The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Reflections of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge

            The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge has a history--a very short history.  I have posted about this on March 27th  in my blog post where I first suggested this challenge and in a follow-up post on Monday March 29th.  You can go back to read these posts if you want to recapture some of the initial spirit  that inspired the Challenge and see exactly what little promotion went into convincing our mighty band of bloggers into participating in the Challenge.  It was one of those things that literally seemed to come together almost overnight.

           As unsavory as it may sound to some of you, the Challenge was about followers--not completely, and I'll explain that later, but I also have to be totally honest.  My whole reason for proposing the Challenge was to celebrate my 200th follower.  At the beginning of this year when I had reached 100 followers, I set a goal of reaching 200 by April 1st.  Note that I had named April Fool's Day as my target day so in a way I was being whimsical in that I did not seriously think I was going to accomplish it.  However, as the date approached I realized that it actually was going to happen and I made an active networking push to make sure it happened.

          There is a tradition of celebration for many bloggers when they reach milestone numbers of followers.  I didn't want to do a contest like a giveaway or drawing or anything like that because quite frankly they don't interest me that much.  Instead I wanted to do a showy blog challenge that I could invite others to do with me--it did not take long to come up with Blogging A to Z.  I proposed the idea on a Saturday blog post, when I normally have less readers, and indicated that I would be making an official announcement on my Monday post, when readership is usually the highest.  Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry was the first to accept the challenge.  By the end of the day of that Saturday post I could see that there was some definite interest in doing this challenge. 

          I decided that it might be nice to get the participation of 20 or 25 bloggers in total, but I would have to do some work to get that.   Before the Monday post showed up I began networking to some of the more prolific bloggers that I follow to tell them to check my Saturday post and watch for my Monday announcement.  One thing led to another as word began to spread.  By the April 1st start date over 70 bloggers had come on board to participate, and eventually 90 were on the official blog roll.  The real point I want to make is that in order to get the word out I had to actively promote the Challenge with additional help coming from bloggers telling others about it.

         Now here's the interesting part of my hosting this challenge.   In celebrating having reached 200 followers, during the course of the month of April I gained over 100 additional followers.  And for the most part I'm not talking followers who just wanted to win something or who were doing some kind of linky follow thing, but I'm talking about quality reading and commenting followers.  Yes, I'm referring to you participants. You are the best kind of followers that any blogger can have--followers who are not just numbers, but followers who are blog friends who care for one another, who read, who comment, and who teach.  I will gladly keep ten of you over 100 anonymous followers who will never read or comment on my blog.  I think most of you would probably agree with this sentiment.

          What does it take to get quality followers like these?  The Challenge helped by offering a pool of the right kind of people.   But just like blogging in any scenario, if you want the followers you have to work to get them.  If you're a well-known literary agent or some high profile personality maybe the followers will come to you without effort.  If you do the follow linky days I guess you can accumulate bunches of followers, but are they the quality that you are looking for?  If  you want followers with whom you can have an actual communicative relationship, then you need to reach out, comment, and become friends.  Most of you saw absolute proof of this during the challenge.

           You each have your stories to tell and you will be telling some good ones in these Challenge Reflections posts.  But I would like to give a couple of standout examples.  Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry tells of the years she blogged and never received a comment.  Her following grew little by little in that time, but it was a loyal following.  Yvonne knows how to comment and keep commenting.  She was commenting on my every post prior to the challenge.  Right before the challenge Yvonne celebrated 100 followers, and now at the end of the Challenge she is nearing her next hundred.  How did that happen?  Ask yourself: "Did Yvonne ever comment on my blog?"  More than likely she did.  Yvonne is an amazing commenter and she has learned the value of networking to make and keep friends.  Yvonne is a friend who I, and probably you, want to keep.  She was looking for numbers in her followers so she could have readers and she got them.

           On the other end we have Bud at B-E-ing Transformed.  At the beginning of the challenge Bud expressed his concern about my stressing on amassing blog followers.  We had a discussion and came to an understanding of what we were each looking for.  Bud was looking for very specific blogging friendships in which he could relate to them and they could appreciate where he was coming from.  He found some other bloggers with whom he became very close and began to offer wonderful comments to them--words of encouragement and inspiration, friendly suggestions, delightful humor.  I love Bud-- he is a blogger of heart who has made a real connection with others.

         I'm sorry that I just can't go on about every one of you like this, but this blog post would become extremely long if I did so.  I seriously thought of spending the entire month of May talking about how wonderful each of you were in your own ways.  You all have so many gifts and talents that I become overcome with awe that you all took the time to join me on this challenge.  I don't have anything planned yet for May except for the Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites post on May 17th, so maybe I can make talking about all of you as my personal May challenge.

         As I said earlier, the April Challenge was not just about numbers of followers.  Like I have indicated in the previous paragraphs the followers we gained are now our friends.  I hope these are relationships that will be maintained and blossom in the months and even years to come.  There are not many things on this earth finer than a good friend.  We may never meet, though I like to think that one day we might, but at least we can share our experiences and offer support in whatever way we can.

         Finally, for me and I know for certain others, the Challenge was about writing.  We are all writers in the sense that we are writing our blogs.  However certain ones of us are looking at writing as an avocation.  We may be building platforms for our career, honing our craft, trying to learn from other writers, or blogging just to talk about our writing projects.  Celebrating followers was an excuse for the Challenge.  I had already challenged myself to post everyday until September 21st, at which time I would reassess my future blog plans.  I wanted to have one year of steady blogging. 

       Blogging in April from A to Z was just a variant to what I've been doing all along.  I formatted the daily blogging into a theme.  It was a discipline that integrated some extra creativity.  The Challenge was about the craft of writing, the art of staying motivated and motivating others, and the business of promoting.  The Challenge was just another step in preparing for my future and I help it helped you in the same way.

         Right now I feel like many of you have said you feel.  I feel somewhat empty like in--now what?  The party is over, the guests are going home and now it's back to life the way it was before the Challenge.  What are you going to do now?   I guess I'm going to think about my upcoming topics.  And then I'm going to start writing and writing some more.   Thanks to all of you for a job very well done.



  1. Hey, i found your blog too late in April to do the Challenge but it seemed like it was enormous fun. I struggle to come up with what to write anyway let alone a-z.

  2. Congrats Lee for producing a wonderful challenge. Your support for each and every one of us has been outstanding. Thank you!

  3. As I said before I missed your April challenge which is a pity I'm sure that those who took part thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Not all of us have 24hr internet access so we make do whenever we can. Maybe next time. As far as I'm concerned I like following other peoples blogs where a relationship builds up over a period. I have found that sometimes you can see right into someone else's life through their blog even though you land up reading between the lines. Yes followers are great, but it's not about numbers but about having someone else to write to knowing that they understand you and silently motivate you.
    I enjoy your blog and the way you think. God bless you.

  4. Damn, man! You made me cry all over my brand new pink party dress!

    I wasn't quite as sentimental in my "Goodbye A To Z Blog Bit" as you were.

    I'm beginning to think that you're really as nice as you seem. But still, I'm holding out hope. (Aww, just teasin' ya, rLEE-b. Whatchoo doin', Willis, yakkin' with a curmudgeonly bloke like me?)

    Anyway and seriously, I really am glad I participated even though I didn't finish. "It's the spirit of the actors that counts. Am I right? I say, am I right?!"

    Well, my Brother, I hope that a great many of these A To Z'ers will also join us in the May 17th "Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites" music album festival. That would be really cool.

    Yak later, rLEE-b. You are THE MAN OF THE HOUR! (Well, actually, The Man Of The Month.)

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" Stephen

  5. Thank you Lee for a wonderful Journey, One I never thought possible, one I did have doubts about finishing, but everyone was so kind. Thank you too for the write up though there are I'm sure more worthy people to mention than me.However it was much appreciated.
    I am looking forward to the Fantassy Island Album review though I can only show 5 pictures I can and will come up with 15 but pictureless.
    Thanks again for your bright idea
    it's given blogging a new perspective.


  6. And thanks to you for all your efforts!

  7. I would always rather have one new friend than a hundred "just numbers" followers. I like to meet people I can talk to :)

  8. This was a great challenge. I enjoyed ready the posts.
    Great job!

  9. I think this was such a great idea. A really innovative way to increase the traffic to all the blogs involved. And let's be honest, whether we admit it or not that IS the point of blogging.

    I only wish I had been around in time to be involved. Oh well, there is always next time.

    Thanks for sharing Arlee!

  10. I can't say enough how glad I am to have participated in the challenge.

    I didn't get a chance to read all of the blogs,but I have seen enough to agree these are wonderful bloggers.

  11. Well, I'm glad you started the challenge. I've met a lot of great blogging writers this month!

  12. Hi, Lee,
    You have indeed made blogging with a purpose real to many of us. My main goal in blogging to begin with was to keep in touch with family and friends (many of whom rarely leave a comment, but I trust are reading anyway.) I have friends who say they read my blog everyday and that is heartwarming to me. I know that my family keeps track of me and my sweetie pie because we are important to them.
    Making new friends and keeping them has been a purpose of my blogging since I began nearly two years ago and I am so pleased to have made so many in April. Thank you so much for being one of them, and for the idea of the A to Z challenge. I'll be back in touch with you (and them daily and weekly)
    Best regards to you, my friend.

  13. Lee: Your idea was brilliant even though I didn't know it at the beginning. I am so glad I participated, made new friends, learned a lot, and may even try to write a book based on some of the things I learned during the challenge. As to more challenges? Yes, if you come up with something! :-)

  14. What a blast, really. SOOOO much fun! Thank you Arlee, from the bottom of my heart!

  15. Lee,
    I think you did an amazing thing with your challenge. It seems as if it was beneficial to all who participated, even those of us who just watched from the sidelines. As for the goal of gaining followers, I don't see anything wrong with that. Why else are bloggers blogging? Congratulations on a true success.

  16. Congrats! to you and other A-Z bloggers on a very successful month. I'm definately going to do this next year. I'll prepare myself a month ahead as it looks like a daunting challenge. Have a great week.

    Stephen Tremp

  17. Nic -- maybe next time you can join us-- Personally I thought having the daily prompt made writing posts easier.

    AA -- the support was mutual. You helped make it all work and I thank you.

    Geoff -- Thank you so much and let's try to stay in contact.

    Stephen -- you didn't just have a walk-on or a cameo role in A to Z, you were a major supporting actor. Thanks for the part you played. I know I tend to get overly analytical about blogging, but I tend to get enthralled about Blog Science so what can I say. Now we'll look to the 15 favorite albums. I'll put up a enrollment link list in a few days so people can start signing up.

    Yvonne -- Again, thank you. Did you see my comments the other day about putting up more than 5 pictures. Stephen said there's a way to 15 at once but I forgot what he said now. I always put up pictures 1 at a time and I think it's unlimited. I'll look at this in a few days.

    Alex -- and to you as well.

    Rachel --I am with you on that philosophy, but for appearances sake the numbers aren't too bad either.

    Christine -- Thanks

    Matthew-- Next time we'll look for you. And as for accumulating numbers being the point, if that's what you are referring to, apparently not for all, but I still don't know what the aversion to numbers is. I'm like you in that I really want readers and I know increasing followers increases the odds of having more readers--simple math in my opinion.

    The Voice-- It was a bit overwhelming to try to keep up wasn't it? But yes you are all wonderful people.

    India -- I did too.

    Grammy -- I'm so glad that we all expanded our spheres of contact in the Challenge. I'll keep coming back to your house--I just wish I could make it for supper one evening.

    Linda -- there were a lot of ideas thown out in the Challenge weren't there? So much to learn and think about. Thank you for being part of it. Next there's always the 15 favorite albums so hopefully you can join us for that. I'll put up a linky list in a few days.

    Lisa -- I have to thank you for staying with the Challenge and helping to make it work so well.

  18. Karen -- thank you for being by our sides from the beginning. I guess some bloggers truly don't care about followers and it doesn't totally make sense to me. Those like you and I want to find readers because we have or hope to have books to sell and are looking for that good old platform.

    Stephen-- Thanks. You were also there for us much of the time and we appreciate it. Next year you're on for the challenge! You'd be good at it.

  19. Arlee, I'm not nearly finished with my goal to visit the rest of the participants in this challenge. Meeting this many great folks in one month has been fun. I do need to get back to (writing) work, but where there's a will (to visit blogs and leave comments), there's a way. Thanks for a great experience.

  20. first of all...Lee, i need to thank you for your encouragement to enter this this challenge. as you know i was hesitant to do so. i was pretty content just bobbing along in my little boat(blog)letting the wind push me where ever. suddenly i found myself going thru a spillway and before i could do anything about it, i was being hurdled downriver in raging current. there were others on that proverbial river with me. some it seemed had boats that were designed to navigate around the waterfalls and whirlpools easily. i capsized in one of those whirlpools but others helped me quickly. before long we were all hurdling downriver once again.

    i have no regrets whatsoever! new friendships have developed during this challenge and i see them as continueing not ending. a few have just begun and i'm sure there's other friends out there i haven't met met yet. thank you for your kind but undeserving words up above. i'd certainly agree with your pick of Yvonne! she was one of my rescuers:) i've really been encouraged by my readers. ...looking forward to going down this path with you and the others. there will be new friends we meet along the way.

    for those that were unable to finish the challenge, i've got to say "thank you" as well. Jessica otherwise known as Country Girl or ModernDayDrifter had/has a lot going on in her life! i think she graduates this week. Congratulations are in order for her! She has her priorities in the order and i admire her for that! Lonesome Dawg said he dropped out but i noted in his blog he kept going. His blog is entertaining. it was great that DJ Glen joined us. He went back and picked up the A to the current letter.


    Lee, i'm still enjoying the your post of "Hell burning down!"

    my thanks to all of you kids!

  21. That was a great challenge!

    Maybe next time I'll do it but I don't have a problem posting five times a week and I don't like blogging on the weekends. And I'm extremely random. :)

  22. Y'know ... I just moved my blog to another location (because it was causing grief to many who wished to read and comment) and the hardest thing for me to walk away from on Blogger was the followers count! I had just recently hit 100 and I loved watching that number climb. I think it's going to be healthier for me to stress less about who, or how many, are following and just relax and be me.

    Thank you for this Challenge and the many different ways it has been a blessing to each of the participants! It has been a joy!

  23. Congratulations Arlee! I don't have near as many followers that you do but I will say that most of mine I do consider good friends. It is an amazing kinship. The support and love that I have felt from them has been a blessing many a time.
    I do follow many blogs and comment as much as possible as I feel that it is the right thing to do if you are to follow someone.
    I couldn't imagine trying to keep up with 200 hundred people! I love reading your posts, you are a very good writer. And you juggle, that's a plus! Love Di ♥

  24. I want to thank you for coming up with this great blog challenge. I'd just started blogging in March. I think I can credit this challenge for getting me started on the right foot and getting me into the habit of blogging.

  25. Thanks so much for starting the challenge! I hadn't read your blog before the challenge and I am interested to see what is next! I know that I have made some wonderful blog friends (and gained some loyal followers) from this challenge. I hope that we will stay in touch as our blogs get back to whatever routine is. (I'm not sure what my routine is yet!) I love the idea of you profiling different bloggers in May as you have time. I know there are many that I read inconsistently and some that I may have missed entirely. I think one of my challenges for May is going to be to try to read some that I may have missed. Do you mind leaving participants up in your sidebar for a few more days so I can make sure I have a way to keep track of everyone? (I'm slowly adding to FriendConnect or other following options!)

  26. Thank you for the challenge. I've written so much over the month of April and I believe that you inspired me to up my quality by ten-fold. I learned a lot from the participants and found some great sites I otherwise wouldn't have come across. I'm looking forward to the Fantasy Island post...I'm not a big music fan, but I will be eager to read what you guys write.

  27. I just want to thank you again for setting up this challenge. I never dreamed I would get so many people reading my blog. It is really amazing. The challenge was so much fun.

  28. Hey yall we did it. Hooray! I will make it my business to comment on everyone's mega post and if I missed "following" you I will make that up. Please visit often as I will be looking in on all of you. Thanks Arlee you are simply the best!!!!!

  29. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this challenge. Sometimes, you never know where things will go when you begin them. I'm glad this one took a turn towards the better to the best.
    Yvonne was amazing in all of her comments each and every day!
    I've made some awesome friends and I look forward to reading their blogs, still as they are intelligent, witty, fun people!
    Thank you, Lee. Thank you very much. :D

  30. I completely forgot about the Mega Post sorry Arlee! I'm glad to see others were on the bandwagon at least... and I did a funny video on Saturday about finishing up and feeling lost and all alone inside, lol...

    This was so much fun and I was so happy to have taken part in something so difficult at times!

  31. I expressed by feelings and kudo's to you in my wrap up. Let me thank you for your kind comment. Thanks!

  32. Patricia --I think a lot of us need to get back to writing work, but I still have a lot of posts I still want to visit. I want to at least make it to all of the Reflections posts. Thanks Patricia.

    Bud-- I concur with everything you said and I am go glad that you stayed right up to the end. Great job!

    Pal -- We were all pretty random as far as topics. Maybe you can join us next year. I think you'd like it.

    Beth -- Yeah, I noticed last night that you had made that transition. It will take a while to get it all totally back in order and good luck.

    Diana -- You've got the right idea about commenting and followers. Guess I need to start practicing my juggling again -- it's good exercise.

    Mary -- A to Z was a good way to break in. Good luck with future blogging.

    Melody -- I will probably leave that list on my sidebar for a while. These are now like main blogs I want to follow and this is an easy way to keep track. And I'm still thinking about highlighting some of those sites in my May posts, but it's a lot of sites so I'll have to consider this.

    Raquel -- thank you for everything and glad the challenge was good for you. Surely you have some albums that mean something special to you in your life. You don't have to be a super avid music fan, just have an opinion.

    Marjorie -- Glad you got more readers. It's nice to have readers when you write something. You were great.

    Debra -- that sounds great about going thru all those posts and following where you didn't before-- great approach that I hope others do as well. We are the best! There's no me about it without all of you.

    Cal lass-- I'll have to agree with everything you said. Thank you for a super job.

  33. Jen -- the Linky list is open til Wednesday so you can still post something. Can you post the video? That would be pretty different. No matter what, it was great having you in the challenge.

    Gregg -- You're very welcome.

  34. Update:

    Jen-- I guess you did put up the Vid on Saturday. I didn't realize what it was and then I went back to discover this is the video you are talking about. Very clever.

  35. I think you have done an amazing thing, Lee! I’m sure that thinking up such a clever challenge, organizing it, attracting so many talented brave souls to take you up on it, and connecting non-participants to the action was no easy feat, to say nothing of posting every day. I’m in awe. I’ve enjoyed being introduced to lots of interesting new blogs. THANK YOU!

  36. This has been so wonderful. Thank you, Lee :o))) XXXXXXXXXXXX

  37. Thanks, Lee, I enjoyed the challenge. Though I did not blog 26 days in April (hardly!!), I blogged more than I would have without it. Thanks for leaving the sidebars up on your blog -- it helps me navigate to others, too.

  38. What a nice heartfelt message arlee! I think your challenge was amazing and motivational.

  39. Jane -- You were there throughout with your comments and support and I am very grateful for your part in the Challenge.

    Niki-- Thanks to you too.

    Kathleen--I will continue to leave the side bar list up for a while--it helps me also.

    Paula-- Thank you for those very kind words and thank you for the frequent comments that you have left on my site.


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