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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