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!