly different readers it won’t be too redundant for both of you to publish the same post. But if you share a lot of the same readers, I suggest splitting it up. You’ll need to work out publishing times and make sure part 2 doesn’t go up before part 1 but other than that I think it works fairly well to break up an otherwise overlong post and give all blogs involved a share of the views.
Be patient and available
We’ve all done group assignments in school so we know the pitfalls. Luckily, we’re all also amateur bloggers so it should stand to reason that we do actually enjoy writing and will want to do some of the work. This said, as mentioned above, some bloggers will be busy with other projects and real life concerns. You may want to give them a little time and not expect everything to get done instantly. However, you should also make an effort to do your part without putting it off. Basically, be better than you expect the other person to be. In my experience, they’ll outstrip all your expectations anyways.
Remember the readers
You may be extremely proud of your vocabulary (and rightly so) but if the other person is not using the same language, this is not the time to show off. Your readers most likely don’t mind having a tab open just to look up words but their readers might not have that type of patience. It will also make the post feel lopsided and discordant.
If you see the other person has a lot to say on a subject, try to cut down on your own remarks. Trust me when I say, there is such a thing as “too long”.
Also, try to make sure you don’t end up with the last word on every single point. Otherwise you’ll end up seeming like a know it all that’s just schooling the other person.
If you’re writing independent posts, most of this doesn’t quite apply but I would still suggest you try to adjust your writing to be a bit more in line with each other and of course put in at least one paragraph explaining the project and who your collaborators are. It’s always better to give the other person a final say on how you’ve chosen to describe them before you publish. It can be quite embarrassing to realize afterwards you’ve gotten something basic (like gender) wrong.
Collabs ARE fun. That’s what their supposed to be. This isn’t work. Have fun, goof around let your readers in on the jokes. I realize I just made the entire thing sound like a job interview or a first date but really it’s more of a play date. And if everything turns out just awful and you don’t even manage to get a post out, then tell us about that. I bet it’ll be hilarious. Or just tell me – I want to know!
So these are just a few probably obvious tips. I know it can seem super intimidating to approach someone out of nowhere so I hope these may give you a bit of confidence and somewhere to start. If you have anything else to suggest, please leave me a comment. I hope to read (and write) a lot more great collaborations in 2018!