Make Community Blog
Get your community involved in the blogging fun!
There’s lots of ways to go about accepting contributions on a blog. From the classic guest blogging model, to a premium membership model, to a free mini-membership community oriented model.
Because WordPress has a lot of multi-author capabilities built in, there is a ton of flexibility that most people do not even know exists… and it can be greatly extended with the help of some plugins!
While we use a classic guest-blogging model, that is only open to members of the actual community, on the Biz Blogging Buzz community blog, there is always more than one way to tackle a task.
And many “full-fledged” membership sites, which use a membership control plugin such as WP eMember, also offer community blogging to their members…
But what if you aren’t going with a paid model and want to keep things simple?
Regular reader, Monna Ellithorpe contacted me recently and asked if there was a simple solution giving readers the ability to add posts content to the blog, before she was ready to transition to a paid model and implementing WP eMember.
So, we aren’t going to be able to fix this with a single free plugin… but by stacking together a couple high-rated free plugins we can create some pretty neat things while still being able to keep our mind around WHY we are using each plugin.
Building A Free Community-Content-Powered WordPress Blog
1. Get The Blog Set Up – Of course there are costs involved with this. Domain, hosting and design elements play a key roll. The choice of domain and choice of graphics need to reflect the community idea. A self-branded blog is not easy to transition because a reader can not identify with a community named you.
2. Enable People To Register On The Blog – Go to the settings area and check the box that says enable people to register. Set the default permissions to the ones of your choice, probably “contributor” in your case: http://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities
– A contributor can put posts into a pending queue but can not fully publish them themselves. They also can not upload media.
– An author can create content, upload media and publish their own content with no required check in with you.
– If you need to modify those roles there are plugins such as Advanced Access Manager that will do the job.
3. Prevent Spam Registrations – Spam/Hack bots will quickly attempt to come get inside and muck around, the minute you open up registration to the world. Simply add a plugin that adds captcha to native wordpress user registration form. I trust everything by Cartpaj, so I would try this one: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/cartpauj-register-captcha/
4. Find Your Registration Link – Log out of your account and visit the wp-admin page. Here, because you opened up registration, you will see a link to the registration page. Make a note of this link because it’s the link you will want to give to people so they can register.
5. Back Office or Front End Publishing? – By default, when a Contributor/Author logs in, they are going to be taken to a limited view of the wp-admin back-office. This is safe and not problematic. Yet, it may be overwhelming for some individuals.
Additionally: Should you instead wish to keep most of the necessary activity out on the front end of the blog, these next few steps are for you.
6. (Optional) Enable Front End Publishing – Enable creation of a post, by adding a post editor box, to a front end page.
– You will want this page to have a privacy class of “PRIVATE” rather than public, so that only logged in members can even see that it exists.
– Use a plugin such as one of these or these to add a post editor to that page. A current example of a plugin that can make this relatively easy is the “Front End Post Submission” feature in Ninja Forms.
7. (Optional) Enable Front End Profile Editing – if you’re keeping users mostly out of the dashboard, you may wish to give them the ability to edit their profile from a front end page as well.
– An example of a plugin that could do this is “Profile Builder“
8. (Optional) Redirect Members, At Login, To Front End – If you DON’T want people to end up in the dashboard, after they sign in, you can use this to send them wherever they should be: http://premium.wpmudev.org/project/login-redirect/
9. (Optional) Tweak, Polish & Adjust Navigation Items As Necessary – Pay attention to ensuring that the navigation is sane so that they know how to get around once you’ve redirected them.
This may seem like a lot of steps, but it should come together relatively quickly if you are familiar with installing plugins and placing a shortcode in a page. There’s not a lot of fancy footwork because each plugin does a very straight forward task and you can easily identify which one is responsible for what action.
Are you taking advantage of reader created content in your marketing?
Have you ever participated in a community created blog?
How might you encourage the first members to get started in sharing their stories and posts?
PS: And if your blog relies on SEO, and you are having members publish from the back end, grab a copy of SEOPressor so that even novice writers can easily be prompted to complete basic SEO tasks.