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Monday, May 5, 2014

A-Z Reflections

We blogged throughout the month of April for this a-z challenge. THANK YOU all who organized this challenge again this year.   And if we finished we got this
And today we post this, sweet............ we made it!!
We were suppose to visit at least 5 blogs daily and leave comments, turn off captcha's, link directly to blog posts and not use google+ pages, meet new people, keep posts fairly short, add pictures to peak interest, follow our hosts; and have fun.

This is my 2nd year doing the challenge.  I was pretty disappointed last year with the amount of work I put in vs what I felt I got in return for it.  I'm one that doesn't have much tolerance for people who don't follow the rules.  Though I enjoyed the challenge more this year, I was still surprised and disappointed by the number of people who still didn't follow the rules.

Through out the challenge there were blog posts indicating how to improve your visits with reminders about not using the captcha, not using the google+ page etc, but it seems much of that went un-noticed.

I think I had more visits and comments this year then last, and a few new followers; but I didn't painstakingly count things this year.  I also only entered 1 blog this time round vs 3 or 4 like I did last year.

My method for executing the challenge:
  • Write posts ahead and schedule them to post
  • Visited and commented on a hosts blog daily leaving the link to my blog post
  • Visited and commented on at least 5 blogs daily, working my way down the list from where I appeared on the linky.
  • Visited and commented on at least 1 blog marked as TR (Travel), plus some who hadn't marked themselves as such, but the title of blog suggested they were
  • Visited everyone today who left comments yesterday on my blog.
  • Whenever possible used the name and url option, and when that wasn't an option used the hyperlink with a link to the actual blog post, not just the blog, and certainly NOT my profile page.
What were the positives parts of the challenge?
  • A few new followers (though I know I clicked follow far more then was returned, yes I'm one who believes visits, comments, and followers should be reciprocal).
  • Added several folks to my blog log (generally after people had visited multiple times, and will be adding more as I review all the comments to see who I missed).
  • Learned new things, not just about travel
  • Made new friends!
Things I think need to be done to improve the experience:
  • One click rule.  While it's suggested you not leave your google+ page, I think it should be mandatory that the link on the linky not go to the google+ page, not go the blogger dashboard page.  With all the helpers, it seems like as people sign up, clicking through to those that have signed up should be done, and if they have not properly added the link to their blog, they should be deleted.  Even though the google+ page is the worst, it's also frustrating to go to someone's dashboard and see a list of 2-3-4-5-6- or more blogs and wonder which one is signed up for the challenge.  Naturally most of the time it's the last one, so you've click the link on the linky, go to the profile page, click no, click nope, click again and again..  I even had situations where I clicked on the linky, got a profile page, clicked on a blog/webpage that was listed by the person's name, got to that page to find a disclaimer that they weren't blogging there anymore; but could follow this link to their blog!  Seriously what a huge time waster.  One click, I believe would eliminate a-lot of frustration, save people time which would increase the number of blogs they could visit.  This would be a HUGE improvement.
  • Eliminate ALL blogs/links on the linky who have comments closed and or who's settings are such that you must join something in order to leave a comment.  Like those with disgus, or google+ where you can ONLY leave a comment if you join.  It seems clear to me that if someone has their comments closed, or next to closed....they have no intention of visiting other's blogs.  They are only wanting blog traffic through joining the linky.  
  • I enjoy visiting all types of blogs, not just though similar to mine; but do wonder if visiting would be easier for folks to have separate linky's for the categories?
Already thinking about next year.  Missed the first several days this year, as I was in Spain and had to play catch up, likewise at the end of the month was out of town visiting my daughter.  Since the posts were scheduled I didn't have to play catch up with writing; but did with visits.  Looks like next years vacation will fall again in April but a larger part of it, not sure how that will work out.  But, I will have internet time even when away, which this year I really didn't.

Now since those I've visited thus far today have posted stats, I went back and counted the names I posted on 2 Sunday's thanking people for their visits, added those who've visited since the last list and come up 83 comments from different people.  Many visited more then once, THANK YOU.  I made 200 visits not counting all the visits I returned...not a great result.  I got less then 10 new followers from what I remember my number being when the challenge started.

*Jury's out about whether to try it yet again

Alex Cavanaugh
Anabel March
Angie @ Newtons Travels
Ann
Arleen Bird
ATarkabarka Holgy
betty
Bob Sanchez
Calli D
Comley Charlotte
Carolyn Branch
Cascadian Nomands Bethany
Cedar Ridge
Chris Boothman
Christine Rains
Clee McKenzie
Corinne Vail
cranthie
Crystal
Daidri Smythe
Drusilla
Fili
grammy
GSMarlene
Heather Gardner
Heather Musk
il;akshee
Jaime
Jaimie Ramsey
jenna,Mark Draddy
jennyfreedman
josephAlsarraf
Kat Writer
Kate @Another Clean Slate
Kimberly
Kirsten
Kirsten
Leslie
Leslie Melby
Lila Asnani
Linda
lindalh
Liz A
loadsofsomething
looking for a view
Mary Rack
Meandering Mind
Meghan aka Fierbonnet
Melanie
melaniegobledvm
Michelle Stanley
Millie Burns
Nancy LaRonda Jackson
Natalie Bowers
Nicky
Nilanjana Bose
ovengoodies
Paige Rion
Paula
Perry
perspective of a writer
Preethi Venugopal
Rhonda Albom
Rikaine Hernadez
rscottamsbaugh.com
sean@His And Her Hobbies
Spacer Guy
Stephanie K
Sue Kuentz
Sue McPeak
Susan leighnoble
Susan Scott
Suzanne Sapsed
Teri
thelmaz
thewayofwytch
Tina
Troy Miles
vanilla ban
Veronica Sicoe
Welcome to my World of Verse
Wendy
Zoe Byrd

**REMINDER, please leave the url to your actual blog post, NOT your google+ page, NOT your blogger profile/dashboard page. Use the name and url option, or leave a hyperlink. **After the close of April's A-Z, I plan to continue to write a post a day in the month of May using again the A-B-C's as my guide. My focus for the month of May will be Spain. (15)

40 comments:

  1. As an Ambassador of the Challenge this year I tried to keep my part of the sign up list free of rule breakers.
    This was my third year and my results were much better this year than they were the last two years.
    I will come back to make sure I followed you tonight. It's hard to tell on my phone:(
    Kudos to you for continuing on in May, wow!

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    1. Thank you Dorren for making such an effort, it's greatly appreciated. Understand about the phone, I sometimes try to do things from my ipad and run into the same thing. For me it's probably a learning curve with other technology. Thanks for the visit.

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  2. well done for making it to the finish of the challenge and what a terrific month it was. In spite of all the little annoying things that were mostly about tech, it was a great experience. I went from 10 followers to 30 so I think that is pretty exciting for a fairly new newbie. You look like you really know what you are doing and I like reading blogs that can teach me things or give me ideas for impfrovement. Thanks :)

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    1. Congrats, that is a nice improvement. I share your excitement.

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  3. I have no idea about the number of followers on my blog, since that widget doesn't work on my blog for some weird reason! I do have following enabled via facebook, twitter, bloglovin and email. So I hope that counts?

    But I get the frustration that you faced with the link going to the Google+ page. Although my own 'avatar' links to the Google plus page, my hyperlink goes to my latest blog post. That is something I learnt during the challenge and love using it now across my blog hops. But I think I stuck to most of the other rules pretty well :)

    Glad to have had you on my blog for the reflections post! Thanks for being there and leaving such a sweet comment.


    Shailaja's post

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    1. Awesome that you're using the hyperlink, it really helps save time. I'm not up to speed about the following on facebook etc, because my facebook page is very general. I do add a link there each day with my current post; but behind that???

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    2. Okay I found the Followers widget. I hope it works now :)

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    3. Added myself to your blog followers. And by your facebook page, do you mean your personal page? I have a page exclusively for my blog, which is open to public access. That is different from my perosnal FB profile.

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    4. Yea...think it did, cause now I'm following you

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  4. Sandy, I've followed you, but I'm a little confused on how it works with Blog Lovin'. I would rather do it by email...you don't have that do you?

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    1. I also have subscribe to posts in my red hand sidebar...is that what you mean?

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  5. You can follow using friend connect very top of the blog, or bloglovin...I'm following you there. Email? I never do that, isn't that a negative to have people read emails vs coming to your blog?

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  6. Congratulations on finishing the challenge! And good luck to you for the month of May! I agree on people following the rules...as I'm a rules girl myself (curse of the first born). I visited other blogs first through their names on the list (what jumped out at me)...but then I thought that was judging a book by it's cover, so then I just randomly picked. Then I visited blogs that were tweeted by the A to Z peeps. Then I visited through links people left on the A to Z facebook page. I was all over the place! It was really amazing how many links were duds :(
    ~Katie
    TheCyborgMom
    Visual Proof

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  7. Hi Sandy,
    Thanks for stopping by my reflection post, planning ahead certainly is the best option for the tour, glad you had time to visit lots of other blogs to it's a great way to make new friends. http://rosieamber.wordpress.com/

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  8. Thanks CyborgMom and roseamber for the return visits. Looking forward to popping back in to see you again in days ahead.

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  9. Wow! It's impressive how many contacts you made, especially while traveling. There were a few people I visited that I didn't get return visits from, but I later saw them disappear entirely, so it was my guess they simply were overwhelmed. Then there was one or two visitors I received that the comment was so generic that I wasn't sure if I should be offended. Even a "I don't read fiction on blogs" would've been better than the "Interesting theme, come visit me" that I got. But oh well.

    I don't get to do much traveling myself, but I do like to look at pretty pictures of places! Though my state is red on your map, I don't see any Idaho in your tags.

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    1. I think I've only traveled through Idaho, years ago before digital cameras, no clue if I have a picture of something there from before. Terrible at labeling pictures. Thank you for the visit. Agree the stories are a bit hard to get into when blogging, particularly if it's a series.

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  10. A side note about the name/url option, it doesn't have the option for email address, so I get a gray face instead of Gravatar. It makes me sad. :( *sniffle*

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    1. Yep you're right no option for email. I don't want folks emailing instead of visiting the blog to make a return comment. I never email someone instead of visiting their blog from their comment and returning the favor of a comment on their blog. I don't really understand people emailing instead. Seems very one sided to me.

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    2. Interesting! I didn't know people actually emailed back like that. I only mentioned email address because that's how Gravatar does its look up.

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    3. I didn't know that, the gravatar is the little face? Hum...wonder what experiment we might do to faret this out.

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  11. The challenge is so big, I find it intriguing to continue to find new blogs even after the challenge is over (like today!) I actually value this - - and am glad I found my way here.

    I am also fascinated by the G+ page thing and the blogger profile thing - that was really rare in my blog travels, although I do usually just comment using social media platforms, mostly twitter, if I have a challenge with my commenting ability. I comment on every single blog I visit.

    Meaningfully, even - or I try very hard to be meaningful!

    I keep coming back to A-to-Z simply to stretch my creativity, not because I expect anyone else to do anything. People responding to me is icing on the cake. After reading these reflection posts I may start counting how many comments I actually make, just for fun.

    If I'm not having fun, I just won't do it. Period.

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    1. How do you reply on a blog through social media? So many people don't use their real names with their blogs but if they're linked to social media then their real name appears. I won't comment if I have to sign in with facebook, I think it makes facebook too powerful...not because of the name thing for me, as I am me here and there; but a large number of people aren't.

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  12. How nice it was to visit your Travel Blog this year for the AtoZ Challenge. You really made traveling to many places I have never been and likely will never go, an experience to remember. Thanks for your visits and relevant comments to my blog.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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    1. Thanks Sue, hoping to stay connected throughout the year as well.

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  13. I totally agree on the one cluck rule! It was aggravating to go thru the rigmarole just to read a challenge post. I was disappointed with the very , very low number of comments vs the number if times the post was Viewed. I got fewer than 10 total . I posted my reflection. I wonder if my content was boring? I made sure captcha was off. I kept if short. I failed in the photo dept because I don't many old photos of my dad (my subject).

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    1. I've read 3 or 4 of your posts and commented on each one which I will continue to do. Will try again to follow you, couldn't pull it off from my ipad last night. Sorry you didn't have good results, your subject matter sounds precious to me.

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  14. The widget for followers doesn't work on my blog, and it doesn't work when I try to follow people. So I didn't do that this year. ~~ I totally agree about the Google+ thing. Drove me nuts. ~~ I only came across one blog that required me to join something in order to comment. Needless to say, I quickly left that blog in the dust.

    Precious Monsters

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  15. Wonder why the widget doesn't work for you Jolie, forget what I saw over on your blog, will look again and see if I can help you out at all. Leaving blogs in the dust...totally agree. It's so one sided, but makes me mad they get blog traffic by us visiting because they've been alllowed to join and stay on the linky. Not right.

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  16. If everyone followed your procedures the entire Challenge would be so much easier. Unfortunately there are so many different blogging formats and quirks within each format that I don't know how you'd get around it. I suppose you could separate Blogger, WP, Disqus, Squarespace, and all the other commenting and blogging platforms but then that would create new problems regarding missing out. I've gotten used to most of these platforms and now usually am able to comment pretty quickly, but I understand the frustration.

    I don't know how many posts we've done encouraging people to use URL links in signature and still few people do it. I almost always do this and often a lot of bloggers don't seem to use the URL that I leave to find me. Human nature--How do you combat a lot of these things? I guess we just have to deal with some of the quirks.

    In my Reflections and Evaluations in past years' Challenges I've addressed many of the improvements you suggest here. I know the best way to address most of these issues and could create a near perfect registration and listing system, but it would take programming knowledge or the money to pay someone to do it. I don't have either, I just know what could be done. I still hope that one day we can accomplish this. There is a way.

    Hope you will return next year. Thank you for adding so much to the Challenge in 2014.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Thank you Arlee for explaining the program and $$ part of it, that's over my head; but still we try. I do think those simply deleting anyone not listed properly on the linky would solve about 90% of the problems. One click........one click connection is something everyone can do regardless of their blogging format.

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  17. You did such a great job with the challenge! Loved your travel tips and stories.

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    1. Thanks Kate, I'm continuing, trying to maintain the momentum.

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  18. I'm just stopping by on a little A to Z Roadtrip.

    Thank you... Thank you... Thank you... for this post. This was my second challenge but I'm still a newbie to the world of blogging.I enjoyed reading all the feedback you received.

    Great BLOG by the way. Happy to be your newest follower :) ~ Rhondi

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  19. My apologies... Google+ is like that really mean step sister... She ALWAYS gets her way. Here's my link...

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  20. Great posts. I enjoyed stopping by along the way. Here's a newbie blogger question. I would love to grab your blog badge and place it on my blog sidebar but I don't know how. Thanks mucho, Sue
    http://www.door2lore.com/3/post/2014/05/a-z-blogging-challenge-reflection.html

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  21. Hi Sandy,
    Thanks again for posting and giving me tips on how to get more replies. I'm a new blogger so there's definitely a learning curve here. I will say that every blog seems so different when it comes to replies and "name/url doesn't always come up - ugh! I did leave you my blog url above - not sure why you didn't use that? Thanks again for your comment.

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  22. I don't like Google + profiles. It takes me awhile to find a blog URL.

    I also like easy commenting. People shouldn't go through hoops to comment.

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

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  23. Good tips here for the challenge! I am on the road trip and also thank you for visiting me. I love seeing your Spain posts in May--I'm afraid I haven't posted as much as I wanted to --I need to work on that. I think you ought to do the challenge again next year! I am a new follower.
    Mary @ The View from my World

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  24. Hello there.
    Congratulations on completing the challenge! Thanks for sharing. I'm just stopping by briefly as I try to navigate the twists and turns of the Road Trip…don't forget to wave when you see me drive by. (lol)
    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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