Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blogging Basics: Blog Hops/Fests & Memes

Last week, we discussed the basic ways of making connections in blogging.  This week, we'll touch on the next step, which involves taking part in blog hops, blog fests, challenges and memes.

Last week's steps were 1. Visit Blogs, 2. Leave Comments, 3. Follow Blogs, 4. Have Something to Say, and 5. Respond to Comments on Your Own Blog and Visit Back.

Before we get started, we should probably define the terms we're discussing:

1. Blog Hop/Blog Fest: This is a virtual party that often involves a theme.  People sign up to participate in whatever the theme is.  They then post to that theme on their own blogs during the designated time period.

Ex: The A-to-Z Challenge.  We challenge participants to blog every day except Sundays during the month of April.  Further, we ask participants to go in alphabetical order with their posts.  Any theme will do, as long as the basic rules are followed.

Note: Blog hop and blog fest are fairly interchangeable and don't necessarily have a different meaning.  For the rest of this post, they will be referred to as blog hops or, simply, hops.  Challenges, campaigns and any other types of hops/fests will be included in this simple definition.

2. Meme: An ongoing blog hop, of sorts, that occurs repeatedly and consistently, such as once per week.  These are always to a theme.

Ex: Wordless Wednesday.  There are many different iterations of this meme, but they usually involve posting a photo or image of some sort once per week, rather than posting a written or wordy post.

Why do people do blog hops and memes?

It's a fun and easy way to meet other people.  Why do we have parties and meet-and-greets in person?  Same reason.  You get a bunch of people together so they can meet, rub elbows, forge relationships, and enjoy themselves in the process.  And when it's done via blogs, no one has to spend money on food and decorations.

How can they help me make connections?

When you participate in a hop or a meme, you sign up on a linky list or submit your name/blog in some fashion.  You're then expected to try to visit other participants, and the same is expected of them.  This means you have people dropping by your blog who might not have done so if you hadn't both signed up for the hop/meme.  Exposure may gain you readers/followers.

What are the basics in participating in blog hops and memes?

1. Be sure you're interested.  Don't sign up for every single blog hop or meme you happen across unless you are genuinely interested in doing so.  Choose only those you actually want to take part in.  If you don't enjoy the hop/meme, it will be obvious in your post.  And if you sign up for too many, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed.

2. Participate once you sign up.  Don't sign up for hops and memes only to draw people to your blog.  You must follow through and put your post up on the appropriate date.  While you may think it will benefit you just to have people drop by, despite not taking part, you may find it harms more than helps, as people are deterred by your lack of participation.  (Note: Honest mistakes happen.  Don't be afraid to address that you forgot to put up your post once you realize what happened.  People will understand.)

3. Follow the rules.  Yes, sometimes the rules may be flexible, but try to keep to the overall idea of the original hop/meme.  Don't sign up for a blog hop about cats and post about UFOs.  Follow the rules as they've been set out, so that you aren't cheating other participants or the hosts of the fun of the hop/meme.

4. Visit other participants.  Try not to just throw your post up then leave it.  You should make an effort to visit at least a few of the other participants and leave comments for them.  If you truly enjoy the topic, which you should if you signed up, you'll enjoy reading other people's take on the topic.  Get out, have fun, rub elbows.  The main point in a hop/meme is to meet other bloggers you may have something in common with.

5. Help "advertise" the hop/meme.  If they've made a badge, be sure to put it in your sidebar.  Even better, link the badge to the host's site, so others can participate if they'd like.  Put the badge in your hop/meme blog post, along with a link to the host's site.  If you can mention the upcoming hop/meme in advance, try to slip that in somewhere.  The more, the merrier, so you want more participants to share in the fun.  Be sure that you make it clear that this post is part of the hop/meme.  If participants are confused about your post, there is a good chance they will skip it.  I always try to put the badge beneath my introduction or at the top of the post, so participants who are stopping by know they've reached the right place.

The best way to learn about a hop/meme is to participate and learn as you go.  Just bear the above pointers in mind and jump in with both feet.  Hops and memes are meant to be fun, so don't be too serious about it, and don't allow yourself to get stressed out about it.  Enjoy yourself!

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse  


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent tips, Shannon. Why some people sign up just to get attention is beyond me. I take down ad sites as soon as I find them, and the morning after a blogfest, I remove all non-participants from the list.

D.G. Hudson said...

Great tips, Shannon. I enjoyed my first time in 2012 with the A to Z Challenge. It's a great way to test your mettle.

I loved the fact that the list was monitored, as Alex mentions. That's very important.

If I can't participate, I will def be visiting those who are participating this year (I'm trying to get matched with a mentor for a new project)

Arlee Bird said...

Good advice. My philosophy is that if you say you're going to do something then do your best to do it right or do the right thing and bow out gracefully. Pretenders don't get much respect in my book.

Tossing It Out

Shaharizan Perez said...

Thanks Shannon. I'm pretty new to bloghops/ fests, etc. This truly disseminates the information in a very user-friendly way. I will be following your advice. :D

Andrew Leon said...

What about UFO cats? huh? huh?
I bet you didn't think of that, did you?
Except Disney did, I'm pretty sure.

klahanie said...

Hey Shannon,

Nice to see your good self again and all those thoughtful tips you allude to.

And all those blog fests, eh! Of course, my favourite after this amazing challenge that brings further awareness of the alphabet, is this...

The "Groundblog Day" blogfest : Wouldn't it be great for a blogfest? This would be where we repeat the same paragraph, over and over again. Yes indeed, a paragraph that repeats over and over and over...If you get what I mean?

Wouldn't it be great for a blogfest? This would be where we repeat the same paragraph, over and over again. Yes indeed, a paragraph that repeats over and over and over...If you get what I mean?

Wouldn't it be great for a blogfest? This would be where we repeat the same paragraph, over and over again. Yes indeed, a paragraph that repeats over and over and over...If you get what I mean?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Bend but don't break the rules.

Anonymous said...

Great tips. especially for the first timers.


Shannon Lawrence said...

Alex, I don't understand it, either. It's not favorable attention when people arrive and are irritated, so why do it?

D.G., thank you! Good luck with the mentor matching, and with the project. Sounds exciting (but possibly stressful?)

Lee, I agree. I tend to wait to sign up for blog fests until I'm absolutely positive I can participate. Sometimes mistakes happen, of course, but one needs to handle them gracefully and do the best they can.

Shaharizan, thank you, I'm glad it's helpful!

Andrew, was The Cat From Outer Space a Disney flick? I loved that movie. I think that's what it was called.

Klahanie, ha! I saw your post about various blog hops. I'd have to play some Sonny and Cher in the background.

L. Diane, absolutely! There's always room for bending; life happens.

Yvonne, thanks! That's my hope.

Cynthia said...

I don't sign up for every blogfest that happens, but the ones I do sign up for often come with opportunities for me to learn something new. For example, I recently participated in a blogfest where we were supposed to post about our favorite aliens. I learned so much about different aliens in pop culture just from reading everyone else's posts.

Jolie du Pre said...

Good post Shannon! You covered it!

Vampire Bite Blog Hop

Kern Windwraith said...

Your suggestions for successful hopping are excellent, and I agree with each and every one.

Speaking of those honest mistakes, I signed up for a blog hop a couple of weeks ago and forgot to bookmark it, and now I'm having a heck of a time trying to remember the name of the hop or who was hosting. Ack, how embarrassing! My shame knows no bounds! That'll teach me to sign up for things when I'm not getting enough sleep.

Unknown said...

Great advice! I'm hoping to do a blog hop soon so this will be invaluable :)


Rosalind Adam said...

I love getting involved in blog hops but they do take up time. I always try to set aside some time every day especially for the A to Z.

Icah Banjarmasin said...

Good advice,eally I like U'r post my friend.

J.L. Campbell said...

Good reminders. Thanks.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Cynthia, I'd wanted to participate in that one, too, but I had just gotten back from a trip and didn't think I could do it justice. :(

Jolie, thanks!

Kern, oh no!! It got easier for me once I started posting Wednesday links, because then I could just go reference those, haha! Do you think it would help if you went and looked through my Wednesday posts? I have links for blog hops in each one (if there's one I know of), so it may very well be in there. You may also run across it when visiting others' blogs.

Jamie, oooo, what kind of blog hop?

Rosalind, I agree. I try not to sign up until the last minute, just so I'm sure I will have the time to participate. Sometimes I just don't have the time, no matter how fun the hop might sound.

Icah, thank you!

J.L., thank you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon .. I agree excellent points here - I'll sign up for the A - Z when it comes round and I've done a few other blog challenges - and as per Ros - I'd rather make sure I can participate.

There's no point blogging if we don't interact - well that's my considered view!!

Cheers Hilary

Tina said...

Shannon - these advice posts are awesome! Thanks so much. I think many participants will find these tips of great value, not just for the A-Z but for the future in their blogging life. You ROCK.

I have one more to share if you don't mind.
I've heard a lot of people say, "I visit the ones who come visit me." Well, let's see. If we're all sitting there doing that, no one is moving..."

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Al Diaz said...

This is a great piece of information. I was clueless the first time I joined a bloghop. I had no idea what that was or what to do so I just relied myself to the Higher Powers to get it right, haha. Luckily, I think I've not screwed it up that much.

Rob Z Tobor said...

I will be back for the A to Z again this year but I don't get involved in other blogfest events, although having said that I did an end of the world one just in case the world ended but it didn't.

It was worth mentioning that you need to make your blog accessible for people to comment on so all that guess the letter stuff can put folk off. Sadly I have had to do something to stop the Anon's so am only open to comments from followers at present, it has been getting ridicules lately with all anon's leaving spam links. Is this just me or is spam getting worse they appear to be getting through the spam filter more these days. It is rather annoying . . . .

L.G. Keltner said...

These are essential tips!

Arlee Bird said...

Rob-- I agree that spam has gotten worse on Blogger. Seems like it started after they switched to the newer format. I rarely had spam problems prior to that. I've had to fix it so all of my blogs won't accept comments from Anonymous. It's sad because I used to get actual good comments from certain people who chose to remain anonymous.

A Faraway View

Arlee Bird said...

Rob -- By the way, if you see this, I think you have your comment setting wrong. When I tried to comment it wasn't accepted because I'm not a member of your "team". I think you should switch your setting to "Users including open ID" or whatever the setting says.

A Faraway View

Shannon Lawrence said...

Hilary, thank you, and so glad you'll be signing up! It's coming up soon.

Tina, totally agree! If everyone only visited those that visited them, there wouldn't be anyone visiting. I definitely visit those that visit me, and then I go to the list to keep going.

Al, hey Mr. nominee! You obviously haven't screwed up. We all have to learn at first, and then we figure out the little things as we go along.

Rob, I'm having the exact same problem with spam. The majority is still being held off, but I've had to go through and delete a few that got through lately, and I'm getting way more overall. What's going on!?

L.G., thank you!

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah a blog hop about cats and showing those probing aliens instead is just rude hahaha

Oh and fyi, promoting a to z big time today at my bay.

Anonymous said...

Great list of tip! I'm going to link bak to this next week.

I have a calendar that I list all upcoming Blog Hops and book releases to stay organized. Otherwise, I'd never remember to participate in the ones I sign up for.