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?
Hi Damyanti, I met you on twitter when I first heard about the A-Z Challenge. I've done 3 challenges, and it's always been a blast, mostly by the seat of my pants. I keep saying, I will pre-schedule my posts, which I recommend for others, even if I myself cannot follow my own advice. Also, for new bloggers don't post too many pictures for each post because sometimes the editing and formatting of pictures adds a lot of time, especially if you are still new to blogging.
Writing and publishing each post is only 1/2 or less than 1/2 of the challenge. What's even more important is to connect w/ other bloggers and learn from them. I used to think blog hopping was not a good use of time, but by reading and visiting other blogs, one becomes better at blogging. Just like reading makes one a better writer. - @MauiJungalow
Glad to see you back on the team!
This will be the third year for me, do the challenge mainly because it's huge FUN, and the badges are too cute to resist, really..I start with the toughest letters first, write ahead even if I don't schedule till the day before. The X's and Q's and W's can be a bit panic inducing if left till the last minute :)
Any chance of getting a separate poetry category for the signup? Would be super if so. Thanks.
Hi, Damyanti. You have summed up what the challenge is all about. I started a new blog last year and have challenge posts planned for that. I am still debating whether to do anything on the blog I have posted my three previous A to Z's on. I might do something minimalist - or nothing... Sue
Hi Damyanti - couldn't agree more - it's been an excellent introduction to many bloggers and now friends and extended my knowledge of the blogging and internet worlds. Commenting is essential, almost the most important thing I'd say - but having good blog posts need to be up to entice people in to read.
Cheers ... and the XYZs ... one can adapt - I do ... be creative - frankly that's the order of the day .. have fun and create posts ... cheers Hilary
You summed up the A/Z pretty well :) It is a crazy fun month; looking forward to this year's too. My advice, get the posts written before the start of April; that way you can relax and visit other blogs and get to know more people that way without the stress of having to write a post 6 days a week.
Resistance is futile, it seems. I really wanted to take a break this year to let myself just write and publish my books, but the challenge is upon me and I have to sign up. I've just thought of a Really Useful Theme, though :D
Good luck with your minion group this year, Damyanti.
And really glad you are back on the team.
The way to grab a "high seat" on the list for me is to wake up at 3:00am because I am on the West coast. I doubt that will happen as my page views jump that first day or two of the challenge and then settle into the normal audience.
By mid-March I have nearly all of my posted ready to publish so I can visit the majority of the AtoZers. I start at the end of the list and work my way up, skipping the adult content and mommy blogs (no small children in my house).
This challenge is where I try to pull out all the stops on compiling what I hope to be interesting thematic content.
I'll be back this year! This is either my fifth or sixth year doing the challenge. I generally stick to themes of writing, food, travel, and music. This year we'll be in Paris - that's all I want to say! Time to start crafting those posts.
Challenges always stir the juices! This one is a great way to start spring.
Great reasons. I enjoy blogging challenges. Although, I'm not always as good as reading other posts as I should be. Usually because I'm tired from the day job and promise to do it later and then forget. ^^;;
This will be my sixth challenge!
I love the buzz generated by the A to Z Challenge!
Advice? Schedule your posts beforehand. It alleviates stress and you'll have more time to visit blogs.
Damyanti, for me, discovering your flash fiction has been one of the highlights of the challenge.
My advice is to have a theme, make and finalize your list of topics in advance, and have all (or almost all) of your posts written, edited, and scheduled before April starts.
Glad you're hosting, Damyanti. Love your energy. Good tips, all.
I've met a lot of people I wouldn't have thanks to this challenge.
Even though I'm winding down my blogging to a certain degree (going weekly on two different blogs), I've been toying with the idea of participating again. However, the idea I have requires a ton o' prep work (not the blogging part), which requires a ton o' time, which I hope to have soon.
I Are Writer!
Last year was my first year. I enjoyed finding other stitching/crafting people as I looked at other blogs. Plan on doing it again this year...
Hello Damyanti, nice post.
I wrote a post about this year's A-Z challenge a couple of days ago, similar to yours. Comment, comment,comment, very important. Without commenting on someone else's posts they can't come back to your blog so what's the point. I've decided on my theme and have started writing posts and scheduling them. I'll try to get all my posts scheduled before time so I have the time to visit and comment.
Good luck to all participants, I look forward to reading what you have to say this year, Geoff.
Hi there! Yes, the blog challenge is about building community. I try and visit as many blogs as I can during the challenge, but haven't ever managed all of them :)
I think we had poetry before : will check and get back to you. Pre scheduling is best, I hope to have them all done beforehand this year!
Decisions, decisions. Congratulations on the new blog. I believe I've been there.
Hi Hilary, I do indeed intend to have fun. All the best for AZ!
Spot-on advice, Betty !!
Excellent! Look forward to your posts. Also, you've got mail.
Thanks, Alex, and you have mail, too.
Looks like you have it all figured out!
Or, we could enjoy your Paris posts! :)
Absolutely. A great springboard, if you'll forgive the pun!
I met you on your first AZ post so many years ago. Anniversary coming up? ;)
Sixth? You haven't missed any :)
Thank you for your kind words on my fiction, Michelle.
Very sound advice!
This is the first year I'll be participating and I'm looking forward to the challenge and meeting other bloggers along the way.
Joy, you were one of my first AZ blog friends, and almost the first to read my AZ stories.
You have some of the highest positivity in any blogger I've seen. Grateful to be working with you!
I do like the A to Z a lot. But find I get annoyed by some blogs trying to take commercial advantage of it without really making any effort to actually do it. Which is why I have helped police it a bit in the last couple of years. No good complaining and then no doing something about it. I am busier these days too but I try to blog at least 20 days a month. I have decided to go down the poetry route again this year, but the whole thing is still very vague in my mind at present.
I tend to get too wordy so I'm going to try to make my posts shorter. When visiting numerous blogs during the challenge I like the ones that are short and sweet.
Hard to believe it's almost time to sign up already! I hope to get in early and will be watching this site for the list to go live on the 25th. :)
A post a day for 26 days is pretty gruelling for me and I keep vowing to get them all pre-formatted, written and scheduled ahead of time but something always intervenes. Not this year, I hope! "Third time's the charm", perhaps?
It really is the most rewarding and incredible experience and I completely agree about the commenting. That is at the heart of it and may I add how important it is to try and respond to the comments we get? I noticed so many just didn't bother at all. Obviously there isn't time to get them all, but at least make an effort, even if it's a few days later. Just my two cents. :)
I can't wait to partecipate in the challenge again, for the resons you said.
Last year was my first go. I enjoyed it immensely, though I did a few mistakes, the biggest of which was not being prepared, since I still had to write the majority of my articles. I thought I would be ok with a week in advance. Not so.
This year, I'm striving to have all my articles written by the beginning of the challenge, because I want to focus on networking. I'm not ther eyet, but I'm getting there :-)
So excited to see the new badge!
This is the 7th year of the challenge. I missed the first one.
Reason#7:the survivor gear!!
I don't know about this year. My first A to Z was in 2010 (I think). Have always had the entire month up and ready to run by April 1st, but this year is different. Life and it challenges, etc. We will see.
Thanks for the heads up dearie and for enlightening us about the whole process. I want to start it this year... Fingers crossed!!! 😊😊
Ooh I am excited and nervous! I just learned about this. Thanks for doing an amazing job explaining. .. I think I'm in.- eek!
Ooh I am excited and nervous! I just learned about this. Thanks for doing an amazing job explaining. .. I think I'm in.- eek!
This will be my second year and I am very excited about the challenge. For all the reasons you mentioned, I would just add - the belief that I can do it was the most important for me. I would say I discovered my self all over again with this challenge.
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