Well, now it’s May. Which means that April’s A to Z Blogging Challenge is officially over. There are people who have done the challenge for the last several years, but this was the first year I participated, and I’m glad I did! So as a *former* A to Z Challenge virgin, I’ve learned a few things (well, some of them I knew, but they became a bit more evident). Since a bunch of the bloggers are posting reflections about the challenge, I will do the same, and share with you a few of the things that I took away from this experience.
A Few Things About My Own Blogging:
- To my dismay, “short and sweet” is something I am unable to achieve (unless you’re talking about me, personally). If I have a topic that I’m exploring (in this case, Ladies I Love), I have to write to a point where I feel like I’ve covered my subject as best I can. I can’t just write a few sentences and have that be it. There has to be a butt-load of links, lots of pictures, and a video or two. I tried to aim for 300 – 500 words per post, but I often found myself publishing posts that were 800 – 1000 words. I hope that didn’t dissuade people from reading! See…even this first bullet point is just too long and wordy! I clearly don’t know when to stop. Like right now. Now.
- I’m kind of a freakin’ perfectionist, and it’s really annoying. I have to re-read posts several times before I publish, making sure that my spelling and grammar are correct, and that pictures are arranged just so. Several times it kept me up waaaaay past my bedtime.
- The pace of blogging every day was a little hectic for me! I had about half the posts done ahead of time, but that left about half the posts for me to do the night before, and because of point number one above, this could sometimes be a little overwhelming. I’m looking forward to getting back to my pace of ~2 posts per week!
- The Challenge really gave me an opportunity (and excuse) to promote my blog across various social media platforms, some of which I’m not too used to using. I am definitely shy about promoting my blog on Facebook with my friends, but I made a Facebook page for my blog and shared posts from there occasionally. I also shared my posts on the April A to Z Blogging Challenge Facebook page. Twitter: I tweeted my posts out twice a day, and participated in Monday Blogs on (you guessed it) Mondays. I was sooo grateful for retweets and favorites! That really made my day 🙂 Finally, with Google+ I shared posts on my own page, and in the A to Z Challenge Community. It was a lot of work!
The Most Important Thing I Got From The Challenge:
- I think that the point of the A to Z Challenge is NOT to increase the number of followers on your blog or the number of email subscribers, etc. (although those things are nice, I will admit). For me, the point of the whole Challenge was about forging new RELATIONSHIPS with other bloggers. Every time I got a new comment on a post from someone who read, really read, what I wrote, it just really gave me a warm feeling inside. It was a connection! With another human being! And being an introverted person, I really cherish those connections from the people who make the effort to respond to me putting myself out there.
- Making connections with people takes work. As much time as I spent promoting myself on various social media platforms, I easily spent three times that amount of time reading other bloggers’ posts, trying to make thoughtful comments, and sharing their posts on social media. There wasn’t enough time for me to read everyone’s blogs that I liked every day, so I have some post-Challenge work ahead: read through the A to Z posts of those blogs that I couldn’t read every day! I use Bloglovin’ to track all the blogs that I read, which works great because it doesn’t matter what blogging platform is used – you can follow WordPress blogs, Blogger blogs, whatever. I made lists for “Favorite A to Z Blogs” etc. which have really helped me remember what I want to revisit!
- I really enjoyed having virtual conversations with people that I would’ve otherwise never met had it not been for this Challenge. There are a few people that I will continue to keep in touch with because they were just so friendly and interesting. Again, it’s that connection – the most valuable thing I gained from this whole Challenge.
Speaking of Awesome Bloggers…
I got to read a lot of great blogs from all types of writers. I could list a ton of them, but I will just give you a taste of some of my favorites, my top 10!
- Angels Bark: A blog about dogs and life. I loved the passion with which Michele writes about animal welfare.
- Bemuzin: Sammy’s theme for the Challenge was “objects”. She wrote some of the most thoughtful comments on my blog and was so supportive – I love her!
- Every Day is a Miracle: Marie’s theme was Portlandia from A to Z. Since I lived in Portland (and am still close by), I loved this perspective!
- Sick B*tch: Mich’s theme was “I am going to complain now” and her blog says everything I’m afraid to say (or, at least put down in writing).
- Strange Pegs: The theme of this blog was “Abandoned Places”. Incredible photos and back-stories!
- The Squirrel Nutwork: This blog featured critters from nature all during April. Very cute and lots of great photos!
- The Waiting is the Hardest Part: Stormy the Weather Gnome took over this blog to brag about 26 things that gnomes can do but humans can’t. Loved it!
- The Writer’s Way: Michelle wrote a month-long story about our favorite fairy tale characters in modern times, all grown up. Very creative!
- Tongue In Cheek: Hmm. How do I describe this blog? 3 Things: Polkapocalypse, the ‘Possum Queen, and the Gnome Defense League. Read. This. Blog.
- Traveling Cats: Photos of cats from all over the world, from cities with names starting from A to Z.
Well, that about does it for me. I had a great time during the Challenge and plan on doing it again next year. I loved the theme I used, but was sad that I couldn’t feature all the Ladies I Love…there just weren’t enough days in the month! Some of my runner-ups were: Sally Ride (amazing astronaut), mothers, Joan Cone (my high school English teacher), Hillary Clinton, writer Amy Tan, Emily Dickinson, Sally Jewell (Secretary of the Department of the Interior), Anne Frank, Nujood Ali (just google her – what a hero!), Pamela Greer, Georgia O’Keefe, and so so many others!
What is next on my list? A couple of things: 1) revisit all those A to Z blogs I couldn’t keep up with, 2) continue participating in the Fabulous Blogging & Social Media Bootcamp, and 3) continue writing. Until next year, I consider the A to Z Challenge a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Congratulations to everyone who took part, and THANK YOU to everyone who visited Fuzzy Undertones! ❤