Showing posts with label better blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label better blogging. Show all posts

Friday, April 12, 2019

K is for Kindness (#AtoZChallenge)

We're celebrating our Tenth Anniversary here at the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

We have an amazing community of bloggers, and lots of great relationships built between people over the course of the Challenge. For today's word I chose Kindness. Isn't it nice to do something kind for someone else? Here are five tiny kindnesses you can do any day, to bring joy to the blogging community:

1. Follow them - if you like what they write, stick around for May, June, and beyond!
2. Share their posts - spread the word about the posts you especially enjoyed!
3. Buy their stories - if an author captured your imagination, buy some of their works, and support their passion! If they have other things to sell, you can support them with that too.
4. Write reviews - if you read something an author wrote (especially if they are an indie author), make sure to leave reviews, even if they are short. They count a lot, and they don't take much time!
5. Showcase your favorites - on the Sundays of the challenge, and in May during Reflections, write a post to showcase some of your favorite blogs of the year! Tell us who captured your attention, and what you learned from them. 

Do you have more suggestions? Tell us in the comments!


That's the link to the Master List. You can find, and hop to, all the blogs officially participating on that sheet.

Grab your A to Z gear, and other cool goodies from our graphics guy, here:

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Income Tax ( #AtoZChallenge )

  Imagination is a limitless resource, but it should be used wisely.   But the most important thing is to use it...

      Income tax might be on the minds of at least some of those in the United States.  Our taxes are due in a few days.  Fortunately I got mine done last month so now I can focus on the April Challenge.  If you are still scrambling to finish taxes as well as keep up with your A to Z posts then I'm sorry to hear that.  You've really got a big challenge on your hands.

        Other than the taxes being soon due, my mentioning of income tax is also a reminder about blogging ideas.  I've often read bloggers saying that they are running out of ideas for their regular blogging let alone coming up with an idea that is bloggably sustainable for an entire month.  If you want to be a blogger then you're going to be a writer and as a writer you've got to have ideas and imagination.

          So let's say next year you decide to write about "income tax."  What can you write about?  History of the tax. pro and cons of taxation, how-to hints about tax preparation, or where tax dollars go are some suggestions.   You could write fictional stories related to income tax--a lot of intriguing ideas for that!

         Don't get hung up on trying to come up with ideas.  Look around you.  There are stories within every field of your vision and the limitless expanse of your imagination.  Don't think you're going to throw in the towel for this year's Challenge for any lack of ideas about what to write next.  That's the point of the A to Z Challenge--to tax your mind.  No ideas is no excuse.

          Now start writing your next posts whether they be for tomorrow, next week, or next year.  It's tax season.  Time to tax your brain!

#AtoZchallenge 2018 friendly new badge logo
If you wish to include a direct link to your blog post of this day's letter, please click:

If you wish to visit other blogs in this bloghop challenge who have incorporated today's letter into their current post, please click: 

#AtoZchallenge 2018 traditional badge logo
Click here for the MASTER LIST of all participants who signed up for the #AtoZchallenge 2018!

   Have you ever felt like you were out of ideas?   Where do you go to find new ideas to write about?  When your creativity wanes how do you recharge it?

#azchat #atozchallenge Twitter chat announcement image

11pm UTC

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Some Good-Anytime Tips for Blogging (#atozchallenge)

       The following guest post comes to us from Sneha Sasikumar who blogs at Life As A Potpourri!!!  Currently she is working on a possible series to appear at the A to Z Blog over the upcoming months, but be sure to visit her site to learn more about her and read more of her fine work.   

 Key takeaways from the #AtoZChallenge:

1. Preparation is a must : 
Whether or not you have chosen a theme for your challenge, deciding it way before the challenge starts makes half the challenge easier. At least the 26 words or ideas that you would be using should be jotted down before heading into April.  This is something you can actually begin now for the 2017 Challenge.

2. Look and Feel of the Blog Posts:
If you have in mind to follow a particular style of font, images and other cosmetic customization for your posts prepare that well in advance. Also, consider drafting of all your posts with these basic things as a framework where all you would be left to do during or prior to the challenge is to post your content

3. Follow for a follow, comment for a comment:
The #AtoZChallenge is all about collaboration and networking. When so many people with so many topics have been registered for the challenge there is no point if you are just focused on your blog alone. Try to reply to all of the comments that have been posted on your blog (if not the same day, as soon as possible). Follow folks who have followed your blog, read their posts and leave them a comment as to what you liked about their posts. Mutual encouragement is very important during the challenge.   Who doesn’t like the appreciation of the hard work they put into their posts?

4. Stick to the deadline:
Ohh yeah, we are all so used to procrastinating things in life but having a deadline helps you to avoid this bad habit if you don’t already have your posts scheduled for the challenge way beforehand. There might be times when you’ll face the writer’s block, but don’t let this stop you from blogging. Just write even if it’s about how the writer’s block is not letting you come up with ideas but just do it.

5. Read Read and Read:
The knowledge base that is formed during each challenge is immense. One should spend more time in reading other blogs to gain knowledge in just 26 days and also do a lot of reading for your own topic if required.

Personally the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge has helped me in many ways: 

  • It helped me organize and plan my posts. 
  • It made me think how unique my next blog post could be and how much better than the previous one. 
  • Picking up a theme like #Emotions helped me understand each of these 26 emotions personally as I did research on them. 
  • The challenge helped me interact with so many old and new friends. <3 

I would also like to thank all the guest bloggers who took time from their blogging challenge to post on my blog and share their thought and views.

About Sneha

     A strong willed Sapiosexual / Cheerful person and a true Cancerian!!! I am a passionate dancer. I enjoy travelling, trying everything possible in life..I don't want to regret when I am about to kick the bucket. Besides cooking and writing, I enjoy all kinds of sports. Sadly none of these are my profession. I am a techie working with a product based firm and for the last six years have been in Bengaluru (aka Bangalore- which is the capital of India's southern Karnataka state).

       If you're interested in contributing to the A to Z Blog please email us at one of  the links on the Contact Page or shoot me a message at   We are interested in articles about blogging or anything of general interest to the A to Z community.

Friday, June 20, 2014

How to Blog Better by the Day

Having fallen behind on blogging activities myself, coupled with several social media hiatuses, I know what technology burnout looks like and I understand that overwhelming anxiety of feeling like you'll never get up to least not as soon as you hoped. The solution to this recurring issue is designating each day of the week for one specific blogging activity or other online task. It is an effective way to get a handle on your internet presence so that it doesn't drive you bonkers. 

A fun way to get in the habit of sticking to an online routine that goes day by day is naming days of the week in a manner that coincides with the task -- Wordless Wednesdays style -- and then listing this schedule on your calendar, in a notebook or some other place where you'll have them handy:
  • Return-Commenting Monday
  • Blog Promotion Tuesday
  • Visiting/Reading Wednesday
  • Email Inbox cleaning Thursday
  • Blogging Friday
  • Social Media Saturday
  • Blog Planning Sunday

Using the above sample schedule, I've been able to complete more tasks with this method than when I try to squeeze several important online activities into one single day. My experiences with doing this has led me to realized that the days on our blogging calendars are not set in stone. Sometimes I miss a day (or two) and end up playing catch-up by either doubling up on the task of the day or moving the next scheduled tasks to a later day. Sometimes I even skip a day (or more) depending on how well my week is going. In any case, naming one day each for a different blogging activity makes it easier for me to not worry about having to be everywhere, all of the time.

Do YOU control the internet or does it control YOU?

A-to-Z Challenge Co-Hostess Nicole Ayers writes about movies and the people that make them, at The Madlab Post. She also tweets @MadlabPost.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Look at me! Look at me! #atozchallenge

        I hope everyone's raising a lot of "L" today!

---Arlee Bird

The "Look At Me Syndrome"

      There are a lot of things we do to call attention to ourselves.  The clothes we wear, the cars we drive, or the way we might talk loudly on our cell phones when we're in public.   Often we might deny that we're doing something to get others to notice us.  "I'm doing this or wearing this or whatever because I like it--it's something I'm doing to please me".

       Okay, believe that if you want to, but if you're putting it out there for all the world to see there is some desire to show off what you like or what you feel like or whatever it is that the inner you is itching to make known to others.

        This is especially true with blogging.   How many times have you heard a blogger say "I don't care how many followers or comments I have, I'm blogging for myself"?     Thank goodness I don't hear this too often, but it's been often enough to make me roll my eyes in wonderment.   If this is the case why aren't those blogs private?   When you put up a public blog, no matter what you say, there's a part of you that wants someone else to read it.   Each post says "look at me!".

         Even more so this is true for you who have signed up for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  You've got your blog on a list and you're waiting for someone to click your link, visit your blog, and leave you a comment.

   How to Get Noticed

          Feel like you're getting ignored?   Not getting the number of visits you expected during this Challenge?

          Let me lay it straight to you.   That list is a lot of blogs and it's easy not to stand out on the list so don't count on your just being on the list to get you regular visits  There are other ways to boost the numbers that come to your blog and to receive more comments.

  •  Post good content -- if you hook your audience with something they like you're more likely to get repeat visits.   If you're not getting those repeat visits then maybe you should reexamine your content and try a different approach.
  • Use intriguing titles-- The post starts with the title.  Many times that's the most important thing that draws visitors.  
  • Include fascinating images-- Pictures catch the eye before the words do.  Even if your focus is on the writing, a related image can cause the visitor to pause long enough to read what you've written.
  • Advertise on social media-- There are many places you can share your blog links with others.  Find the ones that work best for you and let others know when you've put up a new post.
  • Link to other blogs in your posts--tell your readers about other blogs that you find to be interesting. You'll help those bloggers and will usually in turn draw some attention back to your own blog.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY!!--Visit other blogs, follow them, and leave a comment.  If you leave a good comment that pertains to what they've written then you will stand out more to that blogger and to visitors on that blog who read the comments.  Leaving a comment will typically result in a reciprocal visit from the blog where you left the comment and can lead to an ongoing blogger relationship that can last long after the A to Z Challenge has ended. 

          Don't try to kid any of us.  If you're on the list and your blog is open to the public, you want to be noticed.  There's nothing wrong with saying, "Look it me!" if there's something worth looking at.

Look At Yvonne Lewis!

        Here's a bit of A to Z Challenge history for you.   When I put out my Challenge to bloggers in 2010 to blog with me from A to Z, the first person to take the challenge was poetry blogger Yvonne Lewis who blogs at Welcome to My World of Verse.   She's been a dear friend ever since.

        She's back again for this year's Challenge so I hope you'll visit her and while you're there join as one of her followers.  She's had some blog problems but hopefully this new one is here to say.  She's got some wonderful A to Z entries again this year.

          And just in time for April Yvonne Lewis has released her third volume of poetry.  The book is Moments of My Life and distribution rights are in the works.    I'm particularly stoked about this release because I'm on the cover!   That's me with Yvonne at the bottom of the cover.  Plus I've written a few words about Yvonne in the book's Introduction.  Wow, it's so cool to be sharing the stage with this poet whom I've admired for so long.  Show Yvonne some support and order her book.  Wouldn't it be cool to see an A to Z blogger in the Top Ten of poetry books on Amazon!



      What is your best method of drawing attention to your blog posts?    What do you see as the biggest mistake that bloggers make that causes them not to be visited often enough?     Besides blogging what are some of the things you do that say "Look at me!"?   

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, October 25, 2013

Are You Looking for Numbers on Your Blog?

Blog icon
Blog icon (Photo credit: photologue_np)

A Word from Arlee Bird

         A to Z may be about the letters, but it's also about the numbers.  That's one of the reasons we do blogfests and interact with other bloggers isn't it?   We want to get readers for our posts and more followers for our blogs.   There's nothing wrong with that, especially if our blog is used as a platform for whatever it is we are trying to promote to others.

         But what about a viral blog post?  I'm talking about a blog post that gets media attention and turns the world's attention to something you've written.    The post that gets hundreds or maybe even thousands of comments and massive numbers of views from people who would have never otherwise visited your blog.  You become a blogging celebrity for your 15 minutes of fame.   Could you handle it?  Would you want it?  What would you do if it happened?

         Odds are your blog will not achieve that status, but if you focus on top quality content that deals with current relevant issues that are of interest to many people then your odds are increased.   It can happen and has happened to some bloggers.  In a sense it's like winning the lottery.  But in the end it boils down to how do you spend your gain?

 Why These Questions Here and Now?

         If you haven't visited Tossing It Out in the last couple weeks you've been missing a somewhat interesting series that I've been presenting.  And since we've been talking about odds, my guess is odds are you haven't visited.   How do I know?  Because the numbers of my visitors have been relatively low compared to the number of A to Z bloggers out there.

          Even though numbers of visitors have been low, the quality of comments has been amazingly high.  Some of those comments are like blog posts in themselves.  There is valuable content in each post of my series especially with the comments included.  If you're interested in building and bettering your blog I encourage you to visit Tossing It Out.

The Main Current Attraction

         If you read no other post in the series I suggest you visit the post that went up today (Friday October 25, 2013).   In this post I interview Liza Long of The Anarchist Soccer Mom.  Some of you may remember when last December after the Sandy Hook school shootings Liza Long gained national attention with her post I Am Adam Lanza's Mom.   Since her viral post she's done numerous national interviews and spoken at conferences throughout the United States as an advocate for mental illness.   In 2014 she will have a book published by the Penguin Group on the same topic.  All of this the result of one of her blog posts that went viral.

         I encourage you to read the interview at my blog and then continue over to her blog for a continuation of her story.  It's an exciting blog story that might stir your imagination about what you could do and make you look at your blogging in a whole new way.

         Don't sell yourself short as a blogger.  A to Z can sharpen your blogging skills and extend your audience reach.  Maybe 2014 is when A to Z bloggers will be going viral in April.   It could happen to you!

If You're Interested in the Series:

You can start at Do You Feel Respected As a Blogger? and then follow the posts that come after that one.  Or go to the home page and start with Liza's story.    Don't forget to comment on all of the posts as I'd like to hear your thoughts.   And please share on Twitter, Facebook, and any other favorite social media sites.   

       Thanks for reading and being a part of another blogging experiment!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Is Your Blog in Danger of Google’s Guest Post Shakedown?

Did you know blogs that publish guest posts could be penalized by Google? I didn't at least not before reading about this latest news regarding the practice, a few days ago. Yesterday, I also received an email containing tips from another blogger on how to play it safe when publishing content from guest bloggers.

The overall message from both of these posts is that our blog’s search engine rankings, traffic and general reputation could be affected if we publish content written by third-parties. Sounds scary, right? I don’t blame you if you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck is going on. Just remember that this guest posting penalty thing isn't as simple as A-B-C; Pun intended for all you folks gearing up for the April Challenge!

Most, if not all concerns surrounding the matter stem from a video that Google released where it’s CEO explained why they frown upon guestblogs. Just like mainstream media, however, some bloggers who have brought attention to this news are sensationalizing the situation by yelling “penalty” first but ignoring the rest of what he said. If you are among the bloggers who did (or will) watch the video and listen – I mean, really pay attention to what is being explained, then there might not be much for you to worry about. Does this mean you’re safe from being hit by some type of sequel to the Panda and Penguin updates? Not at all – and this is where things get kinda risky for those of us in the blogging arena.

All of these practices are simple to implement – for me, at least. I do suspect, however, that it might take some time for a lot of bloggers to adjust their guest posting routines and develop a new – more Google-friendly practice in how they manage guests on their blogs. So, the news comes at a very inconvenient time. I considered outsourcing the posts for my blog via guests -- after shelving the theme that I initially wanted to use for this year’s A to Z challenge. I was going to invite 26 people to write a post for my blog and now I’m going to have to change that plan up a bit.

I’m also currently at the beginning of making what will be several, or more, guest appearances around the blogosphere; promoting my short film campaign, which runs all the way through March. How in the world am I going to swing this? I’ll tell you how – the same way you’re going to save your own blog from being shot down by search engines like there’s a hit out on you by Frank Costello (as played by Jack Nicholson) in “The Departed.”

Here’s how we’re going to make this happen through a summary of proper guest posting practices that I learned from blogs managed by Darren Rowse and Neil Patel.

  • “Guesting” Language Hurts Your Blog
Stop using language such as “guest post” and any derivatives of the title including “guest author,” “guest blogger,” etc.  on your blog. Do not address people as guest bloggers nor posts as such in your titles, within the body of the content itself or in any introductions or closings that you add to the post.

The Remedy: A good rule of thumb is to publish blog posts in a manner similar to magazines and newspapers. When was the last time you saw “guest writer” in an issue of Rolling Stone, VOGUE or Architectural Digest? There is a reason you didn't  so take heed of how these publications do things when it comes to featuring posts on your own blog.

  • Say No to Bios/Bylines Filled with Several Links
Author bios and/or bylines should not contain more than two links. In fact, links aren't even be necessary if you just create a page with short bios of all your contributors and then link to their blog or wherever else readers can find them.

The Remedy: Create an author page for each contributor and link their name to those pages, OR, link their name to their blog/website/social media page or whatever. That could count as one of the two maximum links, so they wouldn't even need to add more to their bio, OR, just stop allowing guests to send you bios containing a link to every single online site or social media profile they have online. Since I don’t have a staff of people and am short on time, I’d likely opt for the two latter solutions.

  • Don’t Pimp your Blog’s “Write for Me” Page in Exchange for Guests
Telling potential readers that they will receive link(s) when contributing to your blog is a violation of Google’s linking policy. Receiving a link back to a blog or social medial profile should not be the sole benefit of someone being featured on your website.

The Remedy: Change your “Write for Me/Us/this Blog” call for submissions to something less saturated. Again, this is a good time to check out what the Big Boys do and follow that model. Next, establish editorial guidelines that include a requirement for original content that was not previously published elsewhere.

If you wouldn't eat food that somebody else already chewed up and spit out, then why would you accept blog posts that were seen on another website? It’s what’s known as “duplicate content” by Google’s standards. By the way – secure the rights to these posts, while you’re at it. Doing so brings the extra satisfaction in knowing that a contributor won’t spin something they wrote for you today, into a post for another blogger, tomorrow.

  • Be Selective About Who You Feature on Your Blog
Don’t just accept posts from anyone and everyone who submits something to you – especially content that is already written. In fact, why are you even accepting open submissions in the first place? It’s much easier to review, accept and reject queries or proposals or cover letters or messages of intent than to have to read through entire blog posts.

I thought that most bloggers already knew this (…even I don’t write or submit guest posts blindly. I query FIRST and then wait for a response from the blogs that I’m interested in submitting a post to), but, I guess there are blogs out there who just put up an “open call” and take everything that comes their way.

The Remedy: Only accept posts from people who have a track record of writing great content on other blogs – and on their own website! Do a Google search for the name of your potential blog contributor; this search should not yield a bunch of spammy websites and spam links. If it does, then that’s a red flag and you may have a spammer trying to ride his or her spammy wave through some of your blog’s link juice. Also welcome contributors who are community builders and can add some discussion to your blog, by responding to comments on their post.

  • Restrict Access and Privileges
It is not necessary to give contributors author accounts to your blog, like handing out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Maintain a filtering system that compliments your submission guidelines, by restricting the publishing privileges allowed on your blog to you only. Are there exceptions to this tip? Yes, of course there are exceptions. Does this mean that leaves more work for you in terms of formatting, scheduling and publishing posts on your own? Yes, but in many cases, that’s better than the alternative -- being penalized by Google. 

The bottom line is that unless they are a part of your main administrative team or a regular contributor who has established a good track record of posting on your website, everybody online shouldn't have the access and authority to publish anything they want on your blog. When contributors publish blog posts about weight loss or diet pills on your homeschooling and parenting blog – you know you have a problem!

Solutions to the Guest Post Dilemma in a nutshell: 

Stop telling people you have guests. Those who read your blog already know who is who, thanks to author bios, tags and/or bylines. Speaking of author bios, those of contributors on your blog should contain two links maximum – and they better not be spammy (diet pills, SEO marketers, Viagra, anyone?). The bio link concerns could be solved by designating a page on your blog for all of your contributors. Of course, this part (making a “contributors” page…which also takes a lot of time to setup and maintain) is optional – I’m surely not doing it unless I feel it’s useful. That day isn't coming any time soon.

Now that we’re all up to speed on the happenings of blog post authors, Google rankings and best blogging practices, I’m pleased to report that this long post is done.


*Photo by: atduskgreg

Friday, March 30, 2012

10 sure ways to win the #atozchallenge !

That is the best part about the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, we all have a huge shot at winning.

What is a #atozchallenge win?

A win is completing all the 26 posts, receiving lots of comments, visiting as many blogs as humanly possible, and making hordes of friends.

How to do this:

1. Kiss: Keep It (your post) Simple, Short.

2. Get a Theme: Themes make your posts easier for you to write, and for readers to remember and comment on.

3. Post every day: This one is obvious, or you'll be taken off the linky list. I think.

4. Pre-schedule: It is not a crime, but rather a convenience. Feel free to write posts in advance so you concentrate on visits.

5. Check Calendar:  There's a challenge calendar in the sidebar below if you scroll down, follow it so you don't end up posting on S when everyone is on T

6. Turn off: Turning off word verifications increases comments, not spam. I've turned it off for good since last year.

7. Visit blogs: Start with those below you on the linky list so everyone gets love. Aim for at least 10 new blogs a day. I'm aiming for 40, but I need to do my hosting duties.

8. Comment love: Comment unto those who comment unto you, and then loads more.

9. Social Media: Broadcast your posts on all media with the #atozchallenge tag

10. Relax, have fun: It is not just about quantity, it is also about quality.

There, you have a win!

-----Damyanti, A to Z Challenge co-host at Amlokiblogs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sommer’s Top Ten Tips for A-to-Zing It In April: an #atozchallenge essential

We have a Video contest winner!  Rachel Morgan from Rachel Morgan Writes!   Here is her video:

          You'll be hearing more about Rachel on the co-host blogs over the next couple of weeks.
          The voting was pretty evenly distributed and we want to thank all of you who voted and especially  the participants for their creative entries.  Please be sure to stop by all of their sites to show your appreciation.   Here is the complete list of the other A to Z Video Contest entrants and the links to their videos and their sites:

Video Link                          Blog or website

1.Ron Easton                          Dad's Unlimited
2. Ada Zdanowicz                   CollagePodge
3. Marta Szemik                      Marta Szemik's Blog
4. Nicole Ayers   (3)                     Madlab Post
5. Kathleen Medina                  Living 2012
6. Dale Smurthwaite                 Smurfin' the Web
7. Tracy Jo Blowers                Brand New Day  
8. Reka Sang                           A Chronicle of Dreams
9.  Nicole Ayers  (1)                     The Madlab Post
10. Nicole Ayers (2)                  The Madlab Post
11.  Rachel Morgan                   Rachel Morgan Writes
12.  Jocelyn Rish                        Jocelyn Rish

And now for today's special guest:

       Our thanks to Sommer Leigh for allowing us to reprint this post from her blog Tell Great Stories.  The information in this post is something everyone needs to read and heed.

The April A to Z Challenge is quickly approaching and I’m working on my blog posts for it. My month of blog posts will have a theme, but I’m not going to reveal what it is just yet. Instead I want to give you some tips from one blogger to the next if you are participating or thinking about participating in this crazy challenge. With a little prep work, you can totally have a great time. And if you are on the fence about whether you should do it or not, let me assuage your fears. You’re going to have a blast.
Granted, everyone does it differently, but this is what I learned from the 2011 April A to Z Challenge. Ready?

Sommer’s Top Ten Tips for A-to-Zing It In April

  1. Pre-plan your posts. Write them ahead of time. Schedule them before the month even begins. You’re going to want your posts to run smoothly without you while you’re out there checking out what everyone else is doing.  Meeting new people is the best part of this month and you need to have time to read other blogs. Which reminds me, check out LOTS of other A to Z bloggers!!
  2. Make sure your blog is set up so that it is easy for everyone to post a comment. If you have Blogger, consider turning on Name/URL and Anonymous commenting to make it easier on those of us with self hosted blogs and those who do not have a blog or Google account.
  3. Turn off CAPTCHA or any other “Prove you are not a robot” gimmick on your comments. People are less likely to comment when you make them jump through a lot of hoops and all major blog services come equipped with a spam blocker of some kind anyway. Last year I read more than 400 blogs and the ones I didn’t comment on were the ones who had this turned on. After a while it was too much extra annoyance.
  4. Check your sidebar for the following items: Info about who you are and what sort of blog you run is always nice to find. What name should we call you? List your email address prominently. Make sure you have an easy to find RSS button so people can easily add you to their feed reader. Since only Blogger users can use Google Friend Connect starting in March, you’ll want to make sure you have the Google Friend Connect AND an RSS button. Clean house of any button that honks, blinks, flashes, or animates. These can be hell on your internet speed and they are super annoying to most people.  Try to keep your sidebars clean during April so people can navigate around easier.
  5. Respond to comments that ask questions or need feedback of some kind. It drove me crazy whenever I’d go back to check blogs I’d commented on to see if my question had been answered only to discover the blogger wasn’t responding to ANYONE. I know I did not make a point to go back to blogs where we were clearly not very important to the blogger. It’s like talking to a wall.
  6. Write shorter blog posts and use pictures, video, and other media effectively. Reading a lot of blog posts is tough, but I appreciated the short and sweet with lots of great media. A good rule of thumb word count is 400 words or less. I broke this rule a lot last year but I wish I hadn’t.
  7. Be gracious, poised, and appreciative. The challenge is great because it brings a lot of new traffic to your blog. It can also bring a lot of trolls, too. Not everyone is nice and don’t let anyone who isn’t nice ruin it for you. In fact, don’t respond to them at all. If the comment is truly malicious, feel justified in deleting it. If it’s just kind of jerky, ignore it. YOU are the gracious, poised, and appreciative blogger who loves everyoneand is willing to play nice. Don’t degrade yourself by getting into it with people who suck. It never ends well.
  8. Take a deep breath. Exhale. This is not the most important thing in the world. If you miss a letter, so be it. If you post a letter late, that’s fine. If you don’t get to visit many blogs in the challenge, don’t sweat it! No one is going to show up at your door and flog you to death if you don’t do everything right every day. Whatever you do, do not let the challenge overwhelm you or make you unhappy. If you have to step away for a few days or a week or the rest of the month, it’s fine. Really. Take care of yourself first.
  9. Make a point during the month to stop by all of the host’s blogs. They are doing a tremendous amount of work to make this event a success and they deserve a pat on the back, a kind email, a small note of thanks. You don’t have to follow them if you don’t want to, but I think they deserve our appreciation by the buckets full. Remember, be gracious, poised, and appreciative. 
  10. Spread the word. The more of your friends who are participating, the better. Right? It’s like a month long party and we’re all the guests of honor!

A to Z Team for 2012

 Tossing It Out (Arlee Bird)
Amlokiblogs (Damyanti Biswas)
Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh)
Life is Good (Tina Downey)
Cruising Altitude 2.0 (DL Hammons)
Retro-Zombie (Jeremy Hawkins)
The Warrior Muse (Shannon Lawrence)
The QQQE (Matthew MacNish)
Author Elizabeth Mueller (Elizabeth Mueller)
Pearson Report (Jenny Pearson)
No Thought 2 Small (Konstanz Silverbow)
Breakthrough Blogs (Stephen Tremp)
Coming Down The Mountain (Karen Jones Gowen)

From the A to Z Blog:

A to Z 2012 Challenge [Letter Schedule]
Week One:
April 01, Sunday – Letter “A”
April 02, Monday – Letter “B”
April 03, Tuesday – Letter “C”
April 04, Wednesday – Letter “D”
April 05, Thursday – Letter “E”
April 06, Friday – Letter “F”
April 07, Saturday – Letter “G”
Week Two:
April 08, Sunday – BREAK
April 09, Monday – Letter “H”
April 10, Tuesday – Letter “I”
April 11, Wednesday – Letter “J”
April 12, Thursday – Letter “K”
April 13, Friday – Letter “L”
April 14, Saturday – Letter “M”
Week Three:
April 15, Sunday – BREAK
April 16, Monday – Letter “N”
April 17, Tuesday – Letter “O”
April 18, Wednesday – Letter “P”
April 19, Thursday – Letter “Q”
April 20, Friday – Letter “R”
April 21, Saturday – Letter “S”
Week Four:
April 22, Sunday – BREAK
April 23, Monday – Letter “T”
April 24, Tuesday – Letter “U”
April 25, Wednesday – Letter “V”
April 26, Thursday – Letter “W”
April 27, Friday – Letter “X”
April 28, Saturday – Letter “Y”
Week Five:
April 29, Sunday – BREAK
April 30, Monday – Letter “Z”

Enhanced by Zemanta