I actually started writing this post way back on the 5th of April so that I could make sure I got all of my thoughts and feelings about the challenge down while they were fresh in my mind. I added to this post throughout the month so that it could go live today and would be a true reflection on my 2015 A to Z experience.
This year was a very successful challenge for me and saw me get record numbers of visitors to my blog. Out of curiosity I compared notes between now and my first year of taking part. During A to Z 2013 I received 1,949 page views, a year later saw me hit 3,745 and this year I got over 5,000! By the 5th of April I had breached 1,311!
I think that one of the reasons for my spike in views this year was because of my level of activity. In the past I’ve struggled with visiting blogs on the list because of a lack of an internet connection. The combination of car trouble (causing us to spend a week at my in-laws’) and Easter falling at the beginning of April, gave me plenty of opportunity to visit far more than just the recommended five blogs a day.
Obviously commenting on those blogs brought them to mine and in turn I would reply to their comments, then visit their blog back to leave another message. I managed to strike up some new friendships and find some blogs that I wouldn’t otherwise have found that way.
I think another thing that helped was leaving an HTML link back to my blog in the comments. It was very simple, just ‘Cait @ Click’s Clan’ by way of a comment signature, but clearly it saved people a lot of the hassle of clicking on a profile and then trying to find their way through to the blog. Some people had several blogs in their lists, or Google+ with no clear blog link, or worse, their profiles were private so I couldn’t find them!
One thing that did bug me, perhaps because I was looking through so many blogs in such a short space of time in the beginning, was the fact that there were some people who were obviously just copy+pasting their comments. I’d see the same names cropping up with ‘interesting post’ or words to that effect. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were actually reading the posts they were commenting on, especially as for many of them there was so much more you could say than just that it was interesting.
I tried to tailor my comments to what the poster was blogging about. It wasn’t always easy, sometimes I was reading about things that didn’t interest me that much or which I didn’t fully understand, but it seemed like common courtesy as I was leaving a link back to myself on their blog. If I’m drumming up readers for my blog on theirs, the least I can do it say something positive or informative about what they’ve written.
What worked for me:
- Short posts. I picked a very personal topic which I could have written very long posts about, but I tried to keep each one as close to 500 words as possible. As you can see from this post, that was very hard for me.
- Scheduling posts. I had planned to get my posts all written before the start of the month. I failed at this. I tried to stay a week ahead of myself all the way through. I mostly succeeded at this.
- Following a theme. I found following a theme helped give my posts structure, though it made it trickier to come up with posts for a couple of letters. It helped to tie all the posts together and to raise awareness about the IVF process.
- Leaving a return link in my comment to save the blogger from clicking onto a profile, hunting through a Google+ page, strolling down a website in search of a blog link, etc. Next year, if I take part I think I will include a mention of my theme in my link as well.
- Short posts are definitely easier to read during the challenge than long ones, short and sweet means quick to read and probably more comments.
- Don’t just work down the list from beginning to end. Pempi at Pempi’s Palace mentioned that she started off working down the list finding all the bloggers who’d tagged themselves as Education or Craft. I tend to work through in order (as I use different devices and it makes it easier to remember the number I last got to), but her method makes sure that people lower down the list get visits, rather than all the people at the top.
- Drop outs are inevitable but at the beginning I always tried to leave a comment for them if they’d started the challenge, in case they decided to pick it up later in the month. By midway through the month I adopted a five-day policy; if they’d gone five days without posting I assumed they were out and moved on to the next blog.