With the end of AtoZ Challenge, it’s good to evaluate successes and failures. AtoZ is a massive commitment (a post a day for a month; lots of visits to new bloggers–overall, a couple hours a day in my case). This is my second time on this popular blog hop and my question is, Do I join again next year?
Here are my thoughts:
- The program requires a blog a day for 26 days in the month of April. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I pre-wrote and scheduled all of the articles on my topic, Writing Genres, so most of my time was spent visiting other posts and responding to comments from people who found me. That did take 2ish hours a day, but when it’s as interesting as it turned out to be, I didn’t notice (except, of course, I didn’t get my other work done).
- I committed myself to not only posting my article but responding to all comments, visiting commenters, and visiting about 15-20 other AtoZ participants every day. Visitees came from a list folks signed up on my blog ahead of time and AtoZ’s master list.
- When I started, I asked readers to sign up on a Google Forms list if they were participating and I’d visit them each day. My goal had been to support each other by at least reciprocal visits. That didn’t happen. I think many of these folks did visit and leave a ‘like’ but not a comment. I really didn’t get to know them as I’d hoped. I probably won’t do this next year.
- Some rough (very rough) data:
- Overall, I had fewer visitors than usual–not the goal! I usually get between 1000-1500 a day. In April, I got between 900-1300 per day. Speculation: Too many posts? One theme that may or may not appeal to people? Hmm…
- Overall, AtoZ April was my lowest month for comments in almost 2 years (December 2017 was lower but every December is). That surprised me. I know I commented on a ton more posts than usua. I knew to make A to Z worth would require I visit lots more people. Again, hmmm….
- In an odd way this lower engagement makes sense. People visited my AtoZ posts on genres who were interested in the theme. Those posts were significantly different from my usual posts (writing tips, writing and tech, and book reviews). When I dug into the WordPress data for how I did after last year’s AtoZ, it was similar. That moved me from Hmmm… to Yikes!
- My most commented on post was the first, Anthology, with the second (Blog) as the second-most commented.
- Good stuff: By visiting other participants, I got a mini-education in quite a few topics I am now conversant in.
- It took me all 30 days to get through the long list of entrants on the AtoZ master list in my genre (writing)–and even then, I missed some.
- I was surprised how many people clicked ‘like’ without adding a comment. To me, AtoZ is about connecting.
- I’m staying in touch with many of the bloggers I meant during this Challenge–and they’re doing the same. I think we all recognize the commitment it takes to build a successful online platform and we’re willing to help each other.
Overall, not what I expected. I love the new people I met and all the new info I stuffed into my brain. But I don’t think it worked for building my blog (for example, I didn’t get many new followers). That’s why I participated but I’m now wondering how much that matters. Really, I don’t have an answer for that.
The question is: Should I do AtoZ again? I’d love to hear from you–what you did differently that made things work better.
More AtoZ Reflections:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature series. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.