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?