Blog Collaborations

A follow-on from my recent Yuffie collaboration. This is one long-arse post, but it includes the emails and details on our collaboration process. It demonstrates all the detail we went into while running this collaboration. Interested in running a collaboration yourself? Read on, but be warned, it’s an awfully long read!

What to do?

First things first, ask yourself why you want to collaborate. There are dozens of reasons to work with other bloggers. It might be that you are good friends with someone; you want to try a new style of blog post; you want an increase in blog views; you want to promote a new book or other product; you have a post idea that won’t fit on your blog but would be perfect for a blog you follow. For my first blogger’s collab last week, I just wanted the experience of collaborating with other bloggers to figure out how it would work and what could go wrong.

Now decide how you want to collaborate with someone.

Serialized collaboration. Where you write posts that follow on from each other. Be it an extensive guide about how to get those jawlines perfect with makeup or an ongoing story where each person posts a single chapter each week.

Set time post. What we did this week with the Little Fears. We each wrote a story about a single character and scheduled them to post at the same time. For the non-fiction world, your collaborators could blog a review for a new film or hair product and time them to fire off at the same time.

Guest posts. Where you all write a post on each other’s blogs. A handy way to use sound material that doesn’t work on your blog.

Interviews. I gave a few interviews for my previous blog and two for this one. They have never worked out well. My main issue was no communication past original emails, and they spell-corrected my British’ms and entirely changed the context of a few paragraphs. I have seen interviews done well though, so be considerate and copy check with your fellow blogger before posting, and it will be fine.

Chats. Informal chats using a hashtag on Twitter about your craft. Recording a Skype conversation and uploading it to YouTube or Soundcloud and embedding in your post. Or visiting a friend and recording a garage talk.

Who to roll with

In my opinion, ask people you already know to collaborate. If you’ve known someone for at least six months, you will have a good idea that they aren’t utter bellends. Also, choose people who understand you and what you do. It can help if they are in your blogging niche. Writers collaborating with other writers to make things easier. But like I suggested before, if you have a post that doesn’t fit your own blog, shifting niches can help use good posts.

Don’t be put off by follower counts of bloggers that you want to collab with. Don’t obsess over them either. If you have a blog that isn’t established, consider asking friends or other bloggers starting out to collaborate with you. If you do reach out to an established blogger, get to know them first or give them a reason to cooperate with you. The worst anyone can say is no and if they are rude to you, do you want to work with them anyway?

My process

I reached out to four people I have known in blogging for yonks. I contacted two via Twitter and two via email.


Howdy

Hope you’re well! I’m gathering a few folk for a four-way collab. Wanted
to know if you’d be interested.

The collaboration is WordPress blog based. I have a pile of images of
Yuffie, Hydra and Ratty from Witchtober. I hope to share them about
between 4 us and everyone picks one image from 20’ish. Each person
writes a single story, any genre and posts them. Each person links to
each other’s blog posts in the signature of their posts. Something you’d
be interested in?

Let me know!

Cheers

Peter


Short, sweet but also specific.

One of the other big reasons I don’t collab with people is I often get invites that are a generic “Hi, wanna collaborate?” I’m always open to collaboration but usually, people don’t seem to know how they want to collaborate. Expand on it a little bit with your initial suggestion. I’ve had slightly more than that. “I’ll take photos, you draw and write about them.” OK, that’s more, but it doesn’t give me anything to latch onto you know? Pick a theme, topic, subject or product to base your collaboration on. Have a focus.

One person turned me down because they didn’t think they could write a story. If someone turns down your offer, don’t pester them. You will rarely change their mind. When a Tumblr pestered me to collab with them, it made me want to turn them down even more. Accept it, move on, find someone else.

The First Email

Once you have your collaborators on board, send them an email detailing the process for what you will be doing together. Things you must include in this email:

  • Everybody’s contact details & social medias given
  • A basic plan outline
  • All source material required (in my case I attached 13 images on a PDF to the email)
  • Details of the focus of the collaboration. Is it about a product? Include prices and where to buy it. About a character? Include an outline of their personality. State how long you want the post to be here.
  • Is there anything else that needs to go in the post? Ask for information as soon as you can. In our case, I wanted to know if everyone wanted to do their own videos or wanted me to do it. Important note, if you’re reproducing anything someone else has created, make sure you get written permission from them.
  • The posting date. Will you all be posting at the same time? Are you going to post one after the other? Weekly or daily? Add that information next.
  • Social media information. Do you want everyone to share each other’s posts? Do you only want everyone to focus on Instagram? Detail the social media plan for everyone.
  • Additional information, a place for footnotes that are less important and less related. In my case, I wanted to let everyone know I would be creating this blog post.
  • What I need next. Put everything you need from everybody here and put a date for when you need it by. If you haven’t received this information by the day before you list chase people up, but don’t them delay you. Any delays effect everyone and you have a schedule.

Howdy, gang!

Hope you’re all having a fab week! Thank you to all for showing an interest in being a part of this wee collaboration.

Some contact info for all invited to this collab.

Anthony
www: http://apoetryjourney.wordpress.com/
Contact email:
Twitter: @atothewr

Layne
www: http://chewingonglass.wordpress.com/
Contact email:
Twitter: @Chew_On_Glass

Mel
www: http://fictioninmyhead.com/
Contact email:

Peter (me!)
www: http://littlefears.co.uk
Contact email:
Twitter: @thelittlefears

I have never done a blog based collaboration before, if any of you have and you know I’m doing something wrong or have a suggestion, please holla at me!

The basic plan

I have attached some images to this email of Yuffie, Hydra, Sprite and Ratty. Each of us picks an image, first come first serve basis, and writes a story for it. We’ll then schedule our posts to publish at the same time on our blogs, with links to everybody else’s blog and a brief collab description (2 lines at most). The aim for me is to gain experience doing collabs by doing a collab.

The images

The images are numbered on a PDF attached to this email. Have a look at them and pick the image you want to use. I’ll send you over three copies. A 2000 pixel wide copy, a 1024 pixel wide copy and a 600-pixel wide copy. Gives you a selection if you self-host not to destroy your bandwidth.

The original photographs are either taken by me or from Unsplash.com. For those that haven’t heard of it, Unsplash is a community project where people post photos they won’t be using for anything themselves under a ‘do what you want with it’ license. Including commercial use.

If you don’t want to use an image or you want to use your own image, that’s fine. It would be good to include Yuffie in all the stories though, as that makes the connection between everyone’s posts.

The story

The story can be any genre. It doesn’t have to be an eye-rolling pun or Lovecraftian horror. You can write a poem if you fancy.

You can also include whatever characters you want as long as Yuffie is present or referred too. Half the time my images depict one person from a two or three-way conversation. You’re welcome to create new characters.

The character of Yuffie is a necromancer. It’s alluded too she’s had a wife in the past. She’s good friends with Hydra. She has some wit so she’s good at delivering an intentional punchline.

Hydra’s the Fears equivalent of a big golden retriever. Big and dumb, lots of fun. A natural character to play with for misunderstanding what’s been said.

Sprite’s in one image. He’s a comic relief character. Spectre and Sprite usually have a scheme going between them. Alway’s up to something.

Ratty has no personality defined yet, so use her however you wish.

As for story length, I aim to keep all of my posts below 512 characters long. A hangover from my original writing and not relevant anymore. I’d suggest all stories are less than 1000 words long. This is meant to be a fun learning experience, not a new NaNoWriMo.

The videos

Four videos will not take me long to make. I’m not sure if anyone else would like to record a voice over or if anyone would want me to host it on my YouTube or if you would want to host it on your own YouTubes. I can provide all my usual assets if you’re going to make one yourself. If you would like to do a voice over, send me an MP3, and I can sort you out a video. I would put links to you all in the video descriptions and on the end card. I can record mine first and upload it as private to give you a demonstration.

I’m sure for duplicating somebodies story you need an email from them saying it’s OK to record their story and host it on YouTube. At the moment my video’s cannot be monetized, so I’m afraid there’s no revenue there. You need 10,000 views minimum on YouTube (not through linked videos), and I also do horror, which means those tales cannot be monetized anyway.

The posts

Quite a long way from now, but I had it in my head that we should schedule our posts to all publish at the same time, failing to remember in the UK our clocks change a week or two before they do in America. So to save a cock up with time displacement (how very Doctor Who!), the date for the big post publish will be November 8th.

We can schedule them for 6 pm London time, 1 pm New York time. That way everyone’s awake when they publish.

https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

At the bottom of the posts, we will include a brief description and link to each other’s stories.

“This post one of four tales in a rather groovy collaboration. You can check out the other tales in this collab by visiting the websites below.”

When you create a new post on a self-hosted WordPress website, once you save a post as a draft, it shows a permalink below.

If everyone gets their post links to me before November 5th, I can send the HTML for this to everybody to copy paste into the bottom of their posts.

The social media

There are no constraints or demands on anyone for social media. Share what you want to share.

I will share my post in full to Tumblr, Medium, Instagram, Ello, DeviantArt, Flickr and Patreon. I shall include links to everyone’s posts in the bottom of all my post on those sites. I will share everyone’s posts to my Twitter.

I can link to your social media on each platform as well. For example, if you’re on Tumblr I can link to your Tumblr account in my Tumblr post as well as your website. I don’t want to demand this of everyone as it adds work that I did not suggest in the original collab tweet or email. So what you do on social media is entirely up to you.

I autoshare to Facebook, G+ and Linked In, but I never visit them. They will just get an autoshare of my post.

A follow-up blog post

I will make a blog post about this collab and the process in a Monday blog post after we have all posted. I will include links to all of your websites at the top of the post. I will include this email (with your email address removed) and a brief description of how the collab came about. I can send a copy to you all for approval before I post if you like. You’d be welcome to copy paste the post or any part of to your own blogs, no credit or links required.

What I need from everyone this week

If you could please reply to this email by Monday 31st of October with the following info.

1. The image number you wish to use

2. Video details.

a. Do I have permission to record audio for your story?
b. Would you like to record audio yourself?
c. Would you like to make the video yourself?
d. Where would you like your video to be uploaded?

3. Your social media channels you would like me to mention in my posts.

A wee note

The aim of this is to be a quick learning experience and a bit of fun. I find the best way of learning something and figuring out what can go wrong, is by doing. Not reading. I’ve tried to include everything I can think of in this email, no doubt I have forgotten something. If anyone has any suggestions, please do let me know. Like I said, my first time doing a blog based collaboration.

Cheers

Peter


The Second Email

Once I had everyone’s information, I sent out a second email. This kept everyone updated and told them what I needed next. The images followed separately for each person to make sure there were no mix-ups. The contents of your followup email will vary for whatever your project is. Some key points in my email though.

  • I gave everyone permission to use my images in whatever they wanted. I included the ‘do whatever you want’ license and Unsplash license when I sent them the images. Important to do that because in the unfortunate event you drop dead tomorrow, they will never be able to use their chosen image or post in future projects such as books or articles.
  • I detailed the next set of dates for when I wanted things by. It keeps people informed and helps give people a time-based focus.
  • If you’re linking to each other’s posts, push everyone to get you links as soon as possible. Don’t leave this until the last minute. Not everybody is techie minded and knows how to get their links.
  • Address any questions from the first email. In our case, Layne’s query about post titles.
  • A roundup of what information you need next. Again, put it at the bottom so everybody knows what the next steps are.

 


Howdy gang

An update on the Collab and what we need next.

Images

I will be getting all the images in all resolutions to everybody today. One at 2000px, one at 1024px and one at 800px. I’ll include a disclaimer in all the emails, but I’m giving permission for everyone to reproduce the images, free forever, even for commercial purposes. No credits required. The reasoning is in 3 years time, if we have all lost contact, someone wants to use the story and image in a book or other commercial venture you have full permission to reproduce the image. There’s no need to track me down for legal permission and stuff.

Videos

Everybody has said yes to me creating all the videos and given me permission to record their stories. I will need everybody’s stories text for Sunday 5th November. Just email it over once it’s written. I can get them recorded Sunday/ Monday and get the links to you ASAP.

Post Links

If you could also create a draft of your blog post and send me the permalink for the post, that would also be helpful. That way we can directly to each other’s posts.

Post Title

Layne asked if we should publish a particular title. It did make me wonder, maybe we should name our posts whatever we want to name them and include a subtitle. A Yuffie Collaboration. It would add some synergy to the collab. For example, Laynes said she wanted to use the title Chewing on Fears. So her post title would be Chewing on Fears – A Yuffie Collaboration. Let me know what you guys think about that and if you have a better title idea.

Wrapped up by Monday 6th

It would be great if we could have all the info we need to each other by end of day Monday. That way we have a day and a half to two days to refine and resolve any issues.

What I need next

1. Your posts text for me to record the audio for

2. Your permalink to your post (mail me if you need help)

3. Your opinion on the post subtitle

Cheers gang!


The Third Email

For us, the third and final email. I sent everyone’s video links separately to make sure nobody posted the wrong video. I sent an HTML and an embedded version of the signature in the actual email but didn’t clarify they were two separate things clearly enough. I have removed the HTML version from this email because it looked a mess and was unnecessary in the end.


Howdy Gang

Next update on the collab! I’ve uploaded everyone’s videos to my YouTube and sent everyone’s video links out. We have two things left to do.

1. Add a signature with links to everyone’s posts in

2. Schedule the posts

Sig’s

I have included the HTML and embedded link copies of my own signature below.

This tale is one four written for a Yuffie collaboration. Four tales by four writers about the character Yuffie. You can check out the other three tales at the links below.

Anthony Renfro of One Writer Ranting
Layne Ambrose of Chewing on Glass
Mel Gutier of Fiction in my Head
Peter Edwards of Little Fears

Everyone can put in their own text lines. I have just included mine as a demonstration of what I’m doing. You should be able to copy in the linked lines you want. If you have any questions, please do let me know as soon as possible!

Post Scheduling

If we could all schedule our posts for 6 pm London time, 1 pm New York time for Wednesday the 8th of November.

https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

If anyone has a time schedule query, again, please let me know as soon as possible.

Thanks everyone for joining in on this collab, it’s been a fun eye-opener!

Cheers


I know my process had a lot of long emails but as you may have guessed from parts of this post, I hate ambiguous collab requests. I wanted everybody to everything and when it was meant to happen.

That’s actually the key thing. I feel very strongly that if you invite someone to collaborate, you need to be the one that does the legwork for planning with the content roughly equal.

Have you ever collaborated before? Has this post got you interested in running a collaboration? Let me know in comments. Thanks for reading!