Swaps are one of the most special and unique ways that I love to build community within and through my blog. Swaps that take place through a blog are becoming more popular, and I’m really excited about it. After hosting a few swaps, I have come up with a great method that works for me and I want to share it with you. If you’ve been wanting to host a swap of your own, these tips will be sure to help!
When you’re the host of a swap, there are many details you need to take into consideration. You’re responsible for choosing the topic, how many people should be involved, and following up with everyone involved. It’s a ton of work. If you don’t have a good amount of time and dedication set aside for the swap, you should not have one. But if you’re really passionate about the idea of hosting a swap through your blog and you’re ready to go all in, then do it! Once you’re all in, there’s no going back. Here are some great tips and ideas on how to dive into hosting a swap through your blog, and most importantly, making it a success!
1. Choose A Swap Topic Or Item //
You can’t have a swap without a swap topic or item. Some swaps are more open to interpretation, like a holiday gift swap. Then there are other swaps that are more item specific, like my annual sweater swap, for example. Once you choose what is the best way to go for your vision, stick with it and have fun with it! Think of ways to sell it so that everyone wants to jump in and be a part of the fun.
2. Choose How Many People You Want Involved //
The first sweater swap I hosted, I didn’t have a limit on how many people could sign-up. I had 30 people sign-up in the first day and ended up deciding that I shouldn’t let anymore sign-up after that. Why? Because I was in charge of the entire swap. The more people there were in it, the more chances I had to make a mistake or get confused with matching others up. It’s also very hard to follow up with everyone. My recommendation, especially for hosting your first swap, is to have no more than 14-16 people (7-8 pairs). You should also decide from the start if you want to partake in the swap (you totally should) and if you want it to be strictly between bloggers or if it’s open to readers, as well. Long-story-short, decide on a number that is best manageable for you. Be realistic.
3. Come Up With A Hashtag //
Hashtags are all the rave and it helps file everything into one common place. This is why decided on having a hashtag for my annual sweater swap. Encourage your participants to post their swap gifts on social media when it arrives, and to use the hashtag along with it. It’s a great way to cultivate a deeper community between everyone who’s taken part in the swap. You can have tons of fun coming up with one!
4. Be Organized & Make A Detailed Sign-Up Sheet //
Organization is key when it comes to having a successful swap. If you have no organization, your swap will fail. The best way to start your organization off on the right foot is to develop a detailed sign-up sheet. When your sign-up sheet is organized and clear, that makes the people who are wanting to take part in your fun feel more comfortable and confident in the swap from the start.
Some questions to include in your sign-up form:
– What’s their full name? Age?
– Blog name & URL? (If applicable)
– What’s their address?
– What email is best to reach them at?
– Will they commit to spending a certain amount on their swap item?
– Will they commit to sending out on time?
– Are they in the same country? (Super important to ask!)
These are some basic questions to start off with. You can customize and add to them as needed. I always like to throw in some unique questions about their favorite things to help give their swap buddy some extra information about them.
5. Connect, Connect, Connect! //
Communication is the most important part to those who are participating in your swap. If they’re not being communicated with, they will lose interest and become frustrated with the overall process. After your sign-ups have closed, be sure to follow up with everyone by the day after. Send out a general email with specific details on how you’re going to match everyone up and when they need to send their swaps out by. Let them know the date you’ll have their swap buddy’s information sent out, so that they can be on the lookout. Be timely and follow through. Send out emails to keep everyone up-to-date and make sure you give a couple reminders of the send out date. It’s better to send out an extra email or two, rather than to keep everyone in the dark on the details.
6. Keep Everyone Accountable The Best That You Can //
This is probably the toughest thing to do as a host. Both times I have hosted my sweater swap I have had at least one person not follow through. It’s hard when people have made a clear commitment to follow through and then they end up ditching the whole thing all together. Some will come up with excuses, some will see your message and never reply, and some will just not give you the time of day. Honestly, this is super frustrating as a host. As a host you want to keep everyone happy and engaged, but when someone sends to their buddy and doesn’t receive something in return, you get the brunt of it. Thankfully, those who’ve been on the sad end have always been polite to me, understanding that it’s really out of my hands, but I know that’s not always easy. After you’ve reached out multiple times to the person who didn’t follow through, all you can do is let it be and disqualify them from any future swaps.
7. Ask For Advice & Input //
After the swap is complete, send out an email thanking your participants and attach another Google Form for feedback. There is always room for improvement, so keep yourself open to the suggestions and critics, even. Keep an open mind and cheerful spirit.
8. Put Together A Recap Post //
Recap posts are a great way to showcase all of the excitement and fun found in and through your swap. I have recapped both of my sweater swaps so far, and it’s just been really special to see that so many people had a great time. If you use a photo from one of your participants, be sure to link it back to their Instagram or whatever account they posted it from. In your final survey, you can add a spot where they can write a testimonial about the swap. You can choose to include some of those testimonials in the final post. The recap post is also a great way to grab people’s attention for the next time you have a swap. Start the hype for your future swaps, by recapping past swaps.
These are some of my finest tips for hosting a successful swap through your blog. I hope you were able to learn something and even come up with a great swap idea of your own!
Have you hosted a swap through your blog before? If so, what is the most important thing you learned from it? Have you participated in a swap before? How was your experience? What did you love and what would you have done differently?