F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)

Biannual Blogathon Bash Frequently Asked Questions
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Biannual Blogathon Bash Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page is designed to help answer some common questions people have about how the blogathon works and what to expect. If after reading through this FAQ you still have questions, contact me.


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Basic

WHAT is the blogathon?

The blogathon is an online event designed to give bloggers a chance to work on all their blogging to-dos and learn more about different aspects of blogging at the same time as many other bloggers. Basically a blogathon=blogging+marathon. Most participants dedicate a large chunk of time during the weekend event to work on their blogs but you can join in even if you can’t dedicate that much time.

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WHEN is the blogathon?

The blogathon is held twice a year, once in January and once in June. It is usually the third weekend of the month but may not always be that way. The date for the next blogathon is announced at the end of the current blogathon. The date of the upcoming blogathon is always displayed at the top of the blog under the main image. Each blogathon runs for 72 hours (8am EST Friday to 8am EST Monday.) Bloggers can participate as much as they can during those time periods.

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WHO can participate in the blogathon?

The blogathon is open to bloggers of all types including:

  • solo bloggers and group/collaborative bloggers
  • new bloggers and experienced bloggers
  • bloggers of all niches
  • bloggers who blog for profit and those who don’t
  • bloggers who also have a business and those who don’t
  • bloggers who own one blog and those that own many
  • bloggers who have just started their blog (we’ve had blogs as new as one week join us.)

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How do I sign up?

Check the signup page to see if signups are currently open for the upcoming blogathon. If they are, add your information to the “linky” at the bottom of the page.

After the numbered list you should see something like this:

Signup Linky

Click Add Your Link and it will change to look like this:

Signup Linky

Type in your information as follows:

URL: type in your main blog url including http://
Name: type in your BLOG Name (not your personal name)
Email: type in your preferred contact email. Please double check this is typed correctly.

Click Submit Link. You should get a confirmation message that you added your link. It may ask you if you want to tweet or otherwise share that you submitted your link. You may do this if you want or skip this. Once you have done this, you are signed up.

NOTES:

  • If you have more than one blog, you only need to signup under one. You can still participate on multiple blogs during the event but only one signup is necessary.
  • If you have a group/collaborative blog and more than one blogger from it wants to participate, sign up separately but add your first name as well as the blog name such as: Name @ My Blog Name and you should each signup with your own respective email addresses.

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What happens after I sign up?

You will not get an email message after you signup but as long as your name is there on the linky, you are good. One Week before the event starts, ONE email will be sent out to everyone who signed up as a friendly reminder. You will not be added to an email list and you will not be spammed.

If you would like to keep up with news about the blogathon and/or connect with other participants before, during and after the event, you may want to signup for the newsletter and/or join the Facebook or Google+ group.

Building Better Blogs Newsletter – This is a monthly newsletter with blogathon news, blogging tips, blog updates and announcements of upcoming events run by this blog. In the months that blogathons are run, there are 1-3 extra emails sent out during the month with blogathon news/updates and a reminder about the event. Sign up for the BBB Newsletter.

Biannual Blogathon Bash Facebook Group – The FB group is open to all bloggers whether they participate in an event or not. It is for discussing blogging topics and questions, interacting with other bloggers including blogathon participants and also allows you to get updates/news on the blogathon and this blog before anyone else. For example sponsors for the blogathon are announced in the group before they are announced on the blog. You must request to join the group. If you have no friends in the group I will check your profile for signs that you are a blogger. If there is no mention of blogging anywhere in your profile and you have no friends in the group, please send a private message to me (Kathleen Garber) to tell me you requested access and where you blog. This is to keep the group open to bloggers only.

Biannual Blogathon Bash Google+ Group – The Google+ group is quieter at the moment but is basically meant to be similar to the Facebook group. If you prefer Google+ or want to join both, we’d love to have you.

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Are there any fees?

No. The blogathon and anything related to the blogathon is 100% free. You do not need to pay anything to participate or be eligible for prizes. We do accept donations if anyone wants to support the event but it is never required nor will you be pestered to donate. There is a donate button in the bottom sidebar, that’s it.

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Do I have to commit to 24 or 72 hours?

Nope. The event is 72 hours but I don’t expect anyone to blog continuously for 72 hours. I suggest you aim for 24 hours total of blogging but that is entirely a suggestion and also not meant to be continuous. You are welcome to participate even if you can only spare a a few hours on only one of the days. The more you can commit to, the more you will get done and the more chances you will have to complete mini challenges, attend twitter parties, interact with the other participants and win prizes.

If you do not blog on the weekends and do not wish to make an exception, join us for Friday. If you will be at work on Friday, join us for Saturday and Sunday. If you have a previous commitment you can’t or don’t want to get out of, join us when you are available.

If you wish to devote a large chunk of time over the weekend and you don’t live alone, I suggest you arrange for a babysitter, clear your calendar and tell any other housemates that you will be unavailable during the weekend. You can find more tips for preparing for the blogathon in the Blogathon Prep Series. It all depends on what you want to do.

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Mini Challenges

What is a mini challenge?


A mini challenge is a post on a blog, created for the blogathon, that teaches the basics of a topic of interest to bloggers. It includes a small challenge at the end to complete, to practice the skill or show you have read the post or done what was talked about. The challenge usually involves something like commenting on the post answering a question or completing a small task such as creating/editing a post, doing something with Social Media, etc.

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What sort of topics would a mini challenge be about?

New mini challenges are created for each blogathon. Past topics have included: Food Photography Tips, Social Media Promotion, What Google PR, Alexa and Klout are, Dofollow vs. Nofollow links, How to Write a Book Review and so much more. View past mini challenges to see examples.

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How does a mini challenge increase my chances to win prizes?

For every mini challenge you complete during the event, you can claim an entry into the prize giveaways.  See the Prizes section for more about how prizes work.

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Do I have to do the mini challenges?

No. A list of mini challenges will go live when the blogathon goes live or shortly before. You can look them over and choose to do however many you wish, whether that be none or all of them. Some may not pertain to you or some you might not be ready to learn yet. If you already know how to do something that is explained in the mini challenge, you can still participate, as long as you do what is required for the challenge.

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Will I be able to access the mini challenges after the event?

Yes. The mini challenges will stay live as long as the blog they are hosted on is still around. However you must complete the challenge DURING the event to be able to claim a prize giveaway entry.

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Can I run a mini challenge?

Absolutely! Mini challenges are run by any blogger who has some knowledge about a topic and wishes to share it. Mini challenge hosts do not have to be participating in the blogathon as long as they can check in to their post a few times during the event to answer any questions anyone might have. Most mini challenge hosts do also participate too.  A post will go live on the blog whens signups are open for mini challenge hosts for a particular blogathon. When you signup you are not committing to hosting a mini challenge, just expressing interest. More information will be sent to you and you can decide from there if you are still interested.

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Sponsors

What is a sponsor?

A sponsor is a person or company that pays money or donates a product or service in exchange for advertisement of their product/service before, during and sometimes after an event. The blogathon uses sponsors so that participants can win prizes for their effort during the blogathon.

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How does sponsorship work for the blogathon?

For the purposes of the blogathon, our sponsors donate a product or service as a prize for the blogathon participants. In exchange for donating their product/service free of charge, the blogathon offers different types of advertisements and promotion to the person or company depending on the value of what they have offered. For example a sponsor might get a spotlight post on the blog highlighting the person/company and what they offer, or a sidebar ad, or social media promotion.

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Who can be a sponsor?

Anyone who can offer a product or service of interest to bloggers that is worth a minimum of $10 can be a sponsor.  It could be a company that sells books on blogging, a web design service, a company that sells a computer program that would benefit bloggers or anything similar. It could be a single person who does web design on the side or is offering free ad space on their blog. Check out the prize lists from past blogathons to see what types of prizes have been sponsored in the past.

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What should I do if I might be interested in sponsoring or I know someone else who might be?

Potential sponsors should check out the sponsorship page for more details. In the 8 weeks or so before a blogathon is set to occur the page will have a form to submit for sponsorship. If you are interested in sponsoring a blogathon that is more than 8 weeks away and/or the form is not on the page, you can always email info@biannualblogathonbash.com to inquire.

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Prizes

Who is eligible to win prizes during a blogathon?

The blogathon prizes are for anyone who has signed up for the upcoming blogathon AND has done a kick off post to show they are actively participating in the event. You can find out more about the kick off post in the During the Blogathon section. Many prizes are open to worldwide participants but some may have shipping restrictions. In that case you must also be within those countries to be eligible for those specific prizes. If a prize has any other restrictions you must fit those as well.

There are also often prizes available for participants in the twitter parties that are held throughout the weekend. To be eligible for these prizes, you must have RSVPed for the twitter party and be active during the party that your name is picked. Information on the twitter parties, twitter party prizes and how to RSVP will be on a Twitter Party post that goes live when the blogathon starts.

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What do I have to do to be entered for prizes?

When the blogathon begins, a prize list will go up on the blog of all available prizes. Once a participant has signed up for the blogathon and completed the mandatory kick off post (see During the Blogathon section,) they must go to the post with the prize list and claim at least the mandatory entries in the Rafflecopter prize form.

You do not need to enter for the twitter party prizes, just make sure you have RSVPed and are active during as many twitter parties as you can attend.

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What can I do to increase my chances of winning a prize?

As mentioned in the Mini Challenges section above, every mini challenge you complete during the blogathon time period gives you another chance to win prizes. To claim this entry, you have to go to the Rafflecopter form on the prize list post and claim an entry for every mini challenge you complete. You can come back to the form throughout the event to claim a prize for the mini challenges you complete. You can also claim an entry for completing the feedback survey near the end of the event and another entry for doing a wrap-up post when you are finished with the event.

The only way to increase the chances of winning a twitter party prize is to attend as many of the twitter parties as possible. If your name is chosen but you aren’t active during that twitter party, another name will be chosen instead.

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How will I know if I won?

On the Monday when the blogathon is finished, the winners will be drawn for the prizes. It is a long process and can take anywhere from a few hours to a day. When the winners have all been picked and matched with prizes, a post will go up on the blog announcing all the winners and then the winners will all be emailed with instructions on how to claim their prizes. It is always announced on the Biannual Blogathon Facebook Group when the winners have been announced.

Winners during the twitter parties will be announced right away at the end of the twitter parties. Winners will be tagged in the tweet using their twitter username and will be asked to fill in a short form with contact info so they can be contacted about their prize.

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Twitter Parties

What is a twitter party?

A twitter party is a when a group of people are on twitter at the same time and chat with each other, usually on a specific topic/theme using a party hashtag that ties all the tweets together and makes it easier to follow.  A twitter party and a twitter chat are basically the same thing although a party usually has prizes and sponsors. Often times the hosts of the twitter party have questions preset to ask the group. They preface the questions as Q1 or Q2 meaning Question 1 or Question 2.

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What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a short word or phrase prefaced by a number sign (e.g. #blogging or #recipes). Twitter users add hashtags to their tweets so they can be found if that hashtag is searched and sometimes to be funny or make a short statement. In this case the tweeter may be the only one using the hashtag but it’s not for searching, its to make a point. Hashtags are also used for certain events and twitter chats and parties so that all the participants can easily follow the conversation.

The hashtag for the blogathon is #blogathon2

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How do I participate in a twitter party?

Most parties require you to sign up as a participant first. The post that announced the twitter party usually has a linky (See Basic: How Do I Sign Up? for an explanation of linkies) to sign up with your twitter account. While you can technically join the party without signing a linky, usually the linky is used to pick winners so if you didn’t sign up, you won’t be eligible to win.

To follow the party, you will need a twitter account and a way to follow the hashtag somehow. You can do that directly from the twitter website by searching for the hashtag but that can be clunky. You can also use a twitter client such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck to follow the hashtag. Simply search for the hashtag in the program and then you can add a column for that search. There are also some twitter tools designed to be used with twitter chats and parties such as TweetChat and Twubs. You login to your twitter account directly from the site and then enter a “room” based on the hashtag. They usually automatically add the hashtag to all of your tweets so you don’t have to remember to type it in each time like you would with the other choices.

To join the party, login to your chosen way of following and make sure you add the party hashtag if it isn’t added automatically to every tweet you send out. Otherwise only your followers will see it and not everyone at the party. If a question is posted, click reply on the tweet and put A and the question number in front of your tweet. For example if Q1 goes out, reply with A1 and then your answer. Alternatively you can just create a new tweet with A1 at the start.

Make sure you know who the hosts are and pay special attention to tweets by the hosts for party instructions.

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When are the twitter parties?

A post will go up on the first day of the blogathon or possibly just before listing the dates and times of the twitter parties for each blogathon. If the party has a specific topic, that will be listed as well. Times are given in EST so make sure to convert if you are in a different time zone.

I suggest you set an alarm for the ones you want to attend as many people have missed a party because they didn’t realize the time or had the time wrong in their head.

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During the Blogathon

What do I DO during the blogathon?

The blogathon is designed as a chance for you to catch up on the “blogging to-do list” that most of us have, whether it’s written down or just in our heads.

Depending on what you blog about and where you are at with your blogging, you may have all kinds of different things in mind to get done. Some things others have done include: write posts, make changes to their blog design, set up Social Media sites, clean out email, transfer your blog to WordPress, brainstorm new posts/features, clean sidebars and footers, reorganize categories/tags/labels, research or learn something blogging related you want to learn how to do,  etc. Some people have even attended blogging events or tested out a product they are reviewing.

You can do any tasks you want, in any order you want, at any time you want during the blogathon. Work at your own pace, take breaks when you need to or work around other commitments.

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What else can I do?

You’ll want to spend some time on your own, getting things done however there are lots of opportunities to connect with other bloggers and have fun during the blogathon too. There are mini challenges you can take a look at and complete if you so choose (See Mini Challenges section for more.) There are twitter parties you can attend to meet others bloggers, gain knowledge, have fun and possibly win prizes (See Twitter Party section for more.) You can also chat on twitter in between parties just to check in, ask questions or share your progress.

The Blogathon Facebook Group is a hub of activity. Participating bloggers check in multiple times throughout the event so ask questions, share what they have accomplished and connect with others. The hosts often post a reminder when a twitter party is coming up or when a new update has been posted to the blogathon blog that you might want to check out. It’s a great place to reach out if you are stuck on a mini challenge or anything else you are trying to do or need an opinion or someone to check if something is working right.

NOTE: If you are requesting to join the Blogathon Facebook Group, please note if you have any friends in the group. If not, look at your profile while you are logged out. Does anything show you are a blogger? (Job title, groups, updates etc) If not, please send Kathleen Garber a private message to say where you blog at and that you are trying to join the blogathon group. To keep out spammers, I only approve those with friends in the group or those whose profiles suggest they blog unless they message me.

If you are an Instagram user you can post photos of how it’s going to Instagram using the #blogathon2 hashtag and then search the hashtag to connect with others. We usually have an Instagram Photo Challenge as well with a daily topic to encourage you to participate on Instagram throughout the weekend.

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Do I Need to Keep Track of Anything?

You should try to keep track of how much time you spend on the blogathon during the weekend. On the last day, Sunday, a link to to a feedback survey will be posted and one of the questions it will ask is how long you spent on the blogathon. The person who spent the most time on the blogathon as recorded in the feedback survey will win an extra entry into the prize draw.

To do this, you can just keep a paper and pen close to you and write down the time when you start working and the time you stop for a break or something else. At the end of each day, calculate the time spent during each period and add it up for the day’s total. Add all three days for your grand total.

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What Do I Do When I’m Ready to Start? What is a Kick-Off Post?

When you first join in after the blogathon has officially started, whether that’s Friday morning or some other time on the weekend, you should check the blog for the most recent posts. Specifically look for something labelled Day One. It will have some basic information and reminders to think about and will tell you how to find all the information you might need during the blogathon such as a list of the mini challenges, twitter parties or form to fill out for prizes.

It will also talk about doing a Kick off post which is a post on your blog or if you prefer not to post about the blogathon on your blog, your Facebook page or Google+ account is acceptable. The post should indicate your participation in the event and possibly a link to the blog so others can join in if they so choose. Many people put a list of their goals for the weekend but that’s totally up to you. After you publish the post, link it up to the Kick Off post Linky. (See Basics: How Do I Sign Up? for more on linkies.)

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How Often Should I Check the Blogathon Blog?

Each day of the blogathon a new update post will be added. As mentioned in the question above, the first one includes the kick off post linky. Day two updates could be able anything but usually include some reminders and recently, a Guest Map to see where in the world everyone is blogging from. The day three update includes important information and a link to the feedback survey and a place to link up a wrap up post if you decide to do one.

A wrap up post is either another post on your blog/FB/G+ or you can alternatively edit the kick off post to state how you did during the blogathon. You might include what mini challenges you accomplished, how you did on your goals and how much time you spent on the blogathon. Doing the wrap up post entitles you to another entry into the prize drawing but remember to claim it on the Rafflecopter form. The blogathon officially ends 8am EST Monday although most people in the US/Canada at least finish when they decide to go to bed Sunday night. The Rafflecopter form and wrap up linky will be open until 11am EST Monday to give you a few extra hours to do the post and claim all your entries. So if you fall asleep at your computer Sunday night you will still have time to claim your entries when you wake up.
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