All About the Blogathons Part 1: How to partipate

Scaramouche 1923, starring Ramon Novarro, Alice Terry, Lewis Stone, directed by Rex Ingram, a silent movie review
Friends! Citizens! Will you not join the blogathon?

If you hang around cyberspace long enough, chances are you will run into blogathons. But what are they? How do you join one? And what if you want to host one of your own?

Well, I hope to answer all of your questions in this two-part series. Part one will cover everything you need to know to be a good blogathon participant. Part two will cover the art of blogathon hosting.

First of all, what is a blogathon? Simply, it is an online event during which multiple blogs post on a particular topic at a set time.

Why should you participate in a blogathon? Several reasons:

1. It publicizes your blog. This is especially important if you are new or have low traffic.

2. It challenges your writing skills. You may end up writing about a topic that you never considered but find you enjoy.

3. It’s fun!

The blogathon will be hosted by one or more blogs. What is involved in hosting? The host sets the blogathon rules, publicizes the event and organizes the participants.

For the purpose of this article, let’s say that my blog, called Example Blog, is hosting an event called The Movie Horse Blogathon on February 29.

How to join a blogathon

Just ask. Usually, you will hear about blogathons by seeing banners on other blogs (more on that later) or by reading an announcement on the host blog. If you write about classic film, The Classic Movie Blog Hub keeps an up-to-date blogathon page.

Always include the name and address of your blog when you communicate with blogathon hosts.

Please note that some blogathons are members-only events for certain organizations. The host blog will usually make these restrictions clear in their announcement post.

So, you would probably read something like this for my Movie Horse Blogathon:

Example Blog invites you to join us in celebrating the equine stars of the silver screen. We welcome all bloggers to contribute reviews of horse-centric classic (pre-1970) film and television for this event, as well as profiles of famous horse performers. It will take place on February 29. In order to make sure that the maximum number of films are covered, we are asking for no duplicate reviews, please.

How do I choose what to contribute?

Lurk a bit and see what other people are choosing.
Lurk a bit and see what other people are choosing.

The blogathon host may have certain requirements. They may want movie reviews only or they may prefer that the topic be limited. For example, a Noir Fiction blogathon may choose to only accept posts that cover works published pre-1980. A knitting blogathon may ask for nothing crochet-related.

Another thing to look out for is whether the blogathon allows duplicates. Let’s say you want to review National Velvet for my Movie Horse blogathon. But it looks like someone has beaten you to the punch and is already going to review it. (Blogathon hosts usually include a roster for easy reference.)

What to do? Well, look over the announcement. In this case, the Movie Horse does not allow duplicate reviews so you will have to choose another film. When in doubt, ask the blogathon host.

What if you want to participate but everything you want is taken? This is another good time to contact the host blog. They may know of an unclaimed topic that will suit your taste.

What if my topic does not exactly fit the event?

Is Francis close enough to horsiness? (Wikipedia)

Contact the host and tell them your idea. Let’s go back to my example of a Movie Horse Blogathon. Let’s say that you wanted to write about Francis the Talking Mule. He’s not a horse but pretty close.

The host will either okay your idea or decide that it is too far from the spirit of the blogathon. In this case, I would say that Francis is a no-go as a mule is close but not a horse. I would then offer the idea of writing a review of the Mister Ed show.

I suggest having a backup plan in case your slightly-off-topic post is not accepted.

What if an emergency comes up and I can’t participate after all?

The Prisoner of Zenda, 1922, A Silent Movie Review, Ramon Novarro, Alice Terry, Lewis Stone | 1937 Fencing
I hope this fight ends soon or I’ll NEVER finish my blogathon post!

Send a polite message to the blogathon host. Apologize for being unable to participate. Try to do this as far in advance as you can, especially if the event does not allow duplicate posts. This allows the host time to update their roster and show would-be participants that the topic is once again up for grabs.

What if I change my mind about what I want to cover for the blogathon?

Contact the host and ask if the change is possible. It’s usually okay to change but sometimes the host may not approve. For example, if you changed your mind and wanted to review The Black Stallion instead, the host may ask you to choose again if another blogger is already covering the film.

The blogathon is scheduled for several days. How does that work?

Some hosts choose to break up their blogathons over several days. If you have a preferred day, make sure to politely ask if you can be scheduled on that date. If you have no preference, tell the host. It makes scheduling much easier for them.

Generally, when a blogathon is scheduled over several days, the host will have a separate announcement post for each day. If there are co-hosts, they may split up the days and participants between them. If this is the case, make sure you communicate with the host you “belong to” and inform them of any changes that may come up.

In short, communication is the key to most blogathon issues that may arise.

The Lead-up: What to do before the blogathon

There are a few things that you can do before the blogathon to make things easier for both you and your host.

Grab a banner

Most blogathons will provide banners, that is, graphics designed to be plopped into participating blogs. These banners spread the word about the event and advertise your participation.

Most bloggers place the banners in their sidebar or in their footer. It’s up to you where you place it.

Also be sure to link the image to the host blog. Here are instructions on how to do this in WordPress and Blogger.

Spread the word

If you participate in social media, it is a nice touch to tout the blogathon a little. Remember, the more successful the blogathon, the more traffic you will get. Plus, it’s just a nice thing to do.

Start working early

Forward! Let nothing stop you!
Forward! Let nothing stop you!

Everyone has a different schedule but I highly recommend writing your blogathon post as early as possible. That way, if something does come up, you will have your post ready to go for the event. I realize that this is not always workable but it is a good goal.

The Big Day: What to do during the blogathon

The day has arrived and it is time for your blogathon post to go up. Here are some tips:

Link to the blogathon page

You will want everyone to know that your post is part of a blogathon so be sure to include a link. There are no rules as to where the link should be placed but most folks put it either at the beginning or end of their post. You can also include one of the blogathon banners but this is not mandatory.

Send your hosts the URL of your post

Send a link to your post to the host of the blogathon. If the blogathon has multiple hosts, it is a good idea to send it to all of them so that it does not get lost in the shuffle. Blogathons can be a little hectic.

Check out the posts of the other participants

Now you can relax and enjoy the other blogathon posts.

I hope you enjoyed this little guide to blogathon participation. Do you have more suggestions? Be sure to leave a comment!

Next up: How to host a blogathon of your very own.

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