Monday, 9 May 2016

Wander Victoria A to Z challenge reflections

'A', you're Adorable, 'B' but you're beautiful, 'C' you're a cutie, full of charms'... It's hard not to hop around the place feeling pleased with yourself after finishing the 2016 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

We've been asked to write a post to tell about our A to Z experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the stats show that I had a 325% increase in my readership during April which I am pretty happy about.

Unlike more seasoned participants, I was not organised with every post planned and penned ahead of schedule, but then you probably guessed that of me, didn't you?! Indeed, my whole thought about participation was relatively last minute. I started at Blogger number 1600-and-something on the challenge sign-up but by the end of April, I was in a final  position of 1184th out of 1344 Bloggers who completed the challenge. Yes, that's a massive amount of other bloggers out there, so there was a great 'in this together' team spirit, amongst fellow bloggers.

My A to Z Challenge was on the theme of Wander Victoria, my home state here in Australia. At the start, we were asked to identify our category. I'm not sure I ever ticked the box as a travel post as I often feel I fit a broader category. I had animals, some history, some lifestyle and social, some personal, loads of photography, it is sometimes part memoir and I always hope for a little a dash of humour. And I wasn't sure whether I was going to be in need of the adult content disclaimer, in case my language deteriorated into a few bleedin' this and that's, but in the end I think I held it together reasonably well!

So my first reflection is that yes as those in the know will say from their previous experiences in the past six challenges, it is important to plan ahead. However, I don't ever want to end up with everything written ahead of time as I think for me that would make me feel too removed from what I loved, the challenge of blogging (almost) every day.

My second point is that had I been slightly more ahead I would have had more chance to visit and connect with the other thousand-plus participants and that would be something I would like to be better at in future years.

I was not aware of masses of new readers through engagements on my blog, although as I mentioned I was thrilled to see my monthly stats doing very nicely thank you. But I was immensely heartened by seeing my fellow regular readers and bloggers commenting either on the blog or by e-mail, many of whom commented each post, an equally big marathon for them, which was inspiring for me to see it through to Z!

The biggest impact the challenge has had was helping me reflect on the future direction of my blog. It appears to me that my Australian content is always well received, perhaps better than my overseas posts and that this perhaps should be the mainstay of the blog. I am also keen to review the blog layout and the possibility of moving to Wordpress. I am aware of the problem of commenting through Google+ and would like to rectify that. 

My A to Z challenge concluded with a Staycation focused on helping my blog grow. In particular, the Mentoring session with Julie at Girl on the Move was very valuable. 

A combination of all these things has meant I have signed up for my first ever Blogging conference on the Gold Coast in September (I know whoop whoop Little Wandering Wren is off to Queensland with her blog! )

On a couple of occasions, when I couldn't find myself haha what's new?! I'm sure the  A to Z Challenge support crew were rolling their eyes at this, I was in e-mail contact with the organisers and the responses were always quick and helpful. I really appreciated the ABC graphics which I used daily.

So all in all, a massive thank you to all the organisers and I would encourage all fellow bloggers to consider joining next year. I am already thinking about the next one!

In case, you missed out on any of the posts and would like to visit you will find them all below!

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