Focus On: Collaborative Blogs
We discover bloggers on WordPress.com exploring different passions and interests, immersed in unique industries, fields, and worlds. At the Daily Post, we’ll highlight these niche blogs and the various communities within WordPress.com. We hope these spotlights introduce you to new communities and ideas, and inspire you to find — and create — your own cozy corner in the blogging world.
Many of you come to the Daily Post for the interaction within a community: a space to ask questions about WordPress.com features, to join in on discussions about the art of blogging and craft of writing, and to connect with those who share your interests.
Our “Focus On” roundups have zoomed in on niche communities on WordPress.com, from bloggers living the expat life to holiday DIY crafters. Today, let’s look at a sampling of collaborative blogs — multiple-contributor sites with a specific focus — and explore how like-minded writers and artists support one another.
Perfectly named and elegantly designed, Spilled Milk is a collaborative photography blog, featuring images from 19 mothers around the world. Each week, a theme prompts them to reflect on parenthood and “the complexity and beauty that comes with raising our kids.” A collection of images for a previous theme, “warmth,” shows a range of snapshots. Each photographer, then, is given the space to interpret the theme as she wishes.
We love the tiled galleries that display their photo collections, which dramatically transform the simple and classic Ari theme. The left sidebar is also minimal and includes the essentials: a Pages Widget that links to pages about the artists and weekly themes, as well as a Text Widget that provides a contact email for questions and suggestions.
Black Box Warnings offers a safe, supportive space for bloggers to share personal stories about mental and physical health, parenting, and those poignant moments in life, big and small. For a sampling of what you’ll discover and read, consider “The Last Goodbye,” one guest blogger’s account of seeing her father’s face one last time. Powerful.
We love the site’s simple yet provocative design; Black Box Warnings uses Suburbia, a minimal magazine-style theme that showcases this collective of bloggers quite well. Each post’s featured image clearly identifies the contributor, and the repetition of these black-and-white thumbnails across the site’s front page contributes to its overall design and mood. All the visual elements — from the featured images to the custom background — complement the site’s logo (shown at left).
This collaborative blog succeeds with its content and design — it showcases strong, bold voices and has a cohesive look that represents and unifies its tight community of writers. Each post, ultimately, is a slice of life — intimate and brave, and a reminder of what it means to be human. While the blogger, Le Clown, reaches out to bloggers to contribute, you’re also free to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A small magazine with large ambitions, Brevity is a literary publication showcasing established and emerging writers specializing in the short essay form (750 words or less). Its blog on WordPress.com supplements the wide range of writing on the magazine itself, highlighting quick reads and news from the world of literary nonfiction. Think John D’Agata-inspired, fact-versus-fiction, genre-bending conversations. Or craft essays and book reviews from guest bloggers and professional nonfiction writers.
In addition to thoughtful comments and discussions from writers and readers serious about the craft of nonfiction and memoir, the blog also publishes announcements about writing conferences, contests, and calls for submissions — it’s a resourceful space for practicing and aspiring writers, as well as MFA students.
The Brevity blog uses Oulipo, an elegant theme that’s free of clutter. While the menu on the left stays put — and the site title and tagline are fixed in place — visitors can scroll through the latest content and posts by guest bloggers with ease.
You will see, and show others, that you are not alone, no matter how you feel.
Broken Light is a collective of photographers who live with or are affected by mental illness. Launched by a photographer and photo editor near New York City, the site is an accepting, encouraging space for photographers to share their images and support the work of others.
Poke around, and you’ll find evocative images. Jim, a blogger who struggles with depression, submitted an image of a full moon in “Melancholy,” while PJ Brez, a contributor living in the countryside of South Korea, captured isolation and loneliness in a snapshot in “The One That Got Away.”
This multi-contributor photoblog also uses Suburbia, taking advantage of its attractive front page format with featured image thumbnails. The “Submissions” link in the menu (shown on the right) leads to a page of submission instructions, making it easy to contribute images.
Finally, at Peanut Butter on the Keyboard, a group of mothers — who also happen to be romance authors — maintain a site where parenting and publishing collide. Contributors include historical romance novelists Robyn DeHart, Kieran Kramer, and more. Recently, they’ve written about grief and miscarriage, and create open, positive spaces to muse, discuss, and ask important questions.
Using the versatile Forever theme, and a colorful custom background of flowers, Peanut Butter on the Keyboard creates a warm, welcoming place — and the blog’s name sets the mood, doesn’t it?
In the sidebar, under “Moms on deck,” you’ll see the Author Grid Widget in action, which displays the avatars of all the site’s contributors. It’s a nice touch, especially for a collaborative blog, and allows visitors to connect usernames to faces.
Interested in launching a group blog and being part of a collective dedicated to topics that matter to you? As you can see, there are different ways to approach a collaborative blog — you can accept submissions via email and post guest content yourself, or invite contributors to your blog. If you’re interested in starting something totally new, create another blog on your WordPress.com account in My Blogs, and click the link on the left to create a new one.