The annual Blogathon will be July 28, 2007. Are you ready?
The Blogathon is an annual event where bloggers around the world blog publish a blog post every 30 minutes for 24 hours and raise money for their favorite charities while they are blogging.
Last year, Willos Web raised USD $7,737.00 for their charity. An Indian Summer was honored as the Best Non-Fiction Blog during the Blogathon for blogging about her cancer. So You Want to Murder a Racecar Driver… got a lot of attention and won the Best Fiction Writing for their blog mystery novel. The Best Food Blog in the Blogathon went to In The Kitchen With Moozie, showing you a little of the amazing diversity of all the different bloggers involved. This year, the number of blogging participants is expected to be bigger than ever.
I’ve helped out a lot of bloggers during past Blogathons, which resulted in How Not to Blog in a Blogathon Blog. So I thought I’d share some tips to help you prepare for this year’s Blogathon.
- The preparation begins NOW: If you have decided to participate in the Blogathon this year, you should have already begun your preparations. Promote the upcoming event now. Publicize what you will be blogging about during the 24 hours. Promote your charity, educating people now on how to contribute. Get your blog moving now towards promoting this event so people will be ready for it when it happens, and eager to support your effort.
- If you commit, keep your commitment: I, like so many, eagerly prowled through the list of Blogathon participants to find out that many forgot, didn’t care, or just didn’t participate. Don’t waste our time. If you aren’t going to participate, don’t sign up. If you change your mind, get off the list.
- Choose a charity people can identify with: Many had problems identifying with the various charities, as they had people’s name without referencing the cause, or they were obscure or odd. If you want to raise money for a charity, make it one that people will understand and want to donate money to.
- Give readers a reason to donate: Even if people can identify with your charity, give them a reason to donate. Help them understand how important this charity is to you, how it is making a difference in the lives of others or world around you. Help them understand where their money will go. And find a way to motivate them into supporting your 24 hour blogging effort for a good cause.
- Prepare Your Blog: Clean up your blog’s clutter so the words and content are most important overall. Create a category to hold all your Blogathon posts, clearly marked and identifiable. Make sure your blog and blog comments are all functioning at their very best, ready for a steady influx of visitors.
- Make it easy for commenters to comment: As you blog through the long day and night, you become more and more reliant upon reader’s and other Blogathon members commenting on your blog to keep you going. Remove anything that gets in the way of the comment process. Make it easy and simple to comment. If there is more than one click away from a commenter leaving a comment, you’ve just lost a potential cheerleader who wants to help you make it through the night.
Turn off all funky comment spam protections, moderation, and anything that slows down the interactive process. You can turn it all back on later, but you are going to be living with your blog for twenty-four hours. You’ll catch the junk that might get through.
- Make the link to your Blogathon Posts immediately visible: Make your participation in the Blogathon the first thing people see upon arrival on any page on your blog. You can remove it all later. If visitors can’t find your Blogathon posts, they think you aren’t participating, so you may spend 24 hours awake, blogging hard for your charity, and get little or no action.
- Give readers a reason to return during the Blogathon: The most successful Blogathon bloggers created serial posts, leaving the reader anxiously waiting for the next post. Find a way to keep them coming back for more during the 24 hours and they will probably come back afterwards, too.
- Give readers a reason to return after the Blogathon: Besides raising money for a good cause, this is your chance to expand your readership and reach a new audience. Make sure the house is clean and there is a lot of deep links available, showing off the value of your blog, making it a place people want to write about, link to, add to their feed reader, and return.
- Title your blog posts clearly: Too many Blogathon bloggers titled their posts by the time (8:30AM), hour (Blogathon Hour 14), or number (Blogathon No. 34). While it helps you to keep track of things, it doesn’t help your readers know what your blog posts are about, or help readers finding your blog posts after the Blogathon. Make the titles mean something and make their clear and specific, with good keywords, as you would any blog post. You can add “Blogathon Number 8″ to the title, but make the title have words.
- Don’t start a new blog for the Blogathon: Some bloggers start a blog just for the Blogathon, and then abandon it afterwards. While this creates an interesting body of work, it also leaves a dead blog on the web that requires energy and maintenance. It also makes it harder to find. Incorporate your Blogathon posts within your blog. You can delete them or move them later, but keep your Blogathon posts with your blog to boost your overall blog identity and good will efforts.
- Blog to more than your fans: Remember, the Blogathon attracts bloggers from all over the world, blogging on a variety of topics. It also attracts visitors also from all walks of live from around the planet. Watch the words you use, colloquial or swearing, and think and blog “globally”. You are blogging for more than your normal audience, so keep your blog topics open to the wider perspective and not the narrow one.
- Give us a reason to write about you: The key to publicizing your Blogathon participation, attracting visitors who will hopefully donate to your charity, is to write topics and subjects that makes others want to write about what you are doing and link to you. Help them spread the word about what you are doing.
- No Bodily Function Blog Posts: I swear, I wanted to slap some Blogathon bloggers last year who spent WAY too much time anticipating what they would eat next, how they fixed it, how they ate it, the indigestion they suffered with afterwards, when they took a shower or went to the bathroom, and how it all came out in the end. Trust me, unless you are blogging about food in general, we’re not interested. Unless you specialize in bodily functions as part of your normal blog, we don’t care. Give us something to read and something to recommend to others.
- Keep an even temper: As the hours drag by, often without a comment or response to your blog posts released every 30 minutes, and you grow more tired and sleepy, tempers can flair or depression move in. Plan for this and find ways to stay motivated and energized.
- Eat and act healthy for 24 hours: Take 15 minute walks. Drink tons of water. Keep food handy, but eat very little at any sitting as not to get sleepy. Avoid carbs as they encourage sleepiness and depression. That includes sugars, candies, cookies, and anything sweet or starchy. They will give you a temporary boost, but the sugar crash takes much longer to recover from. Stick to water, proteins, and fresh vegetables and fruits. Nothing artificial, in a can or box. You want your mind sharp through the whole 24 hours, not slogging through your slow moving mind.
- Keep the topic consistent: Blog a consistent topic or theme. Keep it on point, no matter how much you want to blog about other things. Stay focused.
- Plan for 48 blog posts: Many people start with the thrill of participating, then complain that they can’t come up with anything to blog about, posting “Here’s my 6:30 in the morning post – on schedule. Can’t think of anything else to say.” It’s only 48 posts. Make a plan for each of the 48 posts. Stay focused and on topic. And you will reach your destination.
The number one reason for failing during the 24 hour Blogathon is blogging without a plan. There are 48 blog posts you will need to post during that 24 hours. Each one does not have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning blog post, nor does it have to be an epic. It just needs to have value and substance.
The rules say that you cannot do future posts, but there is nothing to say you can’t plan your posts. I don’t mean write them out before the Blogathon, but you can write an outline, make notes, do research, and plan and structure what you want to say when and how to help you develop each of the 48 posts.
Each post must give the readers a reason to keep coming back. Think “cliff hanger” or give hints on what’s coming up “later this hour” or “in the next 4 hours”, to keep them coming back for more.
Think of each of the 48 posts as a chapter, rather than just a blog post. Maybe consider your Blogathon experience as the chance to write 48 chapters for a new book?
Here are some ideas to help you blog better during the Blogathon:
- Tell a Story: Why not tell a story? It can be the story of your life or a fiction or non-fiction story. You’ve got 48 chapters. Go for it.
- Focus on Your Expertise: If you are known as an expert in a subject, blog about that subject. Stay focused and consistent and keep your topic on your expertise.
- Blog 48 tips: There must be a subject you are well-versed in to write 48 tips about.
- Blog about your charity: There are many ways to encourage donations to your charity by finding 48 stories to tell about it. Blog about those who founded the charity, those who work and/or volunteer with it, and those whose lives are changed by the charity. Every charity impacts more than 48 people, right? So tell their stories.
- Tell Your Story With Pictures: A blog post doesn’t have to be all words, why not use some images and tell a story with pictures? Or video?
- Blog what you never blog: I’m sure you, like me, have held back on blogging about a variety of subjects you are well-versed and opinionated in. Why not let down your hair and make a list of 48 topics you would never blog about normally, and blog about them.
- Blog about what you know: Researching blog posts takes a lot of time so blog about what you know, whatever that is, so the words are in your head ready to write.
- What are you passionate about? The best blog posts are always the ones written by those who are passionate about your subject. It’s also easier to come up with 48 topics on a subject you are passionate about.
Here is what I learned from last year’s Blogathon bloggers:
I learned more about storytelling, of how people tell the stories of their life and world around them. I studied how they used the words to convey their messages, where they were weak and where they were strong, gaining new insight in how I can use words to make my points even clearer.
I learned again about how passionate people are when writing about their favorite subject. The idea of sitting down and writing 48 posts in a short time, for many it was a chance to let down their blogging hairs and take off their blogging masks and really write about something that means the world to them. When you write about something for 24 hours, you have to want to care about it. You have to have a vested interest in it. Watching and reading that passion was very exciting. And inspirational.
That’s the true value I got out of the Blogathon this year: Inspiration. With a good heaping of motivation. To sit at the computer, aching from your toes to your skull, determined to write for 24 hours non-stop, that’s an amazing challenge. Kudos to all.
As you can tell, I’m really looking forward to the Blogathon this year. I expect that those who participated the last couple years will be even better with wisdom learned from experience blogging as well as doing the Blogathon. And I can’t wait to see what new and creative topics new participants come up with for this year.
Will you be blogging in the Blogathon July 28th this year?
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress and author of Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.