Many of you would remember the mega-blogfest, A to Z challenge, held in April. That is how I met mega-blogger Arlee Bird, or Lee, and with his support and encouragement along with that of a host of others, I published my first, experimental e-book: A to Z Stories of Life and Death. If not for the A to Z blogfest, there would be no such book.
Today, Lee has agreed to share his wisdom on a topic he knows much about, namely, Blogfests. So take it away, Lee!
Fun and Gains with Blogfests
What’s the deal with blogfests anyway? You’ve undoubtedly seen them and many of you have even participated in at least one of them. Why would you want to participate in a blog event? Let me give you my answer.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a blog networking event, as I prefer to think of these fests, involves bloggers signing up to participate in a themed activity in order to get one’s own blog some exposure while, at the same time, being able to interact with other bloggers. The activity of such an event might consist of writing something with a common theme in mind, listing favorite things in a chosen category, or some other creative exercise which showcases your own blog and allows you to learn something about other blogger participants. Or a blog event can be as simple as adding your blog link to a list from which you can find other blogs to follow and others can follow your blog.
To put it more succinctly, the primary intent of the blog event is to network and gain followers. Sure, an event like this is usually full of fun and diversion, but it seems to me that the time investment required to adequately participate in one of these events should, for the serious blogger with a goal to attain, have some kind of payoff.
I don’t want to get too much into the controversial issue of followers. I’ve said plenty about this topic on my own blog and it has been often discussed on other blogs. Usually one offshoot of joining in a blog event will be gaining new followers, but more importantly perhaps is that the exercise provided by a blog event may help you to become a better blogger.
So what type of blog event is the best? It depends mostly on what you want to achieve. If you just want followers, then a blog hop that is a “you follow me and I’ll follow you” type of an event is a good way to rack up followers. There is little commitment other than trying to follow as many other participants as you can and making sure that you follow anyone who follows your blog. There is great potential for gaining tons of followers, but not much in the way of building a cadre of regular readers and online friends.
The blog event that asks you to do more than just show up seems to me to be the preferable option. You add content value to your blog, show others what you can do, and learn about the other bloggers who are participating. You make blogging investments that will result in your having a better blog and building online relationships that can be mutually beneficial.
I’m of course partial to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge not just because I started it, but mostly because I have seen the value of what is put into the participation and gained in return, and the lasting online relationships that come as a result of being a participant. The A to Z Challenge is a month-long event that requires daily input of content to one’s blog–that’s why it’s called a Challenge. The ultimate value comes in the interacting with the other bloggers. Participation in an event like the Challenge will hone your blogging skills and instill greater blogging discipline. Becoming a part of the larger community of the other bloggers is the added benefit.
In the end it comes down to how much you’ve invested in a blogging event. You’ll usually get about as much as you put into it. It’s always to your advantage to have quality content on your blog. You garner greater respect from other bloggers and give them a reason to want to come back. You will also strengthen your internet presence with strong and frequent content. When you leave substantive and relevant comments on the blogs of others, those bloggers are more encouraged to check out your blog in return and reciprocate with their own comments. And don’t forget to acknowledge all of the comments you receive on your blog.
When you see an event or blogfest that piques your interest, think about why it would be good for you before you just dive in. What is the point of the event? How does your blog fit in with what the event is about? And perhaps most importantly, can you make a sincere commitment to the fest or are you just adding your link to another list with no intent to participate? The latter is a bad reason and it won’t make you any new friends.
Also, evaluate your own blogging goals. What is your primary purpose in networking with your blog? If you are just in it for the social aspect, blog reputation based on strong content and internet presence is not particularly important. However, these things are vital if you are blogging to establish a platform. A solid, well-directed blog event can be a fast track to adding to one’s platform via blogging.
The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2012 is sure to be even bigger than the last one. This is an event that in its two years has rapidly gained a favorable reputation among all kinds of bloggers worldwide. If you want to be part of one of the best blogging events around, I encourage you to plan on joining us next April for a blogging experience you will not forget. Be watching my blog Tossing It Out for details about the Challenge and the sign-up list which will probably be in place next February or March.
Next time you see a blog event that appeals to you, join in the fun. You can meet some pretty cool bloggers in these blog events. That’s how I met Damyanti–in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2011. Damyanti’s contributions to the Challenge inspired her to put together a book compilation of her A to Z stories. And as was the case with Damyanti, you might be so inspired by the event that you could possibly come up with an idea that you can use later. Blogging events are definitely worth looking into.
Damyanti, a big thank you for inviting me here today. And thanks to all of the readers. I will be happy to respond to any questions or comments that you leave in the comment section below. And I hope you visit me at Tossing It Out !
Arlee Bird has spent much of his life in the field of entertainment and related industries. He grew up in a family of jugglers and now applies the juggling metaphor referring to himself as “a juggler of words and phrases” as he becomes more dedicated about his pursuit of a writing career. A widely varied background that includes management, sales, marketing research, and even construction provides Arlee with a diversity that is helpful in his writing endeavors.
As the author of the blog Tossing It Out and the originator of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, Arlee has gained a decent reputation and a loyal following among those in blogging circles. His blog primarily deals with writing, blogging, and memoirs, but has been known to go off into many other topics as well.
Currently living in the Los Angeles, California area, Arlee majored in English at the University of Tennessee before dropping out a few credits short of graduation in order to run away with a traveling magic show. He later obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.