Blogapalooz-Hour: One hour each month when the bloggers of ChicagoNow blog about the same topic sent out at exactly 9:00 p.m. CT by Community Managers, Jimmy Greenfield or Shavon Banket. (Ed. note: That's the wrong Jimmy Greenfield. ChicagoNow's Jimmy is not related to that James Greenfield. Find the right one here.) Bloggers hit publish at 10:00 p.m. CT, but not before.
All of the posts are then collected into a Storify, also created by Mr. Greenfield (hahahaha! no one calls him that!). Participation is optional. Non-ChicagoNow bloggers can participate because Mr. Greenfield shares the topic via social media usually Twitter, although they are not part of the Storify. See the June 2014 Storify of Blogapalooz-Hour here. Also known as Blogapalooza.
If you're new to Blogapalooz-Hour or you want to create your own Blogapalooz-Hour with your friends and family, you'll want to take some steps to prepare. Blogapalooz-Hour should not be taken lightly. Nor should it be tried at home by non-professionals. Bad things can happen.
Top 11 tips for a successful Blogapalooz-Hour:
- Respect Blogapalooz-Hour. Honor the traditions of Blogapalooz-Hour and those who have come before you. We take this seriously and so should you.
- Blogapalooz-Hour is not about perfection. It's about writing a post and hitting publish. That's not to say you should not aim to do your best. Take Voltaire's advice and "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
- Be prepared. The Boy Scouts were onto something when they made this their motto. You've got one hour, so you've got to make the most of it. Your computer should be turned on and you should be logged into your blog prior to 9:00 p.m. Have your blog already set up so you're not wasting precious time doing mundane tasks. Pre-check some of your categories and tags. I always have Blogapalooz-Hour pre-chosen in categories and tags. Have your favorite go-to site for free images open in a separate browser tab and your photo album open. Make sure your signature or email sign-up is pre-loaded onto your blog post.
- Warm up. If you're over 21, this might include a pre-Blogapalooz-Hour adult beverage. If you're under 21, have a kiddie cocktail. We do not condone underage drinking. Regardless of your age, you may want to do some pre-writing just to get the creative juices flowing. It also helps to warm up your typing fingers with some basic typing exercises. Speed counts, people.
- Clear your area of distractions. Put the kids to bed prior to 9:00 or have someone else do it. I don't really recommend just letting them run wild until 10:00, but in a pinch this will do if you don't mind not sleeping. Pets should also be watered, fed, and walked prior to Blogapalooz-Hour. There are no texts or phone calls important enough to answer during Blogapalooz-Hour. Stay off Facebook. You really can do this for 60 minutes.
- Use the given topic as a launching pad. I like to challenge myself to think of it as a "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon" game. I may have no ideas on the given topic, but can I loosely connect what I really want to write about in an obscure way? Go for it. For example, last month, we had to write a love letter to a thing (not a person). I was in the midst of some major family stuff and tears were flowing easily. What I really wanted to write about was the rawness of the recent death of my uncle, but that wasn't the topic. Instead, I wrote a love letter to my tears. I got to weave in how I felt about my uncle and all the other family stuff and it connected to the topic.
- Always try to trick Jimmy into giving you the topic ahead of time. This is a time honored game. He never falls for it. But the first person to get him to break early in the day will be rewarded by Blogapalooz-Hour being renamed in their honor. (Ed. note: Little Merry Sunshine has no authority to make this promise.)
- Just start writing. Seriously. The best way to be successful is to write. I usually go with my gut and write about the first thing that pops into my head. Looking back at June, when I saw the topic, I got very emotional because of the emotional stuff I was going through. In that moment, I knew there was only one thing to write about.
- Use your time wisely. I typically write from 9:00 to 9:30, edit and re-write from 9:30 to 9:45, and finally add links, SEO, and images from 9:45 to 10:00. Yes, sometimes I miss the 10:00 deadline and hit publish at 10:10, but it's close enough. The point is that the post shouldn't take a week. Remember Tip #2.
- Hit publish and promote the heck out of it. The only way to fail at Blogapalooz-Hour is to write for an hour and then not publish your post. You may not think your Blogapalooz-Hour post is Pulitzer worthy (and you're probably right), but it will resonate with someone. I have found that some of my favorite posts are the ones I've whipped out during Blogapalooz-Hour. They are also sometimes some of my most popular.
- Read and support your fellow Blogapalooz-Hour participants. Add the Storify link to your post. Read their posts. I learn a lot about my fellow bloggers by reading their Blogapalooz-Hour posts because we all tend to stop being polite and start getting real.
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