IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The OFFICIAL MASTER LIST: https://tinyurl.com/AtoZ22 (sign-ups are closed)
Showing posts with label 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. Show all posts

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reflections of 2017 #AtoZChallenge


It's Time to Reflect!


Be sure to copy the Survivor Badge
to proudly display on your blog.


       Since the first Challenge in 2010 an annual tradition has been established for A to Z participants or followers to provide their thoughts on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge of the current year.  The time has come!  Now we want to hear what you have to say about the past month's blog Challenge.

       The premise is very basic.  Give us your opinion about how the 2017 Challenge went for you.  Provide your overall observations about the 2017 A to Z Challenge which can include your favorite blogs, outstanding blog posts you read during the month, your favorite posts from your own site, and whatever else might have been particularly rewarding to you.

        It's okay to include some bad with the good.  We want to know what you really thought about the 2017 April A to Z.  Let us know what you liked the most, but also what you liked the least.  And most importantly perhaps for this year, let us know how not having a Linky List worked (or didn't work for you).  Did you have any problems finding participant blogs in the A to Z Blog comments, the A to Z Facebook page, or elsewhere?

          Next year would you like to see the A to Z Challenge be conducted with the same social media strategy or would you prefer us to bring back a Linky List?   Or do you have some ideas that might work even better?

            Your Reflections Post can cover anything you'd like to say about the Challenge.  We are looking for your kudos and criticisms alike and even more importantly, we want to hear your suggestions for making future Challenges even better.

Ready, Set, Post!

           Some of you already have put up your Reflections at your sites.  Or you still might need to compile your reflections for the 2017 Challenge.  Whenever you have your link ready then spread the word just as you did for your April A to Z posts.  Please include your link in the comment section below, but don't forget announcing it on the A to Z Facebook page, Twitter (#atozReflections or #atozchallenge) and anywhere else you'd like to tell the world that you have your Reflections on the 2017 A to Z ready to be pondered.
 
           Be sure to check out as many of the other Reflections posts that you can to see how your observations compare with the other participants   And don't forget to grab the A to Z 2017 Survivor Badge to show off at your blog site!


Please Take the Survey

        Also co-host J. Lenni Dorner has put together a survey where you can tell us what you thought of this year’s challenge: what worked for you, what didn’t work for you, what you’d like to see, etc. It’s open until May 20, so you have a couple of weeks. Take the survey here.    This will also be of great help to us.











Monday, May 1, 2017

Just One More Thing! (#atozchallenge)






Did You Finish the Challenge?

         If you made it through to the end of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, give yourself a big pat on the back and accept a hearty cheer of congratulations from all of us.  That was some feat  and you are well deserving of recognition for having achieved it.

        As a survivor of the April A to Z Challenge you have earned the official A to Z Survivor Badge to wear proudly on your site to show all of the world your amazing accomplishment.  Feel free to copy the badge image which you see above and paste it on your blog sidebar or wherever you'd like to display it.

        By letting everyone know that you've got some great A to Z posts to read if they missed them in April, the Badge will be a reminder for them to go back and check out the work you put into the Challenge.  The official posting days of the 2017 Challenge may be over, but your Challenge posts are there for posterity and we hope that everyone will go back to visit posts they missed in April.

A to Z Challenge Reflections Post

         Even though the alphabet posts are officially finished for 2017, there is one more thing we ask of all of you who participated in this year's Challenge.  In what has become a yearly tradition, we invite each of you to join us with your own A to Z Reflections Post.

           Past participants will likely be familiar with this Reflections post, but for those of you who aren't sure what we're talking about we'll explain.  On Monday May 8th we invite everyone to provide your thoughts about the 2017 Challenge.  What did you like best?  What did you like least?   What worked for you and what didn't?

           You can tell us about favorite themes you ran across during the Challenge.  Or tell us about some of your favorite posts.  You can even tell us your favorite posts on your own blog.  We want positives (lots of positives we hope) and we also want to hear the negatives (though we hope there won't be too many of those).   Bottom line though is that we want the truth about what you thought about the 2017 Challenge.

          This year it's  especially important for us to hear from you since we tried the new social media method and discarded using an official Linky List.   Your input will help us make decisions about next year's A to Z.  Your constructive suggestions can help guide us in making the 2018 Challenge better.

How Do You Do the Reflections Post?

          The official Reflections Post day is next Monday May 8th, but you can put yours up anytime between now and then.  We will do the same as we have done throughout the month of April by posting an announcement on this A to Z Blog and putting up one on the A to Z Facebook page as well.   Just like you've done in April to spread the word about your daily posts, you can post your Reflections link in the A to Z Blog comment section, on the Facebook page, on Twitter, or anywhere else you normally would do such things.

         In other words, promote your A to Z Reflections Post in the same way as you've been promoting your other A to Z posts.  And even if you haven't done much in promoting posts, by visiting the Reflections posts of the other bloggers and leaving your link in your comment on their post you should reap some visits to your own post.

          Please help us with Challenge feedback by putting up your own A to Z Reflections Post.  At the same time you might be helping others by sharing your ideas or you might be getting more visits to your April posts.  This is intended to be a win-win situation for all of us so we hope you'll be a part of this annual tradition of the A to Z Reflections Post.

Please Take the Survey

        Also co-host J. Lenni Dorner has put together a survey where you can tell us what you thought of this year’s challenge: what worked for you, what didn’t work for you, what you’d like to see, etc. It’s open until May 20, so you have a couple of weeks. Take the survey here.    This will also be of great help to us.

          If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions about the Reflections Post then please leave them in the comment section below.








Wednesday, March 22, 2017

If the List Doesn't Exist...#atozchallenge


         What?!!   No list?!!

          Judging by the Theme Reveal test run it seems a good many of you had no problem working without a list.   After all, it's nothing like walking a high wire without a net.  No list ain't gonna kill ya!  And, by golly, the Theme Reveal proved that!

            I can't say for sure because I didn't count, but by all estimations it appears that well over 200 bloggers participated in the Theme Reveal event as of my writing of this post on Tuesday afternoon where I am in Pacific Daylight Time.  And that count is just estimated from the comments on this blog.  There were also theme reveal links left on other social media outlets.  I'm not sure how this all measures up to the over 500 links that typically appeared on the Linky sign ups from previous years, but one good thing is that everybody who did leave a link left a link to a blog that was actually participating.  So in my view that's not too bad.   I'd call the Theme Reveal a success and an good indicator that those participating in A to Z 2017 will catch on just fine.

           However if there is still trepidation with any of you about participating in the upcoming A to Z Blogging Challenge without a list, never fear for I am here with some consolation and a few hopefully helpful suggestions.

There Is A List If You Look For It

         Actually there are many lists available to you if you aren't on the social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.   Those platforms will provide all the links most of us can handle in a day's time, but some of you just don't like to be on any sites like that and I can't say that I blame you for feeling that way.  However, there are many other ways to find A to Z Challenge participants.

          You can find a lot of A to Z participants by going to some of the blogs of other participants you already know and going through their comment sections and visiting the blogs of those who commented.  This is a way to meet other bloggers with similar interests even if you aren't doing A to Z.  A well frequented comment section can keep a person busy for a good while.  You might not always find A to Z participants, but you might make some other new blogger friends.
       
         Use a search engine to search terms like Blogging from A to Z 2017 or #atozchallenge.  This can be work, but it can also yield interesting results.  After all search engines like Google provide the biggest lists around. You might have to weed through all sorts of results, but if you're a search engine (Google) fanatic like I've become you might enjoy this method

         Look for other bloggers who have set up their own lists.  The blog community site Blog Chatter has a list of bloggers who are participating.  Other bloggers might have compiled similar lists on sidebars or on special pages--keep your eyes open for these (if you have one on your own blog you can leave a comment below with your link).   I've started one on my own site and intend to continue adding more blog links as I blog through April.  My link list can be found at Tossing It Out. I doubt whether I'll be able to keep it loaded with every participating blogger, but this is my experiment.  Maybe you'll want to try compiling your own list.

         Use a blog reader app such as Feedly.  This is something I've never gotten the hang of using, but I know many of you probably already use this method.  I sometimes used to use the reader Blogger had on its site and found it to be helpful when I remembered to use it.  Maybe some of you more adept at using readers can offer some more help in the comments.

Sometimes Work Is Involved!

       Even with the Linky List we sometimes had to weed through blogs we didn't want to read or that weren't participating or had fallen behind.  Successful blogging does sometimes require doing some of your own work.   Not all of you have that much time to spend on blogging so I understand the desire for shortcuts.  The fact remains that effective blogging requires effort.

       If you've ever wondered why you don't get many comments or it doesn't seem like you get many blog visitors, it's mainly because you aren't promoting your blog enough and not visiting other bloggers like you need to in order to get reciprocated visits to your own site.  I learned this early on in blogging.  In fact that's why A to Z began and that's how I made it grow.

       As Alex J Cavanaugh stated in an earlier post on the A to Z Blog, when I started the very first A to Z Challenge in 2010 there was no Linky List.  I created a sidebar list using some of the methods I've outlined above.  This required work on my part, but it was worthwhile.  Just look where we are now.  You think Blogging from A to Z in April is too difficult?   Well, it can be.  But if you do it right, do it with a method to your madness, use practical approaches, and pay attention to what is going on, then you'll find that it might be easier than you thought and it can be actually fun.

      After all, I called A to Z a Challenge for good reason.  My Challenge to myself was a way that I learned a great deal about blogging and networking.  I extended that Challenge to others and they came and they too conquered that Challenge.  You can do it too.

      If you're still concerned about not having that Linky list to lean on, then think again.  The lists are there and if you don't like the lists you see then create your own.  This is called customization.  You decide what kind of list will suit your needs and then make your list out of the lists that exist.  They exist everywhere if you look for them and you don't have to look that hard.

       This year's A to Z will work and it will work well.  You might have to do it your way just the way I did it my way that very first year, but this is all a learning process.  Blogging starts with expressing yourself.  If you want to share what you've expressed then you will have to do some networking.  A to Z is about networking.  That's how it started and that's how it still is.

         Are you ready to network?   Fine--follow the advice I've laid out in this post.  And if none of this makes much sense to you and you'd still like to Blog from A to Z in April?  That's fine too.  Just blog like you always blog, but pay closer attention to what's going on with others and with the action on your own blog.  This is all a learning process.  But it's also fun.  Don't worry. Don't stress.  Just blog.



         

       

Friday, March 10, 2017

A to Z as Marketing



       When I did my first Blogging from A to Z April Challenge in 2010 I had no idea that my simple stunt would still be going strong seven years later.  At the time I was merely trying to gain attention to my few month old blog and acquire new followers.  After my announcement on Saturday March 26th, 2010 of my intention to blog from A to Z starting the following Friday, there was an immediate response from my few readers that they'd be willing to join me for the month of blogging.  In a matter of five days nearly one hundred bloggers from around the world had signed up to join me.  Most of those lasted through that first month of A to Z.   The success of that first April indicated to me that we had something with great potential on our hands.

       From the outset, one of my primary impressions was that the A to Z Challenge was to a great extent about marketing.  I was trying to "sell" my blog to a wider audience in order to reach more readers.  At the same time, I was building a community of other bloggers who desired a similar goal.  The concept worked.  I gained followers as did the other participants.   But not only did we build that participant community, the event attracted an even larger number of observer readers, many who joined us for the event in subsequent years.  A to Z was a blogging phenomenon with a generally favorable reputation.

      Looking at the A to Z Challenge from a writer's perspective, this April event can be a great tool as well as a learning experience.  Marketing instills fear in the hearts of many writers or anyone else who relies on reaching out to the public.  It's something most of us have to accept whether we are in business or merely trying to get others on board with whatever we might want to interest them in accepting from us.  Marketing your own products is a necessity that doesn't have to be something to dread.  Rather than a chore, make the marketing a fun challenge.  If you can get your potential audience invested in what you are doing, you can get more publicity and more importantly, sales. Writing takes creativity, but so does fun marketing.  The process of selling your story is a new story where you and your book are the main characters and the marketing plan is the plot.  Believe in your writing enough so that others might be inspired to help you promote it.  Successful marketing requires innovative strategic thinking.

       Using my own experience with the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, you can find ideas that might assist you in developing your own personal brand and your marketing plan.  Many writers with blogs have used the Challenge as a way to promote themselves and their books.  Maybe the results will seem inconsequential at first, but remember that the content on your blog becomes part of your résumé in a sense.  A to Z builds content and helps develop writing skills.  In the course of the many past Challenges, a number of books have actually been published based on the posts written in April.   The April Challenge can be a boon to writers as well as others in many ways.  

        If you're a blogger and have never tried the A to Z Challenge, I encourage you to give it a shot in 2017.   Participate well; finish strong and I can almost guarantee that you'll feel good about your achievement.  But even better, you will accomplish a marketing feat for your blog that may make business marketing in general much easier and provide you new ways to look at marketing.   You don't know until you try.

          Have you ever thought of the A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing?  Have you yourself used the Challenge as a marketing tool for yourself?   What ideas can you think of in order to use A to Z as a marketing tool?



 

Monday, February 20, 2017

List Free A to Z - Why and How to Make it Work #atozchallenge

Making a List Free Challenge Work:

There have been a lot of concerns regarding the absence of the Linky List this year. How will the new system work? How will I know who is participating? Why isn’t the list being used this year?

That last question has several answers. It wasn’t an easy decision to go list-free, but it was the right one. Here’s why:

The Linky List is massive – and overwhelming. Many have stated they stare at the thousand-plus blogs on the list and don’t know where to begin. Now there won’t be an intimidating giant list.

A lot of people sign up who don’t participate. Some sign up and then life just gets in the way. Some post a few letters and then quit. Some sign up just to get more traffic to their site. Some are just out-and-out spammers. Under the new system, you won’t encounter those people.

This list is time consuming to maintain – and a bit soul-sucking. To understand the man hours required, this was the process:
  • The co-hosts’ minions/helpers visited a certain section of the list and reported back non-participants.
  • The co-host had to confirm each blog reported by visiting it.
  • The co-host then had to list all blogs that required either removal or adjustment on another list.
  • The List Master (which for the past seven years has been me) had to go through the lists from a dozen co-hosts every day and remove/fix links, a process that never took less than an hour.
  • This process wasn’t limited to April – culling the list of ad sites and spammers started in February.
You can see where that might suck the joy out of visiting other blogs.

Finally, there are just not enough co-hosts this year to maintain a list of that magnitude.

So, how will it work?

Before the Challenge begins, we will have a post or two where people can comment and announce their intent to participate. At that time, you can visit some and add to your Feedly reader, Bloglovin’, sidebar, or other location.

Every day during the Challenge, there will be a post at the A to Z Blog with the letter of the day. There will also be one at the A to Z Facebook Group. Once you have posted for the day, copy that link and leave a comment here or at the Facebook group. Then, start visiting others who have also left a comment, either that day or the day or two before.

You can Tweet your link with the hashtag #atozchallenge and look for others doing the same – and visit those people. (A to Z Twitter)

Once you start finding blogs you enjoy, make a list in your blog reader, sidebar, or even just copy the link into Word.

So, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. You can even include your theme when you post your link, which will be even better than the old codes from the Linky Lists of the past.

While this sounds like a huge and earth shattering change, it actually goes back to our roots. Because that very first A to Z Challenge in 2010 had no Linky List. Founder Arlee Bird just added everyone who commented they were participating into his sidebar and we all visited each other from that. And you know, that small scale made a huge difference, as many of us formed friendships that have lasted over the years.

So don’t fear the lack of a list – embrace it!

Any questions? Hot Tamales candy welcome.


Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars, founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and his blog can be found HERE

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Big A To Z Announcement Is Coming! #atozchallenge






          Six years ago at about this time the first A to Z Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Linky List appeared as sign-ups opened.  It was during that Challenge that an official A to Z Team was put together.   We had realized that the A to Z Challenge was an overwhelming endeavor that required a collaborative effort of several competent and relatively well-known bloggers.  In succeeding years, improvements and changes were made in order to make the Challenge more efficient as well as more rewarding to all.  Change is often an obstacle for many of us, but sometimes change is the best, and at times, seemingly the only way to keep things going.

          Judging by the number of inquiries about the 2017 Challenge that we've been getting in our email boxes as well as the A to Z Challenge Facebook site, many of you are wondering what's going on this year.   The A to Z Challenge Blog has been inactive over the past few weeks and not a great deal has been heard from the Challenge co-hosts regarding the 2017 Challenge.  In fact, not even a mention of who are the co-hosts for 2017.   However the behind the scenes action has been underway as we have been addressing what the 2017 April event might look like.

          As you might now be surmising, changes are coming in the upcoming 2017 A to Z Challenge!

           In this current post, I am laying the groundwork for the very important announcement post that will be appearing here next Monday February 6th.  There will be some vital information that we want you to be sure to read and to help us promote in order that all interested parties can be informed and provide their own input and suggestions.  And of course, there will undoubtedly be questions that we can answer for you.

Can you help us get the word out?

          So that the maximum number of bloggers can get this very important news, we are asking you to help us get the buzz going by announcing the upcoming post on your own blogs as well as tweeting, Facebooking, and sharing today's post as much as you can.  Let's get the word out!

          We want everyone who is planning on doing the 2017 Challenge to see what is in store by checking out the February 6th post.  So, those of you who have already completed your A to Z posts for this year or have them in the planning stages, never fear!  The 2017 A to Z Challenge will be here once again in April.  There will be much more information to come on the A to Z Blog after next week's announcement so plan on visiting regularly.

Meet the 2017 A to Z Team

        Part of the change for this year entails a smaller A to Z Team for reasons that should be more evident in the upcoming announcement post.  Most of the Team will consist of members from the previous Team with the addition of a long time A to Z participant as well as a veteran member of Arlee's Ambassadors.

        The 2017 A to Z Team is as follows:

Arlee Bird   @ Tossing It Out

Heather M. Gardner The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Zalka Csenge VirágThe Multicolored Diary

John Holton @    The Sound of One Hand Typing


J Lenni Dorner @ Blog of J. Lenni Dorner   (first year on the A to Z Team)

Also, Jeremy Hawkins Hollywood Nuts as in previous years will be providing the A to Z graphics (official logo, daily letter badges, etc)

Alex J. Cavanaugh @ Alex J. Cavanaugh --though no longer a full-time active team member due to his many other commitments including the Insecure Writer's Support Group (which he founded)-- will continue acting in an advisory and supporting role with his additional assistance in promoting the Challenge on his blog.  My many thanks to Alex for his years of service to A to Z from its inception.

        I would encourage you to visit all of the blogs mentioned above to get to know the A to Z Team and give each member a big virtual hug.

       Be here next week for the big Challenge news.   And please spread the word!

        IT'S GOING TO BE ANOTHER GREAT A TO Z CHALLENGE IN APRIL 2017!


Thanks from your A to Z Founder, Arlee Bird...