Friday, February 17, 2012

#atozchallenge: Community & the A-to-Z

When I took on the A-to-Z Challenge last year, one of the most rewarding things I experienced was the warmth of the blogging community. Before the A-to-Z I'd been trundling along, randomly talking to myself on my blog. I wasn't really visiting other blogs, and I certainly wasn't commenting on them. Yet I yearned to have people comment on my own posts; I just had no idea how to make that happen.

What I learned was that talking to myself meant I wasn't embracing the full glory of the blogging community. You see, we get to know each other, we comment on each other's blogs, we support each other. And this is no clique, no closed community. Anyone can take part in it by jumping in with both feet and putting yourself out there.

How do I do that?

Visit other blogs. Leave comments. Follow other blogs. If a blogger recommends another blog, check it out; you may just like it!

On your own blog, you can respond to any comments left to you. There are a number of ways to do this, either by email or by posting your reply in the same comments section. You can also carry the conversation back their blog, as long as it is done respectfully. I make it a point to not only respond to the comment, but to then also visit the other blog back and leave a genuine comment.

You will find that as you do this more people may wander by your blog. They may even follow you and/or leave comments. Speak to them, not to yourself, and you will go a long way.

How does the A-to-Z help me with this?

The A-to-Z gives you an easy means to connect with similar bloggers, as well as bloggers who may not be similar but still interest you. It gives you a list of blogs, a virtual cornucopia of reading material and connections, right there on the linky list.

In addition, it provides inspiration for what to post about. The possibilities are endless, yet a prompt can help get you ideas you might not have had otherwise. You have a built in audience coming by to see what you have to say.

On top of that, you get energy and excitement. Everyone has something to prove. Engines are revving, and there's nowhere to go but out into the blogging community.

The A-to-Z gives us all the opportunity to step outside our cocoons and stretch beyond our comfort levels. There is a good chance you'll find that this is exactly what you've been waiting for, and what you've needed all along.

May you find your Muse.

The Warrior Muse


PR said...

I'm really looking forward to meeting new peeps in the challenge, can't wait. I'm gona test yesterdays groovy instructions out...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Shannon, this fits in so well with what I blogged about today!

Marta Szemik said...

Thanks Shannon. I'm really looking forward to reading what other bloggers have to say for their letters:)

Anonymous said...

What I like about stretching outside our cocoons is reading other people's posts. This is where I expand my horizons, learn about other cultures, and travel around the world. I like meeting new people and learning new things.

MISH said...

Shannon is 100% on the button!
Thanks for this lovely post, Shannon. It's a way of encouraging bloggers who are still unsure... and reassuring those who have signed up for the first time and are wondering what on earth they've gotten themselves into.
Countdown continues... only 43 days left!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I'm kinda looking forward to the A-Z, but can't help but wonder ... if I get to caring about and visiting even MORE blogs, when in the world will I ever find time to SLEEP? Or write ... or eat ...

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I love this. I have learned this in my short blogging experience and I have been delighted with how welcome I have been made in this community. Great post!

DL Hammons said...

Great post Shannon! It's so easy to take for granted what those bloggers who have been around for awhile have already learned. Listen up newbies....Shannon knows what she's talking about! :)

Shannon Lawrence said...

Anna, it's really worth it!

Alex, fun coincidence! They fit together very nicely.

Marta, me, too!

Stephen, I agree wholeheartedly. I've "met" so many interesting people through the blogging community.

MISH, it's getting really close! So incredibly exciting! Thank you for your kind words.

Susan, I feel like Alex's post on his blog today sort of touches on that topic. You meet a lot of people, but you will also make individual, more personal connections that way.

Tasha, I feel exactly the same way! I was so nervous in the beginning, but this community truly has open arms.

DL, thank you!

Tina said...

Hey Shannon, my totally cool partner in crime!

If you're looking for an example of how following Shannon's sage advice will help you reach your blogging goals, I've got it right here. During last years challenge, I tried like crazy to visit as many new blogs as I could. But I didn't make it all the way around. 1282 is a very large number of blogs. So in my reflections post, I announced that I wasn't stopping until I'd been to everyone's blog. Shannon left a comment that she felt the same way. From that simple beginning came an exchange of ideas, and eventually the Post-Challenge Challenge. Fast forward to this year, we were invited to co-host!

Listen to her people, she's an amazingly generous blogger and friend and this post is just ONE example why. You need to follow her blog! Trust me.

Tina @ Life is Good

Co-Host of the April 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge


Nicole said...

The A to Z Challenge is held up by a great community of bloggers and "community" is exactly why I tried this blogging marathon out a year ago. Having participated in a few different daily blogging events during 2011, I have to say that the A to Z Challenge is... by far, the very best of them.

In fact, it is the ONLY daily blogging challenge that I am participating in again this other repeats have made my to-do list, but the A to Z is a MUST in my book!

I've made so many friends, discovered a lot of cool blogs and also learned some very useful things by being a part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I reckon it will be no different.

The Madlab Post

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This is so true. Two years ago when I started blogging I would never have considered that people I only knew from the blogging community would be real friends I care about even though we've never spoken or met in person. And I'll be meeting more wonderful people this year.

Unknown said...

And the benefits to joining this challenge just keep getting better and better!


(Aren't you impressed with my hyperlink signature??)

Heather Murphy said...

Thanks Shannon! I'm so excited!!! Is it April yet?!?!?!

Rick said...

I'm just getting out and about and visiting other blogs, and it's fun! Their are so many interesting writers.

Emily said...

I'm really excited for this challenge. It will be nice to,connect with so many new bloggers that are participating. I hope I can find some new blogger friends!

Anonymous said...

Great post Shannon. The challenge sounds so exciting.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for this challenge to start! I'm looking foward to meeting new and interesting people.

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

Thanks for your encouragement and now I've learn how to add my blog signature. Many thanks to our teacher!! So cool!!!


Shannon Lawrence said...

Aw, Tina, warm and fuzzies! And if Tina weren't so incredibly open, friendly and giving, I wouldn't be in a position to be a part of the challenge. She reached out to me in a way I never could have done. Talk about community!

Nicole, well put and all so true! Lee is an amazing guy for having put something like this together.

Susan, oh yes, I'm very much looking forward to all the new "faces" I'll meet this year. I felt the same way as you, never realizing what a sense of wonderful community I would gain from this.

Dawn, fantastic job on the hyperlink signature!

Heather, soooo close!

Rick, I agree; I hope you find some great blogs out there!

Emily, I have no doubt you will!

Tania, thanks! So exciting!

Jeremy, and it seems that happens before the challenge even begins, as well!

Debra, that was an awesome post, wasn't it? (the hyperlink signature one)

Jeremy [Retro] said...

it will be another great time, some solid advice...

Jeremy [Retro-Z]
Visit The Madness:

Haddock said...

No wonder you have 719 followers.
That is no mean feat :-)

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

I did the first Alphabet challenge I think two years ago and the people I met are my friends today. So you can build relationships from this challenge plus improve your writing stamina. I wish you all great writng, terrific reads and amazing friendships. Great post!


Ella said...

Great post! Yes, Cheers to the Muse ;D

Shannon Lawrence said...

Jeremy, thanks, it will, indeed!

Haddock, not I, but Lee has certainly earned all his followers.

Debra, thanks! So wonderful to hear that you are still friends with those you met in the challenge two years ago.

Ella, thank you!

Lydia Kang said...

I think visiting other blogs is really important, too. Great post!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Lydia, definitely true! It's all about getting to know other bloggers and having fun.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z