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Monday, March 24, 2014

Checklist: Are you READY for the BIG DAY? #atozchallenge 4/1/2014

You've signed up on the list.  You've maybe written some posts.  Maybe you have a theme, but are you REALLY ready for Tuesday, April 1, 2014 when the biggest blogging event of the year will begin?  Here's a checklist so you can be sure.

1) You might have heard this before, but you HAVE TO TURN OFF CAPTCHA, aka WORD VERIFICATION aka PROVE YOU'RE NOT A ROBOT.  You really don't need that "keep out" sign. (If you're worried about spam, disabling anonymous comments is the best defense, and you can also you use comment moderation.)

If you don't know how to turn it off, there's a video in the FAQ to help you.

2) Do you have a way for visitors to follow your blog? 
You can use Google Friend Connect (GFC), follow by email, follow by RSS feed, or all three.  We recommend that you have at least one if not all three options available for guests to be able to come read more, or look at your great photos, or listen to your creative songs, or learn your awesome craft ideas.  You do want more followers, right?

3) Have you cleaned up your sidebar?  (I need to...egads, it's cluttered...) What I mean is, do you have your sidebar in a logical order?  How to follow you (see #2) should be near the top, if not THE top item. Arrange the rest of your items in the order of importance ~ what do you want people to know about you and your blog.  Some may not scroll all the way to the bottom, so put the important "stuff" at the top.

4) Do you have your participant badge displayed?  I'm talking about this one, found in the banners/badges tab above:



I know some of you have very legitimate reasons for not displaying it, and we're not forcing anyone to have it up. However, here are some reasons why it's to YOUR advantage to have it in your sidebar, and I suggest placing it right under your follower widget of choice.

* visitors know right away that you're participating

* if you put it up NOW it's advertising and we get more participants

* you avoid a reminder email from one of the co-hosts or one of the minions to please display your badge (which saves us work and we'd really appreciate that)

5) Do you know where the sign-up list is?  I suggest having it open in your browser all day so that it's easy to visit someone when you have just a few minutes.  All of those add up, and pretty soon you've been to more than the suggested 5 blogs immediately following your number on the list.  That will bring you more visitors!  This is the sign-up list.

6) Do you know what to do once you've put your first post up?  A lot of people have been asking.  The quick answer is: you've already signed up on the list I linked in #5, you don't have to link up each day.  However, here's what you should do to insure success:

* advertise your post using your other social media outlets of choice

* if Twitter is one of those, include the #atozchallenge hashtag

* for those of you on facebook, get active with the A-Z facebook page by visiting it daily to see what's going on, liking comments, adding your own.  Doing so will bring more visibility to your blog, and more visitors.

* if you include an image, others can pin your post on Pinterest

* make sure you're visiting others.  If you visit, they will come.  If you sit there, they will not.  Your success, your connections with others, your increase in friends and exposure all depends on YOU.  If you invest the time to make the first move, it WILL pay off.

* the more you get yourself out there, the more you will get out of this adventure

Yes, most of this has been said before.  It's worth repeating though.  The A to Z Team's goal is for this be a rewarding experience for you, and we really do care about you.  We may not be able to read all of your posts...but we want you to succeed.

Questions?  Contact Us tab is right up there.

~Tina, on behalf of the A to Z Team

P.S Got some new info this morning.  Be sure to read Ida's comment below. It has other following suggestions and shows you how to fix GFC if you're having problems with it.  Thanks, Ida!




36 comments:

  1. Hi Tina .. very good summary post - I congratulate you: excellently well put over.

    Making life easy for readers and commenters will give us all those extra benefits of ease as we whirl around participants.

    Cheers and I'm going to be enjoying the A-Z once again .. good luck everyone - Hilary

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  2. I did do some spring cleaning (yet spring still did not come), but now I feel like there was a reason to!

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  3. Hi Tina. Great round up. Gaining new followers was so much fun last year. I have noticed Google Friends Connect is not working on a lot of sites - or web browsers (After some tinkering it works in chrome for me and not safari.) I would suggest adding other readers like bloglovin' and networked blogs etc. so people can easily connect with you and vice versa - and check your GFC - Here's a forum link if your having problems too https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/blogger/Kdxwcmg7acE/4kFVzDGesA4J -
    #atozchallenge

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  4. @ Hilary: as always, thanks for your support.

    @ Andrea: yes, my spring cleaning needs to continue...

    @ Ida, those are very good suggestions, and thanks for the link for how to fix my GFC. I thought it was just me...

    To other visitors who come by today: I will be gone most of the day and will respond to your comments this evening!

    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

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  5. BIg Day . . . . . What Big Day. . . . . . . . . . . . .AH . . .DAMN


    Rob Z Tobor

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  6. Excellent tips! No word verification, people.

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  7. I am ready but for personal reasons have second thoughts about taking part.
    I agree about the word verifications. really annoying,
    Yvonne.

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  8. Good point about the side bar. I need to do that….like now….thanks!

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  9. Great checklist. I've followed so many blogs in the last few days, and something else I would suggest, for those who have a self-hosted WP blog is to install either a G+ or FB comments widget, so that your comment box doesn't need all of those extra steps to comment. Here are a couple of links to the widgets I'm talking about:

    G+: http://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-reviews/google-comments-widget
    FB: http://wordpress.org/plugins/seo-facebook-comments/screenshots/

    :)

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

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    Replies
    1. If we do that, we lose the Commentluv function that many of us use, which allows commenters to leave a "Do Follow" link to a post of their choice. Plus, Facebook and Google don't notify you when there's a new comment to read.

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  10. Totally forgot the badge D: all fixed ;)

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  11. hey Alex-I tried to put the badge in and , well, I don't know how to do this since they changed the way blogs work. I went to Gadgets and I went to text blah blah where it said badges and wqhen i entered the info it said Oops wrong info so am not sure how to do it:) You know i am very very retro and am surprised I use a computer at all...I am glad I know how to turn on a radio though:)

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  12. Gosh this must work like clockwork now. Amazing. Impressive. Good luck everyone!

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  13. Outstanding advice! Let's hope a lot of people read and heed all of these tips.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

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  14. Thanks for the checklist. I'm getting everything checked off.

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  15. This is my very first challenge. I'm so excited! Thank you for the tips!

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  16. I've found GFC is pretty much not functioning... UNLESS you copy the blog URL, go to blogger.com, scrolll down to "Reading List", click "Add", and then past the original blog URL using the follow publicly option. Then, go back to the original blog you wanted to follow, and refresh the page. Your pic should now show up in the GFC followers. Not sure why this is working when just clicking on the button won't, but I've done if for dozens of blogs now. Hope that helps!

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    Replies
    1. Julie-
      Thank you so much! I figured out how to have friends follow my blog, but I couldn't figure out how to follow others. That is until your post.

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  17. I should probably rearrange my sidebar stuff but I know 'follow by email' is near the top. One of my widgets is going away at the end of this month b/c Widgetbox is closing down their site.

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  18. I heard GFC wasn't working from Gary and Penny.

    My blogs are all ready to be posted giving me more time to be a minion.

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  19. Am I ready? Most of my posts are, but whether I am is another story.
    I've got my blog on Twitter and Google+, but not Facebook.

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  20. Are they going to be some type of linky page? A place were someone come to and put in there url.

    Coffee is on

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  21. I still got to correct few things ... Thanks for sharing these points

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  22. Great tips, already done all :)

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  23. All great advice, I think I have pretty much everything said; I'll just do a final check to make sure. Yep I'm ready, all posts written, ready to go, visited people already when they announced their theme, got a stack ready to follow through the challenge, looking forward to it all.

    betty

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  24. Great tips, but I sure was surprised to see that you don't have your Twitter handle displayed with the tweet function! It says via @sharethis. Wouldn't you rather have it say via @AprilA2Z ?

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    Replies
    1. I changed it manually, but, most people won't take the time to do that.

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    2. Hey Debbie,
      Excellent point. I will point this out to the person in charge of our twitter piece! I appreciate you taking the time to let us know!
      Tina @ Life is Good
      A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

      Delete
  25. Hi! great challenge! Sounds interesting and at the same time challenging! One concern - if i generally want to blog about stuff that you do with kids, say art, craft,science experiments, travel, games et al, what category code should I be using? Should I be using one at all? Or can I say KIDS or something?

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  26. I found this a helpful post. I forgot about your AtoZ Facebook page, and just connected to it. Thanks a lot. Where do I get the theme revealed curtain badge on my blog? I see it on a few blogs. Thanks a lot.

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  27. very helpful! off to see if im doing them...

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  28. Hi Tina,
    Nice to read this again,
    I mentioned this post in
    one of my post yesterday
    I thought that i posted a
    comment here too,
    But now while checking again
    I found that i didn't post it
    Sorry, great reminder and a checklist
    Have a wonderful time of blogging!
    Best
    Phil

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  29. good reminders... we all need these tips..All the best to All

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  30. How do find your name on the list? I can't find mine so I don't know where to start?!?

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