Arriving at an established blog with an overall theme you didn’t pick can be a strange experience, maybe a bit like moving into an already-decorated apartment. Plus, I was very aware that Tree Hugging Family was Jennifer’s creation from the beginning. I didn’t want to stomp on that, but I had to find a way to add my stamp as well.
No worries though. It became apparent pretty quickly that Jennifer didn’t really care if I added new categories or new weekly features and discussed topics she didn’t cover before. Besides getting the post count and traffic up, that’s exactly why she asked me to join. She wanted a new perspective, just not one that was crazy different from the existing theme and tone of the blog. And since she’d been reading my other blog, she knew my writing meshed with her own.
If you join an existing blog, you may not know at first exactly what different qualities you’ll bring, but this is something that will naturally develop as you post. And, as Jennifer mentioned, the different perspective for your readers is one of the pros of having a co-blogger. Jennifer and I think a lot alike. Sometimes it’s scary. But we’re actually very different. I live in on the other side of the US with a cat in an apartment. So, while Jennifer can write about her home gardening adventures with her son, I can write about greening my cat and apartment I share with Michael, my husband.
There are many questions that will gradually surface when you have a co-blogger.
At first, I never moderated comments on Jennifer’s posts. I assumed she didn’t want me to do that. Turns out she didn’t care as long as I didn’t let any angry “you’re crazy for believing in global warming” comments go up. Plus, we don’t want 10,000 pings on a contest post. Once a few basic guidelines were established, we could moderate each other’s comments as they came up. If there’s ever anything I think she needs to see, I’ll e-mail her about it.
At first I thought that maybe we should discuss ahead of time what topics we were going to blog on so we didn’t have duplicates. But I decided to wait and see how it would work. Coordinating each post would be kind of a pain since I sometimes come up with a topic at 1 am and have the post written within the hour. As it turns out, our topic is broad enough that Jennifer and I very rarely plan posts on the same topic for the same day. I think we wrote on the exact same topic one time since February, and the posts weren’t so similar that one had to be deleted.
But don’t we coordinate some things? Sure, and maybe that’s one of the small cons of having a co-blogger since it takes some of your time to coordinate. If there’s a channel-wide post that needs to go up, we’ll discuss who does it. We also try to look at the times that the upcoming posts are scheduled so we can spread them throughout the day. And we take turns changing up the poll. We discuss sponsors for contests and overall goals for the blog. Sometimes I clean out the spam folder and sometimes Jennifer does it, but this isn’t something we discuss. The relationship reminds me a lot of having a roommate.
If you’ve ever had a roommate you’d know that there are times when maybe one of you does more of the cleaning or shopping, etc. And that’s fine. Co-blogging isn’t a competition any more than having a roommate is. There will be times when one of you posts more on a given day or week than the other one. If the co-blogging relationship is good, there shouldn’t be any guilt or hard feelings. It’s teamwork.
And since I’m comparing co-blogging to having a roommate, I might as well go on and say that being able to choose your co-blogger probably works best. The roommates I had in college that weren’t my choices are the ones that didn’t last long. To me, it’s important that you actually like your co-blogger. Otherwise, you may end up resenting sharing your space. So, while it’s possible that a network editor may choose a co-blogger for you, I’d say you might be better off if you had a say as well.
There’s no way to know if a co-blogging relationship will work until you try it. But what I thought was cool is that Jennifer was really upfront about what she wanted in a co-blogger. And that’s good since goals must mesh. If one of you is working overtime to build traffic and the other is humdrum about the blog, it’s not going to work. Goals should be discussed and agreed upon before setting out on the co-blogging adventure.
Another pro I should probably mention is that it can be easier to get your foot in the door at a network by first coming on board as a co-blogger. Starting a new blog can be a big investment for a network, but adding a co-blogger to an existing blog isn’t much of a risk for them. Plus, since joining in February as a co-blogger on Tree Hugging Family, I’ve also gained a new blog of my own at b5media, Junk Creation. Someone was leaving and I was able to take over.
So, what was I most nervous about? Maybe it was wondering if traffic would increase enough to justify the co-blogging relationship. It’s not really something I worry about, but at the same time I was happy when traffic did increase. If it didn’t, would it make sense to share the pay on a network blog? You do share the work, so it could make sense, but most likely not. However, traffic usually increases quite a bit with co-blogging, and that’s been the case at Tree Hugging Family.
In case you can’t tell, I’ve been really happy with my co-blogging adventure.
Are you thinking about becoming a co-blogger?