Reflections on A to Z 2013

a to z survivor_[2013]Time for the annual reflections post on this year’s April A to Z challenge.

THE PLUSES:

My blog specifically

The opportunity to let people know this blog exists.Outcome: my readership, and my commenters, increased enormously.

The pleasure of sharing some beautiful places in Australia world-wide, a virtual tour. Outcome: this seemed to be well received.

The chance to have some fun with the Aussie-isms. Outcome: readers seemed to enjoy them, and it was interesting to see which phrases we have in common.

Outcome for me overall: I really enjoyed reading people’s comments and seeing places through their eyes. I found some great new-to-me blogs!

For the first couple of weeks I had posts pre-scheduled but then after significant computer problems, I was scurrying.  I had pre-planned my themes almost as last year’s challenge finished, and prepared a spreadsheet checklist of topics, though I did change one or two closer to the time.

It’s been great seeing that my visitors have come from all over the world, but I wish I’d thought to put a map counter on my blog before we started rather than after!

I’ve added a new page to my blog so all my A to Z 2013 posts are in one place.

A to Z in general

I really liked the coding to each blog and regretted not “reading the manual” before I posted my link. In my defence, that conspicuous warning notice hadn’t then been added.

I enjoy sharing across the different themes – like reading a different book genre it opens you up to new blogs.

There seemed to be fewer blogs requiring CAPTCHA shenanigans this year, but still some.

I did a Sunday Synopsis post for three weeks listing some of the blogs I read, but again technical problems and life in general slowed me down.

The tip to put our signature with a hot link to the A to Z blog was great! Thanks guys!

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

My blog specifically

I’d just completed the February Photo Collage Festival every day in Feb on my other blog so hitting another daily commitment for a month was a strain. I wouldn’t do back-to-back like that again.

Pre-planning the posts worked well as did scheduling posts, but the hunting for photos took a fair bit of time: an incentive to keep working on my photo archives in the coming year.

The technical problems I had with two laptops being started from scratch and learning new programs meant that I was playing catch-up for the last two weeks.

A to Z in general

I think the now-huge list is just too massive to cover. Perhaps it’s more reasonable to expect that bloggers aim for a more realistic target. For example I really don’t like fantasy writing (sorry authors!) so I’m unlikely to invest much time there, nor do I have any worthwhile comments to make. There are other themes where I’d happily spend my time.

While it’s nice to know someone has “liked” your post, I prefer comments – probably we all do. Having said that if I’ve commented on several posts on a blog I’d like to be able to just “like” another one or two of their posts. Many bloggers don’t provide a “like” option at all.

If I go to the trouble of making a comment I find it so frustrating if people don’t bother to respond. It feels like you’re left talking to yourself.

Some blogs seemed to have their A to Z posts quite obscured. Sidebar links? Top bars?

We all make typos from time to time, but some bloggers mis-spell so much it’s hard to make sense of what they’re saying. I’m being a grammar tyrant but it sets my teeth on edge. Yes, I know that’s down to individual bloggers and not the organisers or the challenge itself.

I follow my favourite blogs via Google Reader rather than subscribe via email and with the loss of Reader mid-year I’m going to have to move to Feedly or something else. The challenge is keeping up with reading the myriad blogs I follow especially when life gets in the way.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

Right now I’m saying to myself “I’ve done two A to Z challenges I won’t do another” but that may be the February challenge speaking as well.

Give me a month or two and my position will be clearer. Much will depend on whether I have a theme I want to follow. (Oh no, I just thought of one!)

KUDOS

Thanks to Arlee Bird and all the co-organisers and supporters who visited many blogs. I wonder if they managed any sleep in April?

Thanks also to the new readers of my blog and the wonderful people who commented, once, twice or many times. You made my days!

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32 thoughts on “Reflections on A to Z 2013

  1. I have started using “The Old Reader” to replace Google Reader. After the initial long time it took to download my list and pruning duplicates because I’d added some while I waited, it’s working fine. I recommend transfering now while you can still use google reader.

    I agree about the long list being impossible to find stuff. And I think I may add a counter. I’ve no idea how many people visited my blog during the challenge if they didn’t comment.

    Yay! Glad you thought of a new theme. I look forward to reading your Challenge 2014.

    • Thanks Kristin. I’ll try the Old Reader and see whether I prefer it to Feedly. I do wish I’d done a counter because of the geographic spread, but better late than never I guess, in my case. Will I succomb in 2014?

  2. I agree. There are so many blogs, it’s hard to find the ones that really interest. I think the “theme” idea this year helped some. But maybe asking people to pick a broad category and a theme for next year would help. For example, I love travel and photography blogs, and would read every one if I could pull them up easily. Otherwise, I use my WordPress reader and plug in my own categories. That helped a lot.
    Congrats on finishing no one, but two challenges. I hope to see you in 2014, but also along the way in the rest of 2013. (I have you in my WordPress reader.)

    • Thanks for commenting Janice and adding me to WP reader. I’m sure the organisers will come up with strategies to help us out, but the sheer numbers are daunting. I found writing a Sunday Synopsis helped me to keep track of which ones I’d read and liked, though I did visit some that just didn’t grab me. It’s always horses for courses isn’t it?

  3. Excellent post. You’ve made some excellent points. I agree about the massive list. Someday I want to accomplish my dream of programming the list to provide participants options of how they want to approach the Challenge. Someday.

    Be sure to add your link to the list. It will be opening in about an hour from when I’m entering my comment.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

    • Thanks Lee…I can’t even begin to imagine how all of you guys kept across them. Thank you so much for the opportunity A to Z provides to all bloggers. I’ll certainly add to the Linky List.

  4. What a great idea to have a page just for the 2013 A to Z posts! I loved reading about Australia as it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve been. Great job!

    • Thanks Tracy -as I said I saw the idea on Pete Denton’s blog and decided to be a copy cat. I’m glad you enjoyed your revisit Down Under.

  5. Well said there! Seems like we both had similarly challenging issues along the way 🙂

    Hope you do decide to do another one next year!

    Great post and happy blogging 🙂

    • Thanks Andy. I enjoyed the time and process a lot more before all the laptops went on strike! Maybe next year given a big trip we have coming up later this year.

  6. Pauleen, I have loved your posts, although I have still to re-read them and comment. Like you I have an idea for next year which occurred to me in the middle of April, so I have a sheet of random thoughts in preparation.

    I am dreading the move from Google Reader – I use Feeddler Pro and read via my iPad and am not happy with my routine being disrupted!, So I suspect that I might change to Feedly or perhaps Flipboard.

    • Thanks Julie, I’m so far behind with reading and commenting so that’s going to be my priority for the next little while. I confess I deserted my blogging mates since I knew where you all were and would get back to you.

      Yes, I’m ticked off about Google Reader too. Haven’t quite got fully engaged with Feedly. Some pluses, some minuses. Why do they do these things to us?

      • I desertered (only temporarily) my blogging mates too! I have done a bit of catching up this morning. Perhaps next year we will hear about your African trip – ironic as we have our 20th Wedding anniversary next Summer and as you possibly recall we married in Kenya. We shall not be there though, but in your neck of the woods (hopefully!)

        As to Google Reader – whatever happened it “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”?

  7. I don’t use readers, and never sub by mail. I keep a blog log of people who frequent my blog with comments and that’s who I visit. I think having a like post option is silly, it can’t help your blog traffic, and people can easily do that without even reading the post. It’s like the people that answer you via email instead of returning the favor of a blog visit and comment…really hate that. Many folks did make it difficult with needing to join, or sign in using facebook, which I did not do; but wasted time reading and getting ready to post comments. I like variety too and so ignored the categories, but the fantasy stuff seems to be in over abundance and I’m not a fan of it either.

    • I think we all use whatever process works best to help us keep up with the writers we enjoy. Much as the writing is the main element of the fun it’s the comments that keep us going, or it is for me.

  8. Hi Pauleen, in spite of your computer problems you were generous enough with your precious time to comment on about 10 of my A to Z posts and, I have only just discovered, also very kindly mentioned my blog in your Sunday Synopsis on 7th April. Thank you for this wonderful support during my first month of hosting a blog. It has been a real pleasure reading your A to Z posts and over the weekend I am hoping to catch up on the ones I missed. I agree with you about having a “like” button; if you leave a comment on your favourite post when you visit a site it is good to be able to just click “like” on the others you have enjoyed. Even as a newbie I soon learnt who was just “liking” so I would visit their site and buy their “get rich quick” package.

    • It was my pleasure to visit your site, Lynne, and I do like to leave comments and visit as many posts as I can manage. I’m glad you enjoyed you inaugural A to Z, and yes, there are some who just click “like” to get you to go to their site. Like you, if I find they’re not “on the level” I invest my time in others who are. Pauleen

  9. Sleep? You’re kidding, right? Lol. Your reflections post is among the first of very few that I’ve read so far as I try to wrap-up this massive April blogging party that we all took part in. I like how you summed up all of the key points that you wanted to address, succinctly and with a nice flow. Although I didn’t get to your blog during the challenge, I must say…I like your Letter Y post with those Aussie words and especially the animal photos. It was so pleasing to look at that I returned to your blog twice today just to check it out again!

    The Captcha reduction could probably be likened to the early efforts of all the Co-Hosts and their teams of Ambassadors, Armys, Minions, Helpers, etc.that made announcements months in advance, encouraging participants to turn off word verification. You’re in good company where catching-up is concerned…I had to do that more times than ever this year but we made it 🙂

    Back-to-Back months of daily blogging can drain your system indeed. Flickr might be a good resource for you when searching for photos in the future…it might help to ease some of the hassles of spending a lot of time trying to find the right one. I’m glad that you enjoyed your experiences in doing the 2013 A to Z Challenge and that you also liked the categorization system that we had in place since it helps you filter through those fantasy blogs that aren’t your cup of tea, in lieu of blogs that are more your style.

    For future reference, you might want to check out services such as Bloglovin’ and Delicious to subscribe to blog feeds that you want to return to. They might be a viable alternative to Google Reader. I’ve used Delicious but only started becoming more familiar with Boglovin’ after I noticed some A to Z participants subscribing to my blog using that service, so I can’t really vouch for it much…but it might be worth a look. I never heard of Feedly…am going to have to check that out.

    Thanks for participating in this year’s challenge. You’re more than welcome to join me, Tina Downey (Life is Good) and Shannon Lawrence (Warrior Muse) on the Post A to Z Road Trip, which starts on Wednesday. We’re trying to visit all of the blogs that are on the list between this week and next year’s challenge….that is enough time to give everyone (including you if you want to jump on the road with us!) a chance to get through the list without the 30-day time constraints.

    Cheers!

    ~Nicole
    2013 #atozchallenge Co-Host
    http://www.madlabpost.com

    • hi Tina, glad you could visit -I can well imagine (well perhaps not!) the workload of trying to get across so many blogs. I’ve heard of Delicious but the people I knew who used it converted to Google Reader (oops). Will have a look at it. I don’t mind Feedly so far and could also use the WordPress reader too. I prefer to use a reader of some sort than clagging up my emails. Will check out the road trip too. Pauleen

  10. Well done for finishing both challenges. This A to Z Challenge was tough towards the end, but a great experience. I enjoyed your blog and the Aussie’isms. Thanks for your support during the month. 🙂

    I like the page for all your posts as well 😉

    • hi Pete, Wonder where I got that good idea from? 😉 I also enjoyed your blog though I have no expectation of writing fiction, just reading it, especially crime.

  11. I enjoyed the honesty of your A to Z reflection…it touched on some of the same issues I had during the challenge. I was terrible during the challenge about visiting other blogs and commenting, so I am making a concentrated effort in May to go back and read/respond to other bloggers. Looking forward to digging through your new challenge page to see what I missed!
    http://www.thingsiseeandknow.wordpress.com

  12. Pingback: Flying | Things I See and Know

  13. The blog list was long. I did like the ability to look at categories. I, unfortunately, did not put WR after my blog link…oh..well… good thoughts on a big event. (and I look forward to viewing your A to Z posts)

    • I guess we’re all gluttons for “punishment” and keep going round. I’m away at present but will be following up your blog soon. Thanks for visiting. Pauleen

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