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How To Host A Blog Challenge…Lessons Learned

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.

What Worked?

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.

Blogging Olympics & Small Business Olympics

Now I’ve Shared My Experience…

You’ve got four lessons to keep front of mind when planning your challenge:

  1. Choose you communication tool wisely.
  2. Schedule content for your blog before the challenge starts.
  3. Actively engage and reward participants throughout.
  4. 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.

How To Host A Swingin' Blog Challenge

How To Host A Swingin’ Blog Challenge tells you exactly how to do it!

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34 Responses to How To Host A Blog Challenge…Lessons Learned

  1. Fantastic post. Thank you! Great content – and since I’m going to be heading up a challenge shortly it was very timely.

    By the way, I tried to sign up for the updates but the submit button didn’t seem to work… perhaps it’s my browser.

    • Hi Rachel,
      So glad you found the post helpful. Tell me more about your challenge. How exciting!?!
      Thanks for letting me know about the submit button. I’ll go suss it out now.
      (Did you sign up anywhere else or would you like me to add you?)
      Cheers, Caylie

  2. the book looks great! cover is good, etc. Hosting a challenge or contest sounds like fun… Though what’s the difference of challenge vs contest, or is there a difference??

    • That’s a fabulous question! Thanks for asking Janet. I hope you don’t mind me answering it in a blog post tomorrow. I think more readers might have the same question.

  3. HI Caylie, I participated in the challenge and actually enjoyed it. Though I was WAY behind. I participated with my Fibro blog (My Insoired Life with Fibromyalgia) I thought it went really well, but I agree it would have been even better if you’d had the chance to be there more, but your topics were great and I met some great people there.

    • Hi Emily,
      Thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate you making the effort!
      We really did have a great group. Have you got any challenges planned?

  4. Blog challenge – huh, never thought about it. Thanks for giving me another way to increase my presence out the on the internet. I’m going to hop over to some of your other pots also….

    • Hi Evelyn,
      Thanks for your comment! Blog challenges are so rewarding and fun – we had such a fantastic group and saw great results.

  5. Hi Caylie

    I’ve just taken part in a 30 day video challenge and am getting such great feedback on my videos that I wanted to support my own tribe with a challenge or two. Was looking to connect with you anyway. Great post, love your transparency in this post so much I’ve just bought your blog challenge book!
    Thanks for sharing the journey. x

    • Hi Kimberley,
      Congrats on the video challenge! That’s brilliant! I need to really get stuck into video.
      Thank you so much for buying the ebook – I really hope you get a ton of value from it. Will you be joining us for the masterclass?

  6. Great post! I’ve never seen blog challenges so well explained.
    I love how you courageously went on with the challenge, even when resistance came up about it not being perfect.

  7. Wow, why do I have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the comments to leave one? Weird.

    Anyway, I’d like to add that asking people to complete a survey also solidifies the value of the experience in their own minds. A lot of people skip this step, even in their paid programs, and clients sometimes walk away wondering what they got or worse – asking for a refund! 🙂

    • Hi Amethyst,
      Great tip – I surveyed my partpicipants and got seriously valuable feedback. In fact it was one of the reasons I pursued writing the ebook.

    • G’day Peggy,
      Great to have you here! My sincere hope is that the evaluation of my challenge might help future challenge hosts avoid my errors.
      Thanks for your comment!

  8. What a great post! I’ve never considered hosting a blogging challenge but I did host a 30-day “get it done” group, and I agree with you that as a host, you have to be available to lead.

    Thank you for laying it out so clearly

    • Hi Nancy,
      Thank you so much! How did the ‘get it done’ group go? Let me know when you’re host it again! Definitely run another challenge 🙂

  9. Be prepared for Anything. I mean this. The first time I did a challenge (2012) I had a personal thing come up which blew me away. I was down, in hospital and did not want to even get to the computer. I left a hosted blog and transferred the challenge to a free blog a couple months later.
    2nd time I ran it I did better, doing it along side the UBC with Michelle and Michelle.
    3rd time (2013) my blogger blog (ha ha) got deleted by Google as a spam blog. Luckily I had some hosting and a domain name as I was going to transfer the blog in June – oh well, the universe called me to switch sooner. Google did give my blog back but then took it down again a couple days later so No telling why they had a human check the blog – deemed it spam free, gave it back and then deemed it spam again. LOL
    Anyhow, just what Caylie said – be prepared for everything and don’t get discouraged, have your little pity party but don’t quit.

    • Hi Sara,
      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I could agree more with what you’ve said!
      One of the questions Marissa and I have been asked is ‘what happens if know one signs up?’ Like you we say don’t quit.
      • Use it as a ‘dress rehearsal’.
      • People may join in after the start date.
      • Record your own findings as you go through the challenge yourself – it will become great material for further promotion next round.
      Again, thanks for your comment!

  10. […] listen. After I ran the Blogging Olympics in 2012 I surveyed all of my participants and got really valuable feedback – positive and constructive. By incorporating feedback and lessons learned into your next challenge, you and your community […]

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