Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Favorite Blogger Speaks: Reflections from Alex J. Cavanaugh

A to Z Challenge Reflections...

Lee at Tossing It Out has asked us to do a reflection post regarding the A to Z Challenge. 

And Elizabeth Mueller made this really cool award badge for those who survived. Thanks, Elizabeth! 

I was amazed at the variety of posts for each letter. You guys were really creative! I was also surprised by the variety of blogs participating, many of which had nothing to do with writing. Thanks again to Lee for asking me to be one of the co-hosts!

I just have two things I want to say about the Challenge. 

Last year, there were only one hundred of us. We were able to visit everyone and it felt more intimate. I made some really awesome friends as well.

This year, visiting every blog was almost impossible. (This Ninja failed!) And in trying to do so, I realized it was more difficult to foster friendships. I’m sure a lot of people lost steam after the first week or so. Those using the special widget started at the beginning, although I think many switched to the ‘surprise me’ feature. I think a lot of blogs were overlooked.

Hart had an excellent suggestion, one I think we should adopt for next year. We start with the blog immediately following ours on the list. We go as far as we can, and if that’s only one hundred blogs, that’s fine. But that way, everyone receives visitors and no one feels overwhelmed.

Last year, my goal was to survive the month and gain some new followers. I made it to the end and almost tripled my following.

This year, I didn’t worry about gaining a ton of new followers. Yes, I could’ve followed everyone I visited and gained a ton of new followers. But that wasn’t my goal. I wanted to be a good co-host and spend the Challenge featuring my current blogger buddies. This community is so awesome and I wanted to give back.

As a side note, if you are following me but I’m not following you, please leave a comment! The Google Friends Connect sometimes doesn’t link a blog to your icon, but if you leave a comment, I can find your profile – and your blog to follow!

You guys are awesome and I hope everyone had a blast. It was really cool to hear how many were enjoying the Challenge and meeting new bloggers. That made it all worthwhile - to know there were bloggers in the same position that I was last year reaping the benefits. That is who this Challenge is for, and what keeps it fresh. Let’s make the 2012 Challenge even better!

         Thank you Alex!  Alex went all out the past two Challenges and played a huge role in the success of both.  Hope you follow his lead and become a part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in 2012.  Be sure to tell him thank you.

         The Challenge sign ups will begin on January 30th, 2012.


  1. Hi I stumbled upon your blog and the A-Z challenge! Must admit I'm really looking forward to taking part! The whole A-Z theme will be based on how we live in our caravan! Not really a surprise!

  2. Caravan, glad you're joining us. It really is a huge benefit - launched my blog two years ago!

  3. Glad you had a most ninja time of it Cap'n Ninja! Take care

  4. I wonder how out of control it's going to get this year. Should be a fun, but crazy, ride!

  5. I, too, felt it was impossible to catch up with everyone's blog last year - for the 2012 challenge I think I shall follow your suggestion, Alex, and seek out some of the blogs listed after mine - but I did quite like the 'adventure' of the 'surprise me' button, so maybe I'll do that once every day, too! :-)

  6. I really enjoyed my first time of it this year and will be back for 2012!

  7. Someone had a good idea a few days ago. Pick a specific number of blogs and read that many every day. I think I'll do that, combined with Alex's idea of starting with the one after mine :-)

  8. I met you on the first challenge and have been friends ever since. It's a wonderful oppourtunity to make new friends and am looking forward to April for two reasons. The challenge .....and 2 concerts seeing you know who.I would like to thank you Alex for your continued support even to writing on the blurb of my latest book.
    Happy New Year.

  9. Hi Lee and Alex - you're both great bloggers and this set up and support you both provided us innocent babes at the start gate of the A:Z challenge made all the difference - THANK YOU.

    I too loved the idea of starting at the next sign up number - which I did ... enjoying meeting like minds as I commented along ..

    Cheers to you both .. wonderful challenge! Have a very good festive end to the year .. Hilary

  10. I'm starting to get excited about the challenge. I made some great friends last year.

  11. Matthew, that's why we needed more co-hosts for 2012!

    Sue, that's a good idea.

    Sarah, that would keep it reasonable.

    Yvonne, you were one of the best parts about the first Challenge!

    Hilary, I think it's a good idea.

  12. This will be my first year participating and I'm looking forward to it!

  13. The 2011 A to Z Challenge was a great way to connect with new people. This time around I hope to reconnect with many as I lost so many followers when my blog went kaput and had to start over again.

  14. The challenge was really fun last year. I'm looking forward to it.

  15. This is a great challenge. I love seeing how unique the entries are.

  16. Wow. What a great problem to have - getting so big that things are taking on a life of their own. April should be a fun month.

  17. Great post, Alex. That is a smart idea Hart gave to start with the name after you and visit onward. I want to do this, but I'm worried I can't visit 100 blogs a day AND I'd like to visit blogs I've never visited. I need to think how to do this.

    I.T.'.S. C.O.M.I.N.G....


  18. I'm excited about this, but yes, the huger numbers really are HUGER! I will stick to my plan, though also with a 'you visit me, I visit you' deal hooked in there--that, after all, is the trick to making friends with it. (LOVE the avie!!! Nice job Ada!)

  19. Stephen, hope you find them all again.

    Teresa, you don't have to visit a hundred a day. (That's Ninja level!) Just five new ones a day is good.

    Hart, so right - it's all about making friends and connecting.

  20. congratulations on being a blog of note... :)

    check out mine...

  21. I found I could only get through about 15 -20 blogs a day, but I devoted more time on Sundays (when we didn't post) to catch up. I also visited the linky long after the blogfest closed to try and get to everyone. In spite of the fact that there were so many entries, I made quite a few friends - and hope to make more this year!

  22. I'll have to do that come April--visit the blogs listed after mine.

    Great post!

  23. That is a great suggestion from Hart. I really like that. I got overwhelmed with trying to visit so many and failed big time, including failure to finish the posts on time. I can't wait to see what this next challenge brings. Great post and I'm sorry I'm so late commenting.

  24. I told myself never again but I'm getting the itch. may have to give it another shot. I finished this years challenge and felt like it finished me.
    This ol girl was whipped.
    My only wish would be for category hints. I felt guilty leaving some sites because they weren't my thing and I'm sure many felt the same about G&G.
    I'm already preparing.

  25. Lisa, you did really good last year!

    Melissa, you're not late! And I think Hart's idea rocks.

    Mary, you can't resist us!!

  26. I like the suggestion of starting at the blog after yours on the list and going from there. I'm still working through last year's list!

  27. Please visit my blog home
    Blog 360MMO

  28. I also think Hart's tip is a great idea! Glad you'll be co-hosting again Alex! Now if only I could start planning ahead...

  29. This is really exciting. I've never heard of anything like this before, and am looking forward to participating!

  30. What a great turnout for Alex! I was away from the computer while traveling on Tuesday. Nice to see the great response to Alex's reflections post.


  31. Sounds like the blogfest was a great success. I'd love to join in this year if I can manage it.

  32. Looks like fun. I might do it this year.

  33. Shannon, now that is dedication!

    Julie, you can do it.

    Nellie, you'll have a blast.

    Thanks again, Lee.

    Cate and Kristen, I bet you can do it.

  34. I started with the blogs around mine during the challenge and then, after the challenge, I continued reading.

    I think this year, with all the pre-event excitement, there will be quite the long list!


  35. That's a great suggestion to follow this year - thanks! I tried to visit as many as I could but it was overwhelming.
    I definitely plan on keeping my posts supershort this year -but as you may have noticed - even my comments get too long.

  36. Hi Lee n' Alex,
    I am looking for to round 3! I have some new ideas that will keep me more focused and ready for the challenge! Cheers to a New Year; I'm looking forward to it~
    I loved the shuffle, it made it fun~
    It was fun to meet new members. Overwhelming yes, but it does have the word challenge in it! :D

  37. Jenny, it's going to be huge...

    Tyrean, you do great!

    Ella, you are one of our original A to Z bloggers, and that is just so cool!

  38. I think that Hart's idea is a great one... in that way, nobody is left out!
    And I think that 2012's A to Z Challenge is going to be even bigger...

  39. I really enjoyed the Challenge, last year, and look forward to this year's. But, boy, was I pooped at the end! I put my button on "Surprise Me" and discovered lots of new people, but didn't get too many new followers. I think because my blog is really about solar cooking and just ruminating on thoughts -- not, writing for writing's sake. Don't know. It was fun.

  40. You were a great co-host. I don't know how you find the time, but it seems that wherever I go, you've already beat me to the punch. I've probably said that to you before. Kinda punch drunk right now, you know that thin line between everything is hilarious, and sound asleep on the couch with your kids taking your picture and uploading it to fb...not that I'd know anything about that, mind you...
    Tina @ Life is Good

  41. I've popped over from Alex's blog to find out more about the A -Z challenge - looking forward to joining in!


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