Are you up for a Challenge? Part 1 – Guest Post by Jemima Pett…

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Reading, writing, blogging, they all have their own challenges. And then some of us go and make it, if not competitive, then something of a commitment, a target to achieve in a set timescale.

I’m getting to be a bit of a challenge-aholic, so I’m going to talk about these challenges in three posts, starting today with Blogging Challenges.

Once upon a time, I started my blog. I didn’t have much of an idea what to write about, except my progress in writing a book, or rather, bringing the books I’d already written into the public eye. And the first bit of advice about that is: write a blog. I wandered about, posting occasionally, probably never being read, until something happened that changed my blogging life. I expect you had a similar experience. If you haven’t then let me introduce you to…

The A to Z April Blogging Challenge

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This was the brainchild of Arlee Bird, who got together with a few friends and said, basically, why don’t we blog through April, using a different letter of the alphabet every day?

Some bright spark probably pointed out that April has 30 days, so you need four more letters. His reply was probably: what if we don’t post on Sundays?

And thus was the format of the A to Z April Blogging Challenge (#aprilA2Z or just the atoz challenge) born.

Actually, it was all Arlee’s own work, but he gathered 231 bloggers together for the first AtoZ in 2010. Then they got organised, told more people about it, created badges and letter badges and teams to support and encourage people, and generally help people enjoy themselves through April. Because one of the key things is, if you take part in the challenge, you want people to read your blog posts, and that means EVERYONE goes round reading other people’s blogs and finding new interesting people, people they want to be friends with, and to see what they do the rest of the year.

So it’s actually hard work.

You can commit to doing this year’s challenge – which starts on April 1st when you write a post on your blog on a topic beginning with A if I haven’t made the idea clear yet – any time from now to about a week into April (when you’d have to catch up).

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JOIN UP by going to the A to Z Challenge 2017 announcement post, and reading all about it. Don’t worry about the talk about ‘the List’ – they’ve just changed the way we tell people about our posts, and so people are discussing it

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PREPARE YOUR POSTS. This is the clever bit: schedule your posts in advance. Then all you have to do is put up the link to your post back at A2Z HQ, and then …

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GO AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS. It’s a sad fact of blogging life that most of us don’t visit our blogging friends nearly as often as we would like to, and I would like to thank all mine who visit me regularly in spite of my sporadic return of the favour. Yes, there will be a lot of blogs that aren’t your thing, but you’ll find a lot who are right up your street (or alley), and you’ll be really glad to have met them. And meanwhile, other people will come to your blog.

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WELCOME YOUR NEW VISITORS! Hey, you’ve got comments! And Likes! People know you’re here! All you have to do is be yourself and you’ll make friends for life, or at least till everyone gets tired and looks forward to the visiting fest next year.

I first did the A to Z Challenge in 2012, and in 2015 I was part of Damyanti Biswas’s support team, who check whether people are okay, and give support. That was extra hard work, but again, I made friends for life. I recommend it highly.

Through that activity I found other blogging challenges: weekly and monthly flash fiction challenges, haiku networks, Battle of the Bands, Coffee circles, Question of the Month, Flashback Friday, and a host more. I’ll talk about the Insecure Writers Support Group next month, but the key with all of these is to post about something in common with lots of other people, then go and see what others in the group have said. Give support. Ask questions. Share your experiences. And always acknowledge those visitors that come to your own blog too.

After all, you want people to read your blog, don’t you?

Tip for authors: As much as you want to, don’t spend the month talking solely about your own books unless lots of people have already heard of them. Trust me on this. You want to impress people with how interesting your blog is so that they follow you!

Jemima Pett

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35 thoughts on “Are you up for a Challenge? Part 1 – Guest Post by Jemima Pett…

  1. I think some bloggers can be quite creative with this challenge, I’ve read a few, but I’m not a fine of daily posts, either mine or other blogs – too many blogs to visit, too little time etc etc. It’s not my style, but if challenges help others, then why not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It can be overpowering, and daily posting is not generally for me, either. It depends on what you want from your blog. The key to building your blog following is to blog regularly, so that people expect you, and even look for your pearls of wisdom! But this is a great way of advertising your blog, and my own view that blogging is a two way thing – you don’t make friends by just sitting at home waiting to be visited 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Totally agree about visiting, that’s one reason for not blogging daily – for me – because I spend more time visiting and commenting than I do on my own pearls of wisdom (sic). After ten years of blogging, and three hosts, and enough followers and commenters, I can afford to fit blogging around my life not vice versa. Each to our own. There are so many different types of blogs out there too, themed ones, personal ones, daily or more than once a day, weekly, sporadically, and occasionally. To go back to the beginning, for me reciprocity is the key but there needs to be some sort of engagement.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Frank Parker's author site and commented:
    Jemima Pett, guest blogging at Chris the Story Reading Ape talks about the atoz challenge (blogging 6 days a week throughout the April, taking the letter a as the prompt on 1st. April, b on 2nd., and so on. I did it last year and am still prevaricating about whether to do it again this year. (You can see my atoz posts from last year by clicking the atoz category)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anyone hesitating, it is so worth it! I came across the challenge when my blog was about 10 days old (on the theme reveal day) and I could not resist joining. It was amazing as it gave me a good boost when I launched my blog.
    Last year I made it through, but was a bit overwhelmed by all the comments. It is hard work!
    I shall be back this year, but maybe with a few guests?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I partecipated in the AtoZ Challenge the first time in 2015 and I adored the experience. I’m already getting ready for this year’s challenge, which will be about a topic I’m less familiar with then the past two, but I’m learnning a lot and I’m loving it.

    The AtoZ Challenge was a game changer for me too. I started blogging (I suppose like so many of us) because everybody says an author should have a blog. Although I write stories set in the 1920s, and although when I started my blog I had already researched the Roaring Twenties for four years, I felt (and I still feel) I wasn’t an expert, so I intentionally decided not to blog about that.
    But when I stumbled upon the challenge (in 2014 it was already ending when I discovered it, so I didn’t take part) I immediatelly fell in love with the idea, decided I’d take part the next year, but… what to blog about? What topic would allow me to write 26 different, related posts? Why, the 1920s, of course.
    So, in spite of my awkwardness, I wrote those 26 posts, I posted them in April… and people liked them! I was shocked!

    So yes, it’s the AtoZ Challenge fault if the main topic of my blog is the 1920s, now 😉
    But the challenge also taught me how to properly manage a blog. Come up with topics, write them on a schedule, comment on others, reply to the comments of my blog. I had lots to learn and I didn’t even know it.
    And I met lots of fantastic people, lots of beautiful blogs.
    Do, it. If you have a blog, just do it. You won’t be sorry 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved your Jazz/1920s posts! That’s one of the fantastic things about the AtoZ – and other Challenges where you blog-hop, I would never have visited you (or found you, probably) otherwise. And your comment about learning to manage you blog is a great point.

      Liked by 1 person

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