Showing posts with label 2014 A-Z Blogging Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2014 A-Z Blogging Challenge. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Making friends through Blogging

It's December, in case you hadn't noticed.  All around me people are sorting out gifts for friends and family, and making arrangements for seasonal celebrations, both in our homes and on our blogs.

One of the things that I didn't expect from the A to Z Challenge was that I'd make friends.  It seemed strange, the idea of blogging friends, but of course, once you get people you meet regularly, it's just like any other community.  You may start by passing someone in  the street.  Then you smile, or even just nod.  Then maybe something happens and you speak.  If that goes well, it may develop - you may stop and chat, and perhaps even share a coffee break if you're in the right place at the right time.

It's not until you have to do something together that it changes from an acquaintance to a friendship.  Thinking about the place I used to live, what suddenly bonded a street together was fighting an unwelcome development in the old school playing fields.  In my new home it has been building a new village hall, and setting up new activities.  On my website I made some friends through discovering shared interests during the A to Z Challenge.  Some of those are like people I've known for years and still exchange Christmas cards with - I visit during the A to Z and wonder why I don't visit more often (I could do that with the Road Trip!)  Others I follow more diligently, and love the range of their posts and the experiences they share with me - and with other readers.

BookElves AnthologyI've had two experiences that I really wanted to share - things that I feel have made a real difference to me, and I hope you will find the equivalent in your blogging lives.  The first was when a writer, Sally Harris, invited twelve of us to join her in a Valentines Day project - putting out a chapter of our books in one volume, with a puzzle hidden within it.  Readers who solved it were eligible for a draw for a major prize.  Working with these other authors has led on to other projects - this year we brought out an anthology of short stories for readers aged 8 and over, the BookElves Anthology Volume 1.  One of my 'physical' friends asked about the 'Volume 1' bit.  I just love the optimism of thinking it might be the start of something regular, worth repeating.  I hope so, anyway.  If you write, I hope you find a community you feel you can work with on projects too.

The other experience I wanted to share was the fun and friendship I gained by being one of co-host Damyanti's team for the 2014 A to Z Challenge.  I worked closely with six other blogging enthusiasts (and most of us write), and we still share our activities and support each other's blogs.  You saw last month that the Challenge 2015 co-host team has been announced.  They will all need minions, so if you feel you want to get involved, do.  I assure you it'll be worth it.  You'll make some real friends.  Even if you never meet them face to face!

Thank you all for your interest through this year, and very best wishes for 2015.

Have you made friends through blogging?  Tell all!

Jemima Pett writes fantasy for younger readers in the Princelings of the East series, and is working on an adult scifi series. Read her blog, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Never too early to plan for the #AtoZchallenge !

The A to Z Challenge has been done and dusted for almost two months now-- time we started planning the next one!
Here are a few tips from Calli Duncan, a travel blogger, and 2014 A to Z Challenge participant:
The 2014 A to Z Challenge was an incredible success for Have Blog Will Travel. We now have 26 awesome British Columbia travel-themed posts in our article arsenal and have managed to connect with a great group of bloggers, forged some new relationships, and increased our readership. 
Having never attempted a blogging challenge of any type before, we wanted to use this opportunity to share a few tricks that we will be relying on for future challenges.
Format of A to Z Challenge Posts
Jumping into the challenge we knew our regular approach to blogging wouldn’t work. Therefore we decided to keep our challenge posts under 500 words, broken into three or four short paragraphs. This ensured we would be able to write a new post each day, and that readers wouldn’t be overwhelmed.
We also decided to include just one photo at the top of each post. This cut down on time sourcing photos and made each post visually similar. Clicking through our A to Z Challenge posts it’s clear they are part of a set - they look congruent yet can also stand on their own.
A Touch of Professionalism
To really elevate your posts and make a harmonious set of challenge posts, a little extra effort goes a long way. For us this meant editing our cover photos to create a unified look and include some essential information. Like the cover of a book, these images help direct people to our posts through social media channels and give our homepage a consistent look.
For the editing we turned to PicMonkey - a free, web-based editing tool and carried the same font through all challenge photos. The final look feels professional without taking itself too seriously.
Selecting a Theme
Wanting to stand out from other travel bloggers participating in the challenge, we opted to forgo the generic “travel” theme for something more closely related to the direction we are taking our blog. Therefore the theme Beautiful BC from A to Z was born, with all 26 challenge posts relating to British Columbia, Canada.
A specific theme lets visitors know what to expect and increases the chance of return visits during the challenge. When choosing a theme keep in mind that it needs to be broad enough to provide topics for all 26 letters of the alphabet, yet narrow enough that your final product is unique. 
Calli Duncan has spent the better half of 9 months traveling through Europe and is one of two faces behind the always honest and sometimes humorous Have Blog Will Travel. For more, connect with Calli on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why Do You #Write ? #atozchallenge

A to Z Challenge participant Vidya Sury was part of #TeamDamyanti this year, and she did an excellent job of providing social media tips (A Must-Read Guide now that we're taking a relaxed Road Trip!) and a hundred other things that go into running the challenge.

Today she is the Featured Guest on this blog, and talks to us about her passion for writing.

I worship the written word and the spoken word. I owe my love for writing to my Mom and one of my Uncles, who always encouraged me to express myself on paper.

And of course, to all the people who enjoy what I write, inspiring me to continue to write.

Writing is more or less like breathing to me, and today, I am glad to say, it is my bread and butter. Okay, also flavored cheese, sometimes.

Writing is a wonderful outlet, liberating, opening up new perspectives and teaching tolerance. When I go back and read something I wrote years ago, I enjoy seeing how I have learned and grown, and changed. Sometimes, I am proud of what I wrote and sometimes, I feel like I could have done a better job of it.

One of my earliest writing exercises was diary-writing. My Mom always encouraged me to keep a journal. It improved my language, my vocabulary and my confidence. It also helped me learn better at school. Above all, it kept my mind well-ventilated, stress-free and positive. It improved my memory and fed my creativity.

I remember, each time we went on a trip, my Mom would make sure I had packed my notebook and pencils. Oh yes, not only did I write about the trip as it happened; I also sketched in those pages. Sometimes, sketching helped me get my thoughts on paper far quicker than words to describe the scene.
Another writing exercise that helped me grow as a writer was letter-writing. Ours was a large family that believed in keeping in touch with relatives who lived in various cities. Letter-writing was a weekly chore. On Thursdays, which was a school holiday, my Mom and I would settle down with a stack of post cards and postage covers. I would love writing the addresses on these covers. Then, she let me add a couple of lines to each letter. Eventually, I took over the letter-writing and felt so happy when they were lovingly acknowledged. Some of my family still have my letters and read them with pleasure.

My love for writing paid off during my school years and beyond, making me a better student and a better person in life. At work,  I was rewarded with the remark “excellent communication skills” on my performance report and not surprisingly, I made a career in sales, marketing and training, before I quit the corporate world to become a stay at home Mom.

Today, I am excited to have a regular outlet for my writing via my blogs. My reward is my community, meeting other fabulous writers and exploring different writing styles via writing challenges and blog hops. Most of all, I am filled with gratitude to know that I make a difference with my words in peoples’ lives, bringing me closer to wonderful human beings. 

Writing is like oxygen.

Most of all, I am especially grateful that today, it is my chosen profession. Thanks to my writing skills, I earn my bread, butter and jam as a freelance writer and blogger, helping businesses, professionals and individuals.

Vidya Sury is a professional copywriter, editor and blogger. In a previous life, she was a corporate powerhouse. She now works from home crafting connections between businesses and their target markets, but prefers to focus on collecting smiles, playing with her dust bunnies, showing her diabetes who's boss and celebrating the little things.

She loves coffee, people, cooking, reading, writing, photography and travel. Vidya blogs at Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles , Coffee with Mi  and Your Medical Guide.

Dear Bloggers, why do you write? Do you blog for passion as well as remuneration? Did you participate in the A to Z Challenge? What do you think of guest blogging? Would you like to be a Featured Guest on this blog? Hit us up using the contact tab!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Up, Up, and Away #atozchallenge

English: Hot air balloons, San Diego, California
English: Hot air balloons, San Diego, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


       So you're thinking that it's time to wind down with the blogging?  April has been grueling for some of you.   Some got stuck a ways back and linger on a letter from earlier in the alphabet.  But you who endured are ready to hang it up and give it a rest...

         Not so fast!  The A to Z jig may be up but now it's up, up, and away with better blogging!

          Do you feel like your blogging and writing has gotten better during the month of April?   I hope so because that's partly what the Challenge is all about.   Did your follower numbers go up?   They should have if you were networking like you should have.    Did your comments go up?  Again it's a matter of networking in the proper way.

          Bottom line is did you learn anything new in April?  About yourself or about blogging?   Or how about all of the great information presented in the participant posts?   There was a real wealth of learning experience to be had on all accounts.

          What's up next?   How about the Reflections Post coming up on Monday May 5th.  If you choose to participate in this event--and I encourage you to do so--on May 5th you can sign up your link to your post reflecting on your A to Z Challenge experience.  

           Tell us about how your April went.  Offer your suggestions for making the next Challenge better or just let us know what's so great about the way it is now.   You can link to your favorite posts on your own blog or those on other blogs.  Tell us about blog discoveries you made during the Challenge.  What you say is up to you.  It's your Reflections Post.

           Later you'll want to be watching this blog to hear about the A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip.   The Blogging from A to Z Challenge doesn't have to end at the beginning of May.  You can stay with the community for the rest of the year.   Stay tuned to this blog for more information.

             In fact you'll want to keep coming back to the A to Z Blog throughout the year for more updates, more useful blogging tips, and more fun.   We will be accepting proposals for guest posts as well.  See the contact page for information on how to reach us.

            Don't feel down because the April Challenge is almost over.   Keep looking up!   There's still more to come.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

ROAR into the #atozchallenge !

 When a lion roars in the savannah, it strikes fear into the heart of all that listen to its long drawn out grunts.

But AZers have a different kind of roar. Their roars call to people, help build community, and with each comment they leave in the savannah of blogland, they make new friends, share new joys, acquire new knowledge.

How is the A to Z Challenge treating you? Are you roaring through, or do you sense a flag in energies? Have you made new friends? New followers? Earned comments and appreciation?

If you feel low, go into a room, close all the doors and windows, and roar!

Let all the air and sound and tension rush out of you, and then, when you attack the screen and the list of blogs you need to visit, you'll find renewed energy!

Here's to roaring through the A to Z Challenge!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Keeping up with the Kissing Method #atozchallenge

You don't have to speed up your daily posting frequency to get more followers,
You don't need to use multiple letters to be clever,
Ain't no particular blogging style we favor among participants,
We just want you to finish the challenge with us by following this:


One letter a day keeps the A-to-Z Challenge minions at bay.
One letter a day keeps your blog on schedule with our 2014 alphabet partay.
It only takes one letter a day....except on Sundays.
Then and only then (on Sundays) will we have off for good behavior and can go out, or stay inside to play!

What are YOUR favorite topics for Letter K that YOU read about while visiting A-to-Z blogs on the list today?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Alphabet Express has Arrived #atozchallenge

As the blog turns….

Adrenaline is pumping everywhere,

Among authors, travelers, artists, culinary experts, mothers, fathers and more…with tips, games and stories to share.

All in the name of the A-to-Z Challenge, we’re banded together, our fists held high in the air.

An Athletic Approach is needed to stay the course because flexing your blogging muscles to build stamina is a marathon, not a sprint.

An Abundance of Amusements have us in for a ride, anxious to find out what's around the next bend, twist or turn on the signup list.

An Adventure like no other is now brewing with new discoveries and the formation of online alliances of likeminded folks.

April is here. Time to party -- visiting many online destinations to see what people have going on, while other guests read what you wrote.

Now that we know our ABC's, the time has come to start blogging from A-to-Z. We'll see you on the court; or, in the park. Let's go and Ace this thing!

Are you in this Challenge for the Athletics, the Adventure, the Amusement or All of the Above?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

If you like #blogging , join the #AtoZchallenge and #AZchat !

 Today, we have Jemima Pett from #TeamDamyanti tells us about how to make the most of the A to Z Challenge.
So, you’re still wondering whether you can do the A to Z Challenge.  What on earth are you going to write about?  Will anybody read it?

Yes, loads of people will read it.  We pick out interesting-sounding names on the list, or work through the numbers, hoping to find things they wouldn’t normally read.  I find amazing crafts, weird games and fascinating journeys. 

In 2012 I was fairly new to blogging. I stepped right into the Challenge and loved it. So A to Z challenge is a great way to jump-start your blog if you're new to the blogging world.
I’d not long published my first two books and I thought an A to Z of my books’ world would be great.  It was... for me and a handful of people who were up with my stories.  I realised this last year, when I visited people doing character interviews: if your visitors are new, they don’t know your stories, they don’t enjoy the wonderful extra information and insights you’re giving them.  Making an A to Z of my world was good for me, but not my visitors. 

I also did an A to Z of food on my guinea pigs’ blog, George’s Guinea Pig World.  This was more successful, once visitors had got over the shock of having my guinea pig Victor talking to them.  Food is a universal subject. Victor made lots of friends, too, and I think he enjoyed it. Try to choose topics that will have an appeal wider than your niche. If you have a theme, sign up for the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal.
In 2013, I participated with just one blog; I did all the posts in advance and gave myself time to tour round other people’s blogs.  If you have superfast broadband you won’t realise that some blogs can take ages to load for slower systems.  Getting round 20 blogs could easily take me an hour and a half, without the time needed to leave comments and dealing with CAPTCHA.  That’s where I realised the value of keeping posts short, and also having identities on Blogger and WordPress so I was always logged in for comments. 

TURN CAPTCHA OFF. Go and check now on your blog if you have it on-- some bloggers have CAPTCHA and don't realize it. It turns off vistors like nothing else.
During the Challenge people like to visit, wave (i.e. comment or like) and move on.  In 2013 my short stories ranged from 50 words to 2000.  It’s good for regular posting but too much for the Challenge. Keep AZ posts short. Respond to comments you receive, and go and comment back. 

There will be two Challenge chats at #AZchat on Twitter today-- one at 1-3 PM hosted by AZ co-hots Pam Margolis and her team, and another at 8-9 PM, hosted by Guilie Castillo Oriard with support from #teamdamyanti, discussing Commenting during the A to Z Challenge. Join in!
This year, I’ll be blogging on a special theme, to be revealed for the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal.  I’ll also be revealing the cover of my new book, Bravo Victor, on April 2nd.  Come and check it out at and enter the Giveaway, too! If you have a book or any cause to promote, do it during the A to Z Challenge in order to get a good response.

Are you pre-scheduling your AZ posts? Do you have a theme? Are you already visiting other bloggers from the A to Z Challenge signup list?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The #AtoZChallenge Way of Lasting #Blogging Relationships

Today I welcome Guilie Castillo Oriard to talk about making lasting relationships during the month of April, when we all do some A to Z Challenge Blogging!
Take it away, +Guilie  !

Join the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal!
If you’re reading this, you probably know exactly how many days—hours, even—are left before April 1st. You can’t wait. I know. I’m like that, too.

Or was. Until I realized it’s not about April. April is only the opportunity—which I have squandered. Repeatedly.

Believing the A-to-Z Challenge is about April is like believing a play is about opening night. It’s your goal, what you’re working towards—operating word being working. Plenty to do before then. An actor shows up on opening night without having gone to a single rehearsal… Well.

The Challenge is only the beginning. The rules may require a post a day, but there’s a reason for all that frenzy. It’s about relationships. If we create them right, they will last way beyond April.

The Plan:

1 Write my posts ahead of time—as should you, and if you ask why then I give you a hearty hug of welcome, because it must be your first A-to-Z.

2 Start building my A-to-Z network now. With 2,000 blogs in the Challenge, I won’t be able to visit them all even overdosing on caffeine. But if I begin to engage with like-minded bloggers, that means I’m free during April for pure blog-hopping and commenting. Which leads nicely to the next point.

   But first: how does one achieve this engaging?

         visit the main A-to-Z blog and the hosts (in the sidebar to the right), and the Team of Assistants. Check out the people that leave interesting comments

         sign  up for the #A2ZReveal hop

         join the A-to-Z communities on Facebook and G+

         follow @AprilA2Z on Twitter and start your own Twitter list of A-to-Z participants

3 Never again leave a generic copy-paste comment. Do we really think no one notices? The people we visit also visit others, and see our comment there is—gasp!—identical to what we wrote on their site. That really plants the seed for enduring connections.

No need to write a Tolstoy novel to make a comment thoughtful. It’s like speed dating. You can go through the checklist in your hand without even looking at the other person, or you can meet their eyes and try, for the three minutes you have together, to find out what makes them special.

4 Include a working link to my blog on every comment. Nothing more frustrating than trying to connect with someone whose link takes me on a merry chase around the web. Here’s how to create a link that never fails:
Thanks Vidya Sury for this blogging trick!

Go on, try the linky signature in the comments below. Chocolate chip cookies to successful signatures!
5 Read up on these awesome tips by Alex J Cavanaugh, on how to make commenting easy!For some extra tips, visit Richa Singh's A to Z Challenge tips.

 Relationships make the world, especially the blogging world, go round. Go forth and conquer April, A-to-Z-ers! And if you want to build some great blog relationships rightaway, consider joining the team of AZ assistants. Express your interest in the comments below to get signed up!
Do you have a strategy for making comments? Which bloggers do you visit most, and why?