{How To} Throw a Theme Event on Your Blog

We just experienced 31 days of pancakes and I need a nap. Oh wait, I mean…I learned some things. Interested? Read on.

Not so interested or don’t have a blog? Recipes will return soon.

People have told me I’ve been really organized during this event, and the truth is organized is a nice way to say psycho, if I wasn’t, I would lose my mind. This was a lot of work!

In keeping with the psycho-ness organization–I’m going to put this post in list format to hopefully make your life easier.

My To-Do List for Before Emailing for Volunteers:
  1. Decide on theme and pick a name and hashtag. Google this name to make sure it isn’t being used or there are no alternate meanings because I live in a bubble and can be clueless about today’s slang. In my case, find a fun SNL video.
  2. Make a list of people I would like to have participate. Locate their email addresses if I do not have them. As they respond to the initial email, form a list in my email account to make emailing easy.
  3. In a survey, participants in my event indicated that they would need at least 2 weeks to one month’s notice. Some participants said they would prefer LESS than 2 months notice. So I’d say shoot between 1-2 months notice.
My To-Do List Once I Started Getting Volunteers:
  1. Set up a spreadsheet. I made a Google Document where everyone could fill in their pancake name. I also put in the permalinks here once I got the post set up. I also collected social media information and links this way.
  2. Contact companies for giveaways. Set up giveaway posts.
  3. Set up pancake posts as they trickle into my email. Email participants confirming when the post will be live and also providing them with a permalink to their post.

Information to be Included in Initial Email:

  1. What? In this case, 31 days of pancakes brought by assorted food bloggers.
  2. When? Dates are important. Include when you would like the post sent to you. Offer a choice of date on a first come, first served basis.
  3. What is required? Recipe, additional text, promotion on social media, linkage, photos. Whatever you want from each participant. I asked for a recipe with some kind of intro text and at least one photo. I also asked for a “teaser” post on their blog which would link to me. I asked for this to include my Pancake Party logo, which I sent the html for. Promotion via social media was optional. I also asked for the title of the recipe somewhat in advance because I wanted to eliminate any duplicates.
  4. What is in it for them? This is what was “in it” for my participants:
    • A month’s worth of fun pancake recipes.
    • Links to their homepage, their “about me” page, and their Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook pages (as applicable). Also links to additional pages on their site to highlight their content.
    • Their recipe and blog would be promoted via Twitter and Facebook.
    • Their recipe would be pinned on a special Pinterest board. (Unless they opted out of this.)
    • They were automatically entered in a special giveaway for participants only. This giveaway came from out of my pocket. (Amazon gift card.)
    • A Pancake Party button to put in their sidebar (optional).

My To-Do List for Each AND EVERY Day During the Event:

  1. Have post scheduled to go live at same time every day.
  2. Check post to make sure everything went live okay.
  3. Check guest poster’s teaser to make sure everything is okay. (Although I didn’t really care too much about this–I was just happy people were participating and was more checking their post to read what they wrote. I also tried to leave a comment on each person’s teaser. Some people didn’t write a teaser. No biggie–again, I was just happy people were participating. I promise I didn’t send any hate mail.)
  4. Tweet the post, making sure to use #pancakeparty hashtag and twitter handle of the person who was posting that day.
  5. Schedule a Facebook post for later in the day promoting the post. Make sure to mention the Facebook page of the person who was posting that day.
  6. Pin the post to a special board devoted to the “party.”
  7. If traffic seemed slow (or for the holiday & weekend posts), I would sometimes mention them again on Facebook or Twitter to ensure they got adequate exposure.
  8. If applicable, promote giveaways or choose giveaway winners.

What My Guest Bloggers Thought of This Event: I gave a short anonymous survey to get some feedback, and overall it seems like people were happy they participated. At least that is what they are telling me!

What I Would Do Differently Next Time:

  1. I would probably make it a Monday through Friday event, taking weekends off. Not only did I get a little burnt out, but I also felt bad about the guest posters that were on the weekends. They didn’t seem to get as much attention, and didn’t get as many comments.
  2. I would do more posts myself. I got a little carried away because I had so many people I wanted to include, but I felt a bit disconnected from my readers and my blog during this month.
  3. I would maybe make it three weeks instead of four, depending on the topic.
  4. This is certainly NOT something I would recommend doing more than once per year. Especially if you do a month-long event. That’s my own personal opinion, but host one of your own and you’ll probably agree!

Any questions? Anything else you’re dying to know?

If you were throwing an “event” on your blog, what would be the theme?

PS: Have you seen my newest project? I’m planning an intimate food blogger celebration in Michigan–Taste of Michigan. Interested? Email me! 

When you make a recipe from my site tag it with #RachelCooks!
I love to see what you're creating!

41 comments

  1. Really interesting and helpful,something I would look at doing next year,I don’t think I have the technical knowledge or connections to put something together yet,but if you do another would be interested in participating thanks johnny

  2. You did a great job with this series and I really enjoyed seeing all the delicious pancake recipes. I appreciate also your honest about what it took to get the series to run well!

    Your MI blogger project looks awesome… makes me wish I still lived there!

  3. Great job Rachel! I really enjoyed your pancake party and love all of these tips. I know I will be coming back to this post for all of your advice!

  4. Rachel, you did a great job with your July Pancake Party. It was a month of limited online time for me, so I missed out on getting to comment ~~>> But loved reading along! I LOVE that you wrote this post…. So helpful. I’m pinning it to reference in the future! :-) Happy August!!!!

  5. Awesome info! You seriously put SO much time into this, thank you!
    I wish I lived in Mich, I’d be totally interested :)

  6. This pancake party was so much fun! I seriously added almost all of them to my “to-make” list. And thank you so much for this detailed tutorial. I’m so motivated to throw an event now! :)

  7. You did an awesome job planning this! Especially dealing with bloggers like me who are terrible at responding to emails. You never made me feel bad about it either (although I made myself feel bad about it haha). On a side note, according to my stat counter, I’m pretty sure every single exit link from my blog is going to your site! Hope you got some good exposure from this – you deserve it! :)

  8. In my opinion, you are super organize and details. All the step-by-step you mentioned on top are very informative and guess what, I’ve created breakfast list from those recipes. Yum yum yum and THANK YOU for planning this theme party. I hope you enjoy all the hours you put into it and I’d love to participate if you plan another series.

  9. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!! So insightful and well written. THANK YOU! I’m excited to host a fancy blog party one day. :-)

  10. Great way to include the food community, and although a ton of work, it really highlighted some fab foodies. Congrats!

  11. Great post! I’ll be out of town for 3 weeks in just 2 short months and I’m getting ready to work on a similar themed event on both my blogs! This is very helpful!

  12. Please extend a big “Thank you” to you your family from all of us for letting us occupy your time for a solid month! Great job on the party!

  13. I am so impressed by your level of organisation! I really enjoyed the 31 days of pancakes WELL DONE!!!

  14. Great post. So well organized and knowing how successful pancake party was, I think this can really give good results. Thanks for the tutorial and have a great weekend!

  15. I loved your pancake party! All of the talented bloggers came up with some pretty fun pancake ideas! Great round up of how you organized it, too. Very helpful. :)

    See you in Michigan!!

  16. the pancake party was so much fun to follow/read and drool!
    This how-to post is so well written. you put so much work all month long and even before that! well done Rachel!

  17. I loved the pancake month but can completely understand the amount of work and energy that went into making it happen. This was a great post too. Very informative and truly helpful for those considering doing something like this in the future.

  18. Thanks for letting us in on how it all worked! Great info to keep in mind for the future. Looking forward to October!

  19. You are one busy lady! I’m crazy impressed with your organization skills, and loved seeing this party play out!

  20. (Computer froze when I hit submit so may be double post, sorry)

    Late to replying but am loving this post. Thank you! Seriously, I love when other food bloggers share their tips, tricks, and experiences at running their food blog. I’m horrible at Social Media and still have quite a lot to learn, but tips like this go a long way. I’m actually considering an event for the holidays, and plan on taking your advice of keeping it scaled back so as to not go insane. Thanks again!

  21. Rachel, thanks so much for putting this together. I am definitely thinking about throwing a theme party…February maybe ; ), this was super helpful. Betcha can’t guess what my theme would be…

  22. Really great tips of throwing a theme event.

  23. This is amazing! Thank you!!

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