How to Start a Group Blog

If you are an administrator of an MLA Commons group, creating a blog is a great way to share information with group members as well as with other readers. For instance, the MLA International Bibliography group maintains a Web site,, to share tutorials and to highlight materials that readers might find interesting.

This post will walk you through the steps of creating a blog for your group. (You’ll see “site” and “blog” used interchangeably on MLA Commons. A blog refers to a type of Web site that lists posts in reverse chronological order.) Please note that you’ll need to be logged in to make the changes described here.

  1. Click Admin on the left menu of your group’s page to access the administrative settings for your group:
  2. On the Admin page, click Group Blog to activate your group’s site and control its settings:group-blog_4
  3. This takes you to the screen pictured below, where you’ll check the box beside Enable Group Blog. Next, click the circle beside the option that allows you to create a new blog. Then, enter a title in the Blog Title field. I’ve called my blog “Katherine’s Practice Blog.” Finally, enter the Blog Address field. This is the text that appears in front of “” in the blog’s URL, and it can be different from the blog’s title. Using my site’s full title, “katherinespracticeblog,” in the blog’s URL would be a little unwieldy. Instead, I’d like the blog’s URL to be, so I’ll enter “kblog” in this field.

    There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your blog address. First, the blog address can’t contain spaces or punctuation (except for hyphens). Second, the blog address has to be unique. Third, you cannot change the blog address later, so choose it carefully!group-blog_5
  4. Decide on your site’s privacy settings. Your blog will be visible to the public unless you select one of the options shown below. Although you can restrict your blog to registered users of MLA Commons, to registered users of the group, or to the site’s administrators, most blogs on MLA Commons are publicly
  5. Scroll down to Member Options. If Enable Member Blog Posting is checked, other people in your group will be able to write posts on your group blog. If it’s not checked, you’re the only person in the group who can write posts. Read more about the different member roles and responsibilities for maintaining the group blog.

Remember to click Save Changes, and you’re done! Now that your group has a blog, you might want to check out the guide to using the WordPress dashboard.

More resources on creating a site are available in our posts on how to create a personal blog and how to create a group blog while you set up your group.

Building Engagement within a Group

Now that you’ve created a group and assigned user roles, you may be wondering how to increase the activity level of your group members. Groups are an easy way for people to exchange ideas, collaborate on projects, and post notifications. If you want your group to have greater visibility and activity, there are a number of things you can do to encourage livelier member engagement.

  1. Change your group’s default avatar to something relevant and recognizable. To do this, scroll down to “Manage” in the left sidebar on the group’s page, click “Photo,” and upload a suitable image.
  2. Promote your group in other channels. That could mean publicizing your group in an electronic discussion list, encouraging members to invite other people to join, or posting information about your group on blogs, Web sites, social networks, and bulletins.
  3. Announce the group in other areas of MLA Commons. For example, if you create a new group on the writing of David Foster Wallace, you might want to announce that group in the Twentieth-Century American Literature group. If the topic is relevant to a number of groups, you may decide to cross-post the announcement in more than one group.
  4. Start a new topic of conversation in the forum and invite members to respond. Creating a topic is a useful way to initiate discussion, whether you’re sharing an article, posting news, or asking a question.
  5. Add more features to your group by creating a blog. Your group’s blog can be a helpful platform for circulating information, promoting your scholarly endeavors, and posting longer reflections or research related to your group’s focus. A blog is also a great way to extend the reach of your group, providing it with a public face beyond the MLA.

Please let us know if you have any other ideas to increase group engagement. We look forward to seeing the innovative ways members use and promote groups.