Crowdsourcing is a new portmanteau word that means soliciting community participation in the creative process. The internet has allowed input from people far distant places, often not known personally to one another, to many enterprises. This is an amazing facility, and has had some astonishing results in a variety of fields, like coming up with the funding for new documentaries and charitable efforts.
However, it can seem a bit intimidating for some bloggers. After all, one of the reasons that many people start blogging is to take control of a subject. To share control is often counter to the temperament and aims of you, the writer. However, this might be exactly the answer to meeting your readers’ needs. This, in turn, could be the key to the success of your blog. How can you tell whether crowdsourcing might be helpful, and get started on it yourself?
You need to have a track record:
This is not something to do in the first month of your blog, unless your purpose is to make it a community blog from the start. You should post enough articles to create some buzz, and garner some followers. You want to build an image of yourself that makes your set of interests clear, and generates credibility. This takes some time, and you cannot readily avoid this initial period of foundation building if you want to succeed long term.
You need to decide whether you want to crowd source ideas or the writing itself.
One way to crowd source is to have a virtual suggestion box. You can offer a chance for readers to propose topics and sub-topics that you can address in future posts. This is a great way to get a sense of the character and orientation of your devoted readers. Even if few people submit suggestions, it gives readers a sense of connection, and a warm fuzzy sense that you care (which you do, of course). It gives readers a sense of control as well. Of course, you have to comply, somehow, with suggestions, or you will have a disappointed readership instead of a happy, engaged passel of followers.
Your own command of your topic needs to be absolute:
The message sent by opening your blog to the ideas of others should not be that you are lacking in expertise or new ideas. That is just lame. Instead, you are asking for the input of others because you know that people love to put their two cents in. You are trying to build a virtual community around your subject area. You are offering a forum for discussion of issues that are open to debate. The usefulness and gravitas of your previous blog posts will counter any proposal that you are somehow floundering.
Your own writing needs to be competent.
If not, you might need some help to edit the ideas of others. Otherwise, you may be stuck with interesting ideas that are expressed fuzzily and unprofessionally. Unless you have a way to prune and polish the submissions of others, you will be stuck with unusable material.
You cannot be a copycat
A completely different issue is the widely prevalent problem of copy/paste composition. You also need to have access to a plagiarism checker that will catch problems swiftly, efficiently and cheaply. You need to know how to distinguish deliberate or lazy copying from the inevitable result of there being only so many words in the English language. Then you need to have a way to deal with incidences of obvious and clear-cut plagiarism politely and non-confrontationally.
You need to set the ground-rules clearly. Here are some suggestions of parameters you could consider:
You get the right to edit it for-
And… basically anything else that you need to.
You also need to decide whether you want people to be able to promote their own sites, products, and services. This can even, under some circumstances, permit you to make some money from this activity.
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You also need to consider about whether you want to allow deeply conflicting ideas to be published. That choice will have far-reaching consequences. It could embroil you in a never-ending struggle to keep your blog site family-friendly, and appropriate for all audiences.
You need to decide on a schedule:
Is this something that you want to do as a one-off – a one-shot deal that gets you some instant attention? Alternatively, do you want to have a guest post every few days, weeks, or months? Whatever schedule you pick, you should try to stick with it. If you have to change your timing of guest posts (or, in fact, if you have to change any significant way that you do your blogging business), courtesy demands that you let folks know.
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You need to be in communication with people who go to the effort to communicate with you. Follow up is key. If you ask for crowd-sourced input on your content, submissions should not disappear into the ether, never to be heard of again. Acknowledge what people send you, even if it is only with an automatic email response.
Outsourcing some of your web content to the (hopefully massive) crowd of readers can be a great way to increase the diversity of ideas you feature. It can involve a significant amount of work for you, so please don’t assume that this is a way to make things easier for yourself!
Back To You:
It looks like Alex have said so much about so much on our today’s topic, Now let’s pass the keyboard to you guys…
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