The Challenge of Running a Successful Meme (or Challenge!)

Posted March 14, 2019 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Blogging Tips, Let's Discuss / 52 Comments

This post actually first appeared as a guest post over at 125 Pages a few years ago, but I thought I’ve probably learned a few lessons since then, and it might be a good idea to update it and post it here.

In case you’re not aware, I run the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up Link-Up and the Book Blog Discussion Challenge. Both of these have been very rewarding – especially the discussion challenge, which is definitely my proudest accomplishment as a blogger. It’s been a huge success, and better yet, I’ve made so many great connections with bloggers via the challenge!

But what does it take to make a meme or challenge really work? How do you get it started? How do you get people interested in it? And then how do you keep people excited about it so it doesn’t fizzle out? 

Well, I don’t claim to be an expert (about anything – trust me, I know my limits), but I’ve definitely learned a thing or two along the way, so I’m happy to share my wisdom!

Here are some tips:

Come Up with Something Unique!

This seems kind of obvious, but the first step in starting up a meme or challenge is coming up with something unique. If you’re just going to put up another version of Top Ten Tuesday, most likely not many people are going to jump on board. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to make sure that no one anywhere has ever done what you have in mind. You don’t have to scour the internet for any and all posts that might remotely match your meme idea, but you might want to do a quick search to make sure you’re not blatantly unintentionally copying someone else’s idea.

A lot of times that “unique” idea is just a twist on something you’ve already seen done. For a while there, I was doing Bookish Backdrops, which were rooms inspired by the color palettes of book covers. This was inspired by the fashion posts that lots of people were doing to go with book covers. (I stopped doing these because I got nervous about photo copyright issues, but I still love the idea.) I didn’t come up with this idea out of thin air, but I hadn’t seen people doing decor based on the color palettes–just fashion.

For the Discussion Challenge, inspiration struck when I saw all the reading challenges that go up at the beginning of the year. I LOVED the sound of all of those challenges, but personally, I wanted to write more discussion posts. It occurred to me that a discussion challenge might be a great inspiration for all of us – and there was nothing out there like it! As Mr. Bigweld says, “See a need, fill a need!”


Don’t Go It Alone.

When I came up with the idea of the Book Blog Discussion Challenge, I was super excited about it, but I knew it might be a bit of an overwhelming undertaking if I did it alone. So, I immediately contacted the fabulous Shannon over at It Starts at Midnight to see if she’d want to co-host with me. Not only does this spread the work and the expense of the giveaways out a bit (we take turns writing the link-up post and hosting the giveaway), but it’s also much more fun to host a challenge with a friend along for the ride! Plus, it’s easier to get the word out when there are two of us promoting it.

Speaking of which …

If there’s anyone out there who’s interested in co-hosting the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up with me, I wouldn’t mind having a partner in the endeavor. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested and we can talk about the specifics!


Promote. Promote. Promote.

When I first started the Book Blog Discussion Challenge, I promoted it like crazy. I even paid for a FB ad so that it would show up in people’s feeds (not sure if that actually paid off or not – hard to say, but I DID get a great sign-up response, so some form of my promotion paid off). I was super excited about this new challenge and I wanted people to know about it and join in the fun!

Feel free to ask me to mention your meme or challenge in my Sunday Posts, by the way. I’m always happy to help fellow bloggers get the word out about the things they’ve been working hard on!


Now, I know this might be a bit controversial because some people aren’t a fan of promoting via giveaways, but I have to say it works. Never underestimate the power of a giveaway. The fact is that lots of people are drawn in by a giveaway – and people who might otherwise have drifted off and forgotten about your meme or challenge will be more likely to keep linking up if they know there’s a chance they could win something by doing so. Having people tweet as a giveaway entry also helps with promotion. Now, if you’re just not a fan of giveaways, that’s okay – skip this step.


Make It Simple.

Streamline the process of signing up and linking up as much as possible and make sure the link-ups are always easy to find. If you go to my blog, you’ll see buttons for both the Discussion Challenge and the Wrap-Up Round-Up in my sidebar. You can also get to the Discussion Challenge from my menu bar. Every month, I update the main sign-up page with the current month’s link-up so that people always know exactly where to find it. No one should have to hunt for your latest link-up! (This was a huge pet peeve for me with challenges I participated in before I started my own.)

Participate! (And Encourage Interaction)

A meme or challenge only works if it’s interactive. After all, a link-up isn’t all that exciting if no one clicks on the links. That’s why I always try to model participation in my challenges and encourage everyone to do the same. I literally read and comment on every discussion that’s linked up to the discussion challenge (though I’ll admit that I sometimes get to them very late). This might be a little extreme, and someday it might just get too overwhelming, but I plan on keeping it up for as long as I can. I LOVE discussion posts, so it’s not like it’s a hardship.

I also always create giveaway entries that encourage participation – not just by linking up, but I also give entries for sharing or commenting on other people’s linked up posts. The more I can encourage people to interact with each other, the more fun the challenge is and the more people want to keep up with it! Plus, it’s a great way to build deeper blogger friendships because you interact with your challenge (or meme) participants often!

Don’t Get Discouraged

Your meme or challenge probably isn’t going to take off immediately. You’ll need to build up an audience over time. And some will be a bigger hit than others. I know that the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up is never going to grow to the Discussion Challenge or Top Ten Tuesday proportions, and I’m perfectly okay with that. The key is to choose something that you enjoy doing so you don’t mind if there aren’t that many people along for the ride at first. And, if it really doesn’t work out over time, you can always try something else. If you don’t try, you never know what might work!

That’s about it. I hope my advice has been useful!

Have you ever hosted a meme or challenge? Would you like to? Feel free to give your own advice or ask questions in the comments! (And let me know if you’d like to join me in co-hosting the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up.)


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52 responses to “The Challenge of Running a Successful Meme (or Challenge!)

  1. Nicole thank you!!!!!! I have thought of hosting a meme for some time now but just need to find “ZE” idea. Simple, easy yet interesting (easy peasy right?). Right now I am co hosting a challenge this year about the “Ultimate Reading Challenge” with one book a month on a determined theme but as you said I should promote more! This is a really interesting and instructive post!

  2. Great tips! Discussions and wrap-ups are my favorite posts to read, so I come to this blog often to find them. I’d love to host a challenge, but I have no ideas, and it’s hard for me to commit to doing blogging stuff. Also, I’m poor, so giveaways aren’t something that can happen often.

    • I agree that commitment is hard, and it’s really important with memes and challenges. If you only end up half-participating it gets frustrating for everyone. (I’ve tried hard not to do that, but I so sometimes fall behind and have to catch up with stuff–I always try to at least get posts up on time, even if I’m not keeping up with all the links on time.) And I definitely get that hosting giveaways can be expensive. I do mine monthly, but a lot of challenges just have yearly or quarterly giveaways, which is more doable. Oh, and my Make Me Read It giveaways aren’t bad because most of the time I’m sending a book I already have so it only costs me postage (and helps me stop book hoarding—usually). 🙂

  3. I really appreciate that you are an active participant in your own challenge, and I think that’s so important to show that for you it’s about more than the traffic it drives to your site. It’s amazing that you actually visit every discussion post! (I know you love them, but still.) I would still appreciate it if you commented only now and then — I know it must be very time consuming. Anyway, this gesture means a lot and I’ve definitely tried to do the same on any challenge that I hosted.

    • I will confess that it’s gotten harder as the link-ups have gotten more popular, but I really do enjoy participating, so I’m keeping it up for as long as I can. I find it especially hard to keep up with the monthly link-up for some reason. Maybe it’s because I often end up clicking on links from other posts that I’ve missed throughout the month and it leads me down a rabbit hole! 🙂 But I honestly feel like I’ve gotten to know so many bloggers better through my challenges and link-ups, so that’s a huge reward in itself.

  4. I tried for several years to get a September is for Sequels Challenge going. I had a few regulars each year, but just got to where I didn’t want to mess with the hosting myself. This post is so true about all of it! I want to say I’d love to do the cohost with you, but until I get myself doing the regular end of month wrap ups for more than a few months at a time, and cut back on signing up for blog tours, I’m afraid to take on anything else. 🙂 I guess I am trying to get my Cleaning Up my TBR post to take off but that one is kind of just for me to be going through my own TBR no matter what.

    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted: Blog Tour Review: Space (Laws of Physics #2) by Penny Reid
    • Yes, you have LOTS of things going on over at your blog! If you try to do September is for Sequels again, you should definitely find a cohost—it makes the whole process WAY more fun! Plus, then there are two of you to get the word out to people. 🙂

  5. I’ve thought about it but haven’t taken the plunge with any ideas yet. I wouldn’t mind co-hosting your challenge with you. I’ve been meaning to start doing monthly wrap up posts.

    Great tips btw. 🙂

  6. These are fantastic tips and you’re doing such a great job with the two challenges / link-up you’re hosting, really I admire that so much! <3 I'd love to host something like that someday, too, who knows when I'll get a brilliant idea maybe I will, definitely will remember your advice. Thank you for the helpful post 🙂

  7. Hah! “See a need, fill a need!” I haven’t seen that movie in AGES! Loved it! This is a wonderful post, that’s actually really helpful. I haven’t tried starting a meme for the masses, although I appreciate those of you that do (participating in a few myself, including the Discussion Post Challenge), but tend to stick to things that work best for me. Like, My Weekly Pull. I do it every Wednesday to keep up with what comics/graphic novels I’m reading. I have a link-up so others can share their posts if they want to, but I don’t advertise it as some BIG MEME.

    I also do DNF&Y at the end of every month, which is actually something I wish more people would participate in. I feel like most bloggers ignore the books they DNF, but I think it’s important to let people know why they didn’t work for you. Something you didn’t like, might be something I really enjoy, or I might agree with why you stopped reading. I have it open so others can participate, but it’s also not something I’m shouting from the rooftops. I don’t have a huge following either, which is fine, because I mostly do it for myself. I want readers to know why I didn’t finish something.

    This was an awesome post! Loved it!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? ?

  8. Great post and ideas! Hosting a challenge can really be fun and rewarding. Would love to co-host the monthly with you – email if you’re still interested in a co-host.

  9. Both of the challenge memes that you’ve started have been wonderful ways for us to find new blogs! It’s wonderful to be able to go to the discussion link up and find a wonderful new blog discussing a super interesting topic. And I appreciate how user friendly you’re made the process of linking up. Also, not gonna lie, the giveaways are an extra incentive to help me remember to linkup, even though I’d still link up without the giveaway just for the interaction it brings.

    Thank you so much for dedicating so much of your time and energy to curating theses memes!

    Malka @ Paper Procrastinators recently posted: March Madness Mini-Reviews
    • I totally get that a giveaway is like that little extra nudge to link up when you might otherwise forget about it. It’s human nature! I’ve really enjoyed all your discussions, so I’m incredibly happy you’ve joined us–I love how you guys have your debates over things. LOL!

  10. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look, Nicole! I found it really interesting to see how it all works. I’ve never run a challenge and hadn’t really thought about all the work that goes into it. Thanks for managing the monthly roundup—I really enjoy it, and it’s helped me get back into a more regular blogging schedule again, as well as discovering other book blogs 🙂

    Andrew Blackman recently posted: February Reading Roundup
  11. You know I am always down to co-host if no one above me works out- I won’t lie, it’s mostly because I want people to make ME read stuff too ?

    This is an AWESOME post- and you are pretty fabulous at doing these challenges too. I mean- ANY time I try to make rounds in the link-up, you have beat me to each and every post, and I am only doing a handful of them! Your dedication is seriously inspiring (heck, why do you think I try to hop around at all?! 😉 )

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Some Books I’ll Get to This Spring (And Some I Really Won’t)
  12. I took over an existing challenge – Foodies Read – when the previous host wanted out. I do most of the same things that you do to promote it. I find that it is hard to find new participants. I have a great group of people who are hardcore but I need newbies. If I see a post promoted on Twitter that fits the challenge I leave a comment about it but I don’t want to be too pushy.
    If you ever want to talk about it in your Sunday posts, I love the publicity.

    • I’m happy to mention it in my Sunday Post! I know what you mean about wanting to mention it without being too pushy. I remember when I first started the Wrap-Up Round-Up, I would occasionally mention it in the comments of someone’s month-end wrap-up post, and I always felt a little weird about it. But honestly, almost everyone I mentioned it to was excited to hear about it and most of them linked up–so I guess I wasn’t being too much of a bother. 🙂

  13. Since I’m barely blogging this spring, I know I couldn’t handle the commitment of hosting a meme, but I am so glad you do! Like AJ, monthly wrap-ups and discussion posts are my faves, so I love following your link-ups (not ALL of them though–you are a rock star for doing that!). I definitely have found most, if not all, of the blogs I follow through your memes and the TTT. I actually have stopped entering a lot of giveaways, because–well, I’m not sure why. Partly because while I do follow you and others on Instagram and Bloglovin’, I don’t actually use those platforms, so I always have to click over and figure out what my profile info is. Partly because I buy so **** many books for my classroom that I am not as stoked about getting a single book, and I want someone to win who would be super excited. And the few giveaways I’ve hosted have left me feeling weird because in all but one the winner is someone I’d never heard of before–OR SINCE. I don’t want to be that person for anyone else. ANYWAY enough rambling about giveaways–this was a super interesting post, even for those of us who won’t be hosting memes any time soon!

    • Well, for the record, for MY giveaways, feel free to just write your name in those spots instead of finding your info. I ask for the info because I want to be able to verify the winner if it’s a random person I don’t know, but if your name (or someone else I know) pops up, it’s not like I’m going and verifying your entries. Hmmm… I wonder if Wendy’s totally lying about following me on Instagram? I’d better check this out. LOL! (And I get excited when I see my friends’ names pop up anyway. 🙂 )

  14. Great post. I didn’t originally come up with the Library Love Challenge. It was another blogger who stoped doing the challenge and blogging. When I didn’t find the challenge go up one year I asked if I could take it over and new the best way to get it back up and running would be to have a giveaway. Now I’ve got lots of people participating and it’s great! I’m getting many to support and love their library as well as they help share the challenge.

  15. oooh I love this post Nicole!! I’m not sure all my advertising helps my meme but I appreciate everyone who participates. I always go read everyone’s post who links up. That is such a big challenge for me…Linking up isn’t a priority even though I visit. I have a poll going on twitter trying to figure out if I should continue as a meme or make it a feature as I am a little discouraged. Maybe though I should just hang in there though. This really propped me up, thanks!

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