#AtoZChallenge 2015: WHAT I LEARNED FROM LAST YEAR

The sign-up list for this year’s A to Z April Blogging Challenge opened today. I’m in! Are you?
Click HERE to read all about it and add your blog, if you haven’t already. Only 65 days to go….

#AtoZChallenge 2015

It’s daunting to publish 26 posts in 26 days, plus interact with others.
Last year was my first time [view entries HERE] and I learned a few things to make it easier.  

1. Write ALL posts ahead of time and schedule them in. Last year, I only had half of them done by April 1 and was scrambling after that.

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 were all fairly complicated last year 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! 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 was a LOT of discussion last year (not all of it friendly) about Blogger vs WordPress and difficulties with each platform.

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!

Debbie




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Debbie D.

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

Debbie D.

Debbie D.

40 Comments

Filed under #AtoZChallenge 2015, Blog-related, Link Ups

40 Responses to #AtoZChallenge 2015: WHAT I LEARNED FROM LAST YEAR

  1. Pingback: Advice For the Blogging From A To Z Challenge - Write Tribe

  2. Shailaja
    Twitter:

    I cannot believe I missed reading this post! Yes some fabulous tips, Debbie. One set of those which we all can identify with. Working on so many things right now that I hope to have some time next week to start scheduling my A-Z posts. Wish me luck and here’s wishing you loads for A-Z 2015 🙂
    Shailaja recently posted…From #15to50: Fiction Link Up- February 2015My Profile

  3. Wow! Those are some really sensible tips there. I have never done A to Z. April and May being kids’ vacations, I am either traveling or loaded with work. I am in awe of you guys, however. Wish you and the others good luck.

  4. Great advice Debbie.

    Getting the grunt work over with is a great tip for a blog post series too. I never thought about doing this and it will definitely save time and what I love most, less typing. Thanks for that one.

    I remember the commenting discussions too and you brought up some great points here. I use Jetpack’s commenting system and it seems to be working out so far :).

    I admire you for taking these challenges Debbie and I can’t wait to read your next post. Hope you’re having a great week. How’s the weather been up there?
    Corina Ramos recently posted…Earn Rewards When You Use Bing Search BrowserMy Profile

    • Hi Corina; There’s nothing that bores me more than “grunt work”, so to have that done and overwith is a big relief. LOL I’ve been flirting with the idea of using Jetpack for comments, but am reluctant to give up the great CommentLuv features, like GASP and ReplyMe. Plus, I paid for the premium version so want to get my money’s worth. 😉 I can only handle this type of challenge once a year and even that is difficult. There are others who do it more often and even some bloggers who post every single day. Those ones amaze me! It’s bloody cold here and we’re in the middle of a major snow storm. 😛 Well, it is January! Thanks for dropping in.
      Debbie D. recently posted…ON A WALK – PHOTO FRIDAYMy Profile

  5. Awesome advice! Last year was my first year, too. My advice is running tomorrow. The info about the blogger/wordpress issue, especially, is helpful. I have resigned myself to using the Google account when commenting on Blogger, and I hate that, because unless the blog is set up for me to add my URL, I get no comment thread link directly to my blog.Also, one of the (few) drawbacks of blogging on WordPress is that I have no easy way to see if I get responses when I comment on non-wordpress blogs. So, harder to keep a conversation going. Found you because I am watching the Blog Blitz linkup. Joined a day or two ago, blogged it, and visiting periodically to see which friends are joining. Best of luck with A to Z!

    • Welcome to The Den, Gene! 🙂 Glad you found this helpful and I will stay tuned for your advice. I hear you about the Blogger/Wordpress issue. 😛 That’s why I opened a Blogger account in addition to the Google account (which I already had anyway) and set up a one page blog, linking to my WordPress.org website (including an RSS feed) and all other pertinent sites. (There’s a link to it, above.) Makes it much easier! Far a I know, you can add a link to any Blogspot comment, using html:
      http://smallbusiness.chron.com/leave-blogger-comment-26481.html
      Having to check back for replies is certainly a chore and I don’t get to that as often as I should, except for my favourite sites.
      Just discovered the Blog Blitz myself and thought it might be fun to try, after being on a months-long blogging hiatus. Will check out your post on the subject. Best wishes for a good A-Z experience and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
      Debbie D. recently posted…WORDS AND MUSIC – #MicroblogMondays 21 #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  6. I could not survive in a world with all these bells and whistles. I just post a monthly poetry blog on Blogspot. I do not do Twitter. I do not add pictures. But, I do appreciate all the work you put into your product. Your blogs are quite amazing, really.
    You are right about having a Google account. That helps a great deal. Fortunately, that came with the Blogspot package, is it was automatic for me.
    Myke Todd recently posted…Find the TimeMy Profile

    • Glad you like the website, Myke! 😀 I love creating in all its forms, be it the written word, images, graphics, etc. It’s a daily learning experience and I love the challenge. So, no April A-Z for you, then? 😉 It’s a pretty big deal – hundreds of bloggers all over the world. Anyway, it’s great that everyone online can do their own thing and I enjoy your poems. Thanks for hanging out with me, here. Cheers!
      Debbie D. recently posted…“C’EST LA VIE” SAY THE OLD FOLKSMy Profile

  7. Magical Mystical Mimi
    Twitter:

    EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT advise!!! Yes, yes, yes to all of it. I’ve done this challenge before, and as of yet I’m not at all certain I’m going to do it this year but.. I may and these are all such great points Debbie. Thanks for sharing them! See ya’ on the A to Z blogging go ’round.. Maybe… 😉
    Magical Mystical Mimi recently posted…CUSTOMER DISS SERVICEMy Profile

  8. Debbie, that is some cool advice! I am getting my posts in order and the topic, I am lost on the topic this time, just can’t decide.
    Inderpreet Kaur Uppal recently posted…Why I Love THE BLOG BLITZ!!My Profile

  9. usha menon
    Twitter:

    Very useful points u have added here. The new entrants will definitely benefit from the post. .

  10. Although I’ve been blogging since 2009, I don’t know that much about the “technical side”. I have a lot to absorb, in addition to planning my 26 posts. Thank you, and I look forward to reading your A to Z posts.
    Alana recently posted…A Tale of Two….My Profile

  11. Very smart advice that I hope many will read and follow. I’ve tweeted this!

    Arlee
    Arlee Bird recently posted…The Big Sign-Up Day Is Here At Last! ( #AtoZChallenge )My Profile

  12. Brenda Lee
    Twitter:

    Hi Debbie!

    Sounds like you had a challenge and a bit of fun last year. I didn’t participate in it but sounds like fabulous tips that you are sharing. Passing it along.
    Brenda Lee recently posted…Without #Forgiveness, You Cannot Have a Healthy #RelationshipMy Profile

    • Hi Bren; It was a big challenge for me and I hope to streamline it better this time out. 🙂 It’s a huge deal – over 1000 bloggers participating world wide. Thanks for your educational post about adding our Twitter usernames to tweets, which I incorporated into mine and linked to, above. There are still so many people unaware of this! Thanks for passing this along!
      Debbie D. recently posted…ON A WALK – PHOTO FRIDAYMy Profile

  13. Big love to you Debbie! What a fabulous post! Great tips and when I get around to writing my A to Z post, I’ll be sure to point people to this post!

    I’ve had a miserable time commenting on Blogger blogs – one writes a long comment and hits publish, only to find that the page has simply refreshed itself … with the chosen profile and a blank comment box waiting. Sigh.

    Looking forward to being buddies – I’ve entered three blogs this year.

    Happy birthday again, to you, you gorgeous woman!
    Vidya Sury recently posted…Book Review Larry and Friends #ReadYourWorldMy Profile

    • Thank you so much, Vidya! 🙂 I learned a lot from my first experience last year. It’s definitely easiest to use your Google account for commenting on Blogger and you can also add a direct link to a post of yours with html: Title
      Three blogs for the A-Z is amazing! I can barely manage the one and am in awe of this. Kudos to you! Looking forward to your posts. Thanks also for the birthday wishes and the compliment. Cheers!
      Debbie D. recently posted…ON A WALK – PHOTO FRIDAYMy Profile

  14. Some very good tips there, Debbie. I am particularly thinking of no. 2 and 3 in your list 🙂 I still haven’t really decided if I am participating this year, but am leaning toward it. Let’s see! Good luck for the fun challenge.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…On the ContraryMy Profile

  15. Rajlakshmi
    Twitter:

    I am so glad I took part last year, I got to interact with so many awesome bloggers 😀 Wonderful points. I too followed most of them 🙂

  16. As much as I would love to do the challenge this year I cannot. I have too many deadlines and obligations and know that I would not be able to complete it if I started it and that would make me feel terrible. I also don’t have a clue for a theme. But I will be watching your posts and commenting on as many of the ones involved in the challenge as possible. I met you and so many other bloggers during last year’s A – Z. Feeling sad 🙁
    Carol Graham recently posted…How Can Your Blog Make An Impact?My Profile

  17. I’m signing up too…All the best for this year 🙂
    nabanita recently posted…Blogging On-the-Go with ASUS EeeBookMy Profile

  18. Being new at all of this, well… I think you are my blog guru. Not sure if I have the time to blog every day. The shortcuts are great tips, which may make it possible.
    Angelika Schwarz recently posted…Unhappy Camper or bear ‘meats’ one. 🙂My Profile

  19. Fantastic, Debbie! Love the idea of a page on blogger and viceversa. It’s so frustrating when you can’t follow a blogger from their comments.
    Good luck to all of us undertaking the A to Z!
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Inspirational Quotes On Time ManagementMy Profile

  20. All really good points Debbie! I’m so glad we’ll be taking this ride together again! I thought I was way ahead of the game but now that we’ve had the sign-up day, I’m feeling the pressure… 🙂
    Michele Truhlik recently posted…Always a Day Late…WTH??!My Profile

  21. Looking for ways to make your #AtoZChallenge experience run more smoothly? Check out my thoughts and please add some. 🙂
    Debbie D. recently posted…ON A WALK – PHOTO FRIDAYMy Profile

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