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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