Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grow Your Blog, Blog Hop

I'm hosting a Grow Your Blog, Blog Hop in February. I'd love it if you'd like to consider joining me and others in this great Networking opportunity!

(1/21/15 UPDATE: I am going to cap this off at 40, participants.  We are almost there, so if your thinking of joining join us you will want to join soon.) 

You might be wondering, how does Runaway Bridal Planner know how to grow a blog, her blog isn't one of the biggest.

If you are thinking that, your right.  I don't have one of the biggest blogs out there, but in the past few years I have gone from a couple of page views a week to thousands.

To a larger blog, this might not sound impressive, but for a smaller blog I am pretty darn proud of how things are going.  It makes me feel like I have a decent idea on how to grow a blog.  What I am doing is working, it's not easy, its a lot of work (fun work), but it is working!
My goal for this hop, is to let you all in on what I have done.  How you can build your blog and grow your audience even if at one stepping stone at a time.

What have I learned this past year that has helped me do this?  A simple thing, the understanding and knowledge of Networking!
It's not always about the numbers, it's about the relationships you build.  You know the term, "It's all who you know."  Well in some ways that DOES ring true in blogging.
Good networking relationships in blogging can actually turn into finding more and more future relationships.  When your interacting with one blogger, and others see you time after time, it draws their interest and sometimes they come visit your blog just to see what your all about.
If your lucky, you might even end up finding a few new friendships out of it too!

To do this, you have to have a foundation to build on.  Most people start with a blog, and then venture into other area's of social media marketing.


Any size blog is welcome to join the hop!  However, bloggers who aren't receiving millions of pageviews each month will probably find this growth opportunity to be the most beneficial!


I'd love it if you'd like to join up and participate!  However, please make sure you read through this entire post (sorry it's long I know) and make sure you are okay and can agree and commit to the time in February to do this.
If you are not sure, don't sign up!
If you need to think about it, just bookmark it and come back later.  I am leaving the sign up, up for 3 weeks.


4 SIMPLE RULES TO JOIN

#1  Any type of blogger can participate, however, to keep it comfortable for everyone participating  your blog must be considered family friendly, no nude or erotica are allowed.  All blog participant submissions will be reviewed before your name is added to the official list.

#2  It is a requirement that you participate in the comment exchange portion of the hop.  I know blogging takes time, and growing your blog takes even more time too. So when I set this up I didn't want it to feel overwhelming to anyone.  I also wanted to make it as easy as possible.  But it also wouldn't be fair if you signed up to participate, and others are commenting and sharing your blog and social media mentions if you aren't doing the same with their blogs.
I estimate that this will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes additionally from your day. (*see below if you can't participate daily.)
You'll be on the honor code that you'll participate each week and help grow others blogs as they are doing for you!  However, if it becomes obvious that you are not participating.  I reserve the right to delete your blog from the group.  Also keep in mind others are likely to notice first that they are participating and you are not.  If your looking to develop new blogging relationships keep in mind that others will notice what you do and don't!

#3  You'll need to be okay with receiving a daily email from me in February.  You'll receive an initial email welcoming you to the blog hop.  An email the last week in January to let you know what date(s) your blog will be spotlighted in Feb (to give you time to prepare).  Then the daily emails will start Feb 1st-28th as we all begin Networking, it will be your list of to do's for that day.

#4  You must post on your blog at least ONCE a week each week in February.  You can also post daily! You are NOT required to post any more than normal, after all it's your blog it needs to ring true to how you want it to be, which is why there is no other requirements than to post at least once a week!

How it All Works

The object of joining this is to grow your blog and get it out there in front of different eyeballs in the form of Networking.
Getting your messages shared via different people, different ways at different times.  We all have different blogs and different followers, and we can all help share each others blog and messages to, so together we will help grow each others blogs, social media mentions and posts.


We will focus on these Networking areas:
* 1 day (possibly 2) in Feb your post will be featured and commented and shared by all.
* Twitter Follows & Retweets
* Facebook Page Likes, Post Likes & Shares
* Pinterest, Board Following, Image Pinning
* Instagram Followes, Likes
* Thoughtful blog comments


What do you need to know now to join?

* Optional, pull your google analytics or whichever reporting system you use to track your blogs page views and other statistics.  Pull your average monthly numbers and set them aside.  After the hop is over, I want you to compare them to your February results from the hop so you can see the difference!  (Also may want to make note of your social media numbers to see the growth there too.)

*  You MUST commit to blogging at least once each week in February.  Blog as you normally do, although their will be a few weekly suggested theme post ideas, they will be entirely optional.  You blog how you want to blog!

* Optional, but highly recommended.  Include at least 1 pinable image in each post!  Even if you don't have or use Pinterest yourself, one thing that many bloggers do find is that Pinterest is their #1 source lead to their blog posts.  If you don't have a pinable image, then you can't have a presence on Pinterest and your losing out on new visitors to your blog.

* On January 26th you will be emailed a date for your blogs spotlighted post(s).  This will give you advanced time to create a great post for your spotlight day.  You can use it as a day to introduce yourself and your blog, or create a post on something you are passionate about.  You can do anything you'd like, its your blog its your time to shine.  I just want to give advance notice so you can prepare.
(A recommended 500 word minimum as well as at least 1 pinable image should be considered for this post! *See the Q&A below for more info on why for this part.)
Depending on how many we have sign up, their will be 1 or possibly 2 blogs spotlighted each day.
Why?  Well on this date, everyone in the blog hop will be visiting your blog and commenting on it.
(*Its okay if your busy and cannot visit a blog each day, you can play catch up during the week.  The main requirement is that by the end of the week (Midnight Saturday), you must have visited each and every blog that was spotlighted for that week.)
NOTE: I would like everyone to have 2 spotlight days, however that depends on how many we have sign up.  For sure for now plan on 1.  You'll know by the 26th if there are going to be 2.

* During the month of February you MUST be willing to leave a thoughtful comment on ALL the spotlighted blog posts (You will receive these via email weekly.)  You should also be leaving an easy way for other bloggers to find your blog when you comment.  If you don't, then you cannot complain that others are not returning a comment on your blog.  They can only comment if they can find you!  It's also highly recommended you turn OFF capitcha's or other things that can detour others from commenting.

*  During the ENTIRE month of February.  If someone comments on your blog, you MUST be willing to go back and visit their blog within 72 hours.  *Networking*  (Only if they leave a link to their blog, in your comments.  You will not be required to locate others who are not making themselves easy to find.  When you respond to their comment on your blog, just make sure you let them know you would have loved to visit their blog but they didn't leave a way for you to find them.
This rule also applies for comments that are received from others not participating in the hop.  They may have found you and taken notice from one of the comments you left on another blog.  This is all about Networking and Networking comes from many various forms.
You want to grow your blog, and this is one of those things that takes time, but can also be a lot of fun, for this hop it is required to comment and return the favor to all who visit you and take the time to share their thoughts on your post!!!

* Although you'll only be required to visit the spotlighted blogs and social pages on any given day. For Networking purposes, I highly recommend you spend as much time or even a little time if that is all you have, visiting other blogs on the list of interest to you, commenting on them.  Making new relationships.  I keep saying this, but it's all about Networking!!!!

* Only if you have these forms of social media.  Sometimes you will be sharing others posts via social media.  You'll want to make sure you use appropriate  #Hashtags.  #Hashtags are beneficial on Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram.  You can include them on Facebook, but unless they have changed things recently that I am unaware of, Facebook doesn't pick up hashtags like the others do.  If you are not familiar with these, you can learn them in a few minutes just start today.

*  Additionally, you will need to know how to re-tweet, favorite or like a post on Twitter.  Like or comment on an Instagram post.  Pin an image to a Pinterest board, pin an image to a group board.  Share, comment and like a Facebook post.  (You will only be responsible for doing this if you tell me you have and use these social media options.)

*  Optional, if you aren't on: Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook now would be a great time to sign up for accounts.  You can use the Blog Hop to help build your following base.  If you are thinking of signing up for some/all do it before you join this blog hop so your links can be included for others to use during the hop.

*  You will get an email within 48 hours of signing up for this hop.  At that time your name will be added to the official list of bloggers participating.
However, I understand if 5-15 minutes a day is too much to add to your schedule in February.  So if you can no longer participate or change your mind please email me anytime between now and January 24th and I will remove you with no questions asked.  PLEASE let me know no later than this, because I will be spending time working you into the hop schedule.  If you bail at a later date, it won't be fair to others!  In the form you fill out, that is when you'll let me know what dates in February you cannot be spotlighted.  I will do my best to work around schedules.

*  Have more questions, scroll down below to see the question and answer section for more information or contact me for the answer.


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See who has already signed up to participate in the 
Grow Your Blog, Blog Hop

(The list will will be updated as needed every 48 hours until Jan. 25th.)
If you don't see your name on the list and you sent me your application more than 48 hours ago.  Possibly your email/blog information was incorrect.  Email me and I will look into it.


NOTE:  Because this hop will take me a lot more time than normal to organize and put together.  I am only allowing bloggers to join up between now and January 24th.  Sorry, I will not allow any exceptions to this!  

WANT TO JOIN US?
Fill out your information in the form below to join up and participate:





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QUESTION and ANSWERS

Q- I don't have a lot of time, but I want to participate.
A- No worries, none of us have ton's of time.  I am keeping this as simple and easy as possible for everyone.  5-15 minutes should be all that is needed to do each day's requirements.

Q - What if I sign up, but I can't put effort into it every single day?
A - No problem!  It's set up to be easy, so you can do this as you have time.  You don't have to do it everyday if you don't have time. You can go in and do it on the days you do have time to focus on this.  You just have to have it all done by each Saturday.

Q- You mentioned although optional it is highly recommended that our sponsored day posts have at least 500 words and at least 1 pinnable image, why is this?
A- If you are familiar with SEO or even the term Going Viral then this is where this comes into play. In short Google searches sites/blogs and has specific algorithms to determine what posts are valid content, the ones they feel are better come up in google searches more.  Posts with very little content are the least likely to get picked up.  Although there is no rule of thumb on what is the perfect post length, some say it's somewhere around 1,500 words.
I picked 500, because that is what they consider the lower end of a good word count post, plus it sounds less overwhelming for most people.
Although it is rare, if a post goes viral several things happen.  If you notice posts that go viral when you view them, very rarely will you see short posts.  It would take too long to go into it.  But to better the chances since you'll be getting lots of page views, and pins and shares to these posts I thought I'd put it out there so if you are one of the rare lucky individuals, you're chances will be slightly higher!

Q- What if I don't have Facebook or Twitter and I only have a blog and Pinterest or some other combination?
A - No problem, the reason I had you fill out the Google Document is so I can circulate what you do have appropriately.  You will not be required to comment or share others social media channels if you don't have that particular form yourself!

Q- I only post on my blog once or twice a week is that okay, or do I need to do more?
A- You can post as much or as little as you want as long as you keep to the minimum of 1X a week.  Don't try to create posts, just for the sake of posting during the "Grow your Blog, Blog Hop".  Keep on doing what you have been doing, be real, post as you normally do.  Share content like you normally share it.  The point is to introduce your blog to everyone in it's "REAL" self.  You want people to keep on following you, so stay true to what makes your blog unique.  Don't start writing new content, on new topics or things you have no plans to blog about in the future, you won't want to confuse your potential new followers.

Q- You mentioned their will be possible blogging subjects sent out each week.
A - Yes, but they are completely optional.  One subject can bring several different variations ideas.  Since this is a "Grow Your Blog" focus, the subjects will be related to this.  You do NOT have to run any of those post topics, they are only suggestive.  However, since we all have different successes and we can all learn from each other, I am going to put the idea out there.  It's entirely up to you, if you tackle any of them!

Q- I haven't used social media in the past, if I sign up for it and it is brand new can I use it in the hop?
A- Of course, and what better way to get an immediate following!  I'd suggest joining the ones you want as soon as possible just so you are familiar with the functions and how to "like, share, comment" on things ahead of time so you feel like you know what you are doing come February 1st.

Q- I am signing up, is there anything I can do now to help me get ready for the hop?
A- Yes, As you know blogging takes time, especially writing quality posts.  Take this time in January to get a head a little, write a few posts and get them scheduled for February.  This way, you won't have to divide too much of your time between writing posts and networking with the other bloggers and assigned tasks.  This also a great time to start thinking about what you'd like your spotlighted post to be on.
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If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments to this post.  Because likely if you have a question someone else will too.  
I am sure this being my first hop of this kind, there are a few things I haven't covered that you will help me to do so.   
(No question is a dumb question, I promise:)
However, if you have a question and you are not wanting others to see that you asked, feel free to email me and ask me in private.  I will respond to all comment questions, and emails daily!

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