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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

3 Top Tips for the #AtoZChallenge #WriterlyWednesdays 26

Greetings fellow bloggers. Today I'm going to talk about the AtoZChallenge and 3 tips for a smooth April. If you are looking for my AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal post just click here. FYI these tips are all my own opinion, I'm not one of the organisers, they are just things I think that make life much easier.

3 Top Tips for the AtoZChallenge 

A quick recap for those who don't know what the AtoZChallenge actually is, it's full title is Blogging from A to Z Challenge and it is thousands of bloggers getting together and blogging every day during April, except Sundays, using a letter of the alphabet as a prompt. There is still time to sign up if you want to and it is a great way to meet new friends and get people interested in your blog.

This is my fourth year and it's a lot of fun every time.

We have just had the AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal, which is a smaller blog hop in advance of the main challenge where blogs who have chosen themes reveal them with fanfare and drum rolls :). You don't have to have a theme for all your posts in April, but it can really help.

Over the last two days I have visited 320 blogs (sorry about the 100 I didn't get to - I really tried to do the whole list) and been visited by lots of lovely bloggers too. This has reminded me of a few things that make life a whole lot easier when visiting so many blogs.

Please, please, please, make it obvious where your latest AtoZ blog post is.

Unlike in a one post blog hop, you can't link directly to the post in the list of participants because you have lots of different ones over the month. This means people have to be able to find the post you want them to see on any particular day by clicking on to your main site or a category within it.

In something like the AtoZChallenge, if people can't see where your post is easily, they are very likely not going to bother to hunt around. I hunted around during the theme reveal, but I doubt I will be as patient in the main challenge.

Some of the problems I saw during the theme reveal are as follows:
  • the blog had a category/tag for the AtoZ which had been linked to from the list, but the poster had forgotten to add their theme reveal post to that category/tag
  • the linked front page didn't show anything to do with the AtoZ and I had to guess where the post might be
  • no post title mentioned "Theme Reveal" or "AtoZ" in anyway so I wasn't sure which one was the right one to read.
These are all very easy to issues to deal with and your post is much more likely to be read if it can be found easily.

Your Time-zone is not my Time-zone

Now I know there are optimum times to make posts on various social media, and I fully support fanning out your promotion of your posts to things like Twitter and Facebook, but, for the AtoZChallenge, posting the actual entry early is better IMHO.

The AtoZ is a world wide challenge with people from Australia to Alaska and not everyone is in the same time-zone. Hence, to catch as many people as possible, I find it a good idea to schedule my posts to go live at midnight in my time-zone. This means I have one post a day for the maximum possible time so it can catch the most people.

I can still tell all my Twitter followers and my Facebook peeps that might not be hopping along the list about it at the optimum time of day my Buffer tells me to, like I would with a normal post, but the post is still there for anyone who pops in before that.

For some people this may be impossible, but I find it a good technique when it can be done, especially on day 1.

When Commenting Leave Links/Blog Name

Different commenting systems use different accounts to register who the commenter is. 
For example:
  • Blogger might use your G+ account 
  • Wordpress might use your Twitter account
  • others ask you to put in your own name and link
These links don't necessarily go to where you are doing the AtoZ and may even have a different name on them. Hence it can be hard to track who the commenter is.

I try to use one of the following three options when commenting on other blogs to make it easy to find me should they wish to:
  1. my name with clickable links to the 3 blogs I am using during the AtoZ, with the most important first
  2. my name with the titles of the 3 blogs underneath and non-active links below
  3. my name with the titles of the 3 blogs below
I use them in that order of preference depending on what the comments section can take. Some don't allow html tags so #1 doesn't work and I use #2 and some see any links as spam and refuse to post is so I use #3. I have the three sigs in a txt file and I just paste the one I need on to the end of the comment I leave on the blogs I visit.

Even #3, which is just mentioning the name you used in the main AtoZ list can help if the comment does not allow links, or you don't know how to put them in, because that means I can search the list to find you. Some people use name @ name of blog, which is perfect.

I have to admit there were a couple of lovely commenters for the theme reveal that I just couldn't track back to their own site, so I was forced to believe they weren't taking part. This could be true, but it could also be that Blogger used their G+ account that does not connect to anything so I couldn't find their main blog.

[Edit: and of course someone else has been sensible enough to actually tell you how to do the links :): Creating a signature for the atozchallenge by A Tarkabarka Hölgy]

So there you have it, my 3 Tops Tips for maximum engagement during the AtoZChallenge. I wish everyone taking part lots of luck and hope you have a great April with lots of lovely visitors.

Do you have any other tips for AtoZers that I have missed? Do you think any of my tips are incorrect?


  1. This post should be mandatory reading for all participants!! I've just come from a blog where the linky took me to a post that was 2 years old! Had to scroll around for ages to find the theme reveal! Not doing that during April for sure. Sorry about the rant!

    Kudos to you for doing the challenge with 3 blogs, and covering 320 blogs in 2 days!!! Seriously impressed!

    Best wishes,

    1. It can be a little maddening at times can't it :) With simple sequential blogs it's all quite easy, but with sites that are more complex it can be a little trickier. Thanks for dropping by.

    2. Permission to share this entry, please? :)

      Another couple of those complex sites encountered...how many of those are there??

  2. Good luck with the A-Z. I'm not doing it this year - April is never really a good time for me - but I'll definitely be reading, even if I don't comment (after all, you don't need to be visiting my blog when you've got so many others to reach!)

  3. Good tips. I try to track down the people who leave comments, but sometimes it is a challenge. And what about blogs that hide their comment button? Drives me nuts sometimes.

    1. I found one blog that I simply could not find a way to comment at all - I looked everywhere. No idea where the comments were. A few others I had to hunt a bit, but did eventually find them :)

  4. Good tips. I try to track down the people who leave comments, but sometimes it is a challenge. And what about blogs that hide their comment button? Drives me nuts sometimes.

  5. These are great tips for the challenge, I hate it when I have to hunt around for the posts. I can understand the theme reveal may end up pushed back a bit if it is a blog I am visiting a few days later, but the daily posts should be made easy to find. Just a word of caution re leaving links in your comments - Google see comments with links in as spammy and it can affect the DA of both the person who's blog the comment is on and the person who leaves it. If you get a lot of traffic from Google, it's worth thinking about as it will also impact your SEO,

    1. Why oh why oh why does Google always try to be a pain in the proverbial. This is new information, I did not know this. I don't get a lot of traffic from Google, more word of mouth, i.e. social media, so the links are probably worth it.

  6. I bumped into the same thing on my visits to the AtoZ Theme Reveal participants. Old, inactive blogs and those with no theme reveal ... like they just forgot.
    I like your tip of posting early. I have mine scheduled for 5:00am PST, I'm going to reschedule to 1:00am.

    1. You'd think, having signed up for the extra theme reveal people would remember, but nope. some didn't :)

      As for the posting times, it was just something that occurred to me as I popped round the list really early because I had to go shopping when I would normally start and so many posts weren't there yet.

  7. Hi Tasha - I'll try and find a comment link .. but I think already I've failed at someone on my Reveal post ... so I shan't bother - frustrating ... and G+ is dreadful!

    I have to get my signature thingy working and I know Czenge has let us know how to do it .. I've failed each year so far!

    I've checked a few posts already - and found 'no-one at home' for a long time ... irritating ..

    But I shall enjoy participants' entries .. cheers Hilary

    1. I say go with whatever works - just a blogname under your name is perfectly adequate where there's not the commentluv or link option. :)

      I think for some their blog tends to come alive for the AtoZ, like Spring :)

  8. It's always a struggle and I've noticed that lately the captcha has shown up on blogs it's never been on before. I think blogger is playing games with us. Great advice though!

    1. I had so many 'pick all the pictures with water in them' etc - I think it's automatic on lots of places now. Where there just used to be a box that said tick to prove you are not a robot, it now has the further verification.

  9. Good tips! I would add make sure your blog is easy to follow and posts easy to share. I had a few people during the reveal that had no way for me to share the posts or follow them.

    1. Good points - I always forget those because it seems like something you would want on your blog all the time. :)

  10. Thanks, those are useful tips! And thank you for visiting me too!

    1. You're most welcome in both cases - have a great AtoZ :)

  11. Brilliant stuff, Tasha!
    I have to go dig up where I last saved my standard "A to Z Signature".

    My timezone is generally ahead of most people (except maybe Australia and NZ) so I've scheduled my posts during my midday (when PST finally slips over to the right day) so as not to confuse the Americans :P
    Maybe I should reconsider that...

    Oh whoops. Signature!
    anna @ Deeply Shallow

    1. I just look at it as using the whole 24hrs so getting the max out of both ends, since I'm GMT. The way I see it, as long as there is a post there when someone comes to visit it's a win :) I refuse to just think of the US schedule even though the majority of posters are probably from the US :).

  12. Hello Natasha, and good morning. I came over from Alex's blog. The time zone point is an interesting one. I do not think there is a most optimal time, per se. Being here in Germany, most of my posts are posted when every one of y'all are still asleep :)

    1. Guten tag, Wilkommen auf meinem Blog :) (sorry if I bungled that - it has been many years since I took German in school and I had to ask Google ;))

      The stance I take on blogging during the AtoZ is that the longer it is there the more chance I have of catching as many people as possible. Being GMT I'm still going to miss some of the day for the Aussies and my next post will go up before the end of the day for those post GMT, but 24hrs will give me the biggest overlap. At least that's my logic :)

  13. Great tips Natasha. going to read them again now.

  14. Excellent tips, Tasha. Will be ensuring that finding my A to Z posts is simpler than in previous years. I have a dedicated A to Z page BUT I only link from it in May - oops Comment is being censored so might not appear...unless I use G+

  15. Thank you, Tasha, for your tips. This is my first time participating in the A to Z Challenge. I am really looking forward to checking out the other blogs; tons of interesting blogs out there!

    Linda K
    @_theheadcabbage from
    Tales from the Cabbage Patch

  16. very helpful tips Natasha! thanks!

  17. I found these tips of great interest - especially the one about posting at midnight in my time zone (Eastern time). I never would have thought of that. Thank you! Alana@RamblinGarden from
    Ramblin with AM

  18. Very insightful blog. I think I'm quite ok with everything. My blog (and so my posts) is the first thing you see when you click on my url. I post everything at 1am. Ans as for the link, I use the system of 'signature' they have explained on the AtoZChallenge blog. I love it ^_^

    Now I'm trying to get my sidebar ready for the challenge. A few of my socials are still missing from there.

  19. These are some great tips! This is my first year doing the A to Z Challenge and I want to try to visit every blog on the list (why I am starting early and visiting you today), and I totally agree about finding the A to Z posts. With so many blogs to visit, once it starts, I won't hunt forever for the post. I work from home full time, I am a mom, I post on my blog daily, and I write books. All of this makes me very limited on time so I don't have time to hunt around a blog for half an hour for one post. Thanks for sharing this! Cassie from Mommy, RN

  20. Thank you for these tips! This is my first year doing the challenge and am looking forward to it.


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