blogs / marketing

#AtoZ Reflections

With the end of AtoZ Challenge, it’s good to evaluate successes and failures. Here are a few thoughts:

  • AtoZ is a massive commitment (a themed post a day for a month; lots of visits to new bloggers–overall, a couple hours a day in my case). That is why I again tweaked it to work for me, which meant I published about a post a week on a theme I started last year. I got through P this year and might finish Q-Z before next year’s AtoZ.
  • I did register for the AtoZ Challenge so I got a few visitors. These folks, I responded to and then visited their blogs. In all, that was probably only 15-20 new bloggers, not counting my usual community.
  • Why did I do it this way? Here’s some (very) rough data I collected before last year, when I decided to change my approach. If you already read this a few years ago, skip ahead!
    • 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!
  • Good stuff: By visiting other participants, I got a mini-education in quite a few topics I am now conversant in.

Overall, for me, the suggested approach doesn’t work for my goals of building blog readership. It may for others–no doubt–and it is a lot of fun to get a mini-education in a whole bunch of topics. So you’ll have to decide for yourself: Is this a good way to spend your time?


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 the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Summer 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

52 thoughts on “#AtoZ Reflections

  1. As with all things blogging, we have to make up our minds what works for US. That being said, I do feel a lot of guilt when I don’t do A or B.

    Anyway, I joined A-Z during the first year of my Roaming About blog, in April 2016, and I remember it was enjoyable (I didn’t have much else going on – my memoir was in the very early stages – and was committed to this challenge), but VERY time consuming. It was the first year I ever joined, I didn’t plan ahead (not my thing anyway), and I decided to follow a theme. A serious challenge and I succeeded, but I can honestly say that it was almost a full-time occupation, because of visiting other blogs and leaving comments there.

    I never joined the challenge again after that, since I felt like I couldn’t muster the time needed and I had “better things” to do. Your schedule would work much better! Good for you, for tweaking it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting. I felt the same way though I did two years and did prepare. Still, it took forever! And the guilt of throwing so much at regular readers–I like my maverick approach much better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate you sharing your “results” with us. That’s what I like. You always give us the pros and cons of your projects. I participated a few years ago. I haven’t done it again because of the hours required for the research and writing. I want to write books. But I do agree, the topic is the attraction for visitors, especially for new visitors. I wish there were a universal topic so we could write for everyone!!! And yes, sunshine time is more important at this stage of life.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Self-evaluation is perhaps one of the most critical but overlooked things that we all should do. I’m talking about all aspects of our lives—not just writing. If we can’t justify why we are doing something, then perhaps it is time to look at another approach.

    I commend anyone who can keep up with the commitment of the AtoZ Challenge, but I could never devote that kind of time.

    Whether you participate again, I know that I’ll continue to return to your blog because you always have stimulating content.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I enjoy the posts, Jacqui. They’re short and informative. I notice the lower engagement as well lately too. I think it’s the virus and everyone feeling disjointed. And I’m glad you’ve tailored your blog to accommodate your other priorities. Makes total sense! I do the same. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It sounds very time consuming, Jacqui, although I’ve enjoyed your posts. Good way to break it down to see how you want to proceed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting stats, Jacqui! While doing the A to Z, I always found an increase in visitors, comments, etc., but they would die down again in May, so was it worth it? Yes, when it comes to meeting new bloggers and forging online friendships, but no, when it comes to everything else. I stopped participating after 2017. The time commitment was insane, and it always led to burnout. Your approach sounds like a better way to do it. 👍 I hope you and your family are doing well in these difficult times. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with everything you said. I didn’t mind the time except that it took away from writing my book and I felt it unfairly burdened my regular readers. I struggled to keep up with bloggers I love and their once a day posts! Thanks for sharing, Debbie.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I did like reading your AtoZ. I doubt it’s something I do to increase readership of my blog. Like you I’d have my doubts if it really works.

    However, sometimes a good series posts on a subject can be a draw.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Jacqui – it’s always the way we look at it … you’ve got a fair number of visitors and others who know others … so your spread could be very wide. Also you’re active with your other blog and on FB and Twitter and possibly Instagram … et al – way too much for me: I just blog. You’ll always have commenters because your posts are unique and helpful … just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t worry … but as Annika says – this year I’m sure will be different for many with the pandemic info. I just enjoy being here … you’re authentic, unique and down to earth … all good for the commenter’s soul. Stay safe – Hilary

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Blogging is a commitment to stay on social media. I have tried to stay committed to sharing. There is so much content on social media it’s hard to stand out so people will read and respond. I wish I had built my network when you did Jacqui. It takes courage and focus to keep on keeping on. Thanks for hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

      • For me, FB are friends, family and group connections. I soft blog (sell) my books with blog tours and Bublish book bubbles once a week. I receive a lot of traffic on FB when I post food or pictures with stories of my daily life. My age group is over 40. I watch for friends who post and respond. I receive by email a list of birthdays of people who are my connections from Facebook each day. I send each person a birthday greeting.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I would never commit to something as time consuming as A – Z. I know I have days when work goes pear shaped and I don’t get time to do much on my blog or anyone else’s either. I think the way you did it was great. Very manageable and I got to read them all this time around.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Thanks for sharing your data, Jacqui. It’s really interesting. I could never make the commitment to a post a day for a month. I think the way you have done it is fine and it has obviously worked for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Interesting. I didn’t do A to Z this year and your numbers made me curious so I checked my 2018 and 2019 April (A-Z) and 2020 April (random mostly-daily posts).

    2018: 165 visitors, 1356 views
    2019: 175 visitors, 796 views
    2020: 301 visitors, 750 views

    I realised after last year the topic makes a big difference. 2018 = serial killers, 2019 = John Williams’ film scores.

    I’m planning on giving it a go again in 2021 (my 5th time) but now I’ll watch the numbers and see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jacqui, first don’t you think the fall in visitors for April is down to world events … I know I and many others have found it difficult to focus on blogging for just now.

    As long as you’ve enjoyed the process I think it’s a success and I’ve loved reading and learning from your research.

    Take care and keep safe & well! Xx

    Liked by 3 people

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