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Monday, July 25, 2016

What Blogging Strategy Works Best? (#atozchallenge)

        Our thanks to guest poster and A to Z Challenge veteran Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin who blogs at and   In this post Stepheny shares her April blogging strategy--some tips you might find helpful in your own blogging.  

Reflecting on the A to Z Blog Challenge

“It’s true, with bloggers or a box of chocolates,
you never know what you’re going to get.”
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Everyone comes to the blogging world in their own way with interests that are particular. The Challenge is like taking a class from a plethora of teachers who demonstrate what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t. I know I’m a better blogger for this teaching. After four years of participation, I hope this reflection adds to the consideration of the matter.  

There is major agreement that it is important to start early with the research and writing, placing your posts in a queue before April 1. Visit as many blogs as possible, leaving a comment behind will improve your stats as people return the favor. If you didn’t get a lot of comments perhaps the process is too complicated to be worth the effort. When I find a new blog that has my name on it because of content and presentation, I feel rewarded for the time it takes to work through the participation list. I gladly hit the FOLLOW button when the stars align, but I have high standards in that decision. If it isn’t readable, or the site is difficult to navigate, I’m a step away from moving on. An edgy blog does not persuade me either. Clarity: background/font size are essential. I want an uncluttered presentation that does not take away from the point of the be able to READ the information. Short posts work best not only during The Challenge, but all year long. People are too busy to take the time no matter how worthy the content.

The subject matter you pick for the challenge has ramifications. Remember, a visitor might find you on day one or later in the month. You have one shot to intrigue them. A long tale that makes no sense on day 12, or a subject that is heavy, worthy as it may be, isn't great for what I call a "26 day expiration date opportunity." I encourage careful consideration of this goal: posts which demonstrate your blog is easy to read, the writing is your best effort, and that your blog is worth someone's valuable time to return and follow. NEVER start a post with, I don’t know what I’m doing, but here goes. Ask yourself, have I picked a subject that is better published at another time? The time frame of the Challenge should influence these decisions.

Whatever theme I have followed during April, I want people to know that the blog will continue on with content you would expect a writer, gardener, addicted reader and book-alcoholic to write about. I ask them for their company in the coming year. After reading this reflection, do come and find me by the garden gate at where I’ll be waiting, or visit my 2nd blog about the revitalization of a small southern historic downtown, Rocky Mount, NC. Let’s have sweet tea and talk about blogging.   

IMG_1068About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East available on Amazon. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: or

If you'd like to contribute a guest post to the A to Z Blog, please let us know. We are happy to consider any topics that might be of interest to the A to Z Blogging community. Contact emails can be found at "Contact" tab at top of the page or you can contact me at


nashvillecats2 said...

A great post and a wonderful strategy.

Unknown said...

Very concise and clearly stated. Thanks for posting! Nina

Wendy said...

Good suggestions Stepheny.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Short is good all year. I visit a lot of blogs every day and if they were all a thousand words long, I'd never make the rounds.

cleemckenzie said...

I can't read a dense blog because I know that I want to reach many, and my eyes simply can't hold out. Also, if I want to get anything else accomplished, I have to do some skimming and scanning. Thanks for your thoughts here today.

Arlee Bird said...

Reading blogs is a great way to learn how to best write effective blog posts. Thanks for your contribution to this site.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Pat Garcia said...

Hello Stepheny,
Thanks for your wise input on blogging. I so agree with many of your suggestions.
All the best.
Shalom aleichem,

Michele at Angels Bark said...

Great strategy recommendations Stepheny! I didn't find you during the A-Z Challenge but glad to make your acquaintance now...

Michele at Angels Bark

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I missed the Challenge this year and hope to participate again next year. These are excellent tips, especially the one about short posts that will interest a visitor even if they haven't been following along the whole month.

Carrie-Anne said...

I've learnt a lot about my ideal post length. I'm so proud of how many superfluous words I'm able to remove when editing and revising one of my old Angelfire posts for my blog. My perfect post length is now 400–800 words, down from like 1,500 words or more in the old days.