So now that it's over, I'm really looking at how my blogging- and my blog itself- has changed. Here are a few awesome facts about completing this challenge:
Awesomeness #1: I made a ton of new friends. I found so many interesting blogs to follow that I never would have dreamed of reaching simply by using Bloggers "Next Blog" button at the top of the page. Instead, these were all bloggers with whom I instantly already had something in common with- the A-Z challenge- and from there it wasn't hard to find other common ground. My blogroll grew like it had eaten one of Wonderland's magic cookies/that one side of the mushroom. (As an aside, I think Alice was daft for taking advice from a talking caterpillar regarding a mushroom and what it would do. I mean, it could have killed her. Just sayin'.)
Awesomeness #2: Just as I found many amazing blogs to follow and new "friends" to get to know through the internet, my follower count nearly quadrupled as a direct result of participating in the challenge. I had 8 at the end of March; as I write this post, I'm sitting at 30. That just blows me away! The more I blog, the more I like it, and I am glad to see that there are other bloggers who have enjoyed my past posts enough to want to keep reading what I write! It's encouraging, humbling, and exciting all at once, and I hope I live up to their expectations. :)
Awesomeness #3: The sheer volume of traffic and page counts. I literally had twice as many page views in the month of April as I did for the entire rest of my blog ever. In late February I was all excited and wrote this post on reaching 1,000 page views. I mean, you have to start somewhere and that was a great milestone. Now, thanks to the A-Z challenge, a mere 10 weeks later and my page view count is over 3,200!!! It makes me feel like I've accomplished something really good for that many people to be stopping by for a visit! :)
Awesomeness #4: Which probably should have been #1: Setting a goal and meeting it, and learning new things along the way. I have a huge problem with procrastination, time management, and getting overwhelmed. This challenge helped me to set the goal of writing a post every day (except Sundays), and how to schedule a post to appear if there was going to be a challenge day where I couldn't be at the computer (there were a couple). I learned some code in the midst of it too, for posting active links in comments on other blogs, making buttons, and stuff like that. I feel so accomplished to have said I wanted to do the challenge, wrote a post on time, every day, and then Z came and I had done what I set out to do!
Awesomeness #5: Without actually copying anyone else's style, I found some blogs that inspired me to set out a posting schedule for after the challenge. I may not do a post every day, but I think I have a good idea of what I want to write about, on what days of the week, that would keep me on a set path but still allow me creativity and free reign. In other words, as a generally unorganized and creative artist, I'm learning that structure, schedules, goals and organization are good things that I need more of to become the person that I want to be. I'm still playing with the themes, but I'll figure it out and post a "This is what I'm more or less going to do after the Challenge" entry before I begin sticking to a schedule. And of course, if I got the idea from somewhere in particular, I will be giving credit (and links) where it is due.
So that's my summary of the A-Z Challenge, and I can't wait to do it again next year!!!
I wish I could link everyone in this post, but I'm picking my top ten (in no particular order).
Special thanks and hugs goes to:
- Jayne at A Novice Novelist- it was on her blog in March that I saw the link to the challenge and said "Hey, that looks like fun." I wouldn't have done it without you, Jayne!
- Arlee at Tossing It Out- thank you so much for hosting this challenge, explaining the rules, offering encouragement and posting that awesome button for me to brag about finishing the challenge! I will be on your linky list next year! (You also inspired me to learn how to juggle.)
- Sharlene at Rockin' Chair Reflections- I loved your comments. Seeing a comment from you always made my day! You are precious and I'm glad we 'met' through the challenge!
- Deirdra at A Storybook World- thank you for my first award!!! You can't imagine how that boosted my writing confidence! I love your author interviews, and my trips to the library have definitely become more interesting and productive as a result of reading your blog!
- Sue at I Refuse To Go Quietly- finding a fellow A-Z blogger with my same Christian faith and also same interests (yarn, genealogy, music... are you sure we weren't separated at birth..?!) in you is just amazing. I can't wait to trade an elephant for some knitted ruby slippers! Preferably in person when I make it over to the UK in 2013! ;) PS, I LOVE your flash fiction too!
- Lydia at This End Upside Down- my friend of many years, my Meg, I am so proud of you! You have taken to blogging like a duck to water (or other, equally nice idiom), and I love to read your posts and see how you use this newfound medium to express yourself. Congratulations on finishing the challenge!
- Adam at Meet Adam Jones- also my friend of many years, I'm proud of you for doing this challenge! Though I don't always condone the content of your posts, I am SO glad I sent you that text and you accepted the challenge! I love your creativity and your posts made me laugh, most of the time. Especially the owl one that involved me. ;)
- Niki at Wool 'N' Nuts- I love your New Zealand pictures and your recipes!!! And your U post made me laugh! I like your poetry, even if the subject is a little... unusual! :)
- Lisa at Read.Write.Repeat.- I loved the variety of your posts; you remind me of me! The Pixar one was a great treat, as well as the ones of our shared loves, Jane and HP. I also loved all of your comments to my posts. So glad to have met you!
- Laura at A Hootie Hoot- such a cute blog! And the S post was made of magic! (After all, who is more magical than her?!) :) Looking forward to reading more of your blog, post A-Z challenge.
Congratulations to ALL of the bloggers who took part in the challenge- over 1,000 of you! I wish I could have had the time to read them all.
See everyone soon. :)