I’ve seen and heard this scenario countless times. Two perfectly suited strategic partners determine they should start doing some things together in an effort to create referral opportunities for each other.

They shake hands and agree that it’s a fabulous idea, but then nothing happens. Mostly nothing happens because there’s no catalyst to get the ball rolling in a way that makes sense.

I mean, sure, they could both send out a mass mailing to their clients professing how great the other is, but would that really offer much value to the recipients?

One of the best ways to get a referral relationship moving is through content opportunities. It’s just such a logical way to extend what is already a proven marketing practice.

If you would like to build a killer local referral generator you should look no further than hosting a multi-author WordPress blog. (It doesn’t have to be WordPress, it’s just the best tool.)

Let’s say you’re an attorney that works with small business owners. In your work you’ve seen that small business owners need accounting advice, hiring advice, management advice, marketing advice, real estate advice, outsourcing advice, selling advice, leadership advice, and the list goes on and on.

Well, what if you built a team of best of class advice providers for many of the items listed above and you created and hosted a blog that featured contributions from each of these providers.

With any commitment at all your team could produce a local, keyword rich, content asset that would turn into a valuable resource for your clients and prospects and a logical referral generator for every member of the contributing team.

Of course, this could just be the start of your formal partnership team as you could easily turn this into group sponsored workshops and online seminars as well. Are you starting to see the power behind being the one that formalizes the network?

I hope it goes without saying that the content must be educational and valuable. This effort will offer little if it’s just an ad for all parties. Give great advice openly, use local keywords and phrases and create a consistent flow of new content and this tool will allow you to dominate local search results.

Creating a multi-author WordPress blog isn’t any more difficult that creating a single author blog, but there are a few considerations when it comes to promoting, managing and securing your platform that can be handled with the addition of the following plugins.

Promoting your contributors

WP Biographia – This is great plugin because it adds all kinds of extra fields like social links to the user profile screen and creates a bio for each author. This way when your authors post content their bio automatically shows at the end of each of their posts and features links to their social profiles making it easy for people to connect.

WordPress does not by default allow users to upload photos so add the User Photo plugin too and then Biographia will add your contributor’s photo.

Managing the content flow

User Role Editor – WordPress defines what set roles like subscribe or contributor can do (See a list) but sometimes you may want to edit these a bit. For example an author can’t by default upload images. If you have a trusted group of authors creating content and you want them to add images to their posts, which is usually a good thing, then use the editor to grant that permission.

Editorial Calendar – This tool simply creates a monthly calendar and allows you to drag drafts to dates for automatic publishing. This is a great way to take lots of content and spread it out for consistent publishing. For managing bigger groups and creating deadlines you might also look at DivvyHQ

Keeping things secure

Adminimize – This is a pretty cool tool as it lets you strip away everything you want from the admin dashboard. You might want to hide a bunch of stuff you as the admin don’t really use, but you certainly want to take away most of what your contributors see as well. Some things are naturally hidden based on WordPress default roles, but you can really make a clean posting screen for your contributors by taking away everything you know they don’t need access to.

Every business knows they need to produce great content. By facilitating the creation of this content in a way that can benefit your clients, prospects and referral partners, you can create a platform that will start to attract more of all of the above.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Chris Haught

    Great tips, I have 2 multi author blogs and I agree 100%. I use the plugins (except Biographies, which I’ll install today, thanks!)
    Creating content seems to be the hardest thing for many bloggers, and collaborating is a great way to solve that!

    • That’s awesome, would you mind sharing URLs?

      • Chris Haught

        bloggingpainters.com is a collection of paint industry professionals around the world. Southernutahpainters.com is a local one I am working on in my rural area where many trades don’t have a web presence.

        • Those are great! Thanks for posting the links. I see how they’re each a different style based on their audience and their participants.


      • Chris Haught

        I did, several times, but the spam filter must have blocked them.

        • How about sharing the URL without the http:// part, or using dot instead of the . in the link, and we can copy/paste it ourselves?

          Sounds like you’ve gotten something good set up there, and I for one would also like to see what this excellent idea is capable of once it’s put into action.

          • Chris Haught

            I’ll try again! southernutahpainters(.com)
            and bloggingpainters(.com)

  • I think where many places fall short is when it comes to promoting contributors. 

    If you promote your contributors you will end up leveraging their communities and therefore the Referrals will come in. 

    • Chris Haught

      I totally agree Raul, we have an extensive Social Media network and we encourage our members to share and interact!

  • Love the idea.  Do you think there may be repercussions from other partners who are not included on the blog?  For example, suppose a wedding photographer collaborates with a wedding planner,a florist, and a venue.  How should he handle the risk of upsetting other planners, florists, and venues that aren’t included in the project? 

    • Chris Haught

      Mark, my multi author blog is construction trades, we already have an informal referral network, this just gives every trade a link to give a customer and say, “here are several other trades I have worked with and trust”. I made business cards for all the trades to hand out with the link.

  • You guys are amazing out there! So much content and so much altruism! It can only be made in the USA! I am ashamed of myself and the small mindlessness of us Europeans especially the French and the Germans!! Thank you and keep up the good work!

  • Zaki Yz

    Thanks again for an awesome post,great idea..

  • Tom Gazaway

    Great article.  We’ll be adding some plugins to our blog.  Thanks John…very helpful.

  • Scott Burton

    Thanks for the great idea John.  Do you set this system up to post to all contributers social media pages also? 

  • AJ

    Great post John!
    This is such a good idea for strategic partners.
    This gives both parties a chance to work towards building a stronger relationship, and seeing the genius of each.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! 

    I am just about to implement this strategy on my own blog and the plugins sound like they will make the job a lot easier.

    Do you recommend that contributors email the posts to me and I publish or should I create a login for them? I’m not really clear on how this works.

    • Susan – Let your contributors create their own login and use the plugins mentioned to edit permissions so that they can submit draft posts on their own and all you have to do is approve, edit or reject them.