Group blogs have become very popular in the last year or so. After all, they do have many advantages opposed to a single user blog. One I can think of right away is the many varied voices readers can sample while reading through a group blog. Google Docs is an excellent platform to manage, share and publish information to such a group blog. While most of us are familiar with the actual running of Google Docs, many don’t realize this options even exists.
I will go into details on how you can do this quite comfortably. Instead of just listing all the features I’m going to explain in a little more details on possible work flow to help you get started with your own Google Docs group blog administration. You as the administrator will hold ultimate control which assists you with peace of mind I guess.
Google Doc Group Blog Work Flow – Getting Started
To be able to run a group blog through Google Docs you will first need to have some collaborators. To collaborate with ease, simply choose the documents you want to share with others in your group blog.
We know the best way to run a business is to run it in organized measures. After all, time is money and the more time we waste trying to email between participants, the more money it’s going to end up costing us.
Work smart and share your work through Google Docs instead. A great way to keep the group blog work flow flowing is for the administrator to schedule all upcoming posts with his group, using Google calendar for example. Alternatively use the spreadsheet version within Google Docs to organize your team, note down details and even post schedules.
The versatility is really unlimited. Collaborating is as easy as sending others an invitation through email right from within your Google Docs admin. Seen on the next screen shot. Choose your permission levels and you are set to go.
Google Docs Design and Editing Features For Groups
Once your group has been established, you can create, share, edit and publish your documents right from your admin. This is great, since the editor (administrator of the group and owner of the blog) can easily edit posts that have been shared with him/her if the need arises.
Since only the editor will have publishing power, nothing can happen to your blog, unless you want it to. Presumably if you are the editor you can get your group to design and edit their posts right within Google Docs, eliminating unnecessary email communication and the need to share with attachments.
Color me pretty
Advanced Google Docs users will love this new feature. You can now color your folders. This is way cool, since you can easily distinguish between your group members, giving each one a separate color. Naturally you can do the same with any other folder presently in your Google Docs admin.
To do this simply right click on any folder and then choose the color you prefer to use.
Advanced Admin Features To Keep Control
You can create spreadsheet forms and send them to your group with the inbuilt share feature. To do this you will need to first save the spreadsheet as a name at least. The whole process is easy as pie but very powerful to create user specified documents like questionnaires, interviews, brainstorming documents and much more. See the following screen shot for the process.
To keep track of your forms process you can add a Google Docs Forms Gadget to your iGoogle page.
Google Docs – Post To Blog Feature
Once your group members share their posts with you in forms of a document, you can publish them to your blog after you made sure everything is as it has to be. Another benefit arises from using Google Docs as a group blog management tool.
You are able to see their progress at all times without having to pester them with email. As you know, emails do get lost from time to time, so there will be no wasted time with this method, trying to keep to a schedule. If you see your team slacking off, you can keep on top of their performance by giving them a friendly boost.
The Google Docs post to blog featured allows users to publish blog posts. When you first choose this option, you will have to setup your login through your Google Docs admin.
The following interface will be presented to you when you do this for the first time.
You will have to choose your hosting platform (either free or self hosted) and then provide your blog logging details for Google Docs to be able to make the connection.
What you will need to have handy to fill this form is:
1. Your hosting provider (either free or self hosted, choose from collapsible list)
2. Your API key.
3. Your URL, example: http://YOURSITE/PATH/TO/xmlrpc.php for WordPress
4. Your blog user name
5. Your blog password
6. Your blog title
After successful filling out this form you can directly publish your post to the blog. Although this feature is great for group blogs, I found the actual usability a little lame.
For example, Google Docs will tell me when the post has been saved online, but it won’t let me view the Doc unless I visit the actual blog. You can however edit by clicking on the blog title.
As you can see, Google Docs could be the ultimate group blog administration tool. Many powerful new features have recently been added to this application and it is clear they are going from strength to strength. While the publishing part leaves room for improvement, all in all it is a valuable solution fro blog group administrators for sure.
Whether it is the right solution for you and your needs will have to be determined by yourself. To see the latest in great Google Docs features click on the link provided.