How to Host a Blog Event and Why You Should

November 30, 2011 | Writing Business, Marketing

Tomorrow, December 1, I’m kicking off a blog event at my blog titled 30 Days of Vampires. I’ve done this event (along with its companion–A Full Moon of Werewolves) a couple of times now and while it is a ton of work, the pay off is pretty big too.

Originally, I hosted this blog event to promote a novella, The Vampire Who Stole Christmas, and while I am sure it sold a few copies of that book, the biggest benefits came later in the form of improved ranking in Google (more visitors months later) and goodwill from readers and participating authors.

Here are a few tips for hosting your own blog event.

1.) Pick a theme and title that will appeal to your readers and have keyword impact with Google. I could have done better with this. I have vampires in there, but “vampire romance” would have been better. Still, I like the title so I’m sticking with it. I also like the flexibility of it not being an event strictly tied to romance. And I know the word vampire and vampire romance will be used plenty in the posts to reinforce the keywords.

2.) Give a decent prize. It doesn’t have to be huge. In the past I’ve given away $100 of vampire books. This worked well because I was able to get a lot of those books for free, or buy books written by friends who I wanted to support. This time though, with the growth of ebooks, I’m opting for a $100 gift card to the bookstore of the winner’s choice. I like this because it opens up the prize to people outside of the U.S. Mailing print books can get pricey. It also allows the winner to select a local bookstore, if they like.

In addition to the grand prize, I suggest that bloggers offer a prize of their own. This isn’t required, but a lot of authors will do this. This adds excitement to the event. I even have one author giving away a free download of her book through Smashwords. Free to everyone. You can’t beat that.

3.) Use tools to keep yourself organized and to let readers know what is happening. The first time I did 30 Days of Vampires, I did a page on my web site with the schedule. This was a pain to keep up. This time I’m using Google Calendar.

4.) Make a schedule and post in advance when you can. Posting a blog a day is a lot of work, even if you don’t have to actually write the post. I send out a reminder email about a week in advance to that next week’s guests. (Use blind CC to protect privacy.)

5.) Use affiliate links and make sure your own books are visible without encroaching on the guest’s space. Authors agree to write posts to get visibility for their own books. Give them that. Link to their web sites and their books at the various booksellers. Use affiliate links for those books to make a little extra cash and put your own books in the sidebar where they will be clearly visible but not overpower the guest blogger’s books.

6.) Promote with social media and your newsletter. For an event like this where you are giving away prizes, there is no need to spend money on promotion. Do, however, alert your readers through your newsletter and via Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc. Make sure to use hash tags that pertain both to the giveaways you are doing and the general topic.

7.) Provide readers with an easy to use link and/or make the posts prominent on your site. In the past I had a dedicated blog which I used for my events. Recently though, I rolled my blog into my site. However, using categories I am able to provide one easy to go to link where all the posts for this event will be visible. I’ll also move things around on my home page to give the event dominance.

If you follow these tips, you can host an event without losing your mind, gain new readers, build goodwill with other authors and have a lot of fun.

p.s. Don’t forget to stop by my blog (starting Thursday, December 1) to comment on the 30 Days of Vampires posts for your chance to win.

Lori Devoti is the multi-published author of romantic comedy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She also writes the Dusty Deals Mystery series under the pen name Rae Davies. Look for her workshops at Write by the Lake (DCS University of Wisconsin), at RWA conferences and meetings, and here at the How To Write Shop. For more information, visit her web site.