42 Comments#AtoZChallenge 2016, Blog-related, Networking, Writing/Blogging

The sign-up list for this year’s A to Z April Blogging Challenge has been open since January 25th. I’m in! Are you? Click HERE to read all about it and add your blog if you haven’t already. Only 15 days to go!

#AtoZChallenge 2016, Dog Breeds & Anecdotes, The Doglady's Den

Coming up on Monday, March 21st is the Theme Reveal Blog Hop. This is a great way to get a jump on things and engage with fellow participants. There’s still time to sign up. Read more HERE.

#AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal 2016

It’s daunting to publish 26 posts in 30 days, plus interact with others. This will be my third #AtoZChallenge in a row (view entries HERE) and I’ve learned a few things along the way:

1. Write ALL posts ahead of time and schedule them in. The last two years, I only had some of them done by April 1 and was scrambling after that. (Looks like I’ll be running true to form once again. Sigh….)

2. Get the boring “grunt work” out of the way first, by adding the basics to every post all at once. For example, anything you will be using each time, like the A-Z logo, hashtags, categories, introductory blurbs, etc. can be put into the post drafts way in advance. All you have to do is go back and add your dazzling content.

3. Speaking of content, short and easy to format is best. My posts tend to be fairly complicated and I hope to improve on that.

4. Please remember that the Blogosphere thrives on reciprocity, Visit other sites, leave comments and share posts, whenever you can. Also, and this is a big pet peeve of mine, respond to the comments left on your blog as much as possible. Doesn’t matter if it takes a few days – it’s the courteous thing to do.

5. Have easy-to-find sharing buttons on your site. If you want your posts shared to Twitter, – here comes another pet peeve – make sure your username is included in the tweet.

Please read THIS.

6. Speaking of comments, there has been much discussion in the past (not all of it friendly) about Blogger vs WordPress and difficulties with each platform. This has improved, as more people become familiar with both.

A. WordPress blogger commenting on Blogger (Blogspot):

If you don’t already have a Google+ account, I recommend you start one and use that to comment. Make sure your blog address is listed on this account. Even better, go one step further and get yourself a Blogger account. Read how to do that HERE. I created a one page blog, listing all links and a feed to my WordPress.org blog. View it HERE. Alternatively, many Blogspot sites have an option to comment using a WordPress.com account (doesn’t work for WordPress.org) or name and URL, but it’s always easiest with Google.

B. Blogspot blogger commenting on WordPress:

There are several different commenting systems available. Some people use Disqus, Livefyre or Intense Debate, but these require you to open an account, so they aren’t as popular. Mostly, you will encounter either the default system or the Jetpack system. With the former, you use name, email (not shown) and URL (optional). Some of us with self-hosted websites (WordPress.org) have anti-spam measures in place that occasionally get a little overzealous. You have to write a certain number of words and spend a specified amount of time on your comment. I have relaxed those standards and also allow for one link (many have a “no links” policy), but it’s not necessary. Your URL brings us to your website anyway. In addition, the”CommentLuv” feature (which I and many others have) allows you to choose from several post URLs and creates “DoFollow” links. (Not available on WordPress.com.) Commenting using the Jetpack system is easy, because it allows you to use either a WordPress.com (but not .org), Twitter, Facebook or Google account. Alternatively it’s not a bad idea to get yourself a WordPress.com account, like I did with Blogger, and make a one page post with all of your links.

Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Thanks to Arlee Bird, for starting this wonderful blogging network in 2010.
Look how much it’s grown since then. Onwards and upwards!

Do you have more suggestions to makes this year’s A to Z Challenge a smooth ride?

Looking forward to your comments!


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Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as “The Doglady”. Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal “hippie/rockchick”. Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!

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42 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge 2016: INSIGHTS AND INSPIRATION

  1. Thank you for posting this! I have found that even with a Google Plus account, it can still be tough because people don’t put their blog information on their Google Plus accounts. So you can’t even find their blog–or every blog they’ve commented in the last month is on there and you can’t figure out which one is theirs. So I always make sure I link today’s blog on my Google Plus, and I also put a signature at the bottom of my posts. It always surprises me during a challenge like this how many people comment my blog and I can’t comment theirs because I can’t even find it!

    1. Excellent point, Stephanie. Thanks for the reminder! I’ve linked to my Blogger profile but also have website info front and centre on the Google+ account. It does get frustrating when you have to hunt for information.

  2. Hey Debbie! Firstly thanks for dropping by my announcement post! Lady this is your third time here?! Wow!! I am awed! I am practically scrambling, decided on a theme only a couple of days ago! Your tips are really very sensible and valuable to first-timers for sure! Thanks dear, hope to be seeing much more of your fab posts! All the best and cheers to all of us for tomorrow’s Theme Reveal!

  3. About visiting Blogger site to leave comments, I’m sorry, but I am part of another ongoing Friday posting around the world and while I LOVE visiting the new sites, I rarely comment. Blogspot simple is not friendly. At WP we can always leave a comment through one’s email address; people from blogspot do it all the time on mine. But to go through the trouble of reading, ENJOYING then trying to leave a comment on BS and then to get in the round and round craziness that is their posting — or to HAVE to sign up for a gmail account — well, that is a no-way for me. I don’t want another account to check. Blogspot neeeds to get over itself and offer its people a REAL way for us to leave a comment via out email and verification (one that wokrs) forms.

    1. Welcome to The Den, Kate. It’s too bad you feel that way. I’m not a fan of Blogger’s commenting system either but have never had any issues with it, since setting up those Google and Blogger accounts. You don’t have to use them, necessarily. My Blogspot page just sits there, but my site has received many more visitors because of it. If bloggers from both platforms are willing to accommodate each other, everybody benefits. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck with the challenge. 🙂

    1. Welcome to The Den, Nrao. 🙂 Great idea to start networking ahead of time. Tomorrow’s Theme Reveal blog hop helps too. You have a good buildup already, with ten posts. I’m way behind, as usual. 😛 Thanks for dropping in and good luck with the challenge!

  4. Thank you for the insight! I am a new A to Z challenge and I am ready for this! I think I am doing all the tips you said for commenting. The only question I have is I noticed some of the blogs have no direction on following so even if I was going to follow I could not. I recommend that blogs have an option to follow via email like my blog and yours. Has anybody else had problems with the follow option on different blogs? I am going to check out your links for last year. I hope I do well with my chosen theme. LOL Thanks again….Annette

    1. Welcome to The Den, Annette. 🙂 Sounds like you’re ready to roll! The blogs I encounter generally do have email follow options, but that’s an excellent tip as well. Many don’t have proper sharing buttons. If you want to get the word out about your site, those are so important. Good luck with your first A to Z Challenge. It’s a lot of work, but well worth it. Cheers!

  5. The first year I participated I didn’t have all my posts ready, too much stress. This year they are all ready to go, but i’m sure I’ll need to do some tweaking but such a relief to have them done. Great suggestions especially about the different blog types and comments. Remove the captcha stuff for sure – you know the prove your a human step. So irritating when the comment is deleted before you realize there’s an extra step. Plus, just have fun!

    1. Hi, Yolanda; Every year, I vow to get my posts ready ahead of time and something always intervenes. Sigh…..Congratulations on getting yours finished. Oh yes, I forgot about the captcha on Blogger. Thanks for the reminder. Looking forward to your A-Z posts! 🙂

  6. Thank you so much. This post is really useful for first timers like me. A to Z challenge is a very interesting and am sure I’ll be able to do a lot better because of these guidelines.?? Thank you once again.

    1. You’re most welcome, Sraddha. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll enjoy your first A to Z Challenge. It’s a great way to boost your blog and make friends throughout the blogging world. Thanks for dropping in today.

  7. Excellent info, love the tip about doing the standard format first, great advice! I’m quite lazy so I always copy paste but I think I will make a standard post format this year. Thank you! ?

    1. It can be absolutely gruelling, Sid, but for some of us, it’s an obsession. 🙂 The WordPress/Blogger tips are useful for anyone who interacts on both platforms. Thanks for dropping in. Cheers!

    1. Hi, Mary Lou; Welcome to The Den. 🙂 I visited your WordPress blog and the commenting system seems fine there. As for the Blogger one, it’s a good start, but I would also suggest that you add an RSS feed. It will show your 5 latest posts. Here’s a link to my Blogger page for reference: http://debbiedoglady.blogspot.ca/ and an article which explains how to do that: http://www.wikihow.com/Add-an-RSS-Feed-to-a-Blogger-Blog
      Good luck with the challenge!

    1. It’ll be great to see you there, next year, Angelika. 🙂 Please accept my apologies for not being organized enough to do that book promotion post we discussed. Would it possibly work in May? Let me know.

  8. These are great tips for any A to Z-er new or vet. Thanks for posting this today. I’ll be sure to share this post.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

  9. I’m in! Agree with all above. Love replying to comments, and I love to receive feedback when I leave a comment on someone’s page. Let’s me know they read my comment and it was well received.
    I also like how you say posts should be shorter. So true. We have hundreds of participants, almost thousands. Reading a five page blog article every day is not going to be easy if anyone is to visit several sites. Like last year, I try to follow everyone who follows me, and then I try to make six new connections as well. Lengthy posts are hard to do.
    This is my second year doing the A-Z challenge. I loved doing it so much last year, I began preparing for this year, last May. Seriously!!! I’m already in the process of scheduling my posts. I have a few done and I hope to be done by April. :D.
    Especially since mid April, I will be out of town for an entire weekend. I’ve also scheduled my reveal theme already. Next, I’m in the process of scheduling my April 1st BOTB. I may have to skip the April 15th.
    Anyway, sorry for such a long reply.

    1. Your enthusiasm leaps off the page, Jeffrey! 🙂 I love it too, but am always falling short of my goal to have all posts pre-written and scheduled. The commenting is difficult to keep up with, but as long as we try it’s all good. My reveal post is done and scheduled and so is the Apr.1st BOTB and the A-Z post for that day. (They’re related but separate.) Now to get the rest done. Looking forward to your theme reveal!

  10. Hi, Debbie the Doglady!

    This post is loaded with excellent information and I have it bookmarked for future reference. The A To Z Challenge requires commitment, energy and stamina. It’s a blessing that you recovered from your bout with pneumonia in time to participate. I hope that the Challenge turns out to be a satisfying and rewarding experience for you, dear friend!

    1. You’re right about the challenge, Shady. By the end, we’re all worn out, but it’s a wonderful experience for any blogger. You say you’re bookmarking this for future reference. Hope that means you’ll consider participating in future? That would be fun! 🙂 Yes, I’m glad to be over that bout of pneumonia, but it sure put me behind schedule, yet again. Oh well, c’est la vie! Thanks for dropping in. Cheers!

  11. Great advice, Debbie. Yes, planning and writing ahead of schedule works well for a challenge like this. I havent even thought of my theme as yet… so lots of thinking and writing to do before April. Looking forward to all the fun this April with you! Cheers 🙂

    1. Every year, I vow to get the posts done ahead of time and something always intervenes. Sigh…..Oh well, keeps life interesting! 🙂 Good luck with the challenge, Shilpa. Looking forward to your posts.

  12. Great advice Debbie, I an too falling behind, haven’t even got a theme yet.
    Neat idea about the blogger 1 page blog with links.
    I will do it too.
    Thanks a ton. All the best for the AtoZ AtoZ

    1. Hope you’re able to get caught up, Inderpreet. I’m struggling here, but at least, my theme is picked and the reveal post is ready. The Blogger page makes it easier for those using that platform to find you and your posts, especially if you embed an RSS feed to your site. Thanks for dropping in. Good luck with the challenge! 🙂

        1. Cool! 🙂 It won’t be music-related (except for two tie-in Battle of the Bands posts), but I hope you’ll like the theme anyway. Thanks for your support, Myke!