Lessons learned in the 2018 #AtoZChallenge
This year, I participated in the #AtoZChallenge for the second time. Last year, I jumped on the bandwagon days before it started and scrambled to post all twenty-six articles. In 2018 I approached #AtoZ as a project. Here are some lessons learned:
1. Lesson learned: Have a plan
In 2017, in a panic, I wrote about what I knew—writing and book marketing. This time, I took an idea, the unexpected, unexplained antics of a bunch of retirees, and fleshed them into twenty-six stories. Characters crossed over into each other’s stories or reappeared from earlier stories. I strove to attain stories that could be read separately or as a collection.
2. Lesson learned: Start early
Part of my plan included a timeline. Lessons learned in 2017 taught me to allow plenty of time to write the stories. Starting in January, I wrote five stories every two weeks and shot them to my alpha reader for feedback. The last two weekends in March, I edited the stories, formatted them, added images, checked SEO, introductory matter, and ending matter, including links to previous posts. By April 2nd, the date of the first post, the posts were scheduled and ready to go live on their prospective dates.
3.Lesson learned: Read, comment, share
Part of the fun (and challenge) of #AtoZ is to read as many other posts as possible by other participants. For the most part, I stuck with the #BlogchatterA2Z list. I didn’t visit every blog by every member (more than 60 listed per day) but I tried to spread out my reading time.
Comment. Commenting on each blog I visited validates the blogger’s time and effort. Be kind. Leave a comment.
Sharing. Sharing other’s posts on social media is an objective and a perk to participating in the challenge. You might only have X followers, but someone sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and other venues might have XX followers. My Twitter followers increased by 50 in April.
4.Lesson learned: Respond to comments on your blog
It’s common courtesy to thank your visitors for their comments. Even if they don’t check the box to see any further comments, others will see your answers and know you’re paying attention. Be human. Be nice. Thank your visitors. Make the answers personal.
5. Lesson learned: Promote your blogs
Remember the images I created in Step 1? I threw them into a file along with the one sentence teaser introducing each story. Every morning, I posted both onto my social media as well as theblogchatter.com page dedicated to the day’s posts. I also used scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to ensure the posts showed up later in the day.
I learned how to make an Adobe Spark video and posted it several times. Pretty proud of myself!
6. Lesson learned: Take advantage of the opportunity
At the conclusion of the challenge, #Blogchatter offers anyone a chance to turn their blogs into an ebook. (It doesn’t have to be the #AtoZ blogs, either. It can be any ebook). In exchange, #Blogchatter will answer questions, offer mentors, and guide writers through the process. They will host a free download of the book on their site for two months (the book cannot be offered through any other distributor) and they will promote it for you.
I took advantage of their offer in 2017. This year, because I did so much work upfront, I collected and published the collection on Amazon for 99¢
See the bold phrase up above? Offer mentors? #Blogchatter asked if I would like to mentor this year’s ebook authors, guiding them through the process of publishing their works. Of course, I said yes!
On April 15th, I took part in #AMACarnival, a live Twitter chat, and answered questions from new writers.
On April 27th, I took part in a live Facebook chat.
I don’t know what the next few weeks will bring, but I’m excited about sharing what I know about writing and publishing with others. If only someone had been around back in 19XX when I started!
7. Lesson learned: Look to the future
Don’t be like millions of Americans who are surprised when Christmas rolls around each year and they don’t have any money saved. Look to the future. Toss around some ideas about what to write about in #AtoZChallenge2019.
I had a great time, read a bunch of amazing posts, and plan on being part of #AtoZChallenge2019. Thank you #BlogchatterA2Z and all your writers!
Blessings until my next post,