This is my second year participating in the A-Z Challenge. I had such a blast last year that not only am I back for more, but I'm also part of the Ninja Minions team who will be helping Alex J. Cavanaugh, one of the many awesome co-hosts this year. Anyway, I'd like to give you some reasons why you should join the A-Z challenge (if you haven't already). But I'd also like to share some of the mistakes I made last year so hopefully you can avoid them and make your own. :P
For those who may not know, the A-Z Challenge is the brainchild of blogger/writer Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. It is a yearly blogging challenge where participants commit to posting six days a week during the month of April (Sunday's are off days). Participants are free to blog about what ever they choose however, there is one rule to follow. During the challenge, each day will correspond to a different letter in the alphabet starting with A on April 1st, all the way to Z on April 30th. Topics posted need only to begin with the corresponding letter. For more information and where to sign up, go to the official A-Z webpage HERE.
- Build your platform and fan base. This is particularly important for people like writers, artists, performers, etc.
- Get/maintain a certain amount of exposure. Important for new bloggers but also for those who have been around a few years.
- Networking. Via the challenge you will meet other bloggers in your area of interest. Remember, the people you meet today, could very well be the people you network with tomorrow.
- Personal challenge. It's not always easy posting six days a week, but in the end, it's a great feeling knowing you can do it.
- The challenge sparks new ideas and gets your creative mind into high gear. Several writers have gone on to publish their A-Z posts into book form.
- Visiting other blogs will give you ideas on how to improve your own site and blog design.
- Meet people, build/strengthen friendships. This is by far the best part of the challenge in my opinion. Last year during A-Z I met people from all over the world, several of which I now consider to be my good friends. There's something special and enriching about having the power to exchange dialogue with people in different countries and foraging real friendships.
What to Expect:
- Late nights, red eyes. It's a given. :P
- Followers. During the challenge you will get an influx of visitors and new followers to your blog. :D Don't hesitate to follow back blogs that fit your general interest.
- Comments. This can be quite simple. When someone takes the time to leave you a comment, return the courtesy by commenting on their blog. You also have the option of e-mailing them (if they're not a noreply-commenter), but remember, the idea behind this blog challenge is not only daily posting, it's also visiting other blog sites.
- Captcha. Please consider disabling word verification if you have it turned on, or at least turn it off during the challenge. Word verification is a pain in the rear when you're trying to comment on lots of blogs. It slows down the whole commenting process when you're having to retype the screwed up letters and out of focus numbers three times because you can't, for the life of you, make them out. If you don't know how to disable word verification, Mina Lobo at Some Dark Romantic has a step by step pictorial tutorial on how to do it HERE.
- May downtime. There tends to be a slight dip in blogging activity in May after the challenge. Many bloggers are exhausted and need time to recharge. But things usually pick right back up in June and July.
How to Survive: drink lots of caffeine :P
- START NOW. Especially new bloggers, start writing your posts today! Last year I had nothing prewritten and having to write my posts on the fly was CRAZY. Not impossible mind you, but not the easiest way to do things. Anyway, I learned my lesson and have already pre-written about a dozen posts, which is great because it frees up time for me to visit other blogs.
- Have a theme. Of course you don't have to have a theme. Some people are great at writing random posts on the fly. But if you're not one of those people, then think of a theme and stick to it. Having a theme last year is about the only thing I did right. It kept me from wasting even more time trying to figure out what the hell to write that day.
- Keep posts SHORT. Last year, my blog posts averaged 420 words and in my opinion, that's too long. Some were even over 700 words. Remember, not only will you have to write these posts, but the thousand + people signed up will be visiting and commenting on blogs. If your posts are too long, say over 250 words, many people will end up skimming them. Best to keep posts short and sweet.
- Don't play hard to find. Make sure the link to your blog site is available in your profile. Some people even add their blog address at the end of their comments to make them easier to find.
- Be nice. If you can't be nice, move onto another blog. The comment box is not the place to be an asshat.
- And last but not least: HAVE FUN! Think of this as a month long block party packed with talented, creative, kindhearted, and knowledgeable folks all just wanting to hang out and meet other bloggers like yourself.
Ready to sign up now? Good, now go HERE.
Now for those of you who have already signed up for the A-Z Challenge, *chest bump :P* Mina Lobo at Some Dark Romantic is co-hosting a special bloghop called The Big Reveal. On March 31st, people signed up will reveal their theme for the A-Z Challenge. So go check it out if you've got an A-Z theme brewing. (;