One of the best book blogging decisions that I ever made was bringing co-bloggers in to help at The Quiet Pond. Skye and Joce have been my anchors and lifesavers, and I have absolutely no regrets bringing them on board as co-bloggers – in fact, I consider us to be our very own Pond family.
For people who have never co-blogged before, co-blogging is entirely new territory – and that can be daunting! Some people may feel anxious about letting someone into a space that has, for the most part, become a personal space; some people may feel anxious about what the dynamic would be like and how that may affect your blog. All valid concerns! When I was recruiting co-bloggers, I implemented a process to ensure that I was making the right decision – but what would such a process look like? How do you even begin to find and choose the right co-blogger. What does the ‘right’ co-blogger even look like?
In today’s Book Blogger Resources post, I talk about the benefits of having a co-blogger and my tips on finding the right co-blogger for you and your blog. I hope you find today’s post helpful – and next month, I’ll be sharing another Book Blogger Resources post where I will talk about my tips to successful co-blogging!
What is co-blogging?
For those new to blogging, let’s quickly define co-blogging.
Co-blogging involves co-operating and working with someone to run a blog. For instance, The Quiet Pond comprises of myself, CW, but I also have two co-bloggers: Joce and Skye, who help me run The Quiet Pond.
What co-bloggers do vary, and it is up to you and your co-bloggers to decide what your expectations are. For instance, Skye does the weekly The Pond Book News and she also interviews authors whose work pique her interest. Joce also interviews authors for our Heritage/Pride Months and writes book reviews.
The benefits of co-blogging
You are probably reading this because you are curious about co-blogging. Maybe you are considering bringing a co-blogger to help you with your blog, or perhaps you are interested in being a co-blogger with someone. So I thought: Before we dive into my tips for finding the right co-blogger, let’s talk about the potential benefits of co-blogging.
Benefits of having a co-blogger:
- It takes the pressure off to keep a consistent schedule by yourself. All of us book bloggers understand that keeping a semblance of a schedule is a source of pressure. Producing content consistently – particularly when we have other things going on in our lives – can be tough when you are doing it by yourself. Having a co-blogger who can help you produce content and fill in the gaps in your schedule takes the pressure off.
- You have someone to bounce ideas off. I’m a big-and-many-ideas person; ideas are always bouncing around in my head. Having co-bloggers means that you can share your ideas with someone, or you have someone to rein you in (if you are anything like me)!
- Book blogging no longer becomes lonely. We all know that book blogging can be a lonely endeavour; it can feel like you’re sitting at your desk, writing content into the void. Having co-bloggers is like having a team – you aren’t alone in the endeavour anymore and it’s nice to have people to talk to about your blog.
- You have fun with other people! Blogging can be fun and now you get to share that fun, that sense of joy and accomplishment and pride with others – and being able to share the wins (and sometimes, the disappointments) can be fulfilling and fun.
The benefits of co-blogging are overwhelming, and I don’t think I could ever go back to blogging by myself. However, co-blogging also comes with its own risks and challenges, and a significant portion of those risks and challenges can be mitigated by doing your due diligence and having a good process when you are recruiting a co-blogger.
In between each step, I will also provide my tips for those who are interested in co-blogging and joining someone else’s blog!
The tips that I provide are based on my co-blogging search experience, so please take whatever advice is useful and meaningful to you. So, without further ado, let’s talk about my tips for finding and choosing the right co-blogger for you and your blog.
Tips for Finding the Right Co-Blogger
1. Identify why you want a co-blogger
I firmly believe that if you want to be successful, you need to be intentional – and that applies to co-blogging. A good first step is to ask yourself why you want a co-blogger:
- Are you struggling to maintain a schedule and want someone to help produce content?
- Do you work better in a team, and feel like having someone else will add value?
- Do you think the idea sounds fun and you want to give it a try?
Whatever the reason, it’s important to reflect on why, because whatever the reason, the why will become an expectation that you will have of your co-bloggers – and it’s only fair that people looking to join you and your blog are aware of what those expectations are. There is nothing worse than a co-blogger joining your blog, believing that they will get the opportunity to produce a lot of original content, when the reason why you wanted a co-blogger was because you just want help formatting and linking posts.
Really ask yourself why you want a co-blogger; there’s no right and wrong reason to have one, so long as you communicate why to the people who may be interested in being a co-blogger and that they understand and accept your ‘why’ and your expectations.
ADVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO CO-BLOG! If you are ever unsure about why someone is looking for a co-blogger, ask! It’s not a rude nor silly question and it’ll help you get an idea of whether their ‘why’ fits with yours.
2. Understand your own expectations
Related to the first point, ask yourself the why and then understand what expectations you will have for your co-bloggers. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
What content would you want them to produce?
What content wouldn’t you want them to produce? Defining early what content you expect them to create and outlining what they would not be expected to do is so important. This prevents overlap and avoids confusion between you and your would-be co-bloggers. Furthermore, communicating these expectations will also enable people interested in co-blogging with you to make an informed decision of whether they want to co-blog with you or not.
What are their responsibilities as a co-blogger?
What are your responsibilities? How many of those responsibilities are shared? This is similar to the above, but it’s worthwhile to outline what their responsibilities would be as a co-blogger and what yours are. For instance, I manage our blog twitter, but Skye and Joce both have access to it if they want to tweet their own content. Skye and I tweet out our own content, but I tweet out Joce’s content for her – all of which are perfectly fine because the three of us understand who is responsible for what and how we support each other.
How often would you want them to produce content, or complete co-blogging tasks?
Getting an idea of how often you would want them to contribute is incredibly important, and avoids the awkward situation of mismatched expectations, disappointment, and frustration. Do you want them to produce content once a week, twice a week? Once every two weeks? Whenever there are gaps in the schedule? Whatever you expectations may be, this will allow people to decide whether they can meet those expectations or not or whether this is possible for them.
ADVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO CO-BLOG! As tempting as it may be, because you want someone to pick you, always be honest (with the person looking for a co-blogger and to yourself) about your capacity. If you tell someone that you can do daily posts, but in reality, you can only do one post every two weeks, that isn’t fair to them – and it isn’t fair to yourself as well. Furthermore, don’t falsely assume that the person looking for a co-blogger wants someone super active; they may actually want someone who contributes once every two weeks and overpromising that you can do daily posts may indicate to them that their co-blogging opportunity isn’t what you are looking for.
How busy are you outside of co-blogging?
How busy are they outside of co-blogging? Co-bloggers don’t need to give you their life story, and you don’t need to give your life story, but having an awareness of how available you are is important as well.
If you are paying money for your blog’s domain, do you expect co-bloggers to provide a contribution?
Will you offer remuneration to your co-bloggers? If you do a paid promotion, how is the remuneration distributed? No one likes talking about money, but the one thing worse than talking about money are unexpected surprises about money. If money is a relevant topic for you and any potential co-bloggers, bring it up sooner rather than later.
Outlining expectations early makes things fair to you and the people who are interested in co-blogging with you; fair to you, so that you can make a good choice and fair to others, so that they can make a choice as to whether you are the best fit for them and what they may want to get out of co-blogging.
3. Understand your blog’s brand
This is important, so listen closely: Understanding your blog’s brand and then choosing a co-blogger that understands that brand and can align with that brand is, I think, one of the most key predictors of choosing the right co-blogger.
Let’s use The Quiet Pond as an example. Let’s outline elements of The Quiet Pond‘s brand and what would be things I would consequently look for in a co-blogger.
Brand: The Quiet Pond is a fantasy-themed book blog with Pond animal characters.
→ I’d look for: Someone who is open and comfortable about the fantasy themes of the Pond; someone open to lore and magic and whimsy, and sometimes the fun and silly.
Brand: All co-bloggers have their own Pond animal character and can get into persona.
→ I’d look for: Someone who is creative, fun, and is able to adapt to the storytelling style at The Quiet Pond.
Brand: The Quiet Pond predominantly features diverse books by young adult authors.
→ I’d look for: Someone who reads diverse books and on board with producing content about diverse books only, and reads young adult fiction (as well as other age categories).
Brand: The Quiet Pond does book reviews, book recommendations and author features.
→ I’d look for: Someone who can do one or more of the above three.
You may not find someone who ticks every box, but you do want someone who understands your brand and can fit in well with the brand and can contribute in ways that align with your brand. But, it’s important for you to understand what your brand is before asking others to identify your brand and how they may fit in with you and your blog. (Not sure what your brand is? Ask a friend!)
ADVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO CO-BLOG! Always do research about a blog before you apply to be a co-blogger. If you want to be a co-blogger, remember that you will be investing yourself into that blog – so be thoughtful about whether this blog is a place you want to give your time to and whether you fit in with the blog’s goals and style. If the person looking for a co-blogger understands their brand well, it is really, really obvious when someone doesn’t.
4. Have a structured process
I’m a person who loves structure, so it made a lot of sense for me to have a structured process when I was looking for a co-blogger. Not everyone loves structure – some people may thrive on a more informal process, but if you are like me and like structure as well, hopefully these tips will help.
The below was my process when I decided I wanted to look for a co-blogger for The Quiet Pond:
1. Created a co-blogger application form
I like application forms; they enable you to collect all the information that you need from people who are interested all in one go. Furthermore, application forms also give people time and an opportunity to think about their answers. People who are interested in your co-blogger may be busy people – so giving them time to write their answers is a friendly and accessible way to gauge interest.
Furthermore, because application forms ask everyone the same question, it will be easier for you to compare the answers between applicants.
2. Shared on social media and my blog that I was looking for a co-blogger
Getting the word out that there was an opportunity to be a co-blogger helped me reach a wider pool of people. I used Twitter and my book blog to advertise that there was an opening at The Quiet Pond – but those mediums make the most sense for me.
I shared the co-blogger application form that I made on social media too, inviting people to apply. Don’t forget to add a specific and clear end-date, so that people who are interested are aware of the deadline. It wouldn’t be fair to close the form without any notice.
3. Closed applications and announced that co-bloggers would be notified within a timeframe
I believe that if people have given their time and effort to apply, the least you can do is reciprocate and respect their time and let them know when they will hear from you.
Give yourself a reasonable timeline of deciding who you will choose to be your co-blogger; 1 – 3 weeks is reasonable! It also pays to send everyone who applied an email and thank them for applying – this is a good opportunity to start any conversations or for people who have applied to ask any questions!
4. Went through applications and created a longlist/shortlist
Choosing was incredibly hard. In my first round of applications (wherein I ultimately selected Joce), I had 32 applicants. In my second round, I had 11 applicants (wherein I chose Skye)! I had so many strong applicants, and it was really difficult to choose. To help, I created a longlist – a list of applicants after eliminating people who were definite no’s – and then from the longlist, I created a shortlist – a list of 2 – 3 people that I was strongly considering. From there, you can decide on who your chosen co-blogger is!
5. Notified the successful applicant and offered them to join me as a co-blogger!
The moment I decided, I let the person I chose to be my co-blogger know that they were successful! At the end of the day, whoever you offer to be a co-blogger with you has to accept your offer – so be sure to give them the choice to accept or decline.
If you choose to let other people know that they weren’t successful, go for it. It doesn’t need to be detailed and it certainly doesn’t have to be a long list of why they weren’t chosen; something short, generic and respectful is more than enough. Some may appreciate knowing, even if they don’t reply.
5. Ask good questions
If you decide to have some sort of co-blogger application form, it’s important to ask good questions. As for what would be ‘good questions’, you want to ask questions that you genuinely want to know the answers to, or questions that you think will help you compare different people who have applied. You don’t have to include questions that you think should go into the form but you don’t think you’ll get much value or meaning from.
I highly recommend using Google Forms, which is free and accessible.
Here are some tips on how to ask ‘good questions’:
- Start by asking their name, their social media handles, and their pronouns!
- Think about your blog’s brand and your ‘mission statement’, if you have one, and turn that into a question. For example, The Quiet Pond‘s brand and mission statement is to promote diverse books, so a good question would be: “Why is diversity in publishing important to you?”
- If you prefer having a specific writing style for your book blog, include a question/opportunity in the form for the applicant to provide an example! For instance, when I was looking for co-bloggers, I asked people to give an example of a ‘Story Time’ about their own animal character. When I read Skye’s ‘Story Time’, she was the clear and obvious choice as my co-blogger.
- Think about your expectations of your future co-blogger, and ask direct questions! Even if you don’t have an idea of what your expectations may be, ask! Some example questions:
- “Do you have any prior experience with blogging?” (This is a good question to ask; you shouldn’t use this question with the intent of weeding out new vs. experienced bloggers, but it should give you an idea of who may need more support if they are successful.)
- “How often would you be able to contribute content?” (Use multi-choice answers so it’s not too open-ended.)
- “What would you be interested in contributing at [my blog]?” (Use multi-choice answers, with an ‘Other’ option.)
- If you want your co-blogger to write reviews, ask them to provide a sample of a book review that they are proud of. (This helps you get an idea of their reviewing style and whether that fits with what you may be looking for in a co-reviewer.)
- Do not include ‘gotcha’ questions that try to catch people out or throw people off. I strongly believe that good questions are genuine questions where you actually care about the answer and the person answering them. If your questions are about ‘catching people out’, that’s a signal that you are more interested in taking advantage of a power dynamic inherent in the process.
ADVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO CO-BLOG! Never, ever overpromise; overpromising can set yourself up for failure and, at the end of the day, you want to have a positive experience co-blogging, rather than set yourself up to be able to meet all these demands and expectations and then crash and burn later. Set clear boundaries early – if you aren’t open to doing something, don’t say that you can or will. (Likewise, if you really are open to something, even if you don’t have any experience doing it, then say so!)
6. Talk to them!
Even though this post makes finding a co-blogger sound like a grueling and stressful process, the most important thing about co-blogging is that you can get along with them and they can get along with you. You may work together, but you should have fun and have a positive experience blogging together.
All the application forms in the world might help somewhat, but sometimes having a genuine and friendly conversation where you get to know them will give you an idea of whether they are the right co-blogger for you and whether you are the right co-blogger for them.
At the end of the day, co-blogging is a journey that you go on together, and you will become friends. Sometimes the person with the best answers isn’t the right for you and your blog, whereas someone who maybe didn’t wow you with their co-blogging application is a great fit because they’re really excited about your blog, have the same mission as you, but maybe just don’t know how to put that excitement into words.
ADVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO CO-BLOG! Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to the person who is looking for a co-blogger outside of the application process! A simple hello or asking a question that you might have is almost always welcome. Having a friendly conversation with them will give you an idea of whether you can talk to and get along with this person. At the end of the day, even though they are looking for a co-blogger, you are looking for a co-blogger and a new home as well.
And those are my tips on finding the right co-bloggers for you! The main takeaway of today’s Book Blogger Resource is that co-bloggers aren’t magical and mythical unicorns who will gallop in and save you from your blogging woes. Rather, it is so important that you are honest and genuine in your search for co-bloggers, finding the person that is right for you (and, in turn, giving them the opportunity to decide whether your blog is the right place for them), and creating opportunities to communicate and manage expectations early so that there are no unpleasant surprises!
Next month, I will be sharing with you all my next Book Blogger Resources, which will be a kinda-sequel to this post: Tips to Successful Co-Blogging and Working Well as a Team!
If you found this list helpful, please don’t hesitate to share this post with your fellow book bloggers. And if any of you have any spare change, I do have a Ko-Fi if you want to show a little appreciation. Thank you for reading!