Monday, January 20, 2014

A to Z: It's About the Numbers (A "What Works" Post)

      I'm going to fill you in on a secret about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Actually it's not really that much of a secret since I've told the story many times in many ways.  Though the Challenge hides under the guise of letters, it's really about numbers.

      The whole reason I started the Challenge was because I was celebrating having reached 200 followers.  I was celebrating my increase in followers by playing with 26 letters.  The result was more followers for me and more for those who participated with me.  And so it has gone in each successive year.

       This year's Challenge will be the fifth year.   Not bad for a blogfest that started off relatively small.  Now thousands of bloggers and non-bloggers alike are aware of this annual April event.  Many of you are proud veterans of the Challenge.  Some are wary of participating.   Some may be scratching their heads and wondering how a blog event like the A to Z Challenge can be of any use to a blogger.

       Sure, we've had our detractors--takes too much time, sucks up the blogosphere during April, didn't really help me gain readers.   I won't go into any of these at this time.  I'm sure these will be covered in the weeks to come on this blog.  I'd prefer to look at the positives rather than the negatives, whether it be this Alphabet Challenge or anything else in life.  Talk about sucking up energy!   Negativity will do it just about every time.

       So back to the numbers game.  Maybe it's about amassing greater numbers of followers, more readers, more comments, more posts, higher SEO ranking--you name it, A to Z can do it.  You can't just sign on though and expect magic to happen.  There is work involved and that means numbers that you add into the effort.   The more blogs you visit, more bloggers you follow, and the more comments you leave then the more numbers you get in return.  It's just blogging, except it's like blogging on steroids.   Hyper blogging.

       You can argue the subject of numbers all you want, but you can also question your motivation for blogging.  The fact is that numbers make a difference.

        Have you ever seen a successful advertising campaign done with just one TV or radio ad?    Money is poured into media campaigns in order to inundate the airwaves with repetitive commercials.  Numbers.  We get logos and mottos emblazoned into our brains because we see  or hear them over and over.

        Marketing and promotion is a numbers game.  That's the way the whole thing is effective.

        Same with your blog, the product you're trying to promote, or your personal brand.  You've got to get out there and make yourself seen and heard.    Let's face it, 26 posts on your blog will be more likely to garner attention than one or four or whatever lesser number you're dealing with.  Don't skimp on quality.  Quantity isn't everything, but on the other hand practice aims for perfection.   If you post more, you may become a better blogger.

         I'll listen to your arguments against the numbers in the comments.  I've done so innumerable times in the past.   I doubt whether anyone will ever convince me otherwise.  Numbers count.

         A to Z is about fun, expression, personal challenge, interaction, networking, and so many other things.  The Challenge can also be a valuable part of a participant's promotional strategy in blogging.  Think of why you blog and how the April Challenge can fulfill your needs as a blogger.

        Yeah, it's about the letters, but it's also about the numbers.

        Do you think numbers are important in a promotional campaign?   How hard do you try to build up following in the A to Z Challenge?   What do you think is the key to blogging success?

For other participants be sure to visit the sites of the What Works... hosts:

Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out
Yolanda Renee at Defending the Pen
Jeremy Hawkins at Being Retro
Alex J. Cavanaugh at Alex J. Cavanaugh

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Billy Blue Eyes said...

I confess I joined to see if it would gain me followers as I was new to blogging at the time. What I had not realalised was that I had not added a follow my blog button so wondered why the lack of followers. I did get a lot of people visit my blog which is what it is about. Will I do it again? you bet ya it's great fun

Unknown said...

still it feels me to maintain the touch with A to Z.

J.L. Campbell said...

In the past couple of years, I've found that not everybody 'gets' some of the important things about blogging. Like the fact that you have to take the time to stop in with other bloggers so they'll come visit.

Jemima Pett said...

You don't have to want to measure your success by the number of followers you have. Expressing yourself in a blog may be enough. But if you join up for the challenge it follows that people will visit. Why join up for the challenge if you don't want that? You can do blog posts from A to Z in April without joining the challenge.

So numbers are part of the game. And the more effort you put in, the more likely you are to find like-minded or interesting people whom you want to follow and hear more about. And likewise, they find you.

Jemima at Jemima's blog

Unknown said...

Looking forward to 2014 A-Z Challenge, it is a great way for all bloggers to come together in one event for the year! A great success!

Tony Laplume said...

It is and it isn't about the numbers. If a blog's measure of success is how many followers it has, fine. If a blog's measure of success is how many comments it gets, that's fine too. But I'm always looking for quality there, too. I want followers who are engaged in what I'm trying to do, not just showing up because I show up at theirs, too. I'm not just looking for buddies (although that's great) or to trick people into buying whatever I happen to be selling (although that would be great too). The numbers only matter if they amount to something. You say it's about quality. But that's not always what I see from these things. I sometimes look at the A-to-Z only as a means for people who have a lot of time to use that time reading blogs. And the results aren't always about quality. So it's a double-edged sword at best, this numbers game. The numbers count for something only if they mean something. You can get a lot of people to do anything. But if the numbers don't add up...what's the point?

Arlee Bird said...

Bill--It will be good to have you back. Have that followers button ready and you can also add a "follow by email" box to increase potential readership.

PS -- A to Z is a good way of reaching out into the unknown and to old friends as well.

JL-- One of the goals of the A to Z is to educate bloggers about this.

Jemima-- Results come from the efforts we exert.

Carolyn-- Thanks for that endorsement!

Tony -- What you say is true in a sense, but the bottom line is that numbers meet a short term goal of getting the attention of an audience or customer base and consistent quality holds the numbers. Without numbers it doesn't matter how good you are. One is the loneliest number. Better to have followers/readers and the more the merrier.

Tossing It Out

Crystal Collier said...

Last year was my first year in the A-Z Challenge, although I'd been watching and supporting for all the previous years. I did gain at least 50 new followers, and talk about amazing friendships! The hop definitely increased my traffic, and I think it's benefits by far outweigh the negatives. Such a WONDERFUL event!

Yolanda Renée said...

Good question, it is about numbers, and interaction. We want to know when we write something that others find it interesting - at least I do. I love writing, I love the response to my writing, and yes I want to reach a bigger audience, I want to sell my books. I'm a writer, I want to be read!

Thanks again, Lee, this is awesome!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hyperblogging - I like that!
It made a huge impact on my blog the first year, and all the years following. But you do get out of it what you put into it.

Jeremy [Retro] said...

My first year, I got many 350 new followers and was overwhelmed and this last year I think I added 7 new folks, it was a lot of work and I was happy to have those people. They had become great friends.

Jeremy H.

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

Anonymous said...

I can honestly say participating in the A - Z Challenge has made me a better blogger. It has also helped me improve my networking and marketing skills in Blog Land. Yes, it's been work. It's been the kind of work that satisfies and makes one sleep well. It makes a difference, if you put forth your best effort, enjoy the ride and appreciate the opportunity.

So true about the result of negativity. I really enjoyed this post, Lee. Thank you!

Michelle Wallace said...

My philosophy is: Input = Output. This applies to everything you do in life.
I've completed three A to Z challenges. This year will be my fourth. It's a wonderful event which holds a special place in my heart.
Time consuming? Yes.
But a GREAT networking opportunity.
Thanks for hosting this online symposium, Lee.

Andrew Leon said...

I'm too tired to come up with a proper response at the moment; however, I will say that I have not seen a huge increase in followers from the 2 A-to-Zs I've participated in.

Chrys Fey said...

Completing the A to Z challenge is on my list of things to do this year. ;)

Arlee Bird said...

Crystal -- Just the A to Z endorsement we like to hear. Thank you!

Yolanda -- It's kind of sad to write what no one reads. It's a creative outlet meant to be shared.

Alex -- We reap what we sow.

Jeremy -- 7 is better than zero.

MJ-- Thank you and I enjoyed your comment immensely.

Michelle -- Good formula for a post on numbers.

Andrew -- Get rested and come back to discuss further. Each of us has an A to Z story to tell and there is probably a good explanation for each participant's outcome.

Chrys-- So glad to hear this!


SittieCates said...

I agree that numbers can do so much.

I'd love to join this event! I've been seeing this event for a long time. But because of work, a computer that always needs to be taken to its computerized hospital at the nearby shop and other obligations, I didn't sign up. :-)

I'd love to take the challenge this year. I'm sure it'll be fun.

The Musings of a Hopeful and Pecunious Wordsmith

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Numbers, yes, but also friends. I've met some of my best online bloggy buddies on A to Z. And that makes it worth its weight in alphabet soup.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Letters and numbers--sounds like Sesame Street to me! ;)

I've done the A-Z Challenge before, but I have so many demands on my time now that I find it hard to visit other bloggers. (I have today off, so at least I can participate in the Online Marketing Symposium.)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I built my following in the A to Z in the first year of the contest. I hope to have more time this year and build it even more. I think numbers are important.

Anonymous said...

My (2nd) blog was so new last year when I announced my intention to take part in A-Z on my 5th post. It will be interesting to see the effect on numbers this year. I also have to think of four Sunday posts as I signed up for postaday 2014!
The numbers aren't the primary motivation for me. If they had been I'd have given up long ago! I have discovered a lot of interesting blogs and some wonderful people behind them.

Arlee Bird said...

Sittie -- A to Z sign-ups open next Monday!

Cathy -- Numbers can easily transform into friendships if we work to make it happen.

Sandra -- Simple as ABC! The investment of time makes a difference on the rewards reaped from A to Z, but it's a matter of choice. Anyone can participate and decide on their own level of participation.

Susan GK-- Life and business is measured by numbers, let's face it. We shouldn't let the numbers rule us or stress us out, but they should be accepted as measurements and indicators of where we are.

Sue -- I agree about the numbers taking control if we approach things wrong. Content and networking should be our primary motivation and the numbers should be our guide markers to tell us how we're doing and help us figure out what else we need to do.

Tossing It Out

Christine Rains said...

I love the A-Z Challenge. I've met so many wonderful bloggers through it. And yes, the numbers do help.

Carrie-Anne said...

Blogging success is just like any other type of success—usually slow and steady wins the race, instead of immediately coming out with a thousand followers and tons of hits and comments every day. I enjoy discovering new bloggers during the A to Z Challenge, and this year will be doing it on two blogs, my main blog plus a new one focused on onomastics (names).

Rob Z Tobor said...

I do like the A to Z (it was a brill idea) but cant help but wonder if its popularity will be its downfall. I felt a lot of blogs last year were not really there for the right reasons.

However I hope to be back to do my little bit as best I can with a whole new cunning plan for 2014

Susan Kane said...

I am already figuring out my posts for the A-Z this year. I agree with Yolanda up there.

Anonymous said...

It really is about the numbers. 26 beats 10 to 12 any month. Another takeaway I got was the ones disciplined enough to commit and do the work; reap the rewards. I've been afraid to commit to such a huge blogging task, but this is probably the main reason my blog numbers are at a stand still. I really need to stretch my comfort zone.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

I participate for the following reasons:
1. I was an AOL Blogger. I miss the connection and comaradarie of J-Land.
2. I want to encourage myself to become a regular blogger again.
3. I want more people to see my posts and interact with me.
4. I want to find more/better blogs to follow that really interest me and stimulate me.

Unknown said...

Numbers, friends, and fun, AZ has given me all of that and more. Even a book!

I'll always be grateful to you, Lee, first for starting this challenge, then for inviting me to co-host.

It will be a great ride this year :)

Joyce said...

I think whether it's the A-Z, or blogging in general, if you want people to read yours you have to get out and read theirs. This will be my fourth year in the A-Z, and I always look forward to the challenge. I really liked the way we could categorize last year, as that helped me find bloggers with content that might interest me (although I always read some that are outside that arena too). Thanks for hosting!

Huntress said...

When I started this crazy writing business, marketing was the furthest thing from my mind. Now, it is something I treat like a demi-god and burn incense to honor its fickle nature.
Thanks for hosting!
Author of Wilder Mage at Spirit Called
Facebook Wilder Mage

Unknown said...

This is going to be my first year participating. Looks like it'll be fun. :)

Sherry Ellis said...

You're right - it is a numbers game. This is a brilliant way to increase the numbers (and make new friends!)

Nicole said...

Ooooh, I like that "Hyper Blogging" term you coined here, Lee! In fact, I might piggyback on it for my Wednesday A-to-Z post.

Yes I think numbers are important in a promotional campaign and equally important is the ability to track or stay on top of how those numbers -- however large or small -- correlate to the desired result of said promotional campaign.

I used to try to build a following in the A-to-Z Challenge by writing interactive blog posts that matched whatever theme or letter I wrote on for the day. Now, I'm less interested in building up a following through the A-to-Z Challenge because it's been a bit of a crap-shoot in gaining readers who are interested in the topic that my blog focuses on.

So, I just do what I can and if my efforts result in me gaining followers, that is awesome but if it doesn't result in me building up a following, I'm still not going to sweat it much either because I've come to learn more about the type of audience that the A-to-Z attracts, which is in many ways, much different than the type of audience my blog attracts.

While I don't think I'm a blogging expert by any means or am in a position to comment on the key to blogging success, I have noticed that having clear objectives and engaging in blogging activities that support those objectives is the key to blogging success. If a blogger wants to, for example, build his or her readership or followers to say...100 or 1,000 or whatever, then posting on random topics once per month and spending the rest of ones free time on SnapChat or playing Angry Birds might not be the best way to increase blog visitors.

The key to blogging success, in my opinion, is making sure that one's activities meet the "why" or reason behind blogging in the first place.

The Madlab Post

Dobson said...

I love the opportunity to find new friends who blog. It is not an easy thing as none of my in person friends is blogging. I mean no one. I met so many great people and got involved with DL Hammons and the Blog Blitz due to A to Z. I definitely understand the process better and plan to have my 26 posts ready prior to April 1 so i can visit as many blogs as possible during April.

Jen said...

Thanks for this post, Arlee. It helped me solidify what I'm going to blog about for the 26 days of the challenge.

I love blogging for the relationships and for the information I gather BUT I know that it IS a numbers game. It's always great to see a lot of comments and followers when you post something. We all want to be seen and heard. Blogging is just one way to do that.


Anonymous said...

I entered my first A to Z last year, when my blog was just a baby. I did it to connect with other like-minded folks across the globe. It's awesome, this ability to share witty banter with writers and readers across time-zones and cultures. This online community fueled my passion for collaborations, which led to some pretty amazing projects. There is power in numbers, just as there's power in connections, and ideas. But first, you have to put yourself out there -- take a chance. Take 26 chances. Something extraordinary could happen.

WriterlySam Join the A to Z Theme Reveal Party!

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit late to the comments here.. Caught up on this through fb.
Who doesn't like numbers? I'm sure most, if not all, bloggers get seduced by the stats page when they first find it.
Numbers aren't why I blog or participate in AtoZ. I need practice and this gives me something to challenge myself with. There's much better bloggers than me and I like standing shoulder to shoulder with them for a month flexing my writing skills and meeting some wonderful people along the way. It took me a while to get blogging but once I did I realised the importance of the comments and community. Many thanks for starting this wonderful challenge and here's to another great one less than a month away.
Remind me, how many numbers in the alphabet?

Tami Von Zalez said...

I do so many monthly challenge each year AtoZ is a snap. But to compose quality posts for it take months of preparation. I started drafting my AtoZ posts in November.