In this year's A to Z Reflections Posts I kept seeing the name of Corinne Rodrigues mentioned in regard to the bloggers she had encouraged to join A to Z and the blogging community she had developed. Since one of the goals of the A to Z Challenge is to build community, what she was doing was right in line with what I'd been working toward. Corinne was so successful at this community building that I've invited her to the A to Z Blog to tell us more about this topic. I think what she has done is part of the future of what the A to Z Challenge will become.
Although I've been blogging regularly for six years now, it was only in 2011 that my blog really took off. That was largely due to the fact that I was invited to join a Blogging Group on Facebook. This was a group in which we share our links, have a lot of fun and laughter, discussed issues and yes, even got into arguments at times. We sent each other messages when we knew someone was not feeling good, wished each other for birthdays and anniversaries and even condoled the passing of family members. But most of all, we visited and commented on each other's blogs. Now I knew that each time I posted, I could share my link in the group and have at a couple of visits and comments on my blog. This was so different, from putting my posts out in the blog world and hoping some random blogger would come along and be nice enough to read and comment.
Some people say that they don't blog to be read, and don't need assurance from their readers. My question to such folk would be, 'Why blog, then. Why not keep your blog private?' If we're honest, every visit, every comment, every 'award' does make us feel that someone is 'listening' to us. I can quite frankly say that the moment I knew I had serious and committed readers, the quality of my posts improved. Now I knew for certain that people were 'listening' and caring enough to tell me so.
It was with this experience in mind that I decided to take on the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge for the first time.
I'm part of a group of Indian women bloggers - but it's a blogging group with a difference. We don't share our links - we share our thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects. So while I interact with a lot of bloggers there, I don't actually visit all their blogs and neither does everyone of them visit mine! When I read about the Challenge, I shared the link with this group. Someone in this group asked me if I was participating and told me that she would too if I was. I decided to take up the Challenge on the blog that I share with my husband (and dog!) so as to get it really started. By then the number of bloggers taking up the challenge was a staggering 1500. How was I going to be able to post, visit and get visitors to my blog, I wondered. That's when I had the idea of creating a Facebook group for specifically for Challenge. I invited some bloggers there, and they in turn invited others and soon we had a group about about 15 bloggers.
A2Zeders was born. We read and shared all we could about the Challenge. A few of us had undertaken the challenge before and shared their experiences. Our guidelines were simple - write, read and comment. Every day I would pin a post for the Alphabet at the top of the group page. The members would then add their links to the thread and start to visit and comment on as many other blogs on the thread as they could. Many members even shared all the links on Twitter.
It's summer in India, and many members were scheduled to go on vacation. So that was going to be a challenge. We found a way around that too. These members scheduled their posts and someone in the group religiously shared them on the relevant thread and made sure they got comments. There were a few members who seriously considered dropping out because of difficult work routines. Did we let them do that? No!
Soon people were chatting to each other on other threads - asking for suggestions and ideas, praising someone's post for the day, inquiring why someone hadn't posted that day, motivating, pushing and just being community. The power of community using social media was on display the entire month of the Challenge.
As with all groups, there were some members who just shared their and didn't bother to visit other blogs or really interact in the group. Thankfully they were a very small minority. And it was completely their loss.
I'm happy to report that some members got so hooked on to this experience, that they've taken on another challenge for May. Even better, we've created a new Facebook group - restricted to some of those who took part in the challenge. We've begun visit each others' blogs, take on group prompts, undertake blog critiques. It's still in the early stages, but I'm confident the experience and euphoria of the A-Z Challenge can be converted into a sustainable group of bloggers committed to improving the quality of their writing and motivating other members to do the same.
I'm grateful to Arlee Bird and all the members of the A-Z organizing team who through their creativity have encouraged other bloggers to be creative and innovative.
Do you think that being part of Blogging Group on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or any other platform, can help improve your blogging/writing experience?