Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reflections on the 2017 A to Z Challenge

I will admit right up top that I was leery about the lack of the linky list, (You'd think this was an L post, wouldn't you?) but having survived the entire month with more activity than ever, I have been won over. Yes, it was more work than signing up one time on the linky list before April. Yes, I had to remember to copy my links every day to google+, Facebook, and the A to Z site, but it worked. In fact, by the middle of the month, hectic mornings sidelined my advertising rounds a couple times, but people still came.

So what changed for me this year?
I started gathering a blog list in a word .doc to visit during the theme reveal. Anyone who had an active blog who was participating got added. It made it way easier to make my daily rounds than trying to hunt down links for everyone everyday or magically sync up with their posts on any of the three posting mediums I mentioned. Because many of us were in different time zones or advertised in the morning or evening, there was often a two to three letter range of where we all were within the challenge by using my method, but going down my list during my morning rounds helped keep me organized.

Not to say I didn't find other blogs along the way. Often, when I was posting my link, a topic would catch my attention and I'd wander off (as I'm prone to do on the evil internet), to see what they had to say. I did the same thing while leaving comments. Oh, who's that? Click. Thank you to all of the A to Z people who made the effort to push us into leaving links in our signatures! That made finding other blogs so much easier.

By the end of the month, keeping in mind that I did delete a few blogs from my list due to a total lack of return comments or they just stopped participating, I was actively reading and commenting on twenty-one blogs everyday. That does not include the few interesting attention grabbers that I also visited here an there. I cannot emphasize enough how much adding a link to your signature makes it easy to get to you.

Following that many blogs meant I gave up my writing time altogether, but April is often a (mostly) writing vacation month for me due to the challenge so that was nothing new. What was new was that instead of following a handful of blogs, I had a whole list of people I enjoyed visiting each day. While there were a few days that got away from me, I did try to comment on as many blogs on my list as possible. Saturdays were hard because I don't have a set aside writing time to use for blogging during April.

What surprised me:
• How many people commented but left no way to find their blogs. Their Google+ accounts only had comments on other people's blogs or no activity at all. They didn't leave a link. I'd love return the visit, but I don't have twenty minutes to solve the mystery of where to find you.

• How much smoother the month goes when you write your posts ahead of time. It leaves much more time for commenting.

• That the lack of a linky list actually worked really well. I had far more visits this year than in previous years.

• All the fun blogs I found and interesting people I virtually met throughout the month. In previous years I connected long term with one or two blogs, but this year, with a much larger daily list, I hope to have many more long-term connections.
For me, April has become the month of networking. While I follow blogs throughout the year, I also sporadically become a writing hermit and seem to fall off the face of the networking earth. Having a month set aside to get out there and meet people is a good thing.

Thank you to all of you who took the time to comment throughout the month and to those of you who stopped by just to read. I hope to see you throughout the year. My A to Z blog list is saved for future visits as time allows.

Now that April is over, it's time to get back into writing mode!

18 comments:

  1. I have, for the last two year or so, considered trying the A to Z thing. But coming up with a theme has been the hard part. I probably would write the posts ahead of time, though, keeping them in draft mode until the day to publish them.

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    1. Give it a try next year. Pick a very loose theme if you want to make it easy on yourself. It could be something as simple as Writing, or things about the state where you live, your favorite foods, things that are green. Whatever. :) And yes, writing the posts ahead of time is definitely the way to go. I've done it two years both ways and pre-written is by far, much easier. I have mine all scheduled to post throughout the month too so if I get busy in the morning, it still goes live without me.

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  2. Hi Jean - interesting ... some I agree with you - others not so ... but quite honestly so difficult knowing how others post etc. I kept a separate sheet one year - probably my first year 2011 - when blogger and IE were messing around ... but won't do it again. I use feedly and the posts just drop in there ... and I added new ones along the way ...

    But so pleased you had a good time - I think one has to write the posts in advance otherwise it's crazy! Also I couldn't do what I do re the A-Z without having them done in advance ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Feedly sounds handy. During regular times, I just use my blogger list and that's great, but with so many blog platforms being used through A to Z, the list worked much better for me.

      You do visit so many blogs! I think there were very few I visited that you aren't there also. :)

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  3. I was wondering how well the absence of a linky list would work. In the couple of times I've taken part, being so far west I've relied entirely on scheduling posts or being impossibly late to the party.

    And that Google+ is a pain in the 4$$. Talk about making things difficult. I've sometimes had comments on my blog that I've given up trying to find the owner's blog because Google makes it so darned hard.

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    1. I hear you!

      The nice thing about this method of advertising posts was that each letter was separate so you weren't ever really late. It more depended on when people went to check posts on FB or the website as to who had listed their daily post yet or not. I often felt late, being post #160 or so at 8am each day, but it all seemed to work out just fine.

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  4. My reflections post goes live tonight, so I can link it before I leave for an early morning doctor appt, and I find several similarities. But unlike you, I didn't see an increase in followers as compared to 2012-2013 when I previously participated.

    I am glad I did all my writing in advance, I'm glad I made some new friends and I'm even more glad I reconnected with some old A-Z friends.

    All in all, I did have fun and that's what is important.

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  5. Really enjoyed your AtoZ posts, Jean. Being a first timer, I can't compare to years past but this year was a blast! Next year, I plan to write mine ahead of time, too. Some days, I did not visit all of the blogs I wanted to because I ran out of time while frantically searching for photos for my own post.

    The signature links were hugely helpful for me, too. As the month went on, that is how I found almost all new blogs I visited. While commenting on a post - "Hey, that looks interesting..." Click!

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | A to Z Reflections 2017

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  6. Sounds like you have a really fun month, congrats on finishing :) Sorry I haven't left a link in this comment but if affects SEO too much to keep link dropping
    Debbie

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  7. That part is true - if nothing else, April becomes the "Networking Month" when you get out and meet new people, stretch your horizons, etc. My Google friends and Blogger reading list grows substantially during April (and to be honest, it's the only time of year that it does). And hey, I met a bunch of new an interesting people this year, including you, Jean!

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  8. I make my own list as well which I think makes it easier though I did not do any social media mostly because I have not signed up for them.

    I didn't care for google+ at all and you're right, it's hard to find that link to that blogger with google+ profile, I'm not signed up for it but I have a separate account for commenting but still, I just think google should just remove it all together.

    sometimes I do forget to leave a link at the end of my comment and sometimes if there is an name/url system, there's no need to leave a link at the end of the comment right?

    congrats on finishing the challenge.

    have a lovely day.

    my reflection post

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    1. Yes, there is no need to leave a link as long as you do fill in your blog in the form. However, some people have several blogs and hunting down which one is active or that they are participating on, takes time. In other cases, links go to websites where I then have to hunt down their link to their blog and then find where they are participating in that blog, because some even had separate blogs on their websites for different topics. So on the whole, a link can still be helpful.

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  9. My reflections post will come next week on my regularly scheduled day to "write about whatever". I only missed the linky in terms of how messy it was to find links in the comments, especially the non-hyper linked ones. I think a good compromise would to do a daily linky that way it is more organized but only active posts are linked. I didn't do a theme post since our theme is the same as our daily postings. Instead I use the challenge to try out new ways of conveying the same content. This year I really focused on better titles for posts. Girl Who Reads

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  10. Glad to hear the Challenge went well for you. A lot of people seem to go off finding other people from fellow commenters - with the time constraints, I don't always read all the other comments, but I should try that. Your posts were great, I picked up a lot of helpful tips and I can see it being a resource I would go back to.

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  11. Good reflection. You made lots of observations I agree with. I need to get my refelction done!

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  12. Glad your challenge was successful! I changed jobs in February so I had much less time than usual to visit the blogs of other participants. I pre-wrote my own posts, which was VERY helpful, but I admit I slacked a bit on visiting others. I'll probably cruise around now and hit some of those I missed. I also love your idea of copying links into a document to make it easier to find the blogs you wanted to visit. That's a great idea that I'll try to remember to do next year. Thanks for that idea!

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  13. Well done for completing the challenge. I'm still getting caught up on the comments left on my blog during April. Like you I was disappointing when a blogger's name took me to a Google page and I couldn't actually locate their posts from there. It's made me a lot more careful to leave a signature when I comment now!

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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