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Reflections on 48 Hours of Inviting Readers to Comment ‘Spam’ My Blog

OK – so I didn’t ask people to comment ‘spam’ my blog – I asked them to ‘pitch’ us with their blog. Here’s what I learned from the experience….

On the spur of the moment over the weekend I decided to run a little experiment here on ProBlogger where I invited readers to leave a comment giving an ‘elevator pitch’ for their blog.

The experiment ran for 48 hours (it is now closed) and in that time over 1400 bloggers participated – so many that at times it slowed loading that page to a crawl for many. I’m amazed by the response and wanted to make a few comments/reflections about this experiment:

Twitter is Amazing

I put the success for this project largely down to Twitter. As I posted my invitation on ProBlogger I also Tweeted an invitation for my Twitter followers to get in early and pitch their blog. This tweet was retweeted time and time again by readers. I didn’t expect this wildfire of tweets (in fact people retweeted the retweets of others) and lost count at the number of people who ‘sneezed’ my post throughout the Twittersphere. When we hit the 1000 submissions mark I tweeted about it and again the tweet was retweeted many times. An hour before closing it I tweeted and again it was retweeted many times over.

I’ve experienced things going viral online before but this one was explosive. Over 1000 of the submissions came in the first 20 hours – not bad for a weekend.

I Should Have Planned More – But I’m Glad I Didn’t

If I’d put more thought into planning this project I would probably have done it a lot differently. I wouldn’t have done it on a weekend, I probably would have thought strategically about how to spread it wider, I possibly would have put up a prize for participants, I would have put aside time over the 48 hours to spend extra time moderating comments etc.

I didn’t do any of that and in many ways I’m glad that I didn’t. The thing I loved about this was that it just happened. From the time the idea came to the time I posted it took about 15 minutes (if that). I put hardly any time into it (although there was a lot of comment moderation to do) and it was a rewarding experience.

The Benefits of the Project

Someone asked me via email today how much traffic the project drove to ProBlogger. The reality is that this weekends traffic has not been significantly different to any other weekend. Traffic wasn’t the point here.

The ‘point’ (if there was one) is that I wanted to give readers of this blog an opportunity to put themselves out there and connect with each other. That might sound a little selfless but at the time of doing it that was ‘the point’. There have of course been benefits to me from doing it – the main one of which is that there’s been a nice ‘buzz’ about the experiment and a feeling of ‘community’ and/or participation.

I never promised anyone masses of traffic from participating (in fact I said it was likely not to drive traffic) but people have been reflecting back to me that they feel ‘involved’ and that they felt like they were apart of something. I guess people don’t want to just ‘read’ or consume information on blogs – they want to participate.

The other benefit from the project to me was the impact upon my Twitter profile. I had 500 new followers over the weekend – largely from all the Retweets I’d guess.

What a Varied and Rich Community the Blogosphere Is

The thing that has struck (and even moved) me most this weekend is just what an amazing variety of blogs there are. As I read through segments of the list I found myself shaking my head and shouting out to my wife “hey there’s a blog about ……(insert obscure topic here).”

If nothing else this project has inspired me about blogging again. There are some truly creative and remarkable bloggers on in the list of submissions and I would highly recommend you set aside some time today to surf through as many of them as you can.

Link to those you find, spread the word of the hidden gems that you discover, subscribe to their feeds, connect with one another and be inspired by the creativity hidden in the list. The real benefits of this experiment happen now.

Elevator Pitches

Lastly – this project taught me a thing or two about ‘elevator pitches’. I’m not going to write too much about this here as I feel a post on the topic ‘brewing’ but I’ve heard from a number of bloggers who participated that they found the exercise of refining what their blog is about into 140 characters (although some thought it was 140 words) a very rewarding thing.

For those of you who missed the project I’d encourage you to think about how you would have described and pitched your blog in 140 characters – it could be a useful exercise (more on this later).

My Favorite Pitches

I said in my initial post that I’d post a few of my favorite ‘pitches’. At the time I thought there might be a few hundred to wade through not over 1400! I’m going to include a few of those that caught my eye here – but I feel that in doing so I’m doing an injustice to many others who have done a great job also. I would love it if you’d surf the list and highlight your own favorites either in comments below or even on your own blog (if it’s relevant).

Here are 10 (listed in no particular order) that caught my eye over the weekend (for one reason or another):

  • Are your beans for the birds? Learn about eco-friendly, sustainable coffee, and how your morning cup can change the world. – Coffee and Conversation
  • Mom-101. I don’t know what I’m doing either – Mom 101
  • I’m in a band called Linkin Park. For insight into the business and culture of music, plus updates on my band and art, visit me – Mike Shinoda
  • We are the TOP shed blog! Good Looking Sheds – Built To Last. Almost everyone needs a shed! We happen to think so :) – Idaho Wood Sheds Blog
  • You’ve just been sued for statements made on your blog. What do you do? How do you prevent it? Read the California Defamation Law Blog – California Defamation Law Blog
  • About a lioness travelling with a big kangaroo round the world. Right now, we are feeding at a watering hole called Tokyo – Lioness in Japan
  • My readers have called me both a hero and a straight laced prude. You decide – Maw Books
  • A budget fashionista’s hints, tips, tricks and trends for effortless style; because most of us could look better for less. – The Style PA
  • Some chubby math: A Fat man + various meats x bacon – vegetarianism = one funny and entertaining food blog – Eating Cleveland
  • Does this triathlon make my a** look fat? Running, swimming and biking at 51. Why couldn’t I take up knitting, like normal old people?! – Run Mom Run

As I say – these are just 10 of those that for one reason or another caught my attention. There’s 1400 others in the list – which caught your eye most?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Wakish says:

    Darren,
    this was indeed a nice opportunity for many of us and a good experiment for you to think of..
    But I was particularly focussed on:
    => the challenge of selling your mission statement with ONLY 140 Characters.
    I even made a blog post about my opinion and about how I perceive this exercise as an ‘””effective means to show competence and confidence about your mission statement of your blog”
    You can find it at: http://wakish.info/just-140-characters-to-persuade-others-about-the-selling-point-of-your-blog-or-service/

    I was very surprised that the points that I stressed in my article, you haven’t actually really mentioned them anywhere in your article – which I believe forms an integral part of this experiment in addition to your ‘initial aim’

    Cheers!
    - Wakish -

  2. TarotByArwen says:

    I clicked on a few and subscribed to some of those. One that caught my eye turned out to be for one of my favorite blogs I already read. :| That was interesting. I clicked on one that was a travel blog in Tahiti I think (I have a terrible memory). The blogger made me feel like I was there. I did leave comments where I went as well. It was fun for me. My 140 characters did not generate even one look though. Sad sigh. I guess Tarot isn’t that intriguing! LOL

  3. Wow! I didn’t expect you to get such a large comment response. That’s amazing.

    Good to know your server held up to the traffic without shutting down.

  4. This is just another perfect example on how well twitter can help spread the word like a trail of gas. I normally do not comment here as I feel my response would just be buried along with the many others and not be read by Darren or really the readers. I had to respond to that tweet though and just see what the outcome would have been.

    140 words can be hard for some people, especially if they are racing the clock against other’s post as well. Thanks for the chance, and I will be back to comment more now I am sure.

    Steve

  5. @gcrush says:

    I found some amazing travel blogs, new twitterers to follow, and have been blissfully traveling all around the world today! thank you for letting us all participate!

    I am all kinds of newly inspired.

  6. Cory O'Brien says:

    I thought this was a great experiment, and loved participating in it. The ‘community’ aspect of blogging often gets lost in the fast paced web world that we now live in, so it’s good to have a post bring us back to those roots form time to time.

  7. Stu McLaren says:

    Unfortunately I found out about the original experiment too late but it was entertaining to read all the entries.

    It was very evident that some people knew exactly what their blog was about and others had trouble defining it in 140 characters.

    I think it’s a good exercise for all and I can certainly see the 140 characters becoming a standard for things like…

    “Define XYZ in 140 characters”

    Overall I thought it was a great experiment and one of the main reasons for my favorites below is the fact that you know EXACTLY what the blog is about in the 140 characters.

    Some of my favorites…

    —–
    http://www.Supergeekblog.com – All things geeky. A fun mix of gadgets, software, and tech news.
    —–
    A look back at all the mistakes, errors,poor judgments, and all the other dumb things we do as humans. 140
    http://mistakesmadeblog.com/
    —–
    I write about tricks and tips for people growing plants on their balcony or patio.
    http://lifeonthebalcony.com/

  8. impNERD says:

    You know you’ve hit the big time when a guy from Linkin freakin’ Park comments on your blog hoping to gain exposure for his!

  9. Ramses says:

    Great idea! Unfortunately, I was too late to pitch my own blog, but I still found some ‘diamonds’ I’m sure I’ll connect with in the future. Thank you!

  10. Of course you pick the one weekend I was sick and not on the computer to run this contest! =-) It was a cool idea and a great way to see what other bloggers are doing. I discovered some fellow nerds out there that are now part of my RSS rotation!

  11. Hi Darren! I’m excited that my blog caught your eye. I love blogging about books and writing book reviews and enjoy the interaction with my readers. The “hero” part refers to an awareness campaign about the genocide in Darfur that I recently hosted and with the help of book bloggers raised about $2000. It was awesome! As for a straight laced prude, apparently people think I am one because I don’t enjoy gratuitous sex in my books.

    Now I just gave it all away, hopefully some people will hop on over anyways.

    I thought this was a fun experiment and I enjoyed seeing how people condensed their blog down to just a few short words.

  12. Andrea_R says:

    I did get a few contacts from it – even an email. :)

    Darn, now I wish that I’d left a catchier pitch, which I initially discarded.

    (Wanna be the next wordpress dot com? I’ll show you how. ;) )

  13. DonBlogger says:

    Great experiment, Darren! It impressively shows the true strength of a blog’s community.

    Saludos,

    DonBlogger.com – consejos diarios para blogs

  14. Darren I loved the whole idea of a spontaneous challenge/opportunity. You hit me at exactly the right/wrong time to comment.

    *Right Time – we are in a soft launch of a site for people who give TeleSeminars, Webininars, and Conference Calls a place to post their events http://www.TeleSeminarNation.com .

    *Wrong Time – Way to busy to become an author competing in the most prestigious competition of the Twitter weekend. I could have be Retweeting the contest or dialoguing with my friends.

    You created a massive conflict and we both won.

    Thanks for the opportunity,

    Edward Philipp http://www.Twitter.com/EdLovesSumo
    CoFounder with @DanSafkow
    http://www.TeleSeminarNation.com
    A Community of Leaders & Learners

  15. Jerry says:

    I did get a li’l traffic spikelet from my 140 characters. But my blog is very new and traffic is still sub-embryonic, so any variation in the numbers of visitors is going to be noticed. So thank you for the opportunity to pick up a few new UVs, and also to explore the contributions from so many of the compulsive communicators who make the Internet such an interesting place.

    This is proof, in a way, of how versatile a tool a blog can be. Look at how many hundreds of varied projects and enterprises it’s serving!

  16. Webdesi3 says:

    This was a great experiment Darrne, thank you for the opportunity, the sense of community in the Blogosphere never ceases to blow me away!

  17. Samar says:

    I’m a silent lurker around your blog and the experiment tempted me to post! Of course what I wrote turned out sounding exactly like what everyone else was saying. The minute I hit submit was when the (supposedly) perfect pitch hit me.

    I liked the Style PA blog too. Glad you picked it. Hats off to your for not getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of websites and blogs to go through. I’ve bookmarked it for future browsing. I believe the post ended up becoming something like Stumble Upon.

  18. aimee says:

    I have to thank you. This was a fun exercise. All weekend I was thinking about how I could have changed what I said. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

  19. @impNERD

    You know you’ve hit the big time when a guy from Linkin freakin’ Park comments on your blog hoping to gain exposure for his!

    Couldn’t have said it better myself – had to check out Mikes blog just to see if it had been clever link bait.

  20. Sarah H. says:

    Wow what a response you got! I agree that your exercise of having us pitch our blogs in 140 characters or less was definitely useful. In my opinion, I would worry that if I couldn’t describe my blog in less than 140 characters, then perhaps that would mean that my blog lacked a solid focus/theme (incidentally, I was able to complete your exercise easily within the parameters…whew!). Additionally, asking us to describe our blogs in such a way also helps us reiterate and assess our identity & mission statement better. Thanks!

  21. I think it was a great experiment Darren, and I was totally impressed with your response! I saw quite a few in which I am going to give further investigation… what fun!

    Just goes to show how viral the internet really is when something catches our eye in the Virtual Realms.

  22. Star Scott says:

    One reason I love ProBlogger is because Darren creates such a sense of community here, and I feel he genuinely wants us all to succeed. You’re not in it for the money are ya D? I never commented before but was one of the first 300 to post about my blog because it made me want to jump in with a community I already was a part of. BTW: I had about 4 new viewers that day. Wish I woulda prepared more of a wallop of a post…

  23. Ow.. I guess I missed the event! Should have come and read your blog daily :)

  24. Looks pretty good. I guess I missed it also.

  25. Kravazon says:

    Darren – thanks for setting up this experiment. I spent the better part of my weekend looking at all the different blogs out there. VERY cool! I’ll probably keep coming back to look over the list…

    A few of my favorites:
    Think Combat – http://www.thinkcombat.net/
    Life on the Balcony – http://lifeonthebalcony.com/

  26. Tony says:

    Yes I really wish I had thought out my “elevator Pitch” a lot more. I feel like such a spammer now :-(

    Ugh! Ok I learned from that one big time.

  27. Mary says:

    I didn’t get much, if any, traffic from posting, but I’m grateful for the chance to get even a little exposure. My blog is new-ish, so I am willing to buckle down for the long haul.

    Thanks, Darren. And I look forward to exploring many of the others who took up your challenge.

  28. Tinh says:

    You can use the way that Britney has just done to promote your blog too as I see you traffic down and alexa down too.

  29. Dimitri says:

    Hello Darren, I’m glad you liked my “spam” :)

    We did get traffic to our blog, in fact we had our best day yesterday.
    Thank you for the opportunity and platform you’ve created for us to share our passion for Good Looking Sheds, that will last…
     

    Idaho Wood Sheds Blog

  30. Saurabh says:

    Great post! And 1400 is a big number (me included).

  31. WOW.

    What a response, I am amazed. I knew there were lots more people like me poking our finger in the pie with occasional comments, but 1400 in one fould swooop.

    Involvement is certainly something I enjoy about the sites I visit, and hope to illicit in the site I own.

    Now to work on my subscriber links to harness any wayward traffic.

    Fiona Fell
    The Profit Maximising Web Geek
    http://www.FionaFell.com.au

  32. anna says:

    I didn’t get any new traffic to my blog from participating–but I guess that just means I need to work on my pitch, eh? :)

  33. Gosh, there were so many good ones to choose from! I think your favorites depend on your niche. If your niche is at all disability related or online information consulting, I recommend http://talkingbookslibrarian.blogspot.com/ – accessibility is something we should all strive for, all the time.

    I also thought it was way too cool that famous people are reading your blog! :) Keep up the great work!

  34. I would definitely second some of the above comments. I read ProBlogger all the time, but the Twitter pitch idea got me out of my Google Reader to visit ProBlogger and leave a pitch. It definitely makes you think of how you would describe your blog.

    If you take it to a bigger level, how would you market/describe yourself in 140 characters? I will be pondering that for awhile.

  35. I like that Shinoda just looks like another one of the gang. : )

    Very interesting experiment. I’m doing something a bit differently, but then, I’m a weirdo.

  36. Darren,

    What you said about people wanting to interact on blogs is so true. I’m sure it’s been said before, but I think that’s why so many websites are turning to a blog format. Blogs build a sense of community, of one on one interaction, and the desire to participate.

    That’s also why print is dying. How many times do we read the newspaper and have something to say, but nobody to listen (significant others don’t count).

    Wired said the other day that the Blog is dead. For what it’s worth I really disagree. The beauty of a blog is in the interaction. People won’t want to give up the sense of belonging to a small (or large) community, no matter what corporations do to the Blog.

    Thanks for the experiment! It was enlightening to see how others pitched their sites. Good practice.

  37. Dave Starr says:

    I really, really appreciate the opportunity, darren. I noted a post on another blog a week or so back about describing your blog in one sentence, structured as:

    “My blog provides xxx to an audience of yyy and in return I get zzz”.

    Similar in nature to the 140 character challenge but even more focused. I learned lot from giving it a go and I can certainly do better.

    FWiW, a number of the responses here that caught my eye and made me click were even much shorter than 140 characters, far too many of us write way too ‘ong’ and a surprising number of them turned me off beuase of all the mentions of ‘me’ and the assertions that the blogger didn’t really know what they were writing about, or why.

    Sinefield might have made a success with a “Show about Nothing” but I don’t have time for blogs about nothing.

  38. Dimitri says:

    Let me tell you what happened. Yesterday I stopped by one of my favorite blogs – ProBlogger by Darren Rowse. He started a kind of contest: Tell us about Your Blog in 140 Characters or Less…
    So I decided to pitch our blog as well. with the help of my beautiful wife Liliya we came up with this “elevator speech”

    We are the TOP shed blog! Good Looking Sheds – Built To Last. Almost everyone needs a shed! We happen to think so :) At least check us out.

    Today when I checked his blog again this is what I found that one of them was our blogs pitch. I was so excited that I called Alan right away and let him know that our blog is famous! : )

    All of our guests we cordially ask to leave your comments, what you like, what you don’t like and everything else.
    Thank you…
    And if you are from Idaho, let us build your shed, you won’t regret it!

  39. Surender says:

    Hi Dareen,
    This was your best idea to know about your blog by bloggers.

  40. Dot Com Dud says:

    Well I got 2 visitors from Elevator Pitch, maybe I should use smaller words next time :)

  41. Darren:

    Thank you for selecting my elevator pitch for my blog, the California Defamation Law Blog. I’m extremely passionate about defamation law–I especially want to help bloggers avoid legal problems.

    I only wish that I had included my actual website instead of my Twitter site in my submission. Oh well :(

  42. The viral potential of something like your experiment is huge, Darren. You may have come across it, but a month or so ago, a blogger developed a widget for another blogger to promote her new book called Black Boxes. The widget was called black boxes and since the book was about choices, that’s how the widget worked. You made a series of choices based on “this” or “that” and were then directed, apparently, to a like minded blog. The thing took off like wildfire, the developer ran into serious data-space problems and bloggers were connecting across the globe. I’m not sure how well it worked as a promotional tool for the writer, but the experience generated was amazing and it did a terrific job or connecting bloggers – and I feel sure it put a new boost into the blogging world. It’s still running though has tailed off considerably even though many bloggers still host the widget on their blogs.

  43. Word economy is NOT my friend; I appreciate exercises like this to narrow focus.

    It’s kinda fun when a spark of an idea inflames the blog forest, huh?

    I SO should’ve confessed that I’m part of a little band called U2 ;).

  44. I was away for the weekend and didn’t get to participate.

    I bet the first commenter got loads of traffic on that one.

  45. Frugal Dad says:

    This was a lot of fun, and a great learning experience. I learned that I need to spruce up my own elevator pitch, and I learned about some other great blogs both in and out of my own niche. Thanks for hosting this experiment!

  46. I have seen that you do not have any protections against spiders. I had to close my comments because of that. I did not want to lose time moderating hundreds of pieces of rubbish. Now I am thinking to install a plugin (the math one “¿how is 2+2?” type). I have wordpress. Can you or any reader give me an advice?

  47. Mom101 says:

    Hey Darren, thanks for the very kind shout out. This whole thing was very clever – I found it from twitter myself.

    Personally, I vote for the shed guys. Who doesn’t love sheds? Sheds for everyone!

  48. Angel Cuala says:

    I joined the crowd and it still feels great even if my blog was not chosen. I haven’t checked if I gained traffic from that, but I discovered a lot of good blogs.

    It was also a good learning how bloggers use the 140 character limit, as it helps me how to promote my blog in the shorter time.

    Although I don’t have interest in any of the blogs chosen, I learned that it is really important unique strategies are.

    Thanks!

  49. it was a good exercise in asking myself what am I blogging about ? I think I have been running a bit too much these days!

  50. wow 1400 in 48 hours, that’s amazing ….
    but I missed that otherwise you could make them 1401 :-)