This is only a test — Please ignore

We’re having some issues with the pass-thru between Blogger and WordPress. We hope to have them worked out soon. Apologies for the interruption.

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#AtoZChallenge Sign Up Reminder!

Hi! Jayden, here, your new co-host for the A to Z Challenge! I’ve already interacted with many of you via email and comments adjusting your sign ups for the Master List. I just wanted to take a moment to give you all a few reminders about our new systems.

  • The last day to add your link to the Master List is March 31st. Check out our post for more details on how to sign up if you haven’t yet.

http://free.timeanddate.com/countdown/i650easo/cf12/cm0/cu4/ct0/cs0/ca0/cr0/ss0/cac000/cpc000/pcfff/tcfff/fs100/szw320/szh135/tatTime%20left%20to%20sign%20up!/tacf00/tptSign%20ups%20for%20A%20to%20Z%20have%20closed.%20/tpc000/mac000/mpc000/iso2018-03-31T23:55:00

  • You can add your links daily for more exposure, but it’s totally optional. A full list of all daily forms can be found here, or you can follow the A to Z Challenge Blog for daily posts that include the form link and the daily list link. 
  • If you need your information fixed on the Master List, please let me know in comment or email (jrvincente@gmail.com), but I will not be fixing daily lists.
  • A handful of people participate only by sharing links on Facebook or Twitter. It means far less exposure for you and your blog.
    • We highly recommend including ” #AtoZChallenge ” in your post titles and social media links.
  • Each daily link will close 48 hours after it opens.
  • The reason we did both lists is to accommodate 
    • participants who like the daily lists (which won’t have many broken link)
    • participants who don’t mind a few broken links, but want one Master List
  • The MASTER LIST also allows us to count how many people joined the challenge (approximately)
  • Some benefits of the Google Sheet are that it’s searchable, sortable, and filterable! The post linked above has instructions on how to do those things.
  • The Master List should include a link to your blog (Example: http://a-to-zchallenge.com/). The daily lists should include direct links to specific posts. (Example: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2018/03/master-list-sign-ups.html)
  • The Theme Reveal is now closed. You can check out direct links to theme reveals here, and take that as an opportunity to familiarize yourself with Google Sheets! 
A to Z Challenge

#AtoZchallenge Pre-Challenge Survey Results

If you were curious, here are some results from the 2018 Pre-Challenge Blogging from A to Z Poll.

(No, taking the survey was not manditory. Yes, you can still join the challenge if you didn’t take the survey. A big thank you to everyone who did take the survey! There will be one after the challenge, as well.)

71% of survey takers feel they are proficient in using Google Forms.

Google sheets, however, 28% of survey takers might be learning for the first time.

69% requested a video or written instructions on how to use forms and sheets. That’s why we made them available for you. Our team of cohosts has been getting a lot of questions which we hoped the videos had answered. It’d be great to know what or how the instructions were unclear. So, please, if you’re asking a question that we attempted to cover in the videos, but the instructions there were not enough, please include the timestamp of the portion of the video where we “lost” you. If we don’t know what’s confusing, we can’t make it better.

Passion Led Us Here image Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

81% of you wanted categories! (Don’t worry, we created a “don’t know/ prefer not to say category for the other 19%.)

A short theme description on the Master List? 69% of you said, “Yes, please!”

Sort the list? 60% of you are looking forward to this feature.

How did survey takers feel about posting links to their blog daily?
The longer a blogger has been with us, the less they liked the idea of that being the only option. However, a majority of people from all four groups agreed that “I would use both the Master List and Daily List (including posting my own link each day).”

According to the survey, people really want the Master List.

Leaving a comment on Facebook or Twitter was ranked mostly with a “3” on the 1 to 5 scale.  Those both remain optional.

Daily commenting on the blog ranked lowest. Thoughts on the matter included disheartening statements about there being far too many comments to keep up with, especially with the scrolling and needing to go to “load more” to find the next stack of comments. Participants saw a drop in visitors. And the further away a blogger was from the UTC timezone, the more they disliked it. (They were still in A, others were already in B.)

The only way the A to Z team can compensate for our global timezones is to offer the daily letter forms in advance. However, not everyone knows how to determine what their link will be before their post is live. (There are too many variables for us to try to teach that lesson.) We are NOT going to edit the daily letter sheets because they are relevant for such a short time. Daily letter linking up is optional.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

People who use Twitter are hoping for more Twitter chats (including different days and times). The team is working on it!

Deciding which blogs to comment on last year during the challenge was, overall, a matter of random picks. Some people only commented on blogs they knew or on the blogs of people who commented on their blog first. A couple bloggers only commented on blogs similar to their own. In previous years, categories were the most popular method of deciding which blogs to comment on first. (Random numbers were second.)

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Nearly everyone has participated in another blog hop at some point. Lots of them had to do with books or writing. IWSG is very popular among the A to Z crowd. Broken links, bloggers who drop out, or hosts who gave up mid-hop were the biggest complaints about other hops. A few of you were kind enough to say that A to Z is your favorite! 💗 Thanks! We love you, too.

A blog hop is a way to share your blog while also visiting, or hopping, to other blogs using the links of the participants. It’s a way to network, increase engagement, and build a community.

A few mentioned that they hate it when someone links up in the hop and then doesn’t comment on any other participating links. Others mentioned feeling too much pressure to comment on all the blogs.

Listen up: MOST people do not manage to visit EVERY blog in the A to Z challenge in April. There were 1,344 blogs in 2016. And 1,509 in 2015. BUT, if everyone makes an effort to comment on as many blogs as your schedule will allow, there are good odds that everyone will be visited. 

Non-list methods from other blog hops included daily emails with less than a dozen links, Facebook groups, or the use of pingbacks for WordPress blogs.

Some people who participated years ago asked if the random blog post picker would be back. (The one that figured out which blogs you hadn’t seen yet and suggested you see a set of randomly generated selected ones.) No, sadly, we don’t have that in the works. However, there are plenty of random number generators or dice rollers on the Internet, so you could try to fiddle around with those on your own.

One idea offered was making an e-book with our favorite posts. 

Also, people wanted more motivation to complete the challenge. Some survey takers asked if we could make all blogs more mobile friendly, get everyone to include images for Pinterest sharing, or if we could get WordPress and Blogger to play nicer together. (I appreciate the omnipotent-like power that some participants think the co-host team has over the blogosphere. Alas, we put our pants on one leg at a time.)

Probably NOT a picture of your A to Z team Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
^ Probably NOT a photo of Arlee, Zalka, John, Jayden, and J ^
(Strikingly similar though, right?)

For the people who asked, there’s a page on the site with the story of this challenge. CLICK

A handful of people would like to know how many followers each participant’s blog has currently.

People worried we’d require a theme, or require the use of Twitter and/or Facebook. We don’t. That’s optional. The nearest thing to a required theme is using the alphabet letter of the day, incorporating it some way in your post. (You could just toss in a picture of something that starts with that day’s letter and then do your blog post.)

There was the usual “debate” of some people requesting that people leave links in comments (easier to track them down and reciprocate), versus people who think links in the comment section look “spammy” and could alter Search Engine Optimization and Domain Authority. (Here’s a link to an article that discusses this issue in depth.) Here’s MY suggestion, which isn’t full proof but could help:

If that’s important to you, end your post with an open-ended question (so that people have something inspiring and original to write about in the comments); and also ask them NOT to leave a link, but rather to include their “blog name as it appears on the A to Z challenge Master List.” 

The Master List is searchable. You’d have a way to find the person who left a comment. Yes, this method will require a few more clicks, a bit more effort to reciprocate a comment. It could work though. Bonus: It requires no HTML.

HTML Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

THANK YOU to everyone who used the comments on the survey to thank the co-host team. 😁💖

Congratulations to Cheryl “Calensariel”
https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/blogging-from-a-to-z-april-challenge/
Winner of the pre-challenge survey giveaway.

Wow, this has been a long post. Here’s a link to a POTATO recipe I found on the blog of one of our participants: Simple Potato Fry

Don’t forget that there will be another survey in May, after the challenge is over.

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Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge #ThemeReveal

theme reveal #atozchallenge 2018 blogging

Welcome to the 2018 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal! While the Theme Reveal is optional, we highly recommend using this opportunity to share with everyone your plans for April!

Click here for a reminder on what the A to Z Challenge Means by THEME

When you fill out the form, you should select the

category of your Theme,

which may or may not be the category of your blog or other posts.

Each posting day in April, you will see a post that looks something like this one. Scroll down to find the links you’ll want to use! The first one is to the form where you can fill out the direct link of your Theme Reveal Post. In future posts, that’s where you’ll find the link for the form for each letter.

The second link takes you to the spreadsheet of participants who have filled out the form. This will only include participants who have completed this particular post’s form. (This is a great option for those who have been frustrated by having links on the list that are no longer active.)

The last link is the Master List of all participants. While the Master List spreadsheet may include some links to participants who drop out, it is still the best way to ensure you see every participant’s blog. 

#AtoZchallenge 2018 friendly new badge logo

To include a direct link to your blog post with your theme reveal, please click:
Here

This form will close at midnight UTC on 3/26. 

To visit other blogs in this bloghop challenge who have done a Theme Reveal, please click:
Here

#AtoZchallenge 2018 traditional badge logo

Click here for the MASTER LIST of all participants who signed up so far!

Sign ups for the Theme Reveal will close on: March 26 2018

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Idea Donation Day

Did you ever think of a great idea for the A to Z challenge, but not want to use it yourself? Perhaps it seemed like too much work for you, it didn’t fit the “brand” of your blog, or you already had an idea you liked more.

That’s what today’s post is for! Out there in the blogosphere are people who are thinking about joining the challenge, but they don’t know what they’d write 26 posts about. (Maybe you’re one of these people.) And here in the A to Z community are people with more ideas for the challenge then they could ever post about. (It could be that you’re one of them.)

So go for it! Drop off an idea in the comments that you’d like to see someone use for the challenge. Or pick up an idea from the comments and churn out 26 amazing posts. Maybe even both! Share with your community of bloggers.

from Blogger http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2018/03/idea-donation-day.html
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An A to Z List of Why You Should Do WRiTE CLUB

Was’up alphabet champions! A few of you may remember me, six years ago (which feels like a lifetime ago now) I was one of the co-hosts of the A-Z Challenge. I’ve participated in the challenge multiple times throughout my nine-year blogging adventure, but this year I’m taking this opportunity to bend your ear (or rather, eyes) about a different topic.
For the past seven years I’ve hosted a tournament-style creative writing contest and I wanted to let you know about it because 1) Most of you are writers, 2) It’s a blast, 3) There are significant prizes, and 4) It’s FREE! Here’s an A to Z list of why you should be doing it.
  •        Aspiring authors can solicit a ton of feedback from a wide variety of readers.
  •        Bloggers are writers, even if they’ve not written a novel. Go ahead and submit.
  •        Contests (especially respected ones like PitchWars) are a fun way to make connections
  •        DFW Writers Conference is a partner/sponsor of the contest.
  •        Easy as pie. Submit a 500-word writing sample using a pen name.
  •        Fulfilling to see your work garnish the praise it deserves.
  •        Genre agnostic. Submit anything – even Poetry.
  •        Help other writers refine their voice by offering meaningful feedback via votes.
  •        I can do this! Keep telling yourself that and submit.
  •        June 9-10 are the dates for the DFW Conference – where the winner will be announced.
  •        Keep your real identity hidden by using a pen name. It’s a No embarrassment zone!
  •        Last round judged by panel of celebrity judges – authors, literary agents, publishers.
  •        March 12 – April 1 is the contest open submission period.
  •        Newbies and seasoned writers compete against one another.
  •        Only tournament-style writing contest on the internet.
  •        Prizes Prizes Prizes.
  •        Quintessential writing contest for writers wanting to see how they stack up.
  •        Read the entries and vote on your favorite. You don’t have to submit to participate
  •        Spread the word to anyone and everyone. We need both contestants and voters.
  •        Thirty contestants are selected by slushpile readers to participate in daily bouts.
  •        Universal appeal.
  •        Voters can win a prize also.
  •        WRiTE CLUB – Just Do It!
  •        X-citing to the MAX!
  •        Your easiest way to get your material in the hands of people who matter in the industry.
  •        Zip on over to the WRiTE CLUB link to find out more information.

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