How to Run a 30-day Blogathon and Survive!


Build it and they will come!

As a personal branding consultant I often talk about the importance of building and nurturing a brand community. Your community is a critical component of the personal branding process. A strong network reinforces your unique promise of value and gives you a sounding board to ensure you stay on-brand.

In early May I was reflecting on my own community and how I could give back to a group that has given me so much. I decided to embark on a journey to sponsor a 30-day ‘blogathon’ on my blog. Each day would feature a different thought-leader sharing content related to personal branding. I was actually inspired to do this by Todd Nielsen who did the same thing on his “A Slice of Leadership” blog earlier this year.

And so my journey began with a few innocent tweets in May asking for participants. A few days of tweeting and I had 30 people on-board. The power of social media and the desire for people to share content was truly inspiring.

I had my peeps, I had a focus, I had a platform! The 30x30x30 Personal Branding Blogathon was born!

How much work can it really be?

Todd Nielsen signed on as a contributor and told me I was in for an incredible journey that will be A LOT of work!

Really? He made his leadership blogathon look easy. All I had to do was collect 30 posts and throw them up on my blog. Yeah, right! And so the work began.

Some years back I learned a presentation technique credited to Aristotle’s ideas on giving speeches:

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them
  • Tell them
  • Tell them what you just told them.

I decided to apply this technique to my blogathon, both as a way to present the content effectively and to keep it in the forefront of people’s minds.

1. Peaked interest by telling them what you’re going to tell them.

Before Day 1 of the Blogathon, I decided to publicize and create some interest in this project.  Here’s how I did that:

  • Created a week by week preview leading up to launch with author names, headshots, bios, and the date of their post.
  • Included links to author’s sites to build interest in their thought leadership.
  • Regularly communicated the preview via social media with a note saying “Come back on June 8th for Tanvi’s post!” 
  • Drove people back to my site via opt-in and RSS feed request.

In addition, I set deadlines with each author, clarified article guidelines and criteria, and prepared the back-end administrative task in WordPress such as setting up user profiles, uploading headshots, etc.

2. Maintained interest by telling them

With interest peaked, draft articles coming in, and Day 1 of the blogathon about to kick off, I had to maintain interest. Here’s what I did:

  • Created a customized intro for each guest post with the author’s headshot, my personalized message, links back to author’s site, and mention of a ‘special offer’ from the author if applicable.
  • Made it easy for readers to share each post by pulling a catchy sentence from the article and highlighting it as a ‘Tweet This!’ tweetable. A great tool for this is
  • Included a ‘special offer’ box at the end of posts where the author had offered a giveaway.
  • Created a daily schedule of tweets via Timely and HootSuite to highlight the guest post throughout the day. The cool thing here was that the authors who naturally did this themselves drove a lot more traffic to the blog. This traffic translated into a lot of retweeting, sharing, liking, etc.
  • To continue peaking interest via social media, I highlighted the guest post scheduled for publication on the following day: “Make sure to come back tomorrow for Tea’s post on XXX.”
  • Emailed authors when their posts went ‘live’ to encourage them to tweet, share, and respond to comments.

Separately I stylized and edited each post to match my blog’s style and optimized the titles and headers for key words. In addition, I moderated all comments. Finally, I continued to send email reminders to upcoming authors about their submission due dates.

3. Preserved interest by telling them what I just told them.

My goal was to ensure that each post had a longer shelf-life than just the day it was published. We all know that content moves so fast on social media, so continuing to promote previously published posts was a way to keep the blogathon content ‘alive’. Here’s what I did:

  • Created a weekly ‘recap’ of the articles published that particular the week with the author’s headshot and the “tweetable” from their post. This made it easy for others to simply retweet all the posts from the entire week.
  • Continued to schedule tweets for every post since Day 1 of the blogathon.

So, why did I do this? What was my ROI?

After 30 days I can honestly say I was exhausted! It was a tremendous amount of work but I loved every minute of it. Seeing a group of people, who barely knew each other, work together to share content, promote the blogathon, and drive traffic to my own site was worth the hours of coordination.

People have asked me why did I do this and what was my ROI? Simply put, it was my way of sharing content and knowledge that I am passionate about.

Yes, there were some pretty cool ‘measurable’ things that came out of this such as a huge increase in daily traffic to my site, new daily subscribers to my email list, a really nice jump in the number of quality followers on Twitter and likes on my Facebook page, a significant number of RTs, page views, +1s, shares, etc. The actual numbers are not important for me to post here, but the effort does “pay-off” in measurable ways.

In the end, however, there is one thing I can never measure: The power of a group of like-minded people driven by a common goal to give back freely and openly.  This demonstrates in my mind the true meaning of community.

Keeping the community alive! 

Our community is still alive in a 30x30x30 Facebook group and now in the official 30x30x30 Blogathon eBook that captures all 30 days in one convenient place. And just to demonstrate the value of a tribe, the eBook was suggested by one member and designed and created by another. This eBook proves we have a vested interest in staying connected and continuing to share this incredible collection of articles with others.


For your own copy of the eBook all I ask is that you pay with a tweet! Just click the button below, tweet it, and then download your FREE copy! That’s all it takes.  Your tweet will help me to get this incredible resource into the hands of as many people as possible.




Will I do another blogathon? You can count on it! Stay tuned for a 30-day ‘vlogathon’ in the fall where I will feature a new community (with some familiar faces) spreading their message via video! If you are interested in joining the vlogathon, let me know!


About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+