A to Z Challenge

Reflecting on the #AtoZChallenge 2019

April had been one crazy ride. Though, honestly, I can’t remember where the time went… Thankfully I had decided after the first week of craziness to write and schedule the rest of the month. Regular readers will remember that I had issues with my chickens at the start of April.

Anyhow, let’s get to how this year’s A-Z went for me.

My posts’ performance compared to previous years:

In 2016, I had a couple of comments and likes with my haphazard folklore theme. Master list with Linky lists.

In 2017, I had a surge of comments and likes with my regular blog schedule of flash fiction, short stories, folklore and writing posts. Social media centric with adding links on a live post every day on the host blog, a master list included.

In 2018, I had regular comments and likes with my everything writerly theme. Google forms with daily lists.

In 2019, I barely had any comments with my music and writing theme. Master list with Google forms.

What did I do differently?

Nothing. Each year, I start by downloading the master list, highlighting blogs I think will be interesting and then working through the list. Sometimes themes capture me and I try to keep up by visiting daily/weekly and reading, commenting and sharing the posts. I also add a link to that day’s letter in my comment to make it easy to visit back.

Possible reasons for decline in visits and comments on my blog:

  1. I changed from a free WordPress site to my own (still WordPress, but without the like-button so not much difference in the user-experience).
  2. I was higher up on the list than usual (I signed up early enough to not be somewhere in the muggy middle).
  3. My posts were short and to the point, gave lots of info about the artist(s)/band(s) featured with a word of the day and a couple of links for more info outside of the site and an embedded YouTube video. (Maybe people just don’t like words or music – my much longer posts of previous years did a lot better.)
  4. Though I tried for a diverse cast of artists/bands, maybe I just didn’t fulfil the expectations of visitors. (Maybe they prefer a non-themed approach?)
  5. Comments seem to disappear down a gremlin’s throat after one has commented, perhaps the heads-up at the end of posts not to worry scared people? (On my old site comments showed up immediately. This is something I’m still figuring out. Bear with me.)
  6. My post titles were confusing. (I was trying to be clever and funny, but whatever.)

Conclusion about my posts’ performance:

They were boring or baffling to most people. Or, like Anu from the last season of The Big Bang Theory, those who ended up on my blog and didn’t comment just don’t like music.

My experience of the A-Z as a whole this year:

The negative:

  1. A lot of people didn’t visit and comment.
  2. A lot of blogs stopped with the challenge around F.
  3. Some never visited back – no matter how much I commented on and shared their posts on Twitter @mentioning them.
  4. Some blogs were so baffling, I couldn’t navigate them and gave up. (No indication what letter they were at or even if they were really participating in the A-Z – which is why I add the day’s letter badge to my posts.)
  5. Maybe I’m the only one who experienced this, but there was a decline in communication among bloggers participating in the challenge this year. (Or maybe they were just too bored and baffled by my posts to say anything – except my die-hard fans who visited regularly.)
  6. I had a rise in spam comments (so it is possible for people – and bots – to comment if they really want to).

The positive:

  1. I learned how to create a Blogger profile to replace my Google+ profile (for those who don’t know: Google+ was discontinued officially on April 2nd).
  2. I met new people and connected more deeply with old friends.
  3. I had fun with my theme (researching, writing, reading comments, etc.).

My favourite blogs for the A-Z 2019:

I enjoyed other blogs, too, but these are the ones that came to mind when I had to think of who I enjoyed visiting (and who actually visited me back and had finished the challenge).

My A-Z posts 2019

Next?

Of course I’ll participate again next year. And going by the trends I looked at above, I think I’ll just do something I usually do on my blog. Folklore? Rottweilers? Writing? I have a lot of time to think about this and write nice and long posts, because clearly short and sweet just didn’t cut it.

I’m off to drink more coffee and do more blog hopping. How about you? Did you read my A-Z posts? What did you think? If you participated, how did you experience the A-Z this year?

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26 thoughts on “Reflecting on the #AtoZChallenge 2019”

  1. Hello Ronel, after the end of the challenge, I was going to stop by the master list and catch up on reading everyone’s posts. Not that I wasn’t interested, just a full schedule outside the blogging world! I personally love music, so you might be getting delayed responses from me unfortunately!

  2. I have never done the A to Z challenge and I admire those who do. I love your quote. I’m off to go drink more coffee and get my babies up, too. I hope the chickens are okay. 🙂

  3. I have a self-hosted WordPress blog (on my Ask a Tech Teacher blog) and it has a like button. Not sure how I got it there. Jetpack maybe?

    I always enjoy your posts, Ronel. You put such attention to detail in each. I am one who rarely commented but I wasn’t really following the AtoZ guidelines so I give myself a pass. I enjoy reading your reactions. How interesting, the differences year to year.

    1. Thanks, Jacqui 🙂 I also have Jetpack — I just had to ask people in the know how to get the like-button installed. LOL. My tech skills are a bit lacking some days. I’m glad you enjoy my posts 🙂

  4. Hi Ronel!
    Sorry I wasn’t very active on visiting this year. It has been a very busy year since the beginning and come April I was quite spent.
    But I want to go through your challenge post, though I have to admit, I’m more of a folklore reader than a music one 😉

    Anyway, I’ve also noticed a decline in connecting among bloggers. There are a lot of new bloggers that don’t seem to get the gist of the challenge (but it’s just my impression). Most of the ones that visited my blog were old friends from the previous challenges. Because I didn’t manage to comment a lot on new blogs as I normally do (I prefered to return the visits and comments I got, mostly by friends) I didn’t meet a lot of new people. And yes, sure, I know I didn’t do my part, still there is something to say about it if we don’t get any new visitor unless we visit first. This said, I did comment on a few new blogs, but nobody ever returned the visit.

    Anyway, things should be a bit calmer for me in the next couple of months. I’ll try to catch up with everyone 😉

  5. Congratulations on completing the challenge, and thank you for joining us! I did enjoy your posts, and you were wonderfully active during the challenge. I don’t think the decline in comments had anything to do with how good your posts were, it seems to be a phenomenon happening across the challenge this year. I agree with the comment above, a lot of people did not seem to visit around at all unless they were visited first. Too bad. Let’s hope it picks up again next year! 🙂

    The Multicolored Diary

  6. Ronel,

    I was a lousy friend to not visit this April. Shame on me! Mewsic is a favorite with me so I know this is a good series and from the ‘Z’ post that I read this morning, I did not find it boring at all. I actually loved the way you presented it – to the point with good facts and a great song! Bravo! I’m bookmarking this post so I can begin working my way back through it to catch up, as I mentioned previously of my intent and remember, if you’re a fan of mewsic then just remember you’re always welcome to hit the dance floor with me for Monday’s Mewsic Moves Me.

    I kept plenty busy, so I’m not sure if there was a decline but most visitors are people I already know. Some were participating in the challenge but a lot of my bloggy friends were not. They’re just loyalist to a fault. 😉 I am glad the lack of comments isn’t dissuading you from future participation. Next year it might be different in the way people visit/comment. You know I think sometimes the involvement to go from one blogger to another makes some too hurried, I know I felt that way at times, and it’s an easy oversight to not hit like or share. I’ve done that but often I catch my mistake going back to do both if I can. Then, there are those who don’t understand the importance of doing these things. You’re an excellent writer and I always love what you bring to the table. Have a good week, my friend!

    April 2019 Reflections – a look at the #atozchallenge and what I learned

    1. Thanks so much, Cathy 🙂 This was my first time to do something different on the blog — music instead of writing tips or folklore posts — and it was a little disheartening to see how little interest people showed. At least it wasn’t just me! I’ll join you for mewsic on Mondays once the craziness of May and June have passed.

  7. ‘Maybe I’m the only one who experienced this, but there was a decline in communication among bloggers participating in the challenge this year. ‘ – I think I’ve experienced this also – there’s just this general uninterested air around, I don’t know why, I just wasn’t all that interested in almost all the themes this year.

    I must admit, I’m one of those that visited you a few times but still couldn’t get interested enough in your posts to leave a comment.

    have a lovely day.

  8. I appreciated the work you’d put into your posts, but you know me, I like content, so it was a bit too slimmed down (to the AtoZs guidelines) for me to get into.

    But thanks for your support, well done in getting through it.

    And well done for coping with the change to self-hosted WP–see my ‘one year on’ post here: http://jemimapett.com/blog/2015/02/23/self-hosted-wordpress-what-ive-learnt-in-my-first-year/
    or my ‘three years on’ here: http://jemimapett.com/blog/2017/01/16/self-hosted-wordpress-three-years-on/

  9. I also found I received a lot less comments this year. I think a lot of people sign up only to see what they can get out of the challenge without being willing to put the effort in. Luckily, there are some great people who do take part fully which keeps the challenge worth doing
    Debbie

  10. I also found a lot less comments this year as well. Of course, I attributed that to my own technical issues and first world problems that prevented me from visiting as many as I would have liked. I do appreciate you stopping by with your comments on my blog.

  11. I see you’ve got the ‘Like’ button sorted now. 🙂

    Re: comments swallowed by gremlins ~ To change your comment settings on a self-hosted WP blog:

    1. From your Dashboard, go to Settings –> Discussion Settings

    2. Un-check the box that says “Comment must be manually approved”

    3. Check the box that says “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”

    4. Save changes

    This should save you time and save your commenters from feeling like their words have been swallowed by the ether. 🙂

    Congrats on finishing the challenge!

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