Client attraction. Business growth. Pretty profits.
Earlier this year readers of Better Business Better Life participated in the Small Business Olympics and Blogging Olympic challenges. Having the group all working together on various challenges was great fun and helped each person generate quality content for their brands.
As host of the challenges it was a fantastic learning experience with lots of takeaways to consider and implement in the future. The challenges also generated increased traffic for the blog and more than doubled subscribers to the Better Business Better Life Legends List.
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. ” Eleanor Roosevelt
In the interest of shared learning and helping you avoid my mistakes let’s explore what worked, what didn’t work and what I’d do differently in the future.
Email Delivery –
Email delivery of each day’s task meant that it was ready waiting for the participant and easy to locate. Tasks couldn’t get lost amongst Facebook updates or millions of tweets. The email also prompted participants to get the work done; they didn’t risk falling behind by forgetting to check blog posts.
Email delivery is critical in fixed term, infrequent challenges. If your challenge occurs regularly like Tina Gray’s #weekaccordingtoInstagram your group will become accustomed to the rhythm and may not need the reminder.
Lesson: Consider the frequency and variability of challenges before deciding on your communication tool.
Participant Survey –
Given the Olympics are only held once every two years you might question the value of surveying participants at the conclusion of the challenges. Would the feedback still be relevant next time? Are the same people likely to support the challenges again? (You should of course be aiming to share so much value that they do return).
Feedback from participants was invaluable, both the positive and negative. The survey also gave me the opportunity to better understand my audience’s future needs and goals, including the types of products and services they may consider purchasing.
Lesson: Always survey your participants. Even if you don’t plan to host another challenge, the feedback can guide your content creation and collation.
What Didn’t Work?
Lack Of Guidance From The Host –
If I could have my time over I would have been far more active during the challenges. At the time, the London Olympics, my now ex-partner ended our very long term relationship and I was left without a home (please don’t think I’m seeking pity, just I want you to understand you might also experience hurdles you don’t see coming).
Postponing the challenges definitely crossed my mind but with all the design work and pre-promotion completed I didn’t want to let down the group.
In hindsight, my lack of engagement in Facebook discussions and very few comments on participant’s blogs made it glaringly obvious I should have waited until I could focus entirely on the challenges.
Lesson: If you are going to host a challenge make sure you are in the position to continually motivate the group and demonstrate your appreciation of participants. Little things like linking to a blog post or mentioning someone in your emails really is valued.
What I’d Do Differently!
Plan In Much Greater Detail In Advance –
Aside from the clear changes mentioned, I’d definitely plan and schedule far more content well before the challenges commenced. Before the Olympic Challenges I’d worked out the daily tasks for participants but I hadn’t prepared a template nor auto responders in Aweber. It doesn’t matter which email service you use, get the auto responders done early.
As the host of a challenge you are also likely to experience a peak in traffic to your blog. Make the most of the opportunity! Write and schedule mind blowing content in advance so readers can see just how awesome the site is and want to come back. You know when the challenge will occur, be prepared.
Set up a dedicated Facebook group, twitter hashtag or blog linky as your community space. Participants can encourage each other and you can find their content in one location. A big time saver.
Lesson: Be organised. Once your challenge begins you’ll be swamped. Save yourself some heartache and do as much as you can before the challenge starts.
Now I’ve Shared My Experience…
You’ve got four lessons to keep front of mind when planning your challenge:
- Choose you communication tool wisely.
- Schedule content for your blog before the challenge starts.
- Actively engage and reward participants throughout.
- Ask your participants for feedback.
If you’ve hosted a blog challenge previously what tips would you add? If you’re thinking about hosting a challenge what are your questions?
Announcement – Boy Oh Boy Excited!
Yes, I’ve been working extra hard on a special project with Marissa Roberts of Beautifully Organised.
Would you love to host a blog challenge but think, phwoar that’s a snowstorm of work? (Or a wall of mozzies if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere like me.)
Let us help you.