Thursday, 13 February 2014
The comprehensive and slightly odd guide to the April A to Z blogging Challenge
Over the last couple of years I have had a go at the rather popular April A to Z blogging Challenge, the brain child of a Mr Arlee Bird, which just sort of took off (No pun intended Mr B). Anyway I have always gone slightly over kill at this, but then that is the nature of me and my blog. I will give a few examples in a bit. One thing about this challenge though is if you are new to it, it is difficult to know what to expect, as you will see and hear things both for and against. So this post is here to help you get to grips with what to expect during April and beyond.
First it is not easy unless you already post on an almost daily basis, as writing blog posts takes time and if you don’t have the time you will be doomed. So if time is limited make sure you write your posts well in advance. Then there is much talk of themes and should folk have a theme or not and is it easier. Well the key thing to remember is the theme is the alphabet from A to Z, surprisingly (to me) many blogs keep the A to Z component of this challenge really loose and will maybe just have a nod to the letter in the post title. Say if you were writing about chickens and you cant think of a chicken for M you can just have a blog title that says . . . . More Chickens . . . . . Then never use the letter M again in the post. Then there is the sub theme option which in the given example would be . . . The A to Z of Chickens . . . . . .. so a theme within a theme so to speak. . . . . . .
Why did the chicken cross the road. . . . .
To get away from the A to Z . . . . .
HAH AH HAHAHH AH HAH HA HAHHAH AH ha ha ha ha ha ha.
However I, as I have already said, have always gone slightly overkill with the idea, which is why this year I am being a little more chilled and have created . . . . . . The A to Z of Aardvark based nonsense poetry . . . well it is all just one long nonsense poem as it happens, and seems to have got a bit stuck at the letter A.
What this shows you is that you can create posts about almost everything and anything as long as you can sort of get some sort of link (however loosely to the days letter of the alphabet).
Next and also rather important is don’t (unlike this post today) make your posts long. OK you might love the History of Cheese in Post Revolutionary China and its Context in Improving Urban Heath, but the chances are 1000+ words per letter of the alphabet on this will not grip the masses in quite the same way (I know it’s a shock, but true). So keep things short and if you must, just sneak in the odd longer post. So say in general 100 to 200 words and maybe the odd one at 500. I know you really want to write loads more, but leave that till after the A to Z; think of it as a promotional jolly for your blog rather than detailed info for the converted. OOOOOooooooo yes pictures are good too but be aware of copyright issues so try and use your own.
OK lets assume you have a good theme and manage to get all the posts done, having worked hard every night for weeks, long into the dark. You’re on the list along with about 2000 other blogs. You are all keen and expecting hundreds of visitors and comments and many many followers who will heap praise on you and say you are a genius (Oooooooo just so you all know I am a genius). Well it might happen, but will probably not happen and there are reasons for this, very good reasons. Firstly I am not a genius . . . . . . sorry I mean you are not a genius (I am sure I am). You see everyone doing the A to Z and managing to hang in there and keep up to date is rather busy posting and trying to keep on top of the fact they need to post every day. Then on top of that, are you really going to spend hours visiting other blogs reading the blog and then writing a comment . . . . I mean there are like 2000 of them we would all need time machines to do stuff like that, it is not possible and anyway I am a genius not them they are rubbish and know nothing about Chinese Cheese or Chickens that begin with the letter M.
So do not expect more from the A to Z than realistically it can deliver, do it until it starts to stress you out. It is after all a bit like a fun run yes good to finish, but not if you slip and break a leg. You do not need to try and run the next 10 miles or drag yourself along the road screaming. Just walk away and do your own thing. You see some folk feel they must finish at all costs and having finished find they have two more followers who never comment ever again and they get disheartened and stop blogging entirely. Your Blog after all is your Blog for you to enjoy and if others do too then Brill, if you don’t enjoy creating it then it is time to think of using that time for something you do enjoy like eating cake ( I like eating cake).
One final point there is much talk of following loads of blogs so they follow you back and then you have loads and loads of followers, this is OK if it is what you wish, but I would say (this is just me) don’t do that just follow those blogs you really enjoy. Think to yourself how many blogs can I realistically keep track of. I for one would rather have lots of page views than lots of followers who don’t actually follow. There are a very small number of bloggers who will follow almost every blog on the A to Z purely to get you to follow back I have two or three from my first A to Z who have never commented since, I cant see the point for either them or me.
I could say much much more particularly on the state of the Cheese Industry in China, but I will end with a few links (above) to a couple of my previous A to Z posts. They, as you will see are a bit extreme, but it might just help you with ideas, but remember do what you are happy doing and enjoy it. . . Please do not burn yourself out it is after all just a game. . . . .
I guess I could also mention I am working behind the seems as one of the Back Room Boys this year. . . . .Although between you me and the fence post I am not sure entirely what I need to do yet.
Finally as a special treat I will give you an exclusive preview to this years theme
The Slightly Eccentric
A to Z Aardvark based nonsense poetry
of Rob Z Tobor
The slimy slippery serpent slips silently underneath the . . . . Side Walk
In the dark where man and beast get eaten by a grumpy old . . . . . . . Night Hawk
And little dogs run about and annoy pedestrians with their barks
And every one will run and hide with the arrival of . . . . . . . . .
Monstrous man eating