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A to Z Reflections – An Expanded Post on Learning from #AtoZChallenge

All I have learned from A to Z Challenge 2014

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

As I said in my W post, it was work a lot of work and it was worth it. I forgot we had a reflections post so when W popped up and I was still dealing with being so sick it felt like the right time to post. I decided instead of listing that post on the list, I would create an expanded view of what I learned with more of the things I did this year that worked to help me not be so overwhelmed as I was in 2013 and my plans for next year.

  • Create a theme and started outlining the posts
    • This helped especially since I was not only doing A to Z here but also on Pen and Kink (a new erotica collective) and Wilderness Apocalypse (a fun horror blog Kai and I launched).
  • Started gathering and creating my graphics and photos.
    • This was really important to my blog since I am a huge visual blogger.
  • Get involved with other groups doing A to Z and stick with them following more blogs to get better feedback/traffic and meet more bloggers.
    • This again was fantastic to do with the other two blogs I worked on during the challenge.

My biggest downfall is I did not finish prepping and writing my blog posts ahead of time. I had the whole month of March (which I had taken off) and I truly needed it. I had some prep work but not enough and I could have really gotten it all taken care of without feeling the pressure. The problem is as much as I outlined and wrote the topic down for posts I ended up veering away from my schedule and pantsing my way through a lot of it. Below is my expanded ideas for next year

Ideas for a Successful A to Z April Challenge 2015:

  • Get your readers involved.
    • One of my most successful posts was when I asked my readers to help name the new cookie I created. It was so much fun and we ended up taking it all the way to twitter and back again. This next year I think I am going to start in February to show me the LOVE and ask them what they want.
  • Pick a popular theme or at least one that will be popular and that also can be played with a bit.
    • My food and Alaskan posts were the post popular. In fact I had one that went NUTS because it was pinned so many times on Pinterest. Check out the Irish Cake Bombs! Next year I may have to do something that combines cooking and reading my two favorite passions because I don’t want to over do Alaska and those were not my favorite to write truthfully.
  • Start writing the theme posts ahead of time.
    • I had my posts for the theme of Alaska, Books and Cooking outlined and some even prepared this year but I veered from the path. I need to stick to the theme and to do that, again I need to pre-plan and prep everything in March or even earlier.
  • Keep up my guest blogging for a few of the days.
    • I had a great response from fellow A to Z folks with my guest posts. We had wonderful authors doing my Fourth-Wall Friday plus a few authors who were part of some of the tours I had signed up for and forgotten about. I do not like doing more than one post a day if I can, and definitely no more than two. Incorporating a letter with a tour book or event was really actually fun and I could add more to it.
  • If you are a book blogger schedule a few tours that go with your other posts. As long as they are not overly long or to general you can have fun.
  • KEEP YOUR ARTICLES SHORT!
    • This last one is a bitch for people like me. I am prolific and chatty. I like to tell a story and 350 words seems so short, believe me it isn’t. My regular readers were fine with my length but I saw a lowered response to many of the longer ones.

Isick am going to repeat this one, BE PREPARED! I ended up working while really sick. 2013 I also got sick and Geoff ended up writing a few to help me out. This year I had to actually take my Facebook offline and turn off the rest of my social media because I was on bed rest with some pretty serious stuff. I still am recovering and not blogging as frequently because of all this.

Working while sick sucks!

I want to repeat the most important thing I learned from 2013 that I have been working on unlearning and keeping up this following year. Do not feel obligated to follow the routine and blog every day from here on out.  I did and last year if I missed a day of blogging I freaked out.

Perhaps it is my personality but look at yourself. Are you the type of person who gets in a routine and in six months you are collapsing in exhaustion and tears. Yep, happened this year and happened last year. I do not want to repeat this anymore and I missed two days of real blogging this last week and do not feel guilty at all.

One last thing? Way to go!! Congrats to everyone here. I have the links copied and since I fell behind because of being sick I plan to go and still visit all those blogs. Thanks everyone who stopped by!

What have you learned? Going to do it again in 2015?

 

5 Comments

  1. I think everything you’ve outlined above, with extra space for the shared projects. I also think I’m going to consider my own posts on shared projects as ‘in reserve’ just in case people slot in/want different ones. I’m also thinking that, including ‘writing in advance’, they’re queued in advance, because my biggest issue this year was thinking ‘it’s only my own blog today, phew’, then picking up missed posts for other people. I’m also vaguely toying with a ‘reserves’ project – so we have a group of people that can randomly jump in and guest post, via TFF. Anyone can join, and we’d have extra cover for people that might hit a snag for whatever reason 🙂
    Your AtoZ was fabulous though! I loved reading and sharing them.

  2. Yes,Kriss, I think I’ll do it again. great recommendations. Last year I was more prepared upfront and it left more time to visit others, which is what its all about. I am already thinking about ideas for 2015, and from the reflections I have read so far, I am not alone. Great post. Thanks. Maria, Delight Directed Living

  3. I like the idea of getting readers involved with a topic, such as naming a cookie. I don’t know what I’d ask of readers, but will give that some thought. Hope you feel better or are on the mend.

  4. Congratulations on completing the challenge & hope you’re on the mend now.

    I think your pointers for next time are definitely right, it’s so much easier to plan things in advance. Good luck for next time.

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