How to host a successful blogfest

JPG Power of tension blogfest badgeEven since I hosted the Power of Tension Blogfest with Rachel Morgan, I’ve been inundated with questions about the in’s and out’s of running a blogfest.

Okay, alright, that’s not entirely true. Only one blogger has asked me for advice about how best to blogfest. But that question made me think – if one person is interested in my thoughts on that, maybe others would be too. So I thought I’d share my reflections on hosting the Power of Tension Blogfest and my suggestions for people considering hosting their own (which includes things we both did and didn’t do!).

Suggestions

  • Choose a reliable co-host. This helps to increase the number of bloggers that hear about your blogfest, shares the load (of deciding the rules, promoting, judging, coughing up the dough for prizes etc), and builds a great relationship with a fellow blogger (props to Rachel, she was an awesome co-host).
  • Consider time zones when choosing your co-host. Rachel (in South Africa) was eight hours behind me (in Australia), which made it tricky to organise things in a hurry and choose times for blog posts to go live etc.
  • Sychronise your blog posts with your co-host and make sure the content is the same (your wording can be different but the facts need to match!). This ensure that regular readers of each of your blogs get equal opportunities to enter and shows that the blogfest is a partnership.
  • Create a badge that participants can put on their entries, helping to build a ‘brand’ for your blogfest (I purchased a cheap graphic from i-stock and mucked around with it in Photoshop to create our badge).
  • Have some fun prizes. They don’t have to be expensive, but it’s nice to win something other than just fame, glory and adoration!
  • Create your competition so people can enter excerpts from their work. Many of us are blogging to build a profile for ourselves and our work, so allowing people to use segments of their work supports this goal best (in my opinion).
  • Set a word count for entries. Rachel and I were originally going to have a maximum word count of 1000 but re-assessed and brought it down to 300 words. Thank goodness we did! With 48 entries, we would’ve have 48 000 words to read if we hadn’t! A lower word count is trickier for participants but makes it a lot easier to judge and I’d argue that it also increases the likelihood that other people will read all of the entries.
  • Set up a linky list on your blogfest page so people can easily read the entries. These are surprisingly easy to set up and share across blogs.
  • Run your blogfest over at least a few days. Most blogfests I see only run for one day, and I usually find out about them on that day and don’t have enough time to write an entry. Running your blogfest over a number of days allows more people the opportunity to find out about the blogest and enter.
  • Shamelessly publicise your blogfest in the lead-up and throughout the blogfest itself, and ask participants to do the same.
  • One thing Rachel and I had real trouble with was selecting our finalists. We each came up with a top ten, and our two lists only had four in common! The only real ‘learning’ I can draw from this is to make sure your competition has clear parameters. In the end, we selected our finalists based on adherance to the word count, good writing and strong tension (which was the blogfest theme).
  • Let your finalists know they’ve made the shortlist. Otherwise they might not find out for a while and will miss the opportunity to publicise the voting process.
  • Let your readers choose the winner. (It’s easy to set up a free poll using Poll Daddy and probably many other poll sites too.) Giving your readers a vote keeps them engaged in the blogfest, encourages more traffic to your finalists’ blogs and saves you from having to make an extremely tough decision!
  • Have fun!

Hopefully this is useful for you if you’re considering hosting a blogfest of your own. I’m really interested in your thoughts – do you have recommendations that are missing from this list? Is there anything in the list you disagree with? Was there anything you particularly liked or disliked about the Power of Tension Blogfest? Do share! 🙂

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12 Comments

Filed under Competitions, Tension blogfest, Writing

12 responses to “How to host a successful blogfest

  1. I’ve never given much thought to doing a blogfest, but what a great idea! This post is going into my favorites to review when the time comes. Thanks!

  2. Great info! I think the key is to have cohosts with popular blogs that will get the word out… but then sometimes they get so big you can’t visit everyone’s. I really love the thirty-forty bloggers blogfests where it’s small enough you can all hop around and get to know each other better.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, PK. I haven’t heard of the thirty-forty bloggers blogfests. That sounds like a great idea. Where would I go to find out more?

      • The Forward Motion Writers forum has a blog tour of sorts like that. Right now we’re about 20 people who each get a day to talk about a topic. The first round starts this Friday at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com

        For huge blogfests, there’s the A to Z Challenge which happens in April and includes about 1000 bloggers who post every day based on a different letter of the alphabet.

        • The Forward Motion Writers Forum sounds interesting, Alex. I’ll definitely check it out. And I’ve seen the monster blogfest that is the A-Z challenge – craziness! 🙂

  3. As the person who asked the question 🙂 thanks so much for this very informative post! I think our blogfest is going to have to wait until the Fall, but when we’re ready, this post will be invaluable!

  4. I love this but I will never be organized (YET) enough to host one! I will store this away for future reference though.

  5. Only saw this post now. What an excellent “How To”!

  6. I’ve been toying with the idea of hosting a blogfest (for the longest time!) and this post would come in very handy! I participated in your blogfest and you both did a terrific job!

  7. Thank you for this.

    I’m running the Noughties Blogfest on the 14th of November: http://davewrotethis.blogspot.com/2011/10/announcing-noughties-blogfest.html

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