Blog events are a great way to meet new bloggers, gain new readers, and to grow your following. By teaming up with other blogs, it offers the opportunity to provide larger prizes that may not otherwise be in your budget. In this post, we’re going to discuss a few tips for event hosts to help ensure your blog events run smoothly and are successful.
To host a group blog event, you will need the following things, at a minimum:
- Event Name
- Event Dates
- Event Button
Having a theme for an event allows bloggers to craft their giveaways to match that theme. It’s also a good idea to know how many participants you would like in your event. If you are starting out, you may find it easier to limit the number to 25 bloggers or less while you learn the ropes.
To find bloggers to participate in your event, create an informational post on your blog. Be sure to include event dates, theme, sponsor information, fees (if any), other requirements, and method for sign-up (we recommend a Google Docs form.) Once posted, pitch your event to other bloggers you know, as well as to any blog groups you participate in.
If your event is full, consider having a waiting list. Sometimes blogs drop out of events at the last minute. If you have a waiting list of blogs who are interested in participating, you can quickly back-fill your event. This has been useful for us more than once.
If you are having difficulty finding participants for your event, take another look at the number of bloggers you’d like to participate and your fees (if you are charging.) Smaller blogs that are charging larger fees will typically receive lower sign-ups.
Use Google Docs
Blog events typically require lots of information – from blog URLs to prizes to links. Google Docs allows you to quickly and easily create forms so you can gather and manage all the data necessary.
You can provide links to documents to the participants and set permissions for editing to allow co-hosts or participants to be able to update or modify documents if needed.
Lines of Communication
We’ve had the most success by using a combination of emails and Facebook to communicate with our event participants. Create a separate email list for your event participants that allows you to quickly email all participants. Establish a Facebook group and encourage (or require) all participants to join the group. That place can become the repository for blog event information, such as Linky code, required text, blog buttons, etc.
Don’t rely on just one or the other. Since each person uses their email or Facebook accounts differently make sure you’re communicating on multiple fronts.
Charging a Fee
I know from experience that coordinating these events is not an easy task. Whether it’s managing links, hunting down sponsors, or answering questions, you can easily spend 20+ hours managing a blog event. Over the past few months, several bloggers have started charging admin fees to compensate for their time and/or for advertising. Currently, rates seem to be $5-$7 for up to two links.
If you plan on charging a fee to participate in your event, you should disclose the amount that is going towards the prize, towards administration, and towards advertising. For example, if you are charging $5 for an event, simply note that $4 is going towards the prize and $1 towards administration. If you are charging $10 or more for event participation, or are a smaller blogger that is just starting to host blog events, this breakdown is important.
Frequently payments are made via PayPal. Many bloggers ask for payments to be made as a gift to avoid PayPal fees. Be aware that PayPal may monitor those payments and may contact you if they believe you are receiving service payments via gift. Another option is to build in the PayPal fee (usually 2.9% + $0.30) into your participation fee.
Getting a Sponsor
Many blog event hosts reach out to companies to provide sponsorship for their event. This can allow you to eliminate any extra costs towards a large prize, since they typically will provide a “grand prize”.
To get an event sponsor, craft a pitch that contains all the information regarding your event. Highlight the number of bloggers that will be participating as well as the additional visibility that you will be providing. Typically event sponsors provide a paragraph of text that will be posted on each participant’s event post, which offers great online exposure for the sponsor. Blog buttons are another great way to promote the event sponsor, such as including their logo or URL on the button that will be posted.
If your event will have a sponsor, you should fully disclose that on your event sign-up page as some companies are now requesting that blogs participating in their sponsored events do not work with competing companies at the same time the event is running.
Use a Linky
Some blog events are “hops”, where each blogger’s event post contains a list of participating bloggers so they can hop from one blog to the next. We’ve had great success using Google Docs to collect event links and a free Linky tool, such as inLinkz, to manage the links.
By using a Linky, the host can update the links and have the changes be pushed out automatically to all the event pages that are showing the code. That means you don’t have to send out multiple emails saying “Please update this blog’s link to this.” As an extra bonus, you are able to track the clicks to see how many people are clicking on each link. You can provide a running total or a final number at the ends so participants know how much traffic they received from the event.
Promote the Event
Once your event has launched, promote, promote, promote! Utilize your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Purchase advertising packages for the event (especially if you collected fees towards advertising.) Encourage participants to post the event button and promote the event as well.
While this post doesn’t cover everything that is involved with hosting a group blog event, this provides a good foundation to get you started. If you have any other tips or suggestions, or have a question, feel free to leave a comment!