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Monday, 5 March 2018

It's Nearly #AtoZChallenge Time! Sign-ups Have Begun!


It's Nearly #AtoZChallenge Time! Sign-ups Have Begun!


It's that time of year again, the AtoZChallenge is only a month away. Yay! The challenge runs all the way through April and is a great place for bloggers to meet other bloggers and find new traffic for their site. If you have a new blog you're trying to get people interested in, this is a great way to do it.

This is my 6th year participating and I love it.

They even have a snazzy new logo this year as well as the traditional one for those who prefer old school.


What is the AtoZChallenge?


The AtoZChallenge was originally the brain child of Arlee Bird back in 2010 and keeps growing year by year. Hundreds of bloggers all sign up and then create a blog post for each letter of the alphabet, which they post through out April (1st=A, 2nd=B etc). Sundays are usually non-posting days (which is how you get 26 days out of a month), but because the 1st is a Sunday this year, the first Sunday is a posting day.

Blogs of all different kinds sign up, which is more than obvious by the list of categories they have. Everyone from food bloggers through writers and artists, to self-help bloggers post and visit each other's blogs.

Categories are optional so we don't have to categorise our blogs when signing up, but it makes it much easier for people to find us if we do.

Themes

Now it is perfectly okay to create completely unrelated posts for each letter.
e.g.
  • A is for Apple - where we wax lyrical about our love of the fruit growing industry
  • B is for Bear - our critical analysis of which kind of bear is the dorkiest in its natural habitat. etc
However, I am a big believer in themes. This is where we link all our posts together with an overriding theme that runs through each of them.

My themes so far:
As you can see my themes kind of have a theme, and I'm going with a similar idea this year, but you will have to wait until March 19th, which is theme reveal day, to find out what it is.

I love themes for two major reasons:
  1. From a blogger's perspective, it helps with the creative process of coming up with all the posts. We might have to cheat a little on the odd letter (Q, X and Z) but it make life easier in the long run.
  2. From a surfer's perspective, it encourages return visits and gives the reader an idea of what to expect so may make them more likely to click on our blog to begin with.

Where to Sign Up


This post on the AtoZChallenge site has all the details of how and where to sign up.


Tips to Stay Sane Through the Challenge

It can be a little overwhelming to post every day during a month if it is your first time, and it can seem daunting when others have been doing it for years. These are my words of advice:
  1. Create posts in advance of April and have them scheduled. Some people can write posts every day on the fly, but creating them all first means no worries during April. Even if not all of them get done in advance, having a head start with some will really help.
  2. Visit and comment on at least ten new blogs per day when possible. There is a master list and there will also be a daily post to advertise blogs, but the key to getting lots of new visitors is to visit other people. Most bloggers with visit you back and, if they enjoy your blog, will keep coming back.
  3. Make it easy for people to visit back. When commenting always leave a link back to your blog so you are just a click away. I always make a signature to paste into comments. A few blogs do not allow html so links must be just text, but most will let you put in a direct link.
    e,g
    Tasha
    <a href="http://tashasthinkings.blogspot.co.uk/">Tasha's Thinkings</a> - 
    Theme Name
    or
    Tasha
    http://tashasthinkings.blogspot.co.uk/ - Theme Name
  4. Keep track of who you have visited. I use a spreadsheet, but you could use a new folder in your bookmarks or anything similar. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you found a fantastic blog and then not remembering which one it was. We are fallible creatures, and making notes really helps.
    
    
  5. Try to keep up on comments and visiting back other blogs. The first thing I usually do of a morning during the AtoZ is reply to the comments on my blog and visit everyone who has visited me. I also note it all down in case I get interrupted and forget where I got to. Only after that do I check the list for new blogs to visit.
    Sometimes it's impossible because real life gets in the way, but I find it's good to make it a rule to try.
So there you have it, my take on the AtoZChallenge. It really is a great time for blogging and meeting new people and making friends. I have lots of people I love to visit every year on the challenge. It's so much fun. Best blog hop of the year by far.

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