3 March 2014

On starting a meme

Memes have been flying around the blog world this past year and in light of "time for tea" I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts and tips about starting a meme after a year of running one.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, these are tips that work for me, feel free to adapt to your purpose!

1. Don't think too hard about it. 
Memes often come about by accident or mine seem to do at least! Time for tea started out of as a few blog posts I wrote, inviting blog readers to sit and have a chat with me. It was sporadic at first but then as it gathered momentum more people asked to join in and just like that we had a monthly meme.

The same was true for one photo & twenty words. I threw this out as a one off at the end of last year. I set it as a challenge and it was quickly taken up. There were requests to make it regular. In my experience, creating a meme is quite an organic and natural process.

I guess my rule of thumb would be to keep doing what you are doing. Find a type of post that people latch onto, or friends ask to join in with. A meme is always popular when that type of post has a following to start with or you are really enthusiastic about it already. (obviously this doesn't always have to be the case but it is how it has worked for me)

2. Make it clear. 
When so many people schedule blog posts or at least have an idea of how their month of blogging will pan out, it makes sense to set a date for your meme or if it is weekly, a day of the week.
I also like to try (if I remember) to post a reminder a few days before. I know that with the other memes I follow and join in with, the reminder is always welcome!

Within a reminder post or on a separate page or just at the bottom of a blog post I like to make it clear what the meme is. Most of the time it will be obvious but I have a little blurb I put with both my memes. Just to make sure we all know what we are doing!

3. Link it up. 
One of the joys of joining in memes is that you are doing so along with lots of other people. I find memes are a great way of visiting new blogs, finding new readers and making new friends. If you are considering starting a meme look at a few options for linking up. Are people just going to link in the comments or are you going to put a "linky" gadget at the bottom of the post?

I also keep my links open for a good week just to give everyone a chance to join in. I am notoriously late with joining in on other memes I follow so I always appreciate it when I am given plenty of time to do so.

I was very daunted when I first put a linky gadget into my memes but it is far easier than you think. It is normally just a case of copy and paste into the HTML section of your post.

4. Commitment. 
To start and run a meme is a commitment. It is great fun but its your party. That means preparing and clearing up so to speak! I found that time for tea was something I intended to do each month anyway so adding a link wasn't too much more. One photo and twenty words is quick and simple to write. I really enjoy writing both of these memes. Both require setting up though and that is what can take the time.

I found it really helpful at the start of this year to set out what I was planning on doing on the blog and then asking for opinions. That is a good gauge of how popular a meme may be and if it is worth creating it into a meme in the first place. The answer in my experience is nearly always yes. The effort of running it (which isn't much really) is totally made up by the fun of writing and reading so many wonderful posts across the world.

5. Say Thanks. 
Courtesy can go a long way with memes. If someone has linked up I will make a point of visiting, reading and leaving a comment. Simple manners but I appreciate it if others have done that for me. At the end of the day people have taken time out to join in with you. Thanks goes a long way!

So, what are your experiences of memes? Do you join in with some? Do you run one? Have you thought of running one?

Alexa and Sian who I know run some lovely memes, are there any other tips you would suggest/ lessons learnt?


scrappyjacky said...

I love the memes you've created,Abi.

Fiona@Staring at the Sea said...

I love joining in with both your memes, although I missed Time for Tea last month, as my blogging was sparse to say the least! I obviously broke all the rules when I set up my meme. I didn't ask for opinions, it wasn't something I already blogged and I did think about it a lot before starting! However, I have visited everyone who has made the effort to join in and commented/thanked them :o) As of this morning I take on board your advice about setting out "the rules" (loathe to call them that!) having had a post linked (possibly mistakenly) which doesn't appear to fit with the challenge.

Lesley G said...

Thank you for this Abi, I have been thinking about starting one and your tips are great - will let you know when mine is up and running ;)

Sian said...

Courtesy is a big one for me. It does take time to keep on encouraging everyone to join, but it's so worth it - famously here, once, I ended up getting a migraine from reading so many stories and had to go and have a lie down! they pull my leg about it here. One thing I used to tell myself I was going to do to take out any stress was to prepare very well in advance - have my story post written about two weeks early, just in case anything happened. Never managed it though!

Keep it up Abi. You do a wonderful job

I wrote a bit about my experiences for Jot issue Two

alexa said...

Great pointers here, Abi, and I am with Sian on the courtesy bit. I am always thrilled when anyone joins in, and it is such a delight to read others' experiences and views of the world too.

Susanne said...

I enjoy joining in your Time for Tea meme, Abi. And I think one of the big draws is that it is open enough to be able to include many topics by those joining in. Well done, keep it up.

Miriam said...

I love both your memes Abi, in fact that's my favourite bit of blogging, joining in with the various memes!
Good post.

Maria Ontiveros said...

These are great suggestions Abi. I think it's also good to start with a limited time that you can revisit (for instance, "I'm hosting this meme for the summer . . ." or "For 2015, I'll host . . ."
You can always extend it if you want, but it also gives you an out.

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Hello, sweet Abi. I am just playing catch up today and this is a good example of why I haven't been able to join in many memes for the past few months. I love reading your tea time posts, and your one-photo-twenty-words as well, but I just haven't been able to commit to them - just too much going on in my life these days. I really admire your commitment and follow through on your memes! You're such a great blogger! xo

Honoré said...

Hi Abi, I am new to your memes, via Alexa, and am enjoying getting acquainted just this day! They both are delightful and I do believe I shall join in. Thank you for your creativity and the invitation,
I don't intend to start a meme but I do think your guidelines are good for participants, too. Gives us a framework .
Looking fwd to participating.