Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A-Z Challenge: Why You Should Join, What to Expect & How to Survive

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.

Why you should join the A-Z Challenge:
  • 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. (; 



  1. Thanks for all the tips. It's my first time this year and I'm also doing the big reveal as well. Best of luck.

  2. Thanks for the tips and advice. It's my first year so I need the help.

  3. As I told you last night, that is an awesome set of instructions!
    Not revealing my theme until March 29. It keeps growing, and I want to be sure I have time to do it all!

  4. Wow--great instructions, Elise. Thank you for sharing them! I remember talking with a fellow Author last year about his A to Z challenge. He told me that he started building posts up something like a month in advance to make sure he stayed in line with his target. It seems like a difficult challenge, but one that's worth it in the end!

  5. Great tips! I a;ready signed up and have all of my posts written :)

  6. Great post, especially for those new to the challenge. I'm not participating. I just don't have the time. For each post I write, I end up spending 3-4 hours blogging. This would do me in if I posted every day for a month. Since I'm not participating, I'm expecting a nice quiet April when it comes to blogging.

  7. Sheena: Great! I'll be seeing you during the challenge! :D

    Sara: Yeah! It'll be great, you'll see. :)

    Alex: Thanks Alex, good luck with your posts, I still have a bunch more left to write.

    Randi: It is a challenge but it's not difficult if you come prepared or at least have a game plan. Then it's up to you how much time you want to put into visiting other blogs. :)

    JA: You Rock! (:

    Stina: I bet you get a lot done writing wise in April. I'm almost envious. (;

  8. Already joined the challenge and really looking forward to it! The posts in April will, for me, be more than I have posted on my blog combined before this so it's definitely a major undertaking for me.
    Thanks for all the tips! Now excuse me while I go back and shorten some of my prepared posts.

  9. Not participating but looking forward to reading the other posts! Great idea.

  10. I'm afraid my mad-dash to get some projects done will get in the way of doing A to Z this year. One of these years, I'll finally take the challenge. I'll have to bookmark this post, cause you have great pointers here. :)

  11. Hi Elise - excellent advice for the Challenge and successful completion thereof ... I'm in ... got the letters organised: now the posts! Cheers Hilary

  12. "The comment box is not the place to be an asshat."
    LOL - Well said.

    I love the pre-scheduling/auto-launching feature of blogs. If one was so inclined, s/he could write and pre-schedule all 26 posts.

    I'm not doing AtoZ, but I'll be cheering y'all on. :)

  13. I've officially signed up for A to Z. I was a little diappointed I didn't time it better. I could've been #1000. Instead I had to settle for #1002.

    I have no theme and will have no posts preplanned. A to Z in my world is always a free for all. Yeah, planning ahead is so much easier and smarter. Which is probably why I don't do it.

  14. So jealous of Alex. He snagged some of my favorite people as minions!

  15. Great post Elise!

    As someone who's never "officially" done A to Z before, it's a great primer on what to expect.

    "The comment box is not the place to be an asshat", I love that :D

  16. I love the A-Z challenge. It'll be my second year, too. This is all good advice!

  17. But I am sooo lazy, I had no intention, but now I am reconsidering. (I am a sucker for peer pressure.)

  18. Why do I get the feeling that I'm going to end up doing this?

  19. I think mine have been under 200 words the past two years. Wrote out all of my posts this past weekend and I'll still be hitting that number this year.

  20. Great tips Elise!
    I'm ALMOST done with my posts! I'm an out and out planner... winging it would give me nightmares!

  21. CBame13: You'll do fine! Especially since you already have pre-written posts. Great to see that you'll be participating! (:

    Julie: Thanks Julie. You may find April a bit more quite than usual, a good time to get in a lot of writing! (;

    David: Thanks David, and yes, one of these days you do need to jump in and experience A-Z madness. (:

    Hilary: You've still got lots of time Hilary! Good luck. (:

    Melissa: There are some people who have them all finished and pre-scheduled for automatic launch. But for some reason I'm to chicken to pre-schedule them for posting. Maybe I'm too much of a control freak, I feel like I have to be the one to hit publish.

    MJ: When I signed up I was number 600, but the list is always getting adjusted and now I'm 500 and something. I think you'll do fine writing off the cuff. Can't wait!

    Matthew: (: I'm all yours next year!

    Mark: Thanks Mark, hope you'll be a part of A-Z this year!

    Sherry: Thanks Sherry! I'm a big fan of A-Z as well, in case you couldn't tell, lol!

    Elizabeth: Do it, do it, do it! :D

    Melanie: :D

    Jeff: Because you are! :D Plus, you still have lots of time to get organized.

    Diane: Awesome. Looks like you are ready to GO!

    Michelle: I'm usually a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal, but not this time! (:

  22. I love your lists! Excellent advice. :)

    I need to start writing my posts. I think I may end up winging some next month, though.

  23. I did the A to Z challenge a couple years ago--VERY fun!!!

  24. Great tips even for more experienced peeps.... My gosh 1,050 have signed up!!!! GOOD LUCK :)

  25. Fantastic tips. I had longer posts last year, and while people loved them, I'm going to go short this year. I really appreciated the short posts because then I could visit more blogs.

  26. Hi Elise,

    Oops, the A to Z Challenge :) I know those who actually participate will appreciate your detailed information. I've been known to satirise it. All in a good natured way, naturellement. Even though I would never participate, I actually promote it with my rather different take on the whole thing. So, even though I have been officially dubbed by Lee, "The official anti-A to Z spokesman", I do wish those involved much fun. May they embrace the ethos of a sharing, caring blogging community.

    Be well, Elise and enjoy the alphabet challenge! :)


  27. Its a scary world! Maybe next year when I have more time... love ya girlie!

  28. I've already started to write posts for the challenge as not to kill myself come April. I'm so excited that you are a co-host. You'll do great in the position. Thanks for the post about what a ton of people are about participate in. It's gonna be fun and I hope to meet a ton of great peeps through the adventure through the ABC's.

  29. Great tips! I swear I am doing this year! It always is so fun to read everyone's posts!

  30. Captcha... GAH!!!!! *sharpens knives to throw at word verification* Seriously a bane to my existence.

    Love A-Z, and it's truly a great way to expand your blog audience. I won't be participating this year, sadly. But I'm going to slow my blogging to a drip in April in a show of solidarity to all my blogging homies who are participating (most of them, I think).

    Looking forward to reading all the creative ways people apply the theme. Good luck everyone! :)

  31. Golden: Thanks Golden, I'm glad you're doing A-Z again this year! (: You still have time to get ahead, and it's not so bad if you end up having to wing a few posts, I say it could add a bit of spice to your day. :D

    LDiamond: it is super fun! Can't wait. (:

    Mark: I know! But I think we need more!

    Christine: Same here! I think part of the problem I had last year was being too passionate about my theme, it made it impossible to keep things short.

    Gary: LOL! I hate missing out on a good satire. (; I think you should do A-Z unofficially and start with Z instead of A and work your way backwards. :D

    Tammy: It's not so scary because you're in it! (; Hope you get a chance next year, it's definitely something to try at least once. :D

    Julia: Awesome to hear you'll be part of the A-Z Challenge. :D I'm not an official co-host, just one of Alex's volunteer minions, I'll be scouring the A-Z list looking for slackers and posers!

    Meradeth: LOL! I'll look forward to your posts . . . next year! :D

    EJ: I type pretty fast so catpcha never used to bother me until recently. It seems they are making the letters more difficult to decipher and now it's getting annoying. Anyway, you'll be missed during A-Z! But with the extra time you'll have, I'm sure you'll get in some great writing! (:

  32. Actually, I was thinking about starting with the letter "zed" or "zee", for any Americans reading my comment :) Have fun, Elise.

    Your starstruck fan,

    Gary :)

  33. excellent advice! cant believe how big this has gotten!

  34. Hi Good to be here,
    A well written intro for the a to z challengers.
    I am sure the participants can pick up lot of things from here.
    Keep up the good work, keep encouraging other to join in for the wonderful challenge. Happy Blogging!!! and ya Happy a to z challenge!!!
    Best Regards
    I am
    Phil @ Philipscom
    An ambassador to A to Z Challenge @ Tina's Life is Good
    And My Bio-blog

  35. I've got to start mine over the weekend! It's going to be a difficult thing to master this year. lol.

  36. Gary: LOL "zed" :D Out to confuse the masses, eh? I like it. (;

    Tara: I know! But it needs to be bigger!! :D

    PV Ariel: Thank you PV! Good to see you part of the A-Z family and good luck with the challenge!

    Ashley: I'm trying to get my finished this weekend, but I don't see it happening, lol. Good thing we still have a little bit more time. (: See you in April! :D

  37. Great post Elise! I haven't prewritten anything. I should probably start that this weekend. ;)

  38. Some great tips there Elise. Looking forward to A-Z. This is my second time too! We would have met up around that time last year, I think?

  39. I'm definitely doing the pre-writes and am nearly done. I'm trying to keep the word count down, too. Can't believe you wrote your posts on the fly!

  40. Kimberly: Thanks Kimberly. You still have time to get posts written up. I'd love to be able to finish all of mine this weekend, but I don't see that happening, but I'll give it my best shot! Good luck. (:

    Carolyn: Actually, I think we met a little before that when I emailed you about joining the IWSG. I had signed up on your site and didn't see my name pop up and thought I had don't something wrong, lol! Seems like ages ago . . . (:

    Gwen: It was so insane that I swore I'd never do that again, hence my determination to get all my posts pre-written! (:

  41. Thanks for all the tips! I have to say that a theme that's at least outlined, and partly pre-written is the way to go . . .I didn't do that the last few years. Sure I had a theme, but I didn't have X, Y, and Z figured out, or even Q. This year I've made sure I have those hard letters figured out with my theme beforehand . . .and my posts are going to be short, really, even though I may still ramble incoherently during comments. :)

  42. Great post with some really awesome advice. I can't wait to get going this year as this will be my third year.

  43. So ... First I told everyone I wouldn't be participating this year. Then I decided I would. And now ... I've once again decided I don't have time for it :(

    But these are great tips for people who are taking part :-)

  44. Fantastic tips Elise! I wish that I had read this before I started my first A to Z two years ago. I'm trying to be more organized this year, but still have a long way to go. See you at A to Z!


  45. Well done Elise! I love what you shared~ I'm working on mine now ;D

    Yes, it is going to be a fabulous event A-Z 2013-Cheers!


Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!
Comments are the best. Well, the nice ones are. (:
I do my best to reply to everyone either via e-mail,
directly in the comment box or by leaving a comment
on your site. Chat with you soon!

Also, not interested in your spam. Really, I'm not interested.

J'écris, donc je suis (:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...