Tune in Sunday for Our Blogging A to Z in April Challenge Theme Reveal! (And Other Notes)

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atoz-theme-reveal-2015

Terrible time to post, I know. But I need to get this out, and there’s not much prime posting space on this blog right now. I mentioned the other day that our A to Z theme reveal goes on Sunday. That’s so people on the other side of the world can find it when they visit the linkup on Monday morning, and so I can toss it into #SundayBlogShare.

A few updates and notes about our posting schedule, etc.

Here’s a list of regular features that will continue during April.

Continue reading

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 folks 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 byline 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.

Important Info and A Weekly Preview

The A to Z list is live. We’re #96. Use this link to register. Official announcement on Thursday.

According to this post, registration for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge opens tomorrow. I do not know what hour of the day the list goes live. If you have already decided to take the plunge, keep your eye on the it and get in as early as you can.

This is my personal surivor badge. Sourcerer needs one of these.

This is my personal survivor badge. Sourcerer needs one of these.

Our schedule is here and every day is taken. We will not announce the actual topics until it’s time for the reveal. You’ll notice V is reserved for a mystery blogger and Y is “taken care of.” Those letters will remain as-is until reveal day. I will have an official announcement later this week once I register and see where we land on the list.

Here’s the preview for this week. I won’t do these every week, but we are still in a state of transition, and we have a couple of posts coming this week that are a little out-of-the-ordinary. You’ll not want to miss either.

  • Monday – A guest post on Star Wars and Fandom from the incomparable Natacha Guyot.
  • Tuesday – David brings you some thoughts on Agents of Shield, since there was no Agent Carter last week. [Edited, because we just realized this a few minutes ago. We are some Hulu- and on-demand-watching geeks.]
  • Wednesday – The first of a series on the Planescape: Torment video game from Will.
  • Thursday – The official A to Z Announcement.
  • Friday – Melissa blogs this week’s episode of Arrow.
  • Saturday – Weekend Music.
Arrr, Mateys!

Arrrr!

The first round of Feminist Friday discussions starts this week at Part Time Monster. The post is written and the spring schedule is here.

Next week, we kick off a seven-part series from Rose B. Fischer on a couple of animated series most of you are sure to remember. Rose’s series will run twice a month.

See you later for #SundayBlogShare on Twitter!

The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge

No post from me here today, but check out this blogging challenge. I’m hoping it gets a lot of participation, and I’m mulling it over myself. The Friday post is up at Part Time Monster, and I’ll have the open thread this evening.