Well, I survived my second year of the A-Z blog challenge. I was smarter about my participation this year. I had about a third of my posts fully written in advance, about a third well drafted, and then a third with just a few scattered notes. That took a lot of the pressure off and gave me time to explore other participants’ blogs.
When I checked at the end of March, I think there were around 1,900 people signed up. I copied the list, plunked it into Excel, and sorted alphabetically so as each letter came up during the month, I could visit the blogs that began with that letter. There were plenty of of links in the list that didn’t work at all for me. I don’t know if that means those people didn’t sign up correctly or if they thought they were going to participate in the challenge, changed their mind, and took the blog down. There was also plenty of attrition early on. I’m talking people who quit participating at the letter A or B. And there were some letters, like S, that had over 200 blogs. I simply couldn’t visit them all in a day.
But if I had to guess, I’d say I visited somewhere around 1,200 blogs this month and left comments on around 300. Most of them were new to me. A few were ones I remember from last year but had forgotten about in the meanwhile and was happy to rediscover. I found some fascinating blogs that I just had to follow and I got some wonderful new followers and commenters on my blog.
If there’s one lesson I’d like to share from all that blog exploration, it’s that if you are participating in the challenge, make it easy and pleasant for people to visit your blog. The sign up page says Blogs must be on an open platform – no Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. – and comments enabled. Please make it easy for visitors to comment on your blog. I was amazed at how many people didn’t follow this common sense suggestion. I visited one blog and wrote a one sentence comment and then was told I didn’t have a high enough character count to leave my comment. I visited another one that had step after step after step to verify my identity to leave a comment. By the time I got to the third step that had me going to my email to verify myself, I just gave up and closed out of the page. I found several blogs I wanted to subscribe to but I didn’t see an option to do so anywhere. And on the opposite side of that spectrum, I visited some blogs that presented me with a pop-up window to subscribe before I even got to see any of their content. And then each time I navigated to a new page on their blog, that pop-up appeared over and over and over. The constant pestering naturally led me to just close out of the blog and not go back. And finally, I know Blogger is a really popular platform to use but I think it’s a shame there’s no “Like” button like WordPress has. There were many posts I read and enjoyed but just didn’t have anything to say about. I wish I could have pressed a “Like” button to let the author know I was there and appreciated what they wrote. Since that wasn’t an option, I guess my presence will remain a secret, outside of anonymous visitor stats. But overall, it was nice to see all the creativity and ideas out there that I wouldn’t have discovered without the challenge.
Well, there you have it, folks. That’s a wrap on the 2016 A to Z. Looking forward to interesting posts throughout the year from those of you I subscribed to. Everyone else, see you next year!
What else are people writing in the A to Z Blog Challenge? Check out today’s featured blog, sponsored by a number: 10nineteen. A fun blog full of miscellaneous content. Some of the stuff on the lolwut page is quite bizarre.