We’re in for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge!

I started talking with friends and contributors about doing this year’s A to Z Challenge here back in the fall. We finalized the last few letters over the weekend and I stepped into the ring for us on Monday. We were the 96th blog to register, but we’d moved up to #94 when last I looked.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

Click to Register!

The A to Z blog suggested last week that bloggers use their announcements to offer advice to folksΒ who are doing the challenge for the first time. Last year was my first year, so my wisdom is limited. But I almost did not make it through, and I know why. Here are three things I did and did not do last year before April 1 that almost cost me the survivor badge.

  1. Did not get all the posts written. I planned to do them over Spring Break, but I had an awful March and couldn’t find the time. Not waiting until the last minute this year.
  2. Did not schedule the posts (because they weren’t written). If you can’t get the whole month’s worth written in advance and scheduled, at least have the first 14 ready to go and that leaves you 13 to write during the first three weeks of the challenge.
  3. Built a page to curate links to the blogs I visited. This seemed like a good idea, and I enjoyed it. But it added more work to an already intense month of blogging, and it is not required. I won’t be doing it this year.

    My personal survivor badge.

    My personal survivor badge.

Now a couple of things that didn’t necessarily put the challenge in jeopardy, but kept me from getting as much out of it as I could have.

  1. I revealed my theme too early and published my reflection too late, so I missed the opportunity to link those up with other A to Z bloggers.
  2. I did not discover until well into the challenge that I could get art for every day from the A to Z blog and eliminate the need to go scouring the Internet for shareable images. This cost me a lot of time in putting the posts together.

And a little free advice about the A to Z posts themselves.

A to Z is not just a posting challenge. It is a social event too. Its value is in its potential for discovery. So it’s important to play honest with the visits and to comment when you do. Otherwise, the bloggers you’re visiting aren’t going to know you were there nor have a comment link that they can follow and find you.

With this in mind, be sensitive to the fact that the primary audience you are writing for, aside from your regular readers, is A to Z bloggers who are also trying to post every day and visit/comment on five blogs. No matter what other characteristics your target audience might have, your A to Z visitors will have two things in common.

  • Most will be first-time visitors, and
  • they will all be extremely busy.
Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Posts should be short, catchy, and not include more than a couple of links. 350-500 words is the most A to Z readers are going to have time for, and lots of them going to scan that. The next day, they’re on to another five blogs. If you want them to come back again on a Sunday during the challenge, or try out your blog again in May, best be memorable and not ask too much.

It’s also important to answer your comments and visit some of your commenters. You will get comments. Just from my own experience with blogging over the last year, answering a first comment makes it much more likely that a reader is going to come back. This is another reason to get the post written early and not add any extra work for yourself beyond the bare requirements. Being active on your own threads is essential if you want to benefit from the challenge beyond April.

Most bloggers neither post every day nor visit five blogs per day. Many of your visitors will be doing the challenge just to see if they can. A lot will be hoping to find new readers and make friends. It’s hard to make friends through a blog if you don’t comment, and it’s best to do straightforward, ultra-reader-friendly posts for this.

Here is a list of the bloggers you’ll see here during April if all goes well between now and then. Links go to their blogs and their bylineΒ archives. For the sake of convenience, I’ve organized the list by author in order of first appearance. Here’s the alphabetical version with posting dates. Topics will be published on reveal day. (Contributors, if I have double-booked or crossed up any days here, just let me know and we’ll iron it out.)

David and Holly of Comparative Geeks— A, F, G, M, Q, U

Jeremy DeFatta — B, K, S

Gene’O of Just Gene’O — C, E, L, T

William Hohmeister — D

Diana of Part Time Monster — H, P, Z

Luther M. Siler of Infinite Free Time — I, R, W

Hannah Givens of Things Matter — J

Melissa Barker-Simpson (her blog is eponymous) — N

Rebecca Bradley of Rebecca Bradley Crime — O

Natacha Guyot of Science Fiction, Transmedia, and Fandom — X and Y

A Mystery Blogger — V

Arrr, mateys!

Arrr, mateys!

Thanks to all you contributors, and to our friends who have encouraged us as we worked to get this done. I’ll have communciation for you about loading drafts in the next week or two.

I’m following A to Z on both Twitter and Facebook, so if we’re connected on the other social media, you’ll be seeing a lot of A-to-Z sharing from me once we get into March. If you are a friend or reader here and you decide to take the plunge, you want to drop me a line so I can add you to lists and such.

Several of our friends are also registered already. I’ll have links to some of them in my announcement at Just Gene’O in the next week or so.

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44 thoughts on “We’re in for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge!

    • It’s a pretty intense challenge. Worth it, though. Even if you don’t do it this year, you should try it at least once. If you pick a theme for next year and write 2 posts a month for it between now and this time next year, you’ll have it practically done before it even starts. πŸ™‚

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  1. Excellent advice, Gene! Last year was my first time too and I had only pre-written half the posts, which had me scrambling later in the month. I plan on getting them all done ahead of schedule this year. See you there! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay! I think I am going to throw my theme idea out there today. Just like last year, it will require audience participation. (Lord help me…)

    Liked by 2 people

      • I just posted the suggestion box on my blog (hint, hint). I decided at the last second to drop a specific theme. I got to reading some of the ones from last year and I think random works best for me πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have contributed a thing.

          Hey, Instagram question as you are the person I know on Instagram. Do you have it feeding the pictures straight to your Tumblr? And if so, is it your main Tumblr? comparativegeeks.tumblr.com is not my user account, so I don’t know if sending pictures over will work but I thought I would ask how you’re doing it! πŸ™‚

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          • I can choose as I upload pics to instagram which ones to send to Tumblr, Facebook and/or Twitter. Flickr is also an option but I am not on there.

            I think as long as you put a valid Tumblr address into the Instagram share settings, it will work.

            It isn’t automatic, like the post feed here is for Tumblr. So you have to choose for it to post on there each and every time. πŸ˜€

            Liked by 1 person

            • I will have to look at the share settings, then. I have been clicking the little Twitter button every time, so the concept I get… Thanks! πŸ˜€

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            • Ha! I may just go ahead and do that anyway, in honor of you being the first one to submit an idea. πŸ˜€

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  3. Thank you for the advice. Last year was my first time doing the challenge, too, and although I did make it through, I wish I’d known more about what I was doing and how to handle the follow-ups after the challenge was over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah. I did not handle the follow-ups well, either. Which was supposed to be the reason for building the page I mentioned in the post.

      The people I met through A to Z last year that I am still talking to are mostly bloggers I connected on Twitter with and we just kept chattering until we found enough things in common to chat often, and people who just kept coming back to my blogs until I started to feel like I know them a little bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we probably will be doing A to Z on Comparative Geeks, but I won’t be running it also on DBCII. That feels like one too many things!

    Excited for my few posts here… I’m noticing I’m doing some of the most so I better follow your advice and get crackin’!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How many are you actually doing yourself? We can adjust if necessary.

      Wasn’t sure about CompGeeks, is why I sent the registration heads-up to you privately instead of tagging you in that crazy registration day discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We’re still trying to figure out the details. Ought to know soon πŸ™‚

        I think I’m doing 4 of them? A, G, M, U! Yours at least spells something, Mr. Celt!

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        • LOL, Kinda funny, since you know what three of the four are going to be about, even if you don’t know the exact topic.

          I just about fell over when I realized my letters spelled that.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Do I need to write y’all a couple? 400 words and one image is not that much. And I know you have supporters who have guest posted on occasion. Might not be as bad as you think.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Okay then. That is even better. Send me private communication. We’ll work up a two-or-three part series on Watchmen or V for Vendetta, or 300 or . . . dare I say it? Morrowind. We will figure out something. Happy to help!

              Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for all the tips! It’s my first time participating in this challenge so I’m a bit nervous. Your advice will be helpful though! Can’t wait to see what everybody comes up with πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I might do this, of course I’ll need to sort out my Internet connection by then first. I just moved into my own house and don’t have Internet yet since the price of it alone is more than I’m willing to pay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch. I understand that. I didn’t have it for several years for that very reason, and honestly, the internet and cable are eating me alive right not.

      Do let me know if you decided later in the year to join in πŸ™‚

      Like

      • If my power bill keeps being cheap, than I should be able to afford it and still pay extra on those pesky student loans I want to get rid of.

        I will. I’ll have decide soon though if I’m going to keep up with it and have some posts ready.

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