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Friday, May 1, 2015

AtoZ Challenge Reflections

www.a-to-zchallenge.com

Oy! This month has been a blast. I realize now though, that writing a new short story every day for a year (was my original goal- I just used AtoZ to get me started) is just not on the books for me. I've got so much going on that taking the time out to pull together an original story every day has had me going to bed at midnight most nights this past month.

  • So- My first reflection is that I will probably scale it back down to writing one MAYBE two original short sci-fi posts a week. I also blog along with the twice yearly 52 week short story challengers on facebook so I will have at least one sci-fi story to show you a week!
  • I've found some really interesting bloggers- and found that I am certainly not alone among bloggers who have chosen blogger.com as their blog host over wordpress. For a while there I was starting to feel lonely. Wordpress has always given me problems, whether it was posing comments or munching my posts. -.- I have been SO much happier with blogger. It's free, and I can use my own url for free too! No regrets!
  • My next observation is that my visitors doubled, dare I say almost tripled during the challenge! Where I would typically see 30 views, I was reaching almost a hundred on most days! Thank you, EVERY SINGLE one of you for coming to check out my blog! I hope I have entertained you a little. That's what I'm here for ;)
  • Google also really rather enjoyed my posting every day. When googling my name, my website now shows up third rather than 7th on the list! (under both of my book's goodreads links)
  • I gained some new followers- and I completely appreciate every single one of you! I hope to get to know you more!
  • I realized about two or three posts in that writing short stories won't get you many comments because the readers don't have anything much to say except for "good job" or "interesting". So I started trying to make my posts more interactive by asking a reflection question at the end of every story. So far, everyone seems to be enjoying commenting on those!
  • For all those who commented on my posts, every single one of you are angels! You guys are the ones who kept me going when I was fresh out of ideas, when it was pushing 11pm and I still didn't have my post up. THANK YOU!


 It was awesome getting to meet you and hanging out with you on my blog!


I also wanted to come back and add some reflections on the challenge itself... real quick I promise:
A) Wordpress users- it can be sorta difficult to comment on your blogs unless you allow guest comments - otherwise the guest MUST make a wordpress account. Not everyone wants to do that (I already have one from when I used to use wordpress, so it was no biggie)

B) The lack of ways to subscribe was also apparent on many blogs. I don't always want subscriptions filling up my e-mail box... its filled with too much spam I can't find anything I want anyhow lol. Networked Blogs is a great app to add to any website so you can always keep your followers with you. For readers- Digg.com is really easy to add rss feeds to. Unfortunately that is just another site to have to log into just to follow your blogs.

C) I LOVED visiting everyone's blogs lol ;)

28 comments:

  1. Yeah, that's the problem with stories--I never quite know what to say. Sometimes a question helps give me something to comment on. Even if I love the story. (Of course, you could start writing 26 stories now for next year. Then you can be ahead of the game...)

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  2. So sorry! i had no idea you were participating. Did you know I was? x(

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    1. Aw Hugs! No worries!
      I did see that you were through facebook- but whenever I finally had a moment to go check out blogs I could never find your link though :/ Honestly I was doing good to read 5 different blogs a day as busy as I was O.O Last month was a whirlwind! I'll go and check your blog now though! :)

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  3. You give a good report that I'm glad to hear.

    Here are my thoughts on a few of the points you made:

    1) I'm now a new follower here. You might do better with your "Follow" widget if you moved it up higher on your side bar so it's one of the first thing visitors see. I rarely think to scroll down to the bottom of a page.

    2) I used to have a lot of problems commenting on Wordpress and a lot of other commenting platforms. After some persistence and frequent commenting on them I rarely have any problems now and my comments very rarely go into spam folders. I think a lot of bloggers are just afraid or too impatient to cross comment on other platforms. I don't think a lot of Wordpress bloggers make much effort to learn to comment on the Blogger platform either.

    3.) As to getting comments on short stories you might have to offer prompts to elicit comments. I don't do short fiction on my blogs as a rule, but I almost always close with a few questions to motivate the comment section. You could do something like that with fiction. Ask specific questions to see what readers are to various aspects of your stories. Or ask questions about the readers as to how they might relate to your stories. Sometimes coming up with the questions can be more fun than then actual post and you can stimulate some interesting conversations.

    Thanks so much for joining us in this Challenge. Now try to get more sleep!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

    Tossing It Out


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    1. You are right! I will rethink the positioning of those widgets thanks!
      As for cross platform commenting "I" don't generally have a problem (unless wordpress decides to not like me on a given day lol) but I do know some people do.
      And yes the questions did help quite a bit!

      Thanks for helping to host the challenge Arlee and thank you for stopping by as well! As for sleep... I'll work on that- may have to start setting myself a bed time again lol.

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    2. Much better more visible positioning on the follower widget.

      One other suggestion that some may think tacky but it's worked for me and others to gain hundreds of followers is to be sure to visit other blogs, follow them if they have the "Follower" widget, and then leave a subtle comment that closes with something such as "Hi, I'm now a new follower of your blog" and maybe leave a signature link so that they can find you easily. Be sure to say something about their blog post as well, otherwise it does seem like you're just trolling for followers and that is kind of tacky. Tact, not tack! :)

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host

      Tossing It Out

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    3. ;) lol Thanks for the suggestion!
      Oh I love finding new blogs to visit/comment on. My problem is finding blogs that aren't already dead -.-
      Until the A-Z Challenge almost every blogspot blog I found had been dead for a while- or was so poorly formatted it was unreadable.
      The A-Z Challenge was a refreshing mix of interesting folks I'll be continuing to head over to that linky list as long as it stays live ;)

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  4. Hi Virginia, I happened to see your nice comment on Elizabeth Mueller's blog, which I've been regularly visiting during the Challenge. I've also been a minion for Team Macha w/ Zalka as co-host. Have not come across your blog before. Would be happy to follow you on GFC. BTW, I tend to write longish blogs, which is a bit rough during the A-Z Challenge too, because it's a lot of reading for blog hoppers.
    Maui Jungalow

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    1. Aww Thanks for stopping by! I'm no stranger to 'longish' blogs- I found out recently that the A-Z challenge recommends 300 words ish for a post... yeah I blew all the way to 500 most days -.- But that is set in me from the 52 week flash fiction challenge that requires a max of 500. Perhaps I'll try a shorter story sometime soon ;)

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  5. Asking questions at the end of a post is always a good idea. I was told to do this years ago and have ended that way ever since.
    That's awesome your traffic increased so much and you are higher in the Google search. Soon you'll be number one!

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    1. My Google ranking has actually climbed to number one, when googling my name, since this post was published... not sure what inspired the change- unless Google just hadn't updated it in a little while. Google is an odd creature lol.

      Typically I don't really bother about where Google has me placed- but since I made the switch to blogger my google ranking started over and it was really hard to find my new website just by googling. It's nice to know that Google has found me again lol.

      Alex- how long have you been blogging?

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  6. Good to hear you had fun! :) Writing a story a day is not easy, one a week sounds a lot more manageable. And I agree, we might want to put up tutorials about commenting and following as well before next year's challenge...
    Cheers!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

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    1. Eh, there is not much that can be fixed with the commenting part- though I did run across one or two that didn't even have comments allowed :(

      Following though was a bigger issue for me. There were blogs that I liked but just didn't want them dumped into my e-mail box and I couldn't find any other way to follow them. A facebook like box, Networked Blogs, or Google+ really comes in handy for folks that don't like to use rss feeds ;)

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  7. Hehe, I'm a Wordpress Girl, and I don't like bloggers. ;) I'll have a look at my comment function though, so thank you for making me aware that you can sometimes only comment with a wordpress account!

    I admire you for writing a story everyday, you're truly not a A2Z survivor, but a hero! I'm glad your work payed off, you gained a lot more visitors!!

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    1. I think you meant blogspot, not your fellow bloggers ;)
      Yeah, the wordpress comment function can be set up to allow non wordpress users to comment- gotta be careful what you check off though. If you need help or want someone to go test it for you just poke me ;) That is one of the major things I look at in a blog platform is how easy it is for the general (non blogging) public to comment.

      ;) Thanks for stopping by to comment! It was rough trying to fit in time to write a story every day but it was also satisfying to have them all done!

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  8. Hi Virginia
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    I also had a flash fiction theme for the challenge, based on a photo, a phrase and an object...
    Asking reflective questions at the end of the post helps commenters who may have run out of things to say.
    Your visitors tripled? Great!
    Sounds like your A to Z challenge experience was a blast!
    See you next year for another month of "alphabet madness"!
    New follower via Networked Blogs Widget!
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Oh! Your flash fiction theme sounds like the Five Sentence Fiction challenge! Have you ever tried that one?

      I had a lot of fun this year, I am rather looking forward to participating next year too! Thanks for following with Networked Blogs- I LOVE that thing, makes it so easy to find new posts from the blogs I've followed!

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  9. Finding your blog through your reflection. That and those who commented have been a great help. I wish we could solve this comment problem. I am a wordpress gal and would have sworn it was everyone else that was causing the problem. I hope the powers at be have some new suggestions next year. I love the whole thing when it is said and done. Glad we shared 2015 even if only now.

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    1. Thanks for coming by! I think the main problem is that it is easy for those who have wordpress to comment on wordpress blogs but not blogger blogs- and then the other way around too :/ Oh well- I guess it is just part of what makes the challenge interesting ;)

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  10. Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to next year! See you on the Road Trip!

    Mary @ Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Congratulations on finishing! Wow, you have some high goals for yourself. I like the one to write a short story everyday! See you next year!

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    1. It was a lot of fun! Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Hello there.
    Congratulations on completing the challenge! I actually got to visit you during the month of April since your blog number fell in among the range I visited below me in the original signup linky. Just meandering through today from the Road Trip.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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    1. Aww thank you! Hope you enjoyed the posts!

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  13. Love your blog! Kudos!

    One of my favorite author blogs is by Amy H. Sturgis, particularly in October when she does a wonderful job with daily posts of all things macabre or ghostly: http://eldritchhobbit.livejournal.com/

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    1. Amy Sturgis? That name sounds very familiar! Will have to go check her website out! Thanks!

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