The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Monday, May 5, 2014

A to Z Reflections 2014 #atozchallenge

The 2014 Challenge

           The A to Z has its detractors and there are some this year who felt that the Challenge does not add anything to their following, viewers, or commenters.   There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration and I think it's important to examine them before coming to a negative conclusion about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

           On the whole I have read more raves than boo-hoos about A to Z.  I know that most of you continue to be excited.  There are always those who enter the Challenge with high expectations and leave feeling let down.  I will continue to contend that you get out of the Challenge as much as you put into it.  I urge anyone who feels otherwise to take a deep honest look at your own effort and the benefits reaped.

The Community

         On the whole the acquisition of new followers may partly be due to the nature of the community each blogger has developed for themselves.  April  becomes a busy month of moving about and visiting new bloggers.  Not all of these bloggers understand blogging like you or I might understand it.  Some are in it for themselves and Challenge or not this would be the way they would operate anyway.  I'm not sure what else can be done to educate the self-centered bloggers because most likely they are not listening--not even if you say it in a comment on their blogs.

           We are each responsible for cultivating our own communities that revolve around each of our blogs.  If you are not getting followers and comments then you need to examine your blog content and the way you interact with other bloggers.   Just because there's a big list of bloggers signed up to an event like A to Z doesn't necessarily mean you will be guaranteed more visits.  You just have a much larger pool of potentially like minded bloggers to tap into.

           There is a fault with the way the list is done, but I've discussed this in Reflections posts and Analysis posts in previous years.  I won't go into it again, but you might be interested in going back through previous May posts to see what I think.  My thoughts remain essentially the same.

             Generally speaking I think the A to Z blogging community is a fantastic bunch of people with a wide diversity in blogging styles and interests.  The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge remains a vital event with ever-increasing potential.

            If you have any negative thoughts about the Challenge I would encourage you to examine those with intensity and understand why you see it the way you do.  I'm inclined to believe the problem is not so much the Challenge itself, but something you may not be doing correctly or a misguided perception about the Challenge.  But let's talk about it.  You can opt for the comment section on this post or open a dialog on the A to Z Blog or with any of the co-hosts.   We want to continually improve on this event.

Tossing It Out and My Blogs

           During the A to Z Challenge I gained about 60 new followers at Tossing It Out.  This is actually not bad at all in my estimation.  If you are still not following this blog please click that "Join This Blog" button at the top of my sidebar.   My blog views and comments were fairly consistent with the typical performance of this blog though perhaps down over all.  I'll take the blame for that because of my own decrease of activity in networking.   Though if I look at my blog's performance according to weekly stats rather than per post then the numbers are up considerably.

            I'm pleased with my April content on Tossing It Out.   The theme was Marketing and Promotion from A to Z.   My approach was general information with more intent to inspire and encourage than to provide specific details on how to do things.   The posts were fairly pithy and casually delivered.   The response I received was favorable.   I feel good about this year's content on Tossing It Out for the A to Z Challenge.

           Not to confuse anyone about the blog you are now reading, I still consider Tossing It Out to be my main blog and will continue to use this blog as the centerpiece of my blogging efforts.  However, during this year's Challenge I was trying to generate more attention to my other blogs.  These efforts might account for some of the lack of performance at Tossing It Out, but my efforts didn't especially provide much boost to my other blogs either.  Here's where I might share some frustration that others of you might have had concerning your results in regard to numbers and stats.

My Other Blogs

          You might have already or will eventually run across the Reflections posts I did for these blogs, but I will still mention them here since I was trying to push these during this year's Challenge.

            A Few Words may be the kind of blog that many of you prefer to avoid, but I like to think that occasionally I present some topics that might make readers think.   Be forewarned that this is my Bible study blog.  I hope this doesn't stop anyone from reading it, but I think it's only fair to tell you the nature of the content before you go there.  This blog typically publishes on Sundays.

            A Faraway View is what I call my dream blog since it is about the sleep activity of dreaming.  My A to Z theme was movies about dreaming or that seem dreamlike.  I hope film fans might go back to those posts and check out my film recommendations and let me know your thoughts.  This blog normally appears only on Thursdays.

             Wrote By Rote is the blog that I was promoting the most.   This is my Saturday memoir blog that includes sketches about my own life and articles about the writing of memoir.   I encourage guest posts on this blog.   Of all the content presented on all of my blogs during April, this is the blog where I wrote most from my heart.  I think this was my best effort during the Challenge.   I hope I get a few more visitors to those posts.

              Here are some endorsements from some of my Wrote By Rote readers:

Well you've made it to 'Z'. I still can't believe that more folks have not found their way to this marvelous blog. It has become your main blog in my mind. A place where you express so much more than the mundane things every third blogger is also chatting about. I sincerely hope you keep up the great writing here and possibly consider moving more of your efforts to this site, where you really shine.    Faraway Eyes at Faraway Series

I'm kind of in FAE's camp now...I think I prefer this blog to 'Tossing It Out'.
Stephen T McCarthy at Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends

Wrote by Rote is a blog I enjoyed every time I visited, and I think it's not just because you've led a varied and interesting life, but that you know how to describe it so vividly that we can picture ourselves there, beside you.   Lynda Dietz at Easy Reader
Please don't stop reading Tossing It Out, but I hope you check out Wrote By Rote and at click the "Join This Site" button.

           Did you do a Reflections post?    Do you have any positives or negatives you want to mention in my comment section?    Have you checked out any of my other blogs?

Join Us with your own Challenge Reflections.  Add ONLY the link directly to your Reflections post:

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  1. Every small amount of sharing is important to us whether it is sharing what we have achieved or just supporting each other. Keep sharing,Lee.

  2. I had a lot of fun with the Challenge. It was my first time and I only found out about it a few days before the fact. So because I had to write my posts a day before or even the same day I didn't always have the time I would have liked to visit and comment as much as I should have.

    But in the end I went up 16 new users from only having 1. It's not 60 =P But I think I did pretty well for my first time.

    LittleCely's Blog

  3. I thought it was a good A to Z this year. I actually gained a handful of followers this year which I was surprised at although most were in March just before it started.

    I do the A to Z because I like the challenge and not as a way to gain followers. There are no easy options to gaining loads of followers it is down to hard work and consistent blogging, a bit of luck and also the nature of your blog. Mine is slightly quirky so is always going to have limited appeal.

    As Mr B says you need to visit others and interact to gain the most from the A to Z. My page view count was well up over April (about 6000) although still below my best ever, but only 27 appeared to originate from the linky list. So I suspect the A to Z has more subtleties that folk think.....

    Keep on Blogging Mr B. . . .

    Keep on blogging Everyone

  4. Although it took me 3 attempts at starting I succeeded the challenge, owing to medical advice I couldn't reply to as many others as I would have liked. So was not surprised in not getting many new followers or comments.

  5. I didn't gain many new followers this year, but I focused more on those who were already following me. Returning comments alone sucked up a lot of my time.
    But I reconnected with some old followers, and that was more than worth it.
    Thanks again for starting this insanity four years ago and suckering me into participating!

  6. My blog was only a month old when the challenge started, and at the time I had a handful of followers and was getting 20-30 hits a day on my blog. Through the course of the challenge I saw both numbers go up, and I now have over 100 followers, and I'm averaging over 200 hits a day (and this has continued, since the challenge has ended yay!).

    I put in a LOT of time to the challenge, and I'm happy with the results. My blog numbers are going in the right direction, I've met some amazing bloggers and we've started building friendships, and I also got lots of ideas on how I want to run my own blog, some of which I've already started implementing :)

    Loved the challenge and I'll be back next year for sure!

  7. I totally knew when I was losing steam that my blog lost all the attention it was getting as well. But I didn't blame anyone else for that - only myself for that whole losing steam thing. ;) It's an exhausting month and you really have to put in a lot of effort to get notable returns.

    Personally I am just happy when I get a few people that stop by most of my posts again and again, and whose posts I can follow as well right through the month. I was happy with how things went for me this year, and with the blogs I got to visit. Would have loved to visit many more, though. I actually only visited the list once, I think. Most of the time I was visiting people on my blog roll, or people who had left me comments.

  8. Like you, I've read more positive posts then negative. Though that doesn't mean it can't be made better in my opinion. I actually think those selfish bloggers shouldn't be a part of it and ought to be eliminated from the list. Maybe the goal shouldn't be 2000+ bloggers, but bloggers who actually participate at a higher level? I also am one that thinks to analyze something doesn't mean you're being negative. I don't feel I got as much out of it as I put into in...mathematically, that's proven; that doesn't mean it was a bad experience; but perhaps means a little tweaking is in order.

    As many times as I've visited your blog, I didn't realize you had so many of them. So, now am wondering which one I was seeing...scratches head, must go take a look see.

    Sandy at Traveling Suitcase

  9. Carole--This is what community is all about.

    Cely -- Your increase doesn't show a bad ratio actually. And you got a good boost of blogging and networking for the future.

    Rob -- You certainly did your share of visiting though mostly furtive. But now you know a lot about who's out there and that's important too.

    Yvonne -- As a Challenge vet you certainly understand how it all works. I'm glad you were able to be a part of A to Z again in 2014.

    Alex -- I think there comes a point when it's not as much about adding to ones community, but solidifying the community that's there.

    Finley -- You did things right from the networking standpoint and it paid off. A to Z is an ideal way to build up a new blog, but you have to put in an effort like you did.

    Trisha F -- Sometimes it's best to settle into a comfort zone and focus on a core of community.

    Sandy -- I've realized the weak points from the beginning and still not sure the best way that I can achieve getting the Challenge where I'd like to see it without spending a lot of money to do it. I also like to think it's about education and reaching out to those self-centered bloggers to help them learn to be better parts of the blogging community. Sometimes no amount of education will achieve that though, I suppose.


  10. I loved the Challenge, connected with some really neat bloggers - it was more of a challenge than I realized to keep up with all the visiting and reading I wanted to do - did as much as I could, but April is a busy work month for me, hard to even cook meals... but I will definitely be visiting more blogs - just because it is May doesn't mean I will stop. The trick for me is that my blog is a young blog, and my biggest challenge has been and remains (even during the A to Z Challenge) getting visitors - hundreds of hits a day definitely is not my reality! But of the few people who visit, I always got followers, so there must be something there, so that was helpful info. I love the community that developed over the course of April, and look forward to continuing to read more A to Z blogs in other months too. Thanks for all the work you did Lee to make A to Z happen. - Jeri at

  11. I am now following Wrote by Rote. Look forward to seeing what you post there.

    I think that the hardest part of the A to Z is not the writing of the posts. I did all of mine before the challenge this year and it really didn't change things that much for me. The hardest part is the visiting all of the blogs and commenting. So many blogs I read were already participating that it took a HUGE CHUNK OF TIME just getting through those. I didn't get around to as many new folks as I would have liked. BUT, there is only so much time in the day.

  12. I had a busy April and couldn't participate this year, but I'm glad I stayed connected through our posts at the IWSG site.

  13. April was a non-A to Z blogging challenge month for me this year. I had a few extra things happening before the month and during the month. But it looks like I need to check out your other blog. Loved the endorsements shared here.

  14. Thanks for reminding me about your memoir blog. I have enjoyed it in the past and lost touch a bit in a recent switch that I made. Also, I miss Reader and have switched to Feedly, so I'll put your blogs into that so I can keep up to date.
    Thanks for all your efforts in the challenge, for starting it in the first place, and building a great community.
    Play off the Page

  15. HI, Lee,

    Kind of surprised to hear there are negatives... As you said, you get out what you put in...

    I didn't have a huge influx of new followers, but I really didn't expect to... My focus was getting my posts done. To finish. I wanted to showcase writers and help them... That was my task and I accomplished it.

    I visited as much as I could, but didn't have the time to visit tons of new blogs. I managed a few and made a couple of new friends, and I am happy with that.

    I supported the bloggers who visited me and made every effort to visit them daily. If I do next year's challenge I will plan ahead. Since I had some health complications I couldn't do my posts beforehand like so many of the other bloggers. I actually wrote almost all the day before then needed to be posted. Which was a REAL CHALLENGE. LOL.

    Congrats to you and all you've accomplished. Thanks for telling us about your other blogs!

  16. This was my second year to participate and I went into it with a different perspective than I did last year. I realize that what I write about might now be what everyone wants to read. But that is not why I write anyway. I write for me!! I wrote all my posts in advance (after-all I had a whole year to do it) and spent all my time visiting. I attempted to leave a comment everywhere I went. That was not always possible. Sometimes it is too dang hard to figure out how to leave a comment and sometimes I just found that I had nothing at all to say. But I will continue to t\do the challenge just because I LIKE TO WRITE!

  17. Thank you for all the behind the scenes work that you do for this challenge...and thanks to the many co-hosts and minions. This was my first A to Z and I had a great time. I've met some awesome people and read some great blogs. I'm already thinking about next year! Peace and love to you!
    Visual Proof

  18. Besides changing the name of my blog and the blog address etc. I also had no time left for marketing my posts or even for visiting other bloggers which is a key for receiving new followers. So-- even though my expectations were low based on my personal issues--I had very few comments from new A to Z participants. Thank goodness for a few true blues.

  19. I think people continuing to use Captcha is the biggest problem for me, or making you take the extra step to 'read more'. I read 3 of your 4 I'm not religious I haven't read your bible study one.

  20. I started blogging in 2006 and eventually had a blog that received 10,000 views per day. That was during the MySpace days, though--a different time! But my secret is the same secret I have today. If you want to get followers for your blog, you have to a) read other people's blogs regularly and b) write content worth reading. Sadly, most people want to skip step a because it takes time. You have to give to receive! I gained a lot of followers, but I went through the list and read as many blogs as I could in the early days. Not many people even bothered to click over and return the favor when I commented those but those who did, I continue to read today.

  21. Jeri -- The Linky List will be up all year so you can keep on visiting.

    Robin -- Networking takes so much time.

    L.Diane-- Maybe next year.

    Angela - The endorsements were so cool.

    Mary -- I've never used any readers, but it probably would help me be more organized.

    Michael -- I guess there are always some negatives that people can find with anything. Better to maintain the existing community than to overextend.

    Paula - That's the spirit!


  22. I didn't know about Wrote by Rote. I clicked and I followed. Are you meaning to tell me you did two A-Z challenges? Wow!

  23. Katie -- Let's plan on next year!

    Desert -- Changing things around can certainly have an effect on a blog.

    JoJo -- I didn't find too many blogs with CAPTCHA or maybe I've gotten so used to them that I don't notice.

    Stephanie -- You're doing the blogging right. The folks who don't do what you've been doing will probably not see much blog growth.


  24. Liza --- Actually I did 4.


  25. Thank you for giving me the chance to participate in the a to z challenge , i truly had an awesome time.. thanks again

  26. I don't have time for a long comment, but I completely disagree with the "you get out of it what you put into it" line of thought. The actual return on the investment you put into it is quite small. So small that it's hard to say whether it's worth it. I suppose it depends upon what you're looking to gain by being involved.

    I was also quite disappointed to see numerous comments (every day) that were nothing more than "Visiting from A to Z" and a link back to that person's blog (that didn't happen to me, but I saw it on many, many other blogs). You know when you see that that that person didn't even bother reading the post. S/he was just travelling around spamming links. I haven't seen a lot of that before this year, and it was very disheartening to see people doing that.

  27. I'm not surprised that people complained about the challenge. Some probably came into it with expectations that if they posted, everyone would come. Forget little things like interesting posts. Some of the most disappointing entries I found came from actual writers, who couldn't seem to think of any topics other than a glossary of writing terms.

    And I can complain about the writers because my last two challenges, I did the same thing, though not in glossary format. I fought the title format (I'm the one who suggested "A is for Alibi" not be a requirement because the titles weren't a draw afterward). This year, I really made a leap of faith and did it on my experiences in the military. It was really fun, and it brought in a lot of people who I hoped had fun, too.

    My reflections post will go up on Wednesday, since I did have a planned military post for today and didn't want to disappoint!

  28. Chrystal -- I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Andrew-- To "completely disagree" suggests that maybe you aren't considering all that one might get out of the challenge and all of the variable involved in getting what you get out of it. For many the addition of quality blog content is all they needed--some of the participants produced some very fine material. I will stand by the point of getting the return based on investment using myself as an example. This year I did not put anywhere near the amount of networking I've done in the past into the Challenge (or my regular blogging for that matter)and I see what I get (or don't get) in return. I do believe there is a quantifiable return on investment if all is taken into consideration and I think that many would agree with me. The comments to which you refer fit in the category of the self-centered bloggers I mentioned in this post. I've seen these sorts of comments since I began blogging and they will probably always be around. Haven't researched the outcome of such comments but I think they are just a nuisance of blogging like telemarketing calls and dumb Facebook posts.

    Linda Maye -- I think as the Challenge has progressed over the years the creativity has become more of a challenge as well. A to Z is becoming a litmus test of creativity and public presentation of quality content. It's a good display of what people can do or are willing to do.


  29. That's incredible that you did the challenge on all of your blogs. This was my first attempt and I really enjoyed it. I gained 31 new followers so I really agree with the fact that you get as much as you put into it. I tried to visit new blogs every day, even when I didn't have a lot of time to do so. The only regrets I have with the challenge are completely related to my own actions--I wish I had planned ahead more, and visited even more blogs than I did. Even so, I still consider the experience very successful.

  30. I am actually in part talking about quantifiable data as I compared my stats from the past two years with the what happened this year, and there was a distinct drop (in visits, in comments) this year over last year. There was drop last year from the year before, too, but the drop was sharper this year. Therefore, the return on the same investment was much smaller this year than previous years.
    This is not my perception; this is me looking at my numbers.

    I would find it difficult to believe that I was an aberration in the numbers, so I'm taking it as a trend.
    Of course, maybe I am an aberration and the problem lies with me.

  31. I think you're right that a lot of people might see the big numbers involved in A to Z and get all starry-eyed w/ their expectations on # of comments and followers. I think the experience can be very different for each participant. I'm the kind of person who's more comfortable in smaller-sized groups. so I'm immensely pleased w/ the 20 or so bloggers I went back and forth with throughout the challenge. Some are bloggers I already knew, some are new chums.

    I will check out your Words blog one of the Sundays. :)

  32. I totally agree with you that you get out of the Challenge what you put into it. It takes more than just posting, it takes interaction. I gained about 50 followers from just before the Challenge to just after it. I find that posting everyday throughout the Challenge tends to attract a lot of non-Challenge participants to my blog. It's really the only part of the year where I post to a predictable schedule. A happy Challenge bi-product. Thanks again for a great year.

  33. I've been meaning to follow your Bible Study blog all weekend (since I learned it existed) and finally, you reminded me and I did it. Looking forward to your take on faith.

  34. Last year, a friend decided to do the challenge after hearing me talk about it, but told me they wouldn't be visiting any blogs. My thought was why bother then? Half the challenge is meeting new people. That's why I write all my posts ahead so I can spend the whole of April discovering. But whatever, I guess. Everyone can do the challenge how they see fit.

    You had great posts here and I'm glad I read them. I may go back for inspiration when doing some marketing and promo. =)

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

  35. I really enjoyed all of the content available during April. I wish A-Z took place in, say, June so it wouldn't clash with the Poem-A-Day challenge. Sill, as a spectator, it was fun!

  36. I did get some new followers this year and basically enjoyed the Challenge. I made sure to visit every new person who visited me and ended up following some of them. I also am following some of the blogs I came across in my minion duties. I do agree, you reap what you sow.

  37. I wish I had more hours in the day, and also less trouble in my offline life so I could focus more on the challenge in April-- I didn't visit nearly as many blogs as I wanted to visit-- I know I didn't comment on all your blogs.

    I don't know if the challenge helped me much in terms of visitors or followers, but I did make a few good friends, and I think that was worth the price of admission! :)

    Thank you for starting this all off four years ago!

  38. Sarah -- I agree. I had all the best intentions to prepare ahead of time and then things went awry. Preparation makes a big difference.

    Andrew --Your stats say a lot I'm sure and I don't doubt that part, but I think there are so many other things to take into account that can't be extrapolated by the numbers alone. You had great content this year--I think I visited every post because I was so interested. But there must be something else. Wish I knew the easy answers for your blog. I have a pretty good idea about mine.

    Nicki -- I think each blogger has to decide for themselves what they'd like their own immediate community to look like and focus on that. I see the same core visiting my blogs and it's most important to hang onto them first.

    Judy -- I think your content has a lot to do with the audience you draw. You post content that could easily be expanded into something worth publishing after the Challenge.

    CW -- Be sure to call me out if you see anything you think is errant, but a reassurance is important too if you are in agreement.

    Patricia -- The way I see it is if you aren't interested in the community aspect of A to Z it will be revealed eventually and you won't have much interest from anyone regarding what you're doing. I hope you emphasize this point with your friend. Blogging is social networking.


  39. Jennifer -- We'd always clash with something. Here's an idea though. Combine the two events. A poem a day alphabetized.

    Jo -- Thanks for the behind the scenes work you put in. This is such an important help to all of us.

    Damyanti -- I hear you! And you did an amazing job considering what you were dealing with.


  40. Enjoyed your post during the challenge,hope to read you more in the future.

    My Reflection post

  41. Totally off topic, but I consider you knowledgeable and thought you might know the answer. I tried to make a gravatar through someone's urging, which meant I had to join wordpress...err and now I'm unable to leave comments on wordpress blogs without signing into that account with I don't want to won't let me leave me blogspot url's. Any ideas how to fix it? I managed to tell it not to use the gravatar, tried to dummy the email it's attached to...they say you can't change your email, people get new accounts, that's silly. I can't find a way to delete my account.

    Thanks for your brain
    Sandy at Traveling Suitcase

  42. Cifar -- Thank you for your regular visits.

    Sandy -- I've done this stuff, but I'm not sure how to tell you I did it. Over the years I've gone round and round with all things related to Wordpress, but I can't recall how I accomplished any of it and often it's been a matter of constant tweaking. Sorry that I'm not much direct help. When I was dealing with these issues I'd just google the problem and find the answer eventually there. That's how I do just about all technical computer things these days--Google it, fix it, and then forget what I did. Life's too complicated anymore.


  43. Thank you for this incredible informative post. This was my first year in the challenge and my first year at blogging. What I learned and who I met will last forever.

    Of course it was difficult some days but we did it and should all be proud of ourselves.

    The first day of the challenge I got personal devastating news and didn't know how I was going to get through the next few days, let alone the A - Z actually helped to work on my posts to keep me focused on something positive.

    Thank you again

  44. Albeit, I didn't see a huge jump in numbers, I made some invaluable new friends during this challenge. I agree that I got out of it what I put in, because I spent most of my limited time visiting those friends I already had (they are just so darn interesting). But I made some strong new connections with people I really enjoy reading.

    I didn't get to many of your blog posts, but I'm going to go back and read this and Wrote by Rote's to play catch-up. Should be easier since most of my blogging friend dropped down to weekly posting again, giving me more time to spread reading love.

    Thank you for starting this amazing challenge, Arlee!

  45. Hi Lee,

    This was my first year as a participant. I also decided to be a minion because I wanted to make myself accountable to the Challenge and to myself. I knew I wouldn't fail if someone else was relying on me. I'm glad I did it and feel like even without being a minion, I would have stuck it out - although I joked I wouldn't have - I think there would have been to much disappointment in myself if I hadn't.

    I didn't expect much of a jump in numbers because of my blog content. It can be a difficult topic to follow (sex addiction) and while I don't talk about it daily, I understand it scares people away. Add in that I did my Challenge on SA, and well, I didn't expect to gain many followers, but still, I think I added about fifteen people and on a small blog like mine, that's quite a bit.

    I really chose to do the Challenge for me and to find more blogs to follow. I will continue to comb through the list. I think it's a great place to find great people. And, now that the Challenge is over, we can all dedicate more time to commenting again.

    I just wanted to swing by and say thank you. Also, I stumbled upon your Bible study blog and love it. I'm not one to comment very often on religious blogs because it is such a personal matter, so, I may be a bit awkward on there, (ask C.W. he knows! poor guy!) But, I do love to read them)

    Okay, longest comment ever is finally over.

    Thank you again!!


  46. I loved my first attempt at the A to Z challenge! My following increased by 50% over the month of April, and that's great. But what I found the most satisfying, I found an awesome bunch of bloggers who I class as my blogging buddies now.

    I did come across captcha on a few blogs, it was fine to start with, but after a while it got annoying. It didn't stop me however, from commenting.

    Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, and I've learned a few things for next year.

    Thank you to you, the co-hosts and minions for all your hard work in making this challenge possible.


  47. Hi Lee,

    If I was even considering joining the A to Z, my main priority would be a sharing, caring, genuine ethos. I'm not bothered about accumulating followers. Besides, follower totals, in many cases, is most superficial. My human and I are grateful for the huge interaction we share, regardless.

    My thoughts about the A to Z, despite my bringing awareness to it in my ironic way, is that it's way too long. Actually, you wont know this, but my human and I get emails from folks who struggle with it. Feel guilty they cannot keep up with reciprocating back to others as much as they wish they could. My human and I tell them to go at their own pace and remember this isn't a contest.

    Glad to see you get such glowing endorsements.

    You know I did a reflection pawst, my human friend. Yes, my human and I do our own thing and we like it like that.

    Well done and we hope you will co-host the Alphabark Challenge, 2015!

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny, the cordial host of the Alphabark Challenge, 2014!

  48. Carol-- Not much that I can add to your incredible comment other than thank you. This is what I like to hear and what makes our efforts worth the while. Thank you for seeing the Challenge to the end.

    Loni -- The numbers are just an added bonus, but the solidifying of community is the most important aspect. I'm glad you got that much from this event.

    Elsie - Firstly thank you for the help you gave us. Your contribution is invaluable to us. You're right about the tough subject matter that you blogged about but still I think you did commendably. Sometimes I find that my research on a topic is enough to provide value to me. You've help establish some additional credibility for yourself and your blog.

    Sarah-- Good news to hear! I think I've just gotten used the CAPTCHA so I barely notice it much of the time. When I do notice I usually let the blogger know because often they don't even realize that the Word Verification is enabled.


  49. Gary/Penny -- You make a good point and many others feel the same way. When I first started A to Z I'll admit it was about the numbers, but then I came to realize the potential of community and see that this is where the real importance of the Challenge is.

    Also the content creation is very important. Every year I see some of the most amazing and creative content coming out of the A to Z. This to me is very important for any serious blogger or writer who wants to build a body of online work. Just realizing all of the books that have resulted from A to Z is pretty impressive.

    The A to Z Challenge is no empty endeavor of vanity. There is productivity, education, and writing exercise that make up a big part of the Challenge. And the friendships and professional relationships--those are hard to beat.

    You're right--A to Z is not a contest. It's not an obligation. It's a Challenge. For some it's attaining a personal best. For others it's a fun social event. For everyone it's a matter of what they get out of it. Not everyone likes this sort of thing and that's fine. A lot of folks do and this fills a blogging need for them. It's done a lot for me as a blogger and from the things we hear a lot of others there is a benefit.

    A to Z is something to do in April that is generally good in the eyes of most. That works for me.



  50. Excellent points in your reflection and follow-up comments.
    I've learned a lot during the challenge and even more reading the many reflections.
    Thanks !
    Mary @ The View from my World

  51. I missed this! Anyway, I've included some thoughts about the challenge as part of my IWSG post.

  52. Honestly, I don't know how some people do it. I only got 6 new followers. But there are some who got hundreds. What am I doing wrong? I know I don't have a lot of time. But I visited everyone who visited me, left comments. And then tried to get a few new ones. I did my best to be a return visitor as well. I actually did better than last year. So, Maybe I'm just not a popular type? I dunno. Either way, those who did stop by and commented liked what I did with the A to Z so that's the best thing! I mean, quality over quantity has always been my thing. But I guess my posts weren't engaging? *shrugs* I still enjoyed every bit of this challenge and loved your posts too. I commend you for having FOUR! and keeping up with each one! YOU ROCK!

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    Be Positive in Life and Writing
    Caring for My Veteran

  53. MS -- There is a great amount of blog education in the Reflections posts and the comments.

    Sittie --#IWSG is probably a good place to talk about A to Z.

    Jamie -- A blog content evaluation might be at hand. Try a reader survey or just ask readers for their opinions about your posts. I gage a lot by the comments I get (or the lack of comments on certain posts). I see blogging as an ongoing experiment. I have still not found the surefire formula to success.


  54. Just wanted to stop by and thank you directly for organizing the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. :-)
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

  55. Su-sieee! -- Thank you so much!


  56. Looks like you had another successful challenge. I have a lot to catch up on following my trip, but I look forward to all the stuff I'll have to read.

  57. Maybe we're getting our inboxes overloaded and finding other ways to follow? My stats for visitors has gone up and stayed up so far, which is great. But I only had two new email followers and 30 new Wordpress Reader followers.

    On the other hand I probably only followed about three new blogs by email - but I added around 60 to my Pinterest A to Z list - which is a really nice place I can put people and go and visit them whenever I feel like it, with a picture to remind me of who they are!


  58. Hi Lee – first I think the Challenge is great and you do get out of it what you put in ...I enjoy meeting and connecting with new bloggers which turn into a great relationship.

    I try and take into account the blogger and their level of knowledge .. ie new blogger with few followers, and where they say they’re struggling with the technology ... giving them a gentle positive nudge ...

    As Andrew says .... people who just leave a comment saying they’ve visited without making any salient reference to the blog drive me demented .. I will go back, because that’s etiquette ... but I’m not interested from there on in ... unless something changes.

    However – re that para above – if I get a funny comment and apparently from someone I don’t know ... I check them out via their profile and via the A-Z ... if they’re valid fine, but if not I remove the comment, and remove them from the following list.

    A lot of people said the Challenge petered out towards the end ... I found, very definitely this year, that things distinctly went up, and I’ve met some amazing new friends in the last week or so, or just after the Challenge.

    I did ask to get pushed over 500 ... as I’d been sitting in the late 580s – 590s for the year I think .. that triggered ‘a rush’ and I’m not up to 521 ... which I’m very grateful for. I’d rather have some wonderful friends and commenters than millions of people – well perhaps not! But I like people I can relate to ... and share things with ... you’ve created that opportunity for us ...

    Re Sandy and the WP thing .. I stay signed in to my WP account – it’s free and they don’t bother you ...and unfortunately we have similar problems with Disqus, et al ...

    Re Captcha WV being on .. I do email people or leave a comment on the blog asking them to take it off for the duration of the A-Z ... particularly if I like the content and want to continue that connection.

    Re Gary/Penny’s comment ... I feel if we enter the Challenge we know what we’re letting ourselves in for ... however establishing a ‘happy’ presence and enjoying the process is being responsible for our work ... I was lucky with my theme –which has stuck and I’ll continue on that way ...

    I felt anxious as I started blogging and trying to build friendships ... but I went slowly forwards, wrote interesting content and over time now have a most wonderful experience ... I don’t moan – what’s the point ... it’s my choice, and there are challenges, sometimes I just move on ... a necessity ... but you’ve given us a great opportunity, that we’d have never had on our own as a floating one off blogger ...

    I don’t follow via email – I use Feedly ... still not sure how it works, but I’m addressing all the technical issues – if I can’t do something I try and sort it out, or work round it ... obviously I get emails from anyone who comments on my blog ...

    I hope this isn’t too long – but hope it helps a little ... I’m a supporter ... and am so grateful you had the excellent idea ... Cheers Hilary

  59. It's always so interesting to read the discussion generated in your comments...but also one of the reasons I don't make it over here very often. I feel like if I can't invest the time in the post AND the discussion, then I'm going to be missing out, and I'd rather go to a whole party then just drop in for 10 minutes ;-)

    You know I love the Challenge, and I find it interesting that so many bloggers expect so many different outcomes of their efforts.
    I think that if you gain what you're going for, then that's success, not that success should be a measure of satisfaction with a job well done...

    I gained 99 new followers, and followed a lot of new blogs. I tried to encourage small, new blogs. Many of the blogs I found this year are now in my sidebar, which for me is like my hall of fame: these folks are really special, please give them a chance. (I know others have differing criteria for their blog rolls but that's mine. It always thrills me to find myself in someone's.)

    I'm starting to ramble so I will sum up:

    You do get what you put in, in my opinion, both mathematically and qualitatively, but Andrew and I argue about that sort of thing all the time, it entertains us.
    The Challenge is a wide open opportunity to choose a goal and pursue it.

    We all thank you for coming up with this idea, and for your strong leadership through the years.

    Proud to be part of team,
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!


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