So this is my third time doing the April A to Z blogging challenge. Basically, the challenge sees hundreds of bloggers from all over the world blog their way through the alphabet. So day one’s post most relate to the letter A, day two’s post to the letter B etc.
This year, the theme I chose was motivational quotes. I do love a good quote and for the challenge, short posts work the best so it seemed like a great solution.
Here are my thoughts on this year’s challenge:
The New Format
This year, for the first time, the A to Z team decided to abolish the sign up list. Instead, each day, they posted a blog post for the day’s letter where we left our link in the comments and also on the Facebook page.
In theory, it’s not the worst idea. A lot of people complained that it meant extra work for them – it takes like two minutes. Your blog is worth two minutes of your time.
My worry about this way of sharing posts was SEO related. As you probably know, Google doesn’t like spam comments, and leaving links in comments is a good way to get flagged as spam. This worried me as I get a lot of traffic from search engines.
What I Didn’t Like About The New System
Although I had misgivings about the new system, I went in with an open mind, hoping I would be proved wrong and it would work. It didn’t. At least not for me.
Here’s the main reasons the new system didn’t work:
The Spammy Comments I Had to Leave
I’d like to say my worries proved to be groundless, but by about half way through the challenge, I noticed a dip in my search engine traffic. I stopped adding the comments and luckily it came straight back up. This basically meant that most people doing the challenge wouldn’t know I had a new post up.
I’m going to risk it one more time for this post.
Missing Out So Many Blogs
For the last two years, I’ve made it my own personal goal to visit every blog on the list at least once which I’ve done.
This year, I knew I wouldn’t find every blog taking part because there was no central location, so instead I decided to try and find five new blogs every day. Again, this proved to be almost impossible as the same people shared their links while others didn’t bother or posted at a different time to me.
I feel like I missed out on a lot of interaction this year which is surely the main point of the challenge.
The Challenge as a Whole
Aside from the new system, here’s what I loved and didn’t love so much about this year’s challenge:
- I feel like my theme was well received by both the challenge participants and my usual readers
- I found some new blogs that I really loved and reconnected with some challenge members from past years
- I had all of my posts pre-written and scheduled so everything went out on time
- Having to remove links from blog comments is pretty time consuming. I know people do it because the A to Z team advise it but it does no one any favours. Not only does it flag as spam against the person leaving the comments, which I mentioned above, but it flags for the blog they are on too. It’s not necessary – leave your URL in the correct box when you comment and the blogger will see it and be able to return your visit if they want to.
- Mid-April, I had a new book release (terrible timing I know) and I had a lot of client work on. I got so far behind on my commenting on my daily favourite blogs. I hated not being able to do all of the comments, but something had to give. I’m so sorry to all of you who didn’t get a comment back and I thank you for sticking with me.
Will I Do It All Again Next Year?
I love the A to Z Challenge, and I want to say yes, definitely, but in all honesty, if there’s no sign up list again, I probably won’t bother.
What Could Be Done To Improve It?
I get why the organisers don’t want a huge list – it must be extremely time consuming for them to moderate that list. I would suggest a compromise that works something like this:
Stick with the daily posts on the blog, but instead of just having to link drop in the comments, have a daily linky list. That way, you still only get people who are actively participating, but it removes the issues. Not only the spam issue, but the issues so many people seemed to have with leaving HTML links in the comments too.
The Blog’s I Loved This Year
If you’re looking for some great blogs that took part in this year’s challenge, check out some of these blogs that I loved this year.
Patricia Lynne (Flash fiction)
Cresting the Hill (Why midlife’s fabulous)
Boisterous Bee (Let’s see the other side)
Someday Somewhere (Daily quotes)
What Are They (Flash fiction)
Jingle Jangle Jungle (Hits from the 70s)
Shari Elder (Fictional Villains)
My Creatively Random Life (Book reviews)
The Dog Lady’s Den (Musical memories)
Lifestyle of a Professional (Quotes)
Sushmita Malaka (Cocktail recipes)
Words from Sonobe (Malaysia)
Uniquely Maladjusted but Fun (Obscure national holidays)
A Rose is a Rose is a Rose (Flash fiction)
No Love for Fatties (Harry Potter)
Megan Morgan (26 things to hate about writing)
Dandelion Fuzz (no theme)
Keith’s Ramblings (Flash fiction)
A Reluctant Bitch (No theme)
I promise all of you guys a visit to your reflections post.
My A to Z Challenge Posts
If you’re still looking for some other reading, here are my posts from the challenge:
Reading this back, it sounds pretty negative – almost to the point of whiney. I’m not going to change it because the hosts ask for honest feedback so that’s what I’m giving.
I do want to point out though that despite the issues, I still really enjoyed the challenge. I love the sense of community and excitement that comes with the challenge and I still felt that this year – granted that was more towards the beginning of the month, but the end of the month, where it kind of stopped was entirely my own fault for prioritising other things you know, like making a living.
Did you do this year’s A to Z Challenge? Did you enjoy it? What do you think of the new system? Let me know in the comments 🙂