There are plenty of big name blogs out there with only one primary author. They might take the occasional guest post, but for the most part, all of the content is produced by one person, under one name. There are also a ton of blogs with numerous authors, ranging from half a dozen to maybe even 50+. Big name sites like Forbes, the Huffington Post, and Business Insider all have a wide range of contributors.
Looking at it from the outside, you might think a multi-author blog is the way to go. After all, the larger a site gets, the more likely it is to have numerous contributors beyond just the owner and founder of the site. However, there are pros and cons to both methods. Let’s take a look!
This is possibly the largest advantage of having a blog with numerous authors; consistent, regular updates. You don’t have to worry about an off week cutting into your content volume. You have other authors to cover the slack and can fairly easily build up weeks or even months worth of content. I have seen multi-author blogs with almost everything they had to post scheduled out for nearly six months, with flexibility for more time-sensitive posts to go up in the middle as necessary.
As a side benefit to this, multi-author blogs also have the ability to ramp up into several posts a day. A huge site like Forbes gets dozens of posts per day, and top-tier industry sites might get 3-5 per day, when they have enough contributing authors.
When you have numerous authors writing for a blog, it’s easy to have each author focus on a specific subject and become an expert in it. I might write a blog about SEO, but that doesn’t mean I’m an expect in every sub-field. I might take on a writer who knows everything there is to know about keyword research, another who is extremely good with analytics, and a third who just can’t get enough of link auditing. Rather than my general knowledge for each post, I can have each of my experts write more detailed posts, with tutorials, case studies, and personal data they bring to the table.
When you have a dozen names contributing to your blog, adding one more won’t be out of place. One of the problems you encounter with guest posting is standing out too much. People start to worry if the post is valid information, or if it’s sponsored and thus being used to shill something you wouldn’t normally recommend. However, if the posts don’t stand out as much, you can get away with a lot more. Not that you have to get away with anything, right? We’re all upstanding bloggers here.
One of the biggest benefits of running a multi-author blog is being able to devote your own time to other tasks. If you run a blog with five authors, you can essentially outsource most of the work of managing the blog.
You personally only need to edit the posts, plug them into your editorial calendar, make sure they fit your site as a whole, and the other managerial tasks. You can even hire an editor do to most of that for you. You’re then allowed to do other business-critical tasks that help you grow, like developing products, making networking connections, and handling customer service.
Now, on to the downsides. While you save some time in actually creating content, you also lose some time in managing other authors. You have to make sure their content is up to snuff, quality-wise, and that they’re producing something that jives with the opinions and direction of your site. You don’t want someone posting anti-skub rhetoric on your pro-skub blog, right? You also have to make sure the content is unique, since you didn’t produce it yourself, so you need some kind of anti-plagiarism routine in place.
Authors working for your blog are generally not going to be doing it just for the exposure. They want something tangible out of it. If you’re hiring them on a freelance basis, they’re going to be charging you freelance rates, and they won’t necessarily always be available when you want them to be.
On the other hand, if you hire them on as employees, they’ll be reliable and subject to your guidelines and rules, but you also have to pay them an appropriate wage, possibly with benefits, depending on a lot of different factors. On top of all of that you have to manage their expectations and handle them asking for raises. Finances alone can eat up a ton of time.
One other benefit to having a multi-author blog is having a lot more coverage. One thing you’ll notice about some of the largest blogs in any industry is that they’re covering news and new developments throughout the industry with a turnaround time measured in minutes or hours, not days. If you’re creating all of the content yourself, you need to be monitoring the news and being aware of industry developments, and you need to be able to drop everything to create a newsworthy piece of content. You can’t often do that with a real response time, but with authors as employees, you can assign them to keep an eye on trends and write about what comes up. This not only gives you a rich supply of fresh content, it makes you an industry news resource.
This is a variation on one of the items I mentioned above. Remember how I said you can have experts in individual segments of your industry cover those segments in detail, giving you richer content? You can also use this to your advantage to spread out. For example, this blog is about SEO and blogging in general, but I can have fellow marketers and experts in related topics come in to write about them. We don’t cover inbound marketing as much, or paid marketing, but we can bring in an expert to write a good solid post about those topics. As you want to grow and expand your site, you can recruit writers in those topics to give you instant expert credibility.
So that’s some pros and cons for multi-author blogs. What about single author blogs? You can to some extent just invert the points above, but that’s boring. I’ve found some unique pros and cons for single author blogs, and will discuss them below.
One of the keys to building an audience with blogging is to have a voice that is powerful and attractive. I don’t mean a speaking voice, either; I mean a writing voice. Finding your voice, refining it, and keeping it consistent is surprisingly crucial. It’s how you earn followers, rather than just readers. It showcases your perspective, it informs people of how irreverent you may be, and it helps you pick your topics moving forward. It’s the difference between “submit an anonymous tip” and “I bet X would really like this post, I should share it.” Single author blogs have a much easier time forming a consistent voice and maintaining it across the site, since individual authors have their own voices.
When you’re the one producing every piece of content on your site, you have a much more consistent level of quality. You don’t have to worry about editing the content other people produce to bring it up to par, but you do have to worry about the workload you’re putting on yourself.
The more you’re trying to do at once, the more likely you are to burn out or publish sub-par content just to have something published on schedule. You have your ups and downs, but the difference between your worst and your best is probably smaller than the difference between the worst of your worst author and the best of your best author on a multi-author blog.
On a site like Forbes, you see a lot of engagement with content itself, and that’s only natural with the sheer volume of traffic and the content they push out. However, one thing you don’t see as much is personal engagement with the author. A lot of times, the author might not even be credited, or if they are, they might not get much recognition. On a single author blog, however, you get all of the recognition for your content. You become THE face of the blog, and people start to get to know you. They learn who you are, they can engage with you, and you can build personal relationships with your best and most engaged readers.
When you’re the only one writing for your blog, people have some idea of what they’re getting into. They start to learn what your positions are on various marketing topics. For example, if you had a bad experience with Facebook ads and don’t think they’re worth the time and money, people will recognize that you’re not a fan of them and will expect some disparaging remarks about them or to have them left off lists of PPC providers. The same goes for any experience, anecdote, or opinion.
This is both a positive and a negative. It’s a positive, because people will start to come to you with information or questions about your areas of expertise. However, it’s also a negative because people will dismiss some of your opinions when you don’t agree with them about others. You do, however, get to build a certain rapport with your audience. You can use phrases like “as many of you know, I ___” and have a story you don’t have to tell for the 10th time.
Up above, I mentioned that multi-author blogs are much more capable of covering news than a single author trying to keep up with an entire industry. So how do you beat them when they can be more timely than you? The answer tends to be to go deep. Instead of covering trends, analyze those trends, put them in historical context, and make predictions about what comes next. You don’t have to be the first one covering the issue, but you can take the time to be the best one covering it.
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of a single author blog is having to do everything yourself. You have to do your keyword research. You have to pay attention to industry news and trends. You have to do backlink analysis to find potential avenues for cross-linking. You have to come up with topics, and write out those topics, complete with all of the research and sourcing of information. You have to do the editing, and it’s easy to miss typos when yours are the only eyes looking at the content. It’s all very time consuming, and while you can get better and more practiced at it over time, it’s still a lot of investment every week.
This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of a single author blog; you don’t have to stay a single author blog. If you want to add another writer or two over time, there’s nothing stopping you from doing so. It’s different from the other end. A multi-author blog is going to have a hard time firing all of its writers and picking up their slack without losing a ton of traffic, support, and content.
So at the end of the day, which is better? I can’t tell you. Single author blogs are a good place to start, and multi-author blogs are good to grow into, but it really comes down to your brand and your resources.