I have always liked a good blog challenge. As someone who has not always enjoyed writing, a good prompt has always comforted me. I wrote about Blog Challenges for Educators long before I ever dared to consider hosting my own. I am not sure why I waited so long to host a blog challenge, but I have a hunch I was waiting to become important before I did something like that. It is not that I am now important, but that I was done waiting and wanted to do it already!
My message is simple. I am just a girl with a blog and I hosted a blog challenge – you can too!
And I will show you how I hosted mine.
Set the Time
When does your target demographic have a natural break for reflection? For many that occasion is the New Year, January 1st. In education, the summer is a natural break for reflection and renewal.
The shortest summers happen in the southern states. I based the length of this challenge on a southern summer length of 8 weeks.
Teachers in the summer strive to not know what day it is. So I chose to post once a week, thinking they might find a landmark within a week to latch on to.
I started out wanting to improve my ranking on Teach100.com. I note that the metric I lag in is other blogs linking back to my blog. So I reached out to many contacts on Twitter who also maintained blogs which ranked higher than mine on Teach100.com. Of course, I reached out to others I know from educational blogging as well, but if my goal was to improve my ranking, having back links from higher ranking blogs would certainly help that most.
The number of participants?
Eight educators joined in the challenge. That’s pretty good for an initial blog challenge – when teachers are decidedly and deservedly OFF work.
The number of page views?
I enjoyed a spike in traffic for the duration of my blog challenge. My blog moved from 521 to 481 rank on Teach100.com over the course of the blog challenge too.
Identify a Hashtag
I went with #8weeksofsummer for my challenge hashtag. I searched before using it to make sure it did not have any crazy associations I could not imagine. By the end of my challenge a there was a festival also using the hashtag. It was benign, but through off my statistics there at the end.
Content is central to the theme of any blog challenge. However, once the format is established each subsequent week is largely “Copy & Paste, Insert New Prompt.”
My topics were:
Week 1 of 8: Potential Professional Growth
Week 2 of 8: Impactful Professional Learning
Week 3 of 8: The Biggest Change
Week 4 of 8: How do you Lead/Follow?
Week 5 of 8: Summer Student Experiences
Week 6 of 8: Apply Summer PL to Classroom
Week 7 of 8: Share Favorite Strategies
Week 8 of 8: How will you Keep Reflecting?
Promote the Challenge!
I direct messaged many people I knew on Twitter and invited them to blog. Sure not everyone did, but they retweeted it for me! Even if people did not participate this year, when they hear about it again next year I believe I will get a bigger response.
Social media images
This was the fun part, and what took the most time every week. And it wasn’t even that much time. I search Pexels and Pixabay for royalty-free images of the most summery thing I could think of – pineapples! I uploaded my images to Canvas (instead of buying them for $1 each). I created one Facebook, one Instagram, and one Pinterest optimized image. Each week had the same picture, coloring/filters, text, and format, just in differing sizes.
I used the HTML to hide the Pinterest pin in each post:
<div style=”display: none;”>
I posted to my blog’s Facebook page and shared out to Instagram every Sunday when I posted.
The images really identified the challenge and tied it all together. I wonder if I can find that many pineapple images for next year or if I need to find another paragon of summer?
2018-08-14 at 4:03 pm
I never thought of doing a blog challenge but sounds like fun and a great way to network with others, gain some followers, and collaborate. I may have to brainstorm some ideas!
2018-08-14 at 4:08 pm
This is a really cool idea! It’s always fun to see all the different things people will produce with the same prompts. I think 8 weeks is the perfect duration, too, because any longer would feel like too much work.
2018-08-17 at 9:48 am
You’re right Ann! I enjoyed viewing some widely differing responses to my prompts. And how wonderful it was!
2018-08-14 at 7:31 pm
I always enjoy participating in blog challenges. They motivate me to get things done, that otherwise just sit idle on a to-do list. To create my own challenge will be so much fun!
2018-08-17 at 9:48 am
I’m with you Tami! If I am doing a challenge with a group I am motivated in a different way.
2018-08-15 at 1:40 pm
We did a weight loss challenge on our blog a long time ago. It was pretty successful but best thing is it worked for us. I think challenges are so much fun and they get people who normally don’t say much involved. 8 weeks was a great choice. I would probably fizzle out if it were much longer.
2018-08-17 at 9:47 am
Thanks for the assurance the 8 weeks was a good choice – one never knows!
I think challenges are better because we are all trying it together.
2018-08-15 at 3:15 pm
That is an amazing challenge and goal to hit. My friend often tries to challenge herself to post everyday for 30 days straight or something like that.
2018-08-15 at 9:55 pm
This is so awesome, Penny! I love that you’re not only challenging yourself with your writing, but inviting others to participate too. A few months ago I wrote 6 blog posts in 6 days, it was intense. But ever since, writing has been so much easier.
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2018-08-18 at 7:47 pm
That is wonderful that your challenge was so successful and your ranking went up quite a bit! You had a great list of topics and were very organized.
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2018-09-09 at 2:08 am
It’s a good idea. Thanks for sharing
2019-05-08 at 10:27 pm
Thanks for all you servings. Each heaping tray teaches me something new. 🙂
If you decide to create a blog challenge this Summer or sometime during 2019-20, let me know at @TrivediZiemba
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