It’s a pretty common occurrence nowadays to set up a WordPress site with multiple authors. These authors contribute posts on a regular schedule, adding value and diversity to sites all across the web in every industry. Typically, these authors are assigned a role by the admin and given a username and password to access the dashboard.
However, there may be some cases where you don’t want to do this. Let’s take some time to discuss some reasons why you may not want to allow dashboard access here, from convenience to security. Then I’ll provide some suggestions for enabling a system that accomplishes this.
Keeping Authors Out of the Backend of Your Site
Sometimes, it’s just not ideal to have a bunch of people accessing your site’s dashboard. For starters, it’s a security risk. The more people with usernames and passwords to your site, the more opportunities there are for hackers to find a way in.
While it’s fairly easy to assign roles to your contributors in the admin panel, this is a step some people skip. They might give everyone other than the Admin a role that includes abilities outside of the functions they actually need to perform. For instance, you don’t want a contributor to be able to install plugins, but that’s a possibility if you mismanage the set up of roles.
And what if you want someone to contribute who has never used WordPress before? You might not have the time or resources to train someone who’s brand new to it. This means you either have to display a contributor’s posts without a byline (or the unfortunately generic “Guest Author” byline) or skip out on a potentially good contributor.
Both aren’t very good options, as they require you to either sacrifice time you likely don’t have or the quality of the material on your site. That’s why I recommend using a plugin like one of the following to set up a simple and straightforward way for people to contribute to your site with dashboard access:
The Co-Authors Plus plugin makes it easy to allow for multiple contributors to your site without having to set up an account for them through the dashboard. By using “co-authors,” you can establish multiple bylines for specific posts and pages. Each co-author will have a dedicated archive page and they also have the ability to edit posts they write.
But how does it all work? To begin, create guest author profiles for each of the authors you’d like to contribute to your site. This works much in the same way as the contributor option, only you don’t have to set up a user account for them. This plugin then adds the option to the post editor to select a guest author profile. This will assign the appropriate byline to the post. While you will need to paste in the contributor’s content yourself, so long as you establish submission guidelines with regard to formatting, this process should take a few minutes, at most.
To the regular visitor to your site, your contributors will receive standard bylines and appear as any other person who has a full user profile created in the dashboard.
DJD Site Post
If you want to take a fully front-end approach—without having to do any legwork to publish contributors’ posts, there’s the DJD Site Post plugin. This plugin adds a responsive form to your website through which people can submit guest posts without every having to go through the site’s backend. You have the ultimate say over what is published and what isn’t, but this makes for a convenient way to receive content, in a ready-to-publish format.
To get this set up, all you have to do is insert the form example where you want it to display within a page or post using a provided shortcode. You can even include it in a widget in your sidebar, if you’d prefer. It also comes translation ready for multi-lingual sites. The editor is simple and offers all the basic options included in the regular WordPress editor.
Really Simple Guest Post Plugin
It sort of says it all in the name, doesn’t it? The Really Simple Guest Post Plugin is as straightforward as it gets. It allows people to submit guest posts to your blog without having to sign up. It also creates a form that you can insert anywhere you want on your site. The posts people submit are automatically marked as “pending” in the dashboard. If don’t like a post, delete it. If you find it suitable, edit and publish it.
Should you decide to publish a post that’s submitted this way, it will appear with the author’s name and URL. The tags, categories, title, and description can also be set by the author and approved as you see fit.
Upcoming Front-End Editor in WordPress
If you keep tabs on the latest news coming out of the Make WordPress UI blog, you already know that the team is working on implementing a front-end editor to the core installation. This will make it possible for users to create, edit, and publish posts without having to deal with the back-end dashboard in any way.
What’s preferable about this move is you’ll be able to see exactly how posts will appear as they’re being written. This would make for a lot less guesswork on the part of your contributors, especially those who’ve never used WordPress before, because they’ll see what a post will look when published as they’re creating it.
So far, the front end editor is slated to include all of the typical features you’d expect from a WYSIWYG editor and it will come equipped with TinyMCE, drag-and-drop media uploading, and more.
There isn’t a set date for the rollout of this feature in Core, but definitely something to keep your eye on. For instance, if you don’t have a need for non-dashboard oriented guest posting just yet but envision you will in the future, you might be able to skip the plugins mentioned above altogether and just wait it out.
Building a robust site often comes down to the quality of content it contains. Sometimes, that means accepting content from outside contributors. This allows you to take a bit of a break from content creation and it gives your site the benefit of multiple voices. But you shouldn’t have to compromise your site’s security just to accept guest posts.
That’s why it’s important to at least consider limiting dashboard access to only those who absolutely require it. Designers and developers obviously need dashboard access, as do editors. But every single contributor? Not so much. The plugins outlined here as well as the promise of a front end editor may help to resolve this issue for you.
If you accept submissions from people outside of your main team, how do you handle it? Do you provide dashboard access? Do you use one of the solutions I’ve outlined here? If so, what do you think of it? Also, if you take a different approach, I’d love to hear about that, too. As always, let us know what you think in the comments!
Image source: Needle & Awl