Blogging with Squarespace is incredibly easy. In fact, that's one of the main reasons I chose Squarespace for my blog. Individual blogs are one thing, but does Squarespace deliver the goods when it comes to multi-author blogs? This week I interviewed friend Brandon Davenport of Okay Geek to explore his popular tech news website and how he created a thriving multi-author blog on Squarespace.
What is Okay Geek and How Did it All Start?
Josh Braaten: On your website you describe yourselves as “a bunch of youngsters who believe that there is more than one way of looking at today’s tech industry.” Describe why you founded Okay Geek and what is your mission?
Brandon Davenport: When I created Okay Geek, I had one idea in mind: “I want to be like Kevin Rose, Mark Zuckerberg and Leo Laporte... a big name in tech. I want to create something amazing that people will love”. It was really the whole idea of creation. When we finally had a few people contributing the site, I knew we could achieve it because we all shared that goal. We wanted to become something other than a dinky little blog, an we’ve been doing a pretty awesome job so far.
JB: What does the process look like when screening new authors on Okay Geek?
BD: When you’re a very small blog, you can’t expect people to want to write for you. You need to look for people, but accomplished editors aren’t going to take you seriously. You need to find people who have passion for what you’re blogging about, no matter if they’ve never blogged before or not.
You can teach someone how to write a blog post, but you can never teach someone how to be passionate about something (especially the same thing as you). Try to find people who share the same core interests you do, and work together to build the best blog you can, filled with the best content you’ve ever written.
Only when you have managed to do this will people ask to write for you. You need to create a culture within your team (no matter how big or small) that will spread to others who read your blog. You want people to write for you, not your blog.
Producing a Multi-Author Blog on Squarespace
JB: Creating a multi-author blog brings another level of complexity to a blog. You need permissions and logins for each author and author pages and archives, for starters. You chose Squarespace to publish your multi-author blog. How has Squarespace served your needs in creating a multi-author blog in Okay Geek? Have you had any big challenges?
BD: When I created Okay Geek, I actually didn’t plan on having other editors. Only when I noticed I had the ability to do so, I asked of anyone wanted to write on my blog, and that’s when our Executive Editor, Ricardo Trejo, came into the picture.
In the big scheme of things, the Squarespace system has been spot on when it comes to managing larger teams of people. You can easily create different “audiences” which contain a set of specific permissions. These could be things like which pages are visible or different editing capabilities for certain authors. You can then assign specific people to an audience and give each person the abilities attached to the assigned audience. It’s much like a series of groups.
Something that threw us a curve ball was profiles. We really wish we could have a profile page for each of our editors that they would be able to edit and build upon (add bios, photos and social networks). Squarespace will be releasing v6 of their platform soon, but if this isn’t part of the update, I’ll have to build it myself.
JB: On the topic of multi-author blogs, what does your editorial process look like? Do you have a calendar and rigid publishing schedule? How do you set and enforce production goals for each contributing editor?
BD: When it comes to filling the front page with awesome content every day, we rely on trusting that everyone will do their part, and it hasn’t failed us yet. If for some reason one of our editors is un-available for a few days, I can ask one of our other editors to help out and fill in the blanks.
As for a schedule, we don’t really have one. If we see people are really enjoying our reviews, we do more of them. If we see our how-to’s aren’t that hot, we drop them for a bit -- and at the end of the day, Okay Geek is a hobby for most folks on our team, so we can’t expect them to treat Okay Geek with the importance of a job. If we want them to keep writing, we need to give them something they’ll love to write about, or ask them “what do you want to write about?”, and many features you see on Okay Geek (This Week in Mobile and Game Reviews for example) were ideas our editors had. It’s pretty damn awesome to have people like this writing for you.
JB: You’re the main developer, designer and video editor for Okay Geek. What are contributing editors responsible for when publishing new content? How involved are you in the process of publishing individual entries?
BD: When it comes to editing and publishing content, that is our Executive Editor, Ricardo Trejo’s specialty. Our editors (including myself) write articles, and when they are complete, our backend (we call it “The Farm”) tells Ricardo they are ready to be polished and sent off to the front-page. It’s pretty simple.
He then makes necessary changes like spelling, grammar and maybe adding an image, or shuffling things around. He then takes the article and pushes it over to our front page. He then adds tags, thumbnails and puts the article into the matching categories. Once it’s scheduled and ready to go, it’s published the next day.
The T3ch H3lp/Okay Geek Domain Change
JB: Speaking of design, you recently rebranded and changed from the name T3ch H3lp to Okay Geek. What motivated that change?
BD: T3ch H3lp wasn’t a great name, and it didn’t help when others would try to show “T3ch H3lp” off to friends. There’s a rule that every company should go by...
You need to have a product that can be explained and demonstrated by anyone in 20 seconds. You need to give fans of your website the ability to show it off to friends, and explain what it’s all about and why they love it as fast as possible. There are a lot of people who loved T3ch H3lp, but the name was a major turn off when trying to explain it to friends... I mean they couldn’t even type it!
When we changed from “T3ch H3lp” to Okay Geek, there was an overwhelming response. It was like a weight had been lifted, and the gates we’re now somehow opened. It was really somewhat of a “boost” to the entire team.
As for the reason why I chose the old name, well that’s quite simple, “Tech Help” was taken.
JB: How difficult was the change, technically speaking? What were your largest development hurdles in changing your domain name on your Squarespace blog?
BD: There were a lot of difficult things we had to do to successfully make the transition. We had been preparing for weeks, and it was a few days of finishing touches before we actually launched the change. It was going to work like this:
Announce the change and get people talking and we did this with a Promo video and a whole lot of conversation on Twitter and comments. We had set up a page to display the progress we had made day to day, and gave people a really transparent look into what we were changing, and ask if we could do anything better every second we could. It was our only chance to do this after
After we lined everything up, and had it ready to push out, we pulled down the front page (all articles were still accessible) and flipped the switches. In about 15 minutes the site had changed it’s name and there was no looking back! It was a few days before everything was in order, but it was all down-hill from here, and we were stronger than ever.
Marketing a Multi-Author Blog on Squarespace
JB: You also launched a new line of t-shirts and iPhone cases as part of the marketing for your big rebranding. How do the goals and marketing for a multi-author blog differ than a personal blog?
BD: Well, we don’t really see this as marketing, heck our signature “leaf” logo isn’t even on these products. What we are trying to do is give hardcore Okay Geek fans a way to take us with them wherever they go, and show us off to their friends and potential readers and maybe spark some conversation. We don’t make any money off the products, and we don’t plan to for quite a while.
There’s also a reason we don’t have our official logo on the products -- we want people to download the full, copyright-free design and make their own stuff. We’ve seen a bunch of things made (even coffee cups!) and that’s why we did that, not to directly benefit us but to keep our readers happy, and let them have a little Okay Geek of their own.
Questions about Blogs with Multiple Authors?
What questions do you have about creating multi-author blogs? If you've been to Okay Geek, what do you like best about how Brandon and team approach tech news? Leave your thoughts and questions about multi-author blogs, Squarespace and Okay Geek in the comments below.
I'd like to thank Brandon Davenport of Okay Geek for his time in putting this post together. I wish you the best of luck on your future efforts with Okay Geek!