#AtoZChallenge 2015: WHAT I LEARNED FROM LAST YEAR

40 Comments#AtoZChallenge 2015, Blog-related, Blogfests

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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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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40 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge 2015: WHAT I LEARNED FROM LAST YEAR

  1. 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 🙂

  2. 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.

    1. Don’t be in awe, Rachna. 🙂 I only do this once a year, while some others do it all the time. Those ones amaze me! Glad you enjoyed the tips, anyway. Thanks for visiting.

  3. 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?

    1. 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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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… 😉

    1. Glad you agree, Mimi. I’d love to connect with you at the A-Z Challenge this year. 🙂 It can be pretty daunting, so I’m trying to find ways to simplify things. Thanks for visiting.

    1. Glad you found this helpful. 🙂 I had a specific theme last year, but may just go eclectic this time around. Not sure either! Good luck with the challenge and thanks for dropping in.

  7. 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.

    1. Glad you were able to comment this time, Alana. 🙂 There will be more tips and tricks for the A-Z posted by others, but I’m glad you found this helpful. My pleasure to pass along the things I have learned. Looking forward to your posts as well!

  8. 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.

    1. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. 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!

  10. 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.

    1. Thank you, Beloo. 🙂 I’ve completed most of the “grunt work” already and vow to have shorter, simpler posts. Not sure of subject matter yet though. Hope you join in too! That’s where we met, originally.

  11. 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 🙂

  12. 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 🙁

    1. Thanks, Angelika, but there’s still plenty of things I don’t know. 🙂 This is only for the month of April and that’s enough daily blogging for me. Some people do it all the time and that amazes me!

  13. 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!

  14. 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… 🙂

    1. Hahaha! I’m starting to feel a little anxious too, mostly because I haven’t decided what to write about. On the other hand, the “grunt work” is finished. See you there, Michele! 🙂