Four days since the final post for the A – Z Challenge was due and 1, 516 fellow participants have emerged from the rabbit hole that was April. So much energy, writing, visiting, commenting and scurrying as we polished draft posts before hitting the publish button.
And now the Selah, the pause and reflection: time to take our hands off the keyboard and think about what was good, what was uplifting, what was surprising and take a look at the good, the bad and the excellence of the challenge
The Good: Having over one and a half thousand writers from which to choose to visit made it easy to visit a few each day. Because there are so many blogs I did not get to I am considering stepping on board the A – Z Road Trip.
My loosely-wound theme was the different places to which I had travelled as well as a number of unrelated-to-travel posts, well, just because. Nonetheless, I covered the alphabet as required by the challenge and posted twenty-six days – one post for each letter of the alphabet. Sunday was on our own agenda when I surfaced for breath, drank fresh coffee and chocolate-chomped my way through the Easter stash.
Although I try to have some kind of editorial calendar as a rule, I knew I couldn’t repeat last year’s night before stressors. This year I started planning in March and scheduled as many posts as possible. That was gold. Anyone who has written travel posts will know how tricky it can be finding that perfect photo on the hard drive, somewhere. Having that information at my fingertips before settling down to write was a testimony to focussed organisation. Yes, I have kept editorial calendars in the past, although this was the first time I had really done my homework and research in advance (can I keep it up). It kept the pressure at manageable levels and helped to maintain focus for each piece. When I didn’t feel like writing, I could spend time finding appropriate images. I loved that.
This year’s challenge was more enjoyable than last year’s for a number of reasons. The most important being the diligent approach to the editorial calendar and the knock-on benefits. The other reason -I lowered the bar and posted shorter pieces and used photos. I also gave myself permission to occasionall post something quite unrelated to travel … it worked.
General readership was up by 16% over the month with the first two weeks indicating a 23% increase in readership. However, this momentum dropped over the next fortnight while the final week was abysmal – which pulled the average down to 16% – still an increase. I think that is probably how many sites fared during the challenge. Expecting folk to maintain that high level of enthusiasm – in the midst of life – is unrealistic, I feel.
Would I take part in the challenge again? Yes. While stats are interesting they are not the reason I write. I enjoy reading other bloggers’ work and contributing to their readership. The exposure works in both directions. As I visit and read, my horizons are broadened and the feedback provided on this site helps me improve my writing skills.
The busiest day was Tuesday 23rd April when the Topkapi Palace post was published. Readership seemed to enjoy the travel content over other topics covered in the month. I would love to be travelling more but thems the breaks and work does interfere with adventure.
The Not So Good: When I think of the effort in setting the posts up, time spent visiting and commenting on other blogs it is a disappointing result. On the up side, if I am looking for some zombie-centric information, I know where to go; or something for that difficult to buy for person – got that covered too and for the young punks who want to set up their own garage studio I’m in the know there as well. I was surprised by the number of blogs devoted to vampires, witches and extra-terrestrial beings.
A Suggestion: Perhaps having one well publicised site for the year’s challenge might lessen confusion. I found it difficult to know who was doing what and where to find information. Maybe one site with different menus on the side bar for each stage of the challenge.
Some Thank Yous: First of all a big thank you to the organisers and associate behind-the-scene gurus. I cannot image the work that goes into organising such an epic gig but it doesn’t stop me appreciating your efforts on our behalf. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Also you visited my blog a few times and even left comments. I am humbled and elated that you took time to do that for me (and for everyone else too, but I felt noticed). Secondly thank you to the faithful readers who have stopped by to read and comment, I appreciate you.
My Highlights: There are so many excellent bloggers who participated in the A – Z Challenge in April that I cannot hope to mention them all. However, I did enjoy the contributions made by:
- Wangi Writer who challenged herself to a poem each day; wonderful poetry in many forms, well worth the time to browse
- Thoughts and Entanglements combined poetry and her quest to be more knowledgeable about particular artists in her theme for the month. Loved the paintings chosen to accompany the posts.
- Praise, Prayers and Observations is the blogging home of Jess Ferguson who spent April blogging through the alphabet while she shared the journey of on-going home renovations.
- The Old Shelter: Sarah posted he way through the alphabet with the roaring twenties as her theme. The twenties were the ‘flapper’ years, I loved the clothing, elegance and audacity of that era. I remember seeing the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie and being impressed by the vitality, oomph and pizzaz of the times.