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