Thank you to the organizers and co-hosts of the A-Z Challenge! You've created a very busy and engaged blogging community, and you should be proud of that.
Did I follow the rules?
- Post daily except for Sundays? Check!
- Visit at least five blogs each day? Check!
- Write a recap at the end of the challenge? Check!
- Feel overwhelmed and then berate myself for it? Double check!
What were the benefits?
- 64 new followers on Google Friend Connect (from 118 to 182). It was really exciting to watch that number increase!
- Discovered lots of great new blogs.
- High visitor-to-commenter ratio, with a lot of interesting, funny comments on my posts.
- Opportunity to reexamine my goals and style as a blogger.
Did the challenge affect the way that I blogged?
I quickly realized that I would be unable to continue with my regular blogging style during the challenge. This blog has only been around for six months, but I knew right from the start that I wasn't a "blog every single day" kind of blogger. I prefer to focus on quality rather than on quantity. The first few days were overwhelming, and by the time I got to the letter F I realized that I'd need to be easier on myself if I wanted to complete the challenge.
I usually respond to every single comment. I just couldn't keep up during the challenge and I was starting to dread even opening up my blog. So I stopped responding to the majority of comments.
I usually visit - and comment on - every one of my readers' blogs. While this is still important to me, I simply couldn't do it during the challenge. I tried during the first few days, and found myself spending 2-3 hours every evening trudging through blogs without even taking the time to enjoy them. So I scaled back. A lot. I still have a list of all of the bloggers who visited me during the challenge, and I will be returning the favour over the next few weeks. I really hope that no one gets lost in the shuffle.
I couldn't keep up with my own blog reader during the challenge. There's a core group of blogs that I read daily, without fail. But during the month of April, I found myself clicking "mark all as read" more than once, and then I would try to binge-read my favourites on weekend mornings.
I generally take a lot of pride in my posts. Every time I hit publish, I'm excited because I feel that I'm putting up the best clay story that I've written up to that point. I can't say that this was true in April. There were lots of posts without stories. There was no way that I could maintain my regular blog style - longer stories, lots of new clay figures, backgrounds and setting, narrative structure - and post every single day.
There were a few posts this month that I could have tweaked a bit and been happy to post at any time - Alien Abduction, Dentists, Easter Candy, Marathons, Negative Pregnancy Tests, Quiet Talkers - but overall, most of my posts this month would have been better suited for the Clay Baboons Facebook page, rather than the blog.
I put a lot of importance as a blogger on sharing other people's work. While I still tweeted other people's blog posts from time to time this month, I didn't do it as often as I normally would. I also rarely updated my illustrated blog board on Pinterest. I didn't link to anyone else's work at all on my blog in April.
Am I glad that I did it?
Yes, absolutely. While the experience was very time-consuming and even overwhelming at times, I'm glad that I signed up and I'm glad that I stuck it out. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I hit publish on the 26th post. The challenge was also great exposure for my blog. I really enjoyed making some new blog friends; you guys are seriously funny.
Would I do it again?
As of today, Clay Baboons will be going back to its regular format:
- Weekly story posts. Always. Usually. Every single week. Most weeks. Maybe sometimes even two stories in one week, but probably not.
- Longer posts with more of a narrative structure.
- A wider variety of clay figurines, along with backgrounds.
- Weekly-ish sharing posts, where I link to some of my favourite things that I didn't write (but wish that I did).
- Sporadic micro-stories (one picture one sentence - like most of my posts in April) generally posted on the Facebook page instead of here.
- More interaction with readers (responding to comments, reading blogs, interacting on Twitter and Facebook).
- Higher quality photos. I hope. I may have shed a metaphorical tear on April 19th when Picnik closed. I've been editing my photos since then on PicMonkey, but I haven't yet figured out how to get the colours right.
Thank you to my regular readers who stuck it out with me over the past month!
Welcome to all of my new readers!
I'm glad that you came by, and I hope that you'll come back again. If you're new to the blog, you might want to check out some of my older stories to get a better idea of how I normally write:
Woman vs Treadmill
Zombies Gave me Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
For Self-Loathing, Press Three
Stand Up and Be Counted
A Letter From the Teacher
(originally posted on the fantabulous We Band of Mothers)