It's been a long and rewarding journey, but one of the best things I've ever done on it is the A TO Z Blogging Challenge one April five years ago.
With encouragement from Lee and Alex, I signed up as a co-host the year after, and over the next three years, the challenge of co-hosting kept me
In 2015, I took a break, but am back on the team again in 2016!
For those of you doing the A to Z Challenge this year, you already know what I'm going to talk about. You guys on the fence, and if you're new to the idea of a blogging challenge, here's why A to Z Challenge rocks out and why you need to sign up on 25th Jan 2015!
1. Discipline: Before the challenge, I was a pantser-blogger, riffing off posts as and when they came to me, with no idea of a schedule. But blogging 26 days in April taught me the value of pre-planning, scheduling and giving themes to my posts. If you're a blogger, you need discipline to survive long-term.
2. Commenting: Most new bloggers think if they write a blog, people would visit. Not true. The successive A to Z challenges have taught me the value of commenting. As we comment on other bloggers, we get to know them, and they, us. This creates community. The frenzy of all the April challenges have taught me that the more I comment, the more people I'm going to get to know, the more friends I'll have, and as a corollary, the more buzz on my blog. Once you take part in the challenge, you are forced to return comments and lose your inhibitions.
3. Self-knowledge: The A to Z challenge taught me that I'm actually not that bad at flash fiction: I wrote 26 stories in 26 days that year and got a book out of it: the A to Z Stories of Life and Death. More importantly, I gained confidence in my ability to write stories on the spur of the moment, I got closer to my voice as a writer. Other bloggers have gone on to compile their blog posts into books, too.
4. Audience: My followers and hits saw a spike during that first challenge and each challenge afterwards. That behemoth A to Z linky list is amazing also because it stays up year-round, and you can go on a post-challenge road trip! If you possess a craft or skill that you sell online, doing a good A to Z Challenge can be a fantastic marketing strategy.
5. Friends: One of the best rewards of the blogging challenge has been the number of friends I've gained. I know that I became good friends with several dozen bloggers over the years simply because of the A to Z Challenge.
6. Adrenalin: It sounds easy, write a post a day for 26 days in April, and visit at least 5 blogs a day. You'll be surprised at the number of people who fall behind or drop out. Completing the challenge and meeting all those people can be a huge adrenalin rush, and it gives a shot in the arm not just to the blog but also to you! I know I'll run around in April like a chicken on an overdose of caffeine.
So, there you go. Get ready for the Adrenalin rush, the madness, the followers and friends, the exposure and the mayhem for this April. And of course, let's not forget the survivor badges and gear!
Get your name on the list the minute it opens!
For those who have made AZ plans already, what can we expect this year from your blogs? What plans do you have to grab a high seat on that list? What advice would you give to someone joining the A to Z April Blogging Challenge this year?