Managing a Multi Author WordPress Blog

It's all easy and dandy when you are the only one writing on your blog, but when the site grows and you want to get more people involved, some complexities are introduced.
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It’s all easy and dandy when you are the only one writing on your blog, but when the site grows and you want to get more people involved, some complexities are introduced.

First of all, when you register your new guest authors or regular contributors, you need to decide which role (and capabilities) to give them. Roles and capabilities go hand in hand in WordPress. There are a number of roles that ship with WordPress, and each of these roles is assigned a number of capabilities, with the ‘Administrator’ role having full privileges.

Lets have a look at the default roles in WordPress:

  • Administrators have access to all the administration features.
  • Editors can publish posts, manage posts as well as manage other people’s posts, etc.
  • Authors can publish and manage their own posts.
  • Contributors can write and manage their posts but not publish posts or upload media files.
  • Subscribers can read comments/comment/receive newsletters, etc.

Logically, therefore, you will have the new people on your team assigned to the ‘Author’ role if all they’re going to do is write posts. The ‘Contributor’ role is a bit too limiting in that it doesn’t allow them to upload media files. This is something which most people would need when writing a post.

Only you should keep the ‘Administrator’ role, and please make sure that the username is not ‘admin’, it’s too common and easy for hackers to target! Another safety precaution you can take is to only use the ‘Administrator’ role from a secure connection (no internat cafes and public Wi-Fi), and only when you need to change something in your blog’s setup. For everything else you can create a user with the ‘Editor’ role for yourself and use that one.

Finally, you can also create new roles or edit the capabilities assigned to the default roles. I would rather create a new role than modify the capabilities on the default roles, as it’s easy to forgot what you modified and assign a role to someone having a mistaken set of capabilities in mind. For all role and capability editing needs I suggest the Members plugin, which is free.

Plugins for Multi Author Blogs

Maintaining a multi author blog is hard work, but these plugins will ease the burden on you and help everyone work more efficiently.

Co-Authors Plus

Assign multiple bylines to posts, pages, and custom post types via a search-as-you-type input box. Co-authored posts appear on a co-author’s archive page and in their feed. Co-authors may edit the posts they are associated with, and co-authors who are contributors may only edit posts if they have not been published (as is core behavior).

Add writers as bylines without creating WordPress user accounts. Simply create a guest author profile for the writer and assign the byline as you normally would.

On the frontend, use the Co-Authors Plus template tags to list co-authors anywhere you’d normally list the author.

For those of you using Genesis you can also install the Genesis Co-Authors Plus plugin that integrates Co-Authors within the Genesis author box.

Download Co-Authors Plus

The Auditor

This plugin shows you all events occurring on your blog, so you can keep track of all your users’ activity in the dashboard. Any foul play and you’ll quickly catch the culprit. An obscure user has been elevated to Admin status? 5000 failed logins in the space of an hour? The Auditor can log suspicious activity such as this and help tighten security.

Visually keep track of your contributers’ output. Graphs that can reflect a whole site, or focus on individual users, providing vital information about who is doing what.

A more limited but similar plugin is available for free: Audit Trail. See also ThreeWP Activity Monitor.

Download The Auditor

Edit Flow

Edit Flow empowers you to collaborate with your editorial team inside WordPress. It’s modular so you can customize it to your needs:

  • Calendar – A convenient month-by-month look at your content.
  • Custom Statuses – Define the key stages to your workflow.
  • Editorial Comments – Threaded commenting in the admin for private discussion between writers and editors.
  • Editorial Metadata – Keep track of the important details.
  • Notifications – Receive timely updates on the content you’re following.
  • Story Budget – View all of your upcoming posts in a more traditional story budget view, and hit the print button to take it to your planning meeting.
  • User Groups – Keep your users organized by department or function.

This plugin alone handles lots of things which you would need several plugins for.

  • It displays all posts in a drag / drop type calendar format so that you can schedule your posts just by dragging and dropping and can ensure your blog never runs dry.
  • You can set custom statuses for your posts apart from ‘Pending Review’ and ‘Draft’ so that you and your authors can track which stage a post is at.
  • Authors can get automatic notifications if the status of their post changes.
  • Authors can leave notes on the post edit page so that they can discuss about the post with each other. Email notifications are available for the same.
  • You can also set custom metadata for each post which your authors can fill out.

Download Edit Flow

Adminimize

This plugin let you hide menus and sub-menus of your blog’s dashboard area. You can also hide meta boxes and other areas in the write post/page section. You can use it to hide unnecessary features from your authors and to provide them a simple and clean writing interface to boost their publishing efficiency.

Download Adminimize

Admin Menu Editor

A very handy plugin to have, Admin Menu Editor lets you manually edit the Dashboard menu. You can reorder the menus, show/hide specific items, change access rights, and more. This is useful for those plugins which don’t have capability based restrictions built in, and will thus show their menu item and pages to all roles. This is usually something you wouldn’t want, so you can use this plugin to hide those menu items.

Download Admin Menu Editor

WordPress Author Profile Avatar List

This plugin can be used to show avatars of all your blog’s authors in one place in your sidebar. It’s easy to make it work for you.

Download WordPress Author Profile Avatar List

Cimy User Extra Fields

WordPress is becoming more than ever a tool to open blog/websites and CMSs in an easier way. Users are increasing day by day; one of the limits however is the restricted and predefined fields that are available in the registered users profile: it is difficult for example to ask for the acceptance of “Terms and Conditions of Use” or “Permission to use personal data”. Using this plugin you can add as many fields as you wish, then display them in your author bio box.

Download Cimy User Extra Fields

Multi Author Comment Notification

As the editor of WP Mayor, I like to receive notifications of all comments, even if I didn’t write the post myself. This plugin allows me to do that.

Download Multi Author Comment Notification

Private Messages for WordPress

This is one of the handiest WordPress multi author plugins that allows users of WordPress blogs to send private messages to one another. An inbox and outbox will be assigned to users. An email notification is sent over to users when they receive a private message.

Download Private Messages for WordPress

Adminimize

Adminimize is a free plugin that lets you manage almost all aspects of your blog. It lets you optimize how much your admin, editors and writers can control on your blog. A selection of parts within the write menu can be distinctly deactivated for admins or non-admins.

Download Adminimize

Collaboration Tools and Tips

To collaborate with your authors, you might want to look into using a theme like P2, which transforms a WP site into a collaborative board where people can chat in realtime. I also like the P2 Check in plugin to go with it, as it shows you which users are online at the moment.

For article ideas and assigning things to authors, I also use Workflowy and Trello, which are two online apps that aren’t related to WordPress.

Most new authors will ask you what size they should prepare the images, what length the articles should be, and a host of other questions. Why not use WP Help and prepare documentation straight inside your dashboard so they can all refer to it?

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Jean Galea
Jean Galea
Jean Galea is an investor, entrepreneur, and blogger. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and Spotlight, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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7 Responses

  1. Hi Jean,

    With the Genesis Co-Authors Plus plugin, do we still need to?:

    On the frontend, use the Co-Authors Plus template tags to list co-authors anywhere you’d normally list the author.

  2. I tried Edit Flow. It has some great ideas but it’s not quite ready for prime-time unless you’re the type of admin who likes to tinker with the functions.php file and some filters (I’m not), especially for the calendar (I’m now using WordPress Editorial Calendar).

  3. Any idea if Coauthors Plus has a limit for how many actual site users you can have registered?

    I notice that after a given amount of accounts (I think the cutoff is around 65?) I can no longer get the new accounts to pop up in the author field in the new post screen.

    I can create new guest accounts that work, but that is a work around.

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