Build a Network Blog with WordPress

More and more family historians have taken to blogging as a way to document and share their family history. Savvy societies can take advantage of these opportunities in a way that benefits both the family history bloggers and the society. Creating a network blog to spotlight your members’ posts give members more visibility and may well attract others to your association.

A network blog is a blog site that spotlights articles written by other bloggers. The network blog contains posts introducing articles that network members have posted at their own blogs with links back to the original post at the member’s site. The member’s content remains at his or her blog site. The network blog serves as a virtual table of contents for its members.

There are several advantages to a blog network:

  • The network blog is a central location for articles related to its members’ research efforts, areas of interest, location or family group. The network can be focused on one topic – local families, for example – or it can be organized to cover multiple topics.
  • It helps researchers find others interested in their areas of research.
  • It gives both the individual blogger and the network blog more visibility.
  • It’s a cheap and easy way to provide additional services to your society’s membership.
  • It allows distant members to be more active in the society.
  • It can attract new members who discover the network blog and find its content relates to their own research.

The society decides how to choose articles for the network blog: 1) have network editors choose articles from the member blogs, 2) have members submit their articles or 3) do a combination of both options. Your choice will depend on both your goals and the skill-level of your editors.

One of the easiest ways collect and post the featured articles from around the network is to use WordPress’s Press This bookmarklet found on the Tools > Available Tools screen. Drag the bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmark bar and you’re ready to go. Now, when you find an article you want to spotlight on the network blog, just highlight the content you want included in your feature post then click the Press This bookmarklet.

A post screen similar to the one shown here appears over your browser with the highlighted text already included. It also automatically adds the bottom line shown here pointing back to the original article and blog site. You can edit the captured content and even add your own comments if you wish. Click on the image icon just above the toolbar and the bookmarklet displays all the images included on the original post. You can select one or more to include in this post. Once you’re ready, select the appropriate category for this post, add any tags you wish to include then click the Publish button. Your feature article is sent to the network blog and published. If you want to schedule when feature articles appear on the network blog, you can click the Save Draft button which saves it to the network blog without publishing. Someone will then need to visit the network blog to update the draft post to schedule it for publishing.

While the society will need to set parameters for the type of content included in their network blog, review requirements, publishing schedule and other operational factors, WordPress provides easy-to-use tools to make the technical side of a network blog very manageable.