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Blogging 201, Day Fourteen: Make the Most of Events

Today’s assignment: create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a conference.

When it comes to building a strong, engaged community around your blog, nothing can replace steadily publishing and reading and commenting on others’ blogs — but that doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself (and your blog) target new audiences through blogging events, both virtual and in real-life.

Today’s assignment: create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a blogging conference.

Why do this?

  • Because hosting a blogging event attracts visitors beyond your immediate network of blogger friends.
  • Because running an event or participating in a blogging conference helps raise your profile in the community and grow your audience.
  • Because interacting with more bloggers and learning from others’ experiences will inspire more of your own great posts — and keeps your finger on the pulse of what readers care about.

It feels great to have a group of blogging buddies who get you, whose stuff you know is going to be fun to read, and whose insight and feedback you respect. Branching out can be just as fun, and is necessary to your blog’s growth.

Some bloggers also host lower-key events like blog hops or link-ups, where readers are simply invited to submit links to posts so all participants can hop from blog to blog, reading — kind of like The Commons!

Have you ever participated in a blogging event? These are community-based challenges that invite bloggers to post around a common theme at the same time — most are weekly, though their frequency varies. Many focus on a particular topic or niche, like photography or fiction; others are more general blogging-oriented. They bring together bloggers that don’t necessarily mingle on a daily basis, and lead to lively discussions and new friendships.

(Before joining WordPress.com, one of our colleagues — Sara, of The Daily Post photo challenge fame – co-founded World Nutella Day for Nutella lovers to share their favorite recipes. It now has its own website, a Twitter handle and Flickr poolover 45,000 Facebook fans, and frequently used hashtags on Twitter and Pinterest.)

Today, we invite you to start a new event of your own. Think about its main parameters: would you want to have a specific thematic focus? When and how frequently would you hold it? Would you structure it as a challenge, a contest, or a free-for-all? You should tailor your event to your blog’s strengths (and to your schedule): the idea is not only to attract more visitors, but also to engage them in a meaningful, fun way that also benefits their blogs.

From basic logistics to tips on publicizing your event, we’ve prepared a complete guide to help you host the perfect event (onion dip: optional). Once you’re ready to launch, don’t forget to submit your event to be added to our listings.

If the time commitment to run an event sounds too daunting, or you want to expand beyond the virtual realm, try a blogging conference.

A quick Google of “blog conference” turns up hundreds of options around the world, and some bloggers have helpfully curated lists of the best, for food, travel, fashion, and more. There are also conferences like Bloggy Boot Camp that move from city to city.

From beer to parenting, conferences have been bringing together like-minded bloggers from across cities, regions, and even continents. They’re a great place to listen to blogging pros share their wisdom, meet others interested in the same topics as you, and exchange tips straight from the blogging trenches.

If you hear “conference” and immediately think of a splashy, pricy event a long flight away, think again. You can look up a blogging meetup in your local community, or attend a WordCamp nearby. If there just aren’t any relevant conferences that meet your needs, no worries: just gather a few other bloggers from your community for a session of co-blogging at a local coffee shop (or your living room). You don’t need a fancy name tag to make friends, brainstorm, and find inspiration in others’ ideas.

The idea of coming out from behind the computer and meeting a bunch of other bloggers in real life is daunting, so we’ve put together a handy guide to help you get the most of of conferences and meetups without also getting overwhelmed.

—————–

It’s Day 14, which means that’s a wrap! It’s been an intense (and fun!) two weeks, so give yourself a day off, and then spend the next week or two working through the ideas and tasks we introduced here and continuing to develop your focus. It’s been incredible watching your blogs change and grow, and we can’t wait to see where they go next!

Editor’s note: Thanks for sticking with the challenge! Assignment posts will remain accessible here on The Daily Post so you can continue to refer back to them. The Commons will remain open for conversation for one more week, through Monday, May 5; after that, you’ll be able to read and refer back to your comments there, but you’ll no longer be able to publish new ones. If you’d like to continue chatting with bloggers and getting feedback, we invite you to visit the Community Pool here each Sunday: it’s an open thread where any blogger can seek (or offer!) support and critique.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how the challenge went so we can make it even better next time, so we’ll be sending you a short survey in the next few days.

This was just the first in a series of planned Blogging 201 challenges. Next up will be a challenge focused on the craft of writing, followed by a technical challenge focused on customizing, HTML, and CSS — we’ll announce those here on The Daily Post, so stay tuned.

Happy blogging!

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  1. I may need to do WordCamp the next time it’s near here. My volunteer organization uses WordPress for its website so maybe this anonymous blogger can show up in disguise…

    1. I encourage it — they’re fun and laid-back (and affordable!), but usually have pretty amazing speakers. And you’ll meet a ton of people who are passionate about blogging.

  2. Thank you so much for an excellent course!
    I’m about 5 days behind, which means I’m very grateful the Commons remains open for another week. I’ll need it.
    Whatever happens, you’ve given us an awful lot to think about and experiment with, and it was great fun too.

  3. Thank you for the excellent information and tips. I’m new to the Blogging life, but I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. My life story and life passion is getting a good audience and children everywhere will benefit by becoming more productive adults. positiveface.org

  4. I really enjoyed this series and learned that 101 was just as useful as 201. Thanks for the happiness engineering approach as well. You’re really informative without being condescending about anything!!

  5. I have gone so far in making decisions about my blog in the past 2 weeks that it stuns me to think about it! This course made me leave some fears behind and jump ahead in my actions, as well as my understanding about the blogosphere. I will also implement some changes in the online courses I teach because of my positive experience in this course. Thanks to our wise guide Michelle, and to my peers in the class. You were all so helpful, and supportive.

  6. This is such a great idea and as a fiction writer I should be more into searching for (and participating in) events more often than I actually do.

  7. omg GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!
    i just followed a couple of twitter accounts re blogging conferences and wanted to research local ones (and if they don’t exist, start one! eep!).

    i’ll miss you.
    *sniffles*

    1. We’ll be busy designing and writing new articles for the next course in our Blogging 201 series, The Craft of Writing over the next couple of weeks. Hope to see you in that course, Amy Juicebox!

  8. I’ve been thinking lately that I’d really like to have a blog hop, you know, with the linkey thing or something like it, just not sure how to put a linkey into a WordPress dashboard. I’ll go investigate your links. :)

  9. This was such a great course! Thanks for all the helpful advice, I’ve definitely come a long way in thinking about my blog in the past two weeks. Like runnershealth, I’m also behind by a few days so I’m happy that the commons is still open for a week more. Thanks again!

  10. Good idea. I look forward to scheduled “events” from my favorite bloggers. On my blog I have “Short Story Sunday.”

    My readers really like recurring events I have over the year. Some are scheduled and some are random. Maybe this spring/summer I’ll try a little less random.

  11. Really enjoyed this challenge as an extension of the Zero to Hero one. I’m doing it at my own speed as sadly devoting an hour or more to each task on a daily basis, to do them the justice they way I would want to, just hasn’t been possible due to real life commitments of late. So it might take me a little while to catch up but I’ll get there! As always, not every aspect of every challenge fits my blog but I thank the organisers for putting such a huge amount of work into preparing daily tasks. I’m really looking forward to the next in the series, especially the HTML and CSS elements mentioned above!

  12. A few questions if anyone can answer please:

    Will the information from 201 remain open so we can refer to it as and when? I have probably missed the info.

    How many more days it is on for? Again missed info

    I created a poll from one of the days. I was confused as the poll only lets you write the answers and the people taking the poll chose which answer, is there not a questionnaire instead where you can ask a question and they can actually write an answer, maybe multiple questions and answers on a form?

    Last but not least. I enter a lot of prompts and challenges. I don’t think I am ready to host one, the ones that become successful, ie one of my friends did with Fiesta Friday though it got her loads of followers and is great, it did at one point become too much and left her with not much time to do anything else, I really don’t want that, though some challenges can be really quiet on the other hand, its swings and roundabouts.

    What is a blogging conference? I did read up on it but didn’t really get the jist, does one have to skype or something? I rather keep it to type myself :-)

  13. My blog is too new to host an event but I am going sign up for a few. I am also super excited to have a Word Camp coming soon to my area!

  14. People seem to enjoy group challenges – some like Susie Lindau’s Wild Rider, A FrankAngle’s, BrainRants, and gingerfightback are pretty well attended (and fun)
    Word Camp sound intriguing.
    WIl the class list of bloggers remain available for future use? Will all the participants continued to be featured on our individual Reader/followed blogs?
    Enjoyed everyone here – will be hopping around to visit as time permits. Meanwhile, blog on!

  15. I’ve learned so much from this course and am still digesting much of the information to implement on my blog. I look forward to the next blog challenge on the craft of writing and beyond and to joining others Sundays at the Community Pool.

  16. I would like to thank both 101 and 201 for the speedy challenges. I haven’t even noticed that two weeks had gone by. I am looking forward to more challenges so I can fully participate and incorporate the knowledge on my rolling movable portfolio of Emma Blogs at http://emmapalova.com

  17. So sad this is over :-( for today’s challenge I have done my own take on a linky using polldaddy to try and get some people to share their ideas and links to their blogs. I have just missed (on Saturday) a blogging camp mainly for mummy bloggers which was being held really close to where I live but I will def keep my eyes open for future possibilities :-) thank you #blogging 201. It’s been fab.x

    1. The next challenge will be here before you know it!

      There are also some folks creating their own private group blogs to stay in touch — if you’ve connected with people on the Commons, I encourage you to do the same.

  18. Thank you for your tips. I just started blogging and I find it a bit hard. I am trying to create interesting posts with many advices which would help my readers in their lives. Your post has given me a bit more inspiration not to give up but keep up writing!

  19. I’ve participated in several blogging events (National Poetry Month and the October Memoir and Back Story Blog Challenge, to name two), but I’m not sure I’m ready to host my own yet. I enjoy taking part in blog tours, though, and actually, now that I think about it, I think I was one of two people to set one up for a mutual friend…It sort of happened spontaneously through a conversation.

    But if anyone wants to join me for Photo Fridays, you’re more than welcome! Let me know and we can exchange links! :)

      1. Wonderful! I started a Photo Friday feature last summer (or maybe it was the summer before…), but for reasons unknown, even to me, I stopped. I’m going to start it up again, though, so I’m glad you want to join in! :)

        Do you want to do a joint kind of a thing? I’ll drop you a line and we can chat more. :)

  20. Thank you so much for this great series! I’ve added several widgets, set up a FB page and Twitter account for my blog, begun thinking about creating a logo and cards for my blog, I’ve agreed to do an exchange of guest posts with another blogger doing this challenge, and that’s just the beginning. I’m still working through some of the other exercises, and debating if I am ready to upgrade to premium service and a premium theme. One of my biggest challenges is having a regular posting schedule, and the idea of an editorial calendar is something I want to utilize to be more productive and regular with blogging.
    Thank you for the encouragement, for breaking these tasks into step-by-step, and for giving me the nudge I needed to branch out. I’m definitely inspired! This is just another way that WP gives great value. I hope there’s a 300 series in the works, I would definitely sign up! ~ Sheila

  21. have to put this out there. For me, going around and leaving comments on blogs is not something that is really gaining followers. I am getting decent stat hits, from PInterest, but the old school, hi how are ya *insert relevant comment* on most blogs is not doing much send readers my way or get return followers.

    So, what number of followers would you recommend before starting a blog event on your site?

    1. I think it’s less about followers, and more about actively engaged readers — the people liking and commenting. I’d suggest asking your readers — get a sense how many say they’d participate. Then chop that number in half :) If you’re happy with what’s left, go for it.

  22. I truly had a wonderful time. Learned more than I thought I could in such a short amount of time. Even though at times the challenges were daunting, the support available was superb. Thanks to the hosts and to all those seeking feedback and those that offered it. I am glad that for the most part, the assignments on a given day served as a preamble to something else on another day. That made it very easy to dive right in. Thanks to all!

  23. The two weeks went by fast. I enjoyed the challenge and look forward to the technical challenge. I still need to add a survey or surveys to my blog. I added a poll and have learned a bit from the response. It’s up for a week to get more feedback from my regular followers.

  24. I’d been blogging for just over a month when I decided to signup for blogging 201, at the final hour. I am quite happy I did. Over the course, I’ve learned to trust my choices, became more familiar with the various different features, as well as come across several great blogs. In addition to this, I was able to offer feedback to follow bloggers and receive a bit of help. I’ve very happy with the changes/updates I’m made as well as impressed with the blogging community.

    A few weeks ago, I had a blogging event, its since ended. However, its such a great event, that I wanted to share it here. I hope you will all put on your thinking camps and submit your post. The writing event is Moments of Nostalgia. I am attaching my moment, at the end of it, there will be a link to the event page-still on my blog. Please do write. I look forward to hearing from you http://sweetlittlesomethingsnet.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/moments-of-nostalgia/

  25. Who knew there was so much more to the blogosphere than just hitting the “Publish” button! Thank you for opening up my eyes to all the potential of growth and community that is out there. Maybe I would have gotten there on my own. But it was much more fun to check out others blogs and hear their ideas, both the successes and the missteps.

  26. Perfect timing for me, Michelle, I just introduced my first community blogging event last night! I was wondering how to add it to the list of events and now I can follow your handy link. Thanks!

  27. Funny, I accidentally signed up for 201, didn’t think I was ready. What fun though! I’d already do e some of these things, not ready to do some others, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Will sign up again! Thanks so much

  28. I’ve only taken part in events, but never hosted one. This gave me a lot to think about. If you love writing, So far I’ve participated in Ermilia’s Picture it & Write and Indie Chick Lit’s writing prompts [http://pressedupinabook.com/getyourwriteon-ii/] :)

  29. Thank you so much for moderating Michelle W. It has been a fast two weeks and I know I am way behind. Some of the task/challenges were practices I already had in places, some just confused the heck out of me, others I will have to get back to because, darn it, life just gets in the way! I will keep refreshing and renewing!

  30. I’m well behind everyone, and I seem to be in the wrong timezone to keep up with the conversations, but I thought it might be helpful to other slow-pokes if I put here what I have taken away from this excellent series:
    0. Get a good header image. I’m a writer, not a designer, so this is the hardest of all for me.
    1. Finally get my own domain – I had a bit of a think about the name of the blog, but I came up with nothing better, so mermaid’s tresses it is (after a family-favourite chinese dish).
    2. Find a recipe for mermaid’s tresses and make it.
    3. Rewrite the About page. This involves a bit of a rethink about the target audience. It was initially just me and my daughter, but once people started following me and liking the posts, I realised it might be more than just the two of us! Already: a contact form now added.
    4. Buddy up with someone (thanks to the friendly volunteer).
    5. Set up a facebook page: the general view is that it might not help with traffic any more, but it is worth having a facebook address so I can engage, for example, with the facebook group from this with a separate id to my personal one. Don’t invest much time in this for now.
    6. Write another few dozen posts before implementing the next few steps so I have enough for people to look at. At this stage, I should say that one of the most fantastic things about wordpress.com is the community here. Right at the moment, I don’t feel like I need to go further as there is more than enough right here and everyone is so, well, nice! Call it the stage of development the blog is at right now.
    7. Review the template at this stage to make sure its supports what I want to do (I’ve already changed it once, when 12 posts showed the theme I had was beautiful but unhelpful).

    THEN (not in any order):
    1. Put up a list of favourite posts to refresh some archival material.
    2. Join some social media, specifically:
    - pinterest: the personal gain for this is to keep a record of things I want to try; the blog gain is the traffic and the ideas for new material (putting a watermark on the pics seems to be highly recommended before taking this step). I need a personal gain in this to invest the time initially – otherwise it can get discouraging if results aren’t immediate
    - tumblr for slightly off-target posts. I’m already finding I want to branch out a bit, and tumblr seems to be an effective means to that end. If it brings traffic, well and good, but it’s not crucial.
    - google+??? at least investigate it. I suspect it is more relevant to other activities and won’t give me as much of a return for this blog.
    3. Twitter, LinkedIn: give these a miss. I already have a professional (editing and writing) presence on there, and want to keep those far, far away from what is really a hobby at the moment.
    4. Find some forums to contribute to
    5. Create some events: some could happen now, some later.

    1. I also feel like I have so much to catch up with and yet have learned so much over the past two weeks. I’m inspired and excited to learn more.
      Here’s a really simple way to create a header with a photo.
      1) Copy a favourite photo you have taken by right clicking on it and selecting copy and paste. Don’t touch your original photo – just work on the copy.
      2) Right click on the copy photo and choose OPEN WITH > Microsoft Office Picture Manager.
      3) When your copy photo opens right click again and choose EDIT PICTURES.
      This opens up a panel with a range of options.
      4) Choose CROP and then move the crop handles in to select the area of the photo you want to use. Header photos are usually quite wide and narrow. I think for your theme Expound the header is 900 px wide and it looks like 200 px high (don’t worry WordPress will adjust it for you)
      5) Next select COMPRESS PICTURES and choose FOR DOCUMENTS then SAVE.

      On your blog go to APPEARANCE then HEADER to load up your new header photo. Try a few… if you don’t like it you can easily remove it and you may be surprised which you prefer.

      Hope it helps you. Gillian

      1. Thanks. I look at the other beautiful headers people have and feel a bit intimidated. I think you’re right though – just giving it a go is the best idea.

  31. Thanks Michelle (aka The Empress EmW see http://wp.me/p3gSod-L4 ) and your droids, I mean team, for another successful blogging adventure. Like all my fellow bloggers appreciate all the support and encouragement. Look forward to the next time. Best wishes :-)

  32. Thanks for a great class!!! I learned so much!

    One question: how long will we have access to this material? I’d like to spend more time working through some of the exercises.

    Again, many thanks!
    Renee

  33. I’ve just posted a new challenge – Old Courthouse Photos.
    Photos of old courthouses in your hometown or one that you just love. Please use comments, Pingbacks, and social media to spread the word. When you leave a comment on the challenge post, provide a link back to your blog. Then others can view your entry too. Use tags such as photography, courthouse, photo challenge, Post a week, challenge.
    I chose to post one from Fayetteville, TN in a tribute to Fayetteville and Lincoln County. That is not my hometown but close to where I now live. Parts of Lincoln County was heavily damaged last night by storms/tornados.
    I am going to be doing a posting on my “Freaky Friday” line in the next couple of weeks about a haunted location in KY. I think my next challenge will be photos of haunted locations around the country… what do you guys think?

    Thanks, Happy Tuesday night :)

  34. Thanks Michelle W. and team for all the hard work you put into the posts and responses to our many needs! Looking forward to what else WordPress is going to come up with next.

  35. I’m grateful for the format of this challenge, as I got behind and plan to catch up. I am so glad I stumbled on ZerotoHero which landed me here. These challenges helped me accomplish much more than I would have without them. I am going to complete these assignments and eagerly look forward to the next one. Thanks, Michelle & Krista, and all the folks involved at WP!!!

  36. Thank You so much for this enlightening challenge. I really enjoyed it. It made me aware of so many new ways I could sharpen my blogging skills. I would re-do this challenge in a heartbeat and recommend it to anyone asking. Thank You!