After almost six months of break from blogging, a hectic work schedule, a long travel to work and the daily house hold chores left me with absolutely no hopes of taking up the #AtoZChallenge this year. I personally knew and was sure that even if I did sign up for the challenge I would not complete it and leave it less than half way.
And then just a week before the #themereveal was made I decided to at least sign up and try doing it as much as I can. As i pen down today my #Reflection post , I am really proud of what I achieved over the last month of the epic blogging challenge that i had signed up for. I am happy that i could do justice to the place where i am born and brought up Andaman and Nicobar Islands by sharing information about it with the world out there. #AmazingAndamans would always be a special series of posts close to my heart.
Though the numbers were not as good as the last years i am still happy that I managed to sail through all the obstacles. 1378 Views || 798 Visitors || 181 Likes and 184 Comments ❤ ❤ ❤ To check out the complete list of my entries during the challenge click My #AtoZChallenge Blog Posts.
My top fav five from my #atozchallenge are definitely going to be
1. Experience Scuba Diving – this was my first scuba diving experience considering i don’t know swimming
2. Ross Island – my favorite place in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
3. Tsunami – its not everyday that you become part of a natural calamity and something which shook the entire world is altogether a different story
4. Heavenly Havelock – the world famous Havelock island and its Radhanagar beach is a must visit place for any tourist traveling to the islands
5. Planning a trip to Andaman?Must know! – if every planning a trip to the islands you need to read my posts with all the tips and suggestions from the island girl herself, trust me you would thank me for this
Key takeaways from the #AtoZChallenge
Having a theme- saved me definitely!
Just a day before the theme reveal day i was going through all the possible topics on which i could manage 26 posts i realized that its easier to write when you are aware of the topic. Since i was recently back from a vacation and the place was my hometown i decided to write about it. Being aware of the content in general reduces half the pressure during the challenge. All you need to do is put it altogether.
But i do appreciate bloggers who do not have a theme and still finish the challenge cause that must be a whole new level of picking a topic among such wide variety of genres to blog about. Also special mention to my friend Vinay who took inspiration for each post from the comments he received from his readers on the previous day’s post. I mean that is some adventure and kudos to him and he did great.
Framework of your posts
Where variety is widely accepted i think for challenges like these having a similar framework kind of helps both the audience and the blogger himself. Having the basic layout ready for the posts helps even if you don’t schedule all the cosmetic things are at least done and dusted.
I knew what my titles would be, i knew what signature i am supposed to leave considering we didn’t have a linky list this time which i think was not that bad after all as everyone was used to the signature and hyperlink methods that was shared on the a-z page.
Get guest bloggers if it helps
I think guest posts are real good deal if you have someone else also willing to write about the same theme as yours or even for posts that have not signed up with a theme. Last year i remember when i had chosen Emotions as my theme i had about 4 guest bloggers and two of them were non bloggers but loved writing. So i was happy cause i finally made them publish something on my blog and it was very well appreciated. Having guests blog is a good way of networking and bringing a style of writing change on your blog. This time though my topic was about my hometown it made sense to have no guest blogs.
Knowledge gained doing all the research
I am so happy i chose #AmazingAndamans as my theme this year cause there were so much information which was new to me also. I also made sure that what i wrote on my blog was correct and valid information since it would be helping readers out there who are interested in a vacation to the islands. I had to be more conscious of the facts and stats that was going up on my blog. I learnt a lot about the history and tribes of my islands beyond what was known to me.
For a matter of fact i think all travel related blogs hold responsibility of sharing valid information to its readers. Unlike a personal blog , travel blogs are a source of reference to readers and hence its our duty as a blogger to put up correct stuff on the blogs and i am glad i could answer many questions which i have heard over the years from people who want to travel to the islands along with my personal tips.
Social media – saved me!
I think a decent amount of visitors i got on my blog was from the social media accounts that i had. I got a good amount of response from Facebook specially from family and friends who were from Andaman and even the posts was shared on their profiles. Also Instagram and the #hashtags helped me gain lot of followers thereby having a significant increase both in my WordPress blog and Instagram handle.
As there was no linky list, the social media connect on Facebook for the a-z page also turned out to be a huge success. Since bloggers who sure shot posted their blogs as part of the challenge were commenting each day on the posts it made it easier to have track of all the bloggers who were actually participating in it unlike many blogs who would sign up but quit midway when there was a linky list happening.
One challenge that i found here was i would read the blog post of my blogger friends either via Facebook or Instagram when i would be on the go to work and thereby comment there itself or like it making it difficult for me to again go back to their WordPress account and doing the same thing. Did you face this?
Sign up for the challenge along with a group – Blogchatter
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. and this is what i have learnt being part of a community in general be it the a-z community or the Blogchatter brings in a lot of motivation to achieve your goals. Whenever i would think of quitting i would check the daily list on these two sites and would push myself to sit for those two hours post a hectic day to keep up with my resolution of completing the challenge. Even though i missed 7 posts of the 26 i think it was more than 70% and i did a pretty decent job. I really wanted to come up with an eBook which the blogchatter team is encouraging the members to do but am not sure if i really could do that maybe in the coming years i would definitely give it a try to get something published and this has got me thinking for next year’s theme which would do justice to an eBook. For now i think #galfromtheisland would make for a decent travel brochure for people looking to head out to Andaman islands for a vacation and this would be up soon on my blog.
Read, Follow, Comment, Share
Well I can keep iterating this all over again and again that the challenge is all about collaboration and networking. The whole idea of the challenge is to introduce us to other bloggers and to widen our blogging circle through reading and commenting.
I failed at this terribly this year as i could hardly keep up with any of the above said things. I hardly managed to read any new blogs except for a handful ; some salvation would be i ended up reading almost all the posts of few of my blogging friends like Reema, Shalini, Vinay.
During the last years challenge i had made up a plan of action for this years challenge and it was something like this – be prepared with the theme and topics in feb, schedule all posts by march and april would be all about reading, sharing , commenting and you all know how it went down the drain 🙁
My fav picks from the #AtoZChallenge
I am in awe with Reema’s post on 20 something life – i enjoyed every moment of it. As i hit thirty in about two months this series just reminded me of the decade 20 something life of mine. It was a flashback of all the memories, experiences and life lessons in 26 posts and to top it all of every song was just apt and made so much sense as the title of the posts.
Since my theme was travel i was happy to see Shalini’s blog on everything you ever wanted to know about Thailand. I have bookmarked her Thailand series and would have shared it with so many of my friends who are planning for a trip to Thailand. Also her cooking blog was yummy as always 🙂 With all the fav Indian dishes i think it was a perfect mix from chai to coffee, dhokla to rasam.
Vinay’s blog as i mentioned in the above – with all impromptu suggestions from his readers he put up the posts for the challenge.
New bloggers – on my fav list now
Met new bloggers like Soumya from Life of Leo – i really loved her blog and am sad i didn’t find this early but better late than never. Though her theme was all about books which i couldn’t relate much as am not an avid reader but i ended up reading her other work and I love love love her writing style – she is bold in her writing, and i know she hates when called bold 😛 I love her writing style cause she just speaks her mind which is what bloggers should do. If you don’t get what am trying to convey here you should head right to her blog.
Dr Bushra Nausheen’s post on A to Z of Pregnancy turned out to be a very informative post since my sister in law is due in august. The first thing i did was to share the link with her so that she can refer to the posts giving her the correct information from a doc herself.
A huge thank you and big hug to the below people for commenting on my posts so often that i am overwhelmed with joy and really grateful.
Susanne , Kim , Cheryl , Neha , Darla , Pikakshi , Bernice , Tina and
Shinjini . I am going to revisit all of you to makeup for the delay.
What worked and didn’t for me
Linky list – worked? Yes ! For me – No!
I am more of the To-do list kind it was easier for me when there was a linky list and i could easily search new blogs and check them out. Going through the comments and then navigating to the blogs was kind of challenging for me because i hardly got time to publish my own post so saving those links for future reference kinda thing ended being a tedious task. So for all those bloggers like me who were short in time would have preferred a linky list – are you listening co hosts?
Since this challenge was open to all the bloggers in the world, time zone did make a huge impact as there was no linky list. Every day bloggers commented on the link page put up by the co hosts and it worked fine only issue was it took a lot of time to load the page with all the comments and then publish your comment with the particular day’s post. What happened is every time i would see the same set of bloggers comments on the top of the page and others towards the end due to the time zone difference. Having the linky list made it easier to track down the blogs below our own blog all in the same page for reference.
#AtoZChat – missed it!
Just like the linky list i missed the #atozchat which was a great way to come across new bloggers before the challenge even started. With the absence of both linky list and the #atozchat I could manage to read new blogs only when they commented or liked my post and kind of managed to reciprocate to theirs.
This year the Co-hosts have come up with a survey (designed by J. Lenni Dorner) with a certain set of questions which you can answer based on your experience throughout the challenge. I think this was a perfect ending to the challenge cause it really helps the co-host understand what the bloggers experienced and how the community page has helped its audience. I think this should be continued in the future years as well. If you have not yet taken the survey please do, and its open until May 20th. Take the survey here.
Finally a huge shout to all the amazing bloggers i came across this challenge, old and new. For sure i am going to come back and read all the missed posts during the days to follow cause i don’t want to give up on the reading at all. Thank you for all the comments and likes and congratulations for completing this ultimate blog challenge! A huge round of applause for the people behind the scenes from Arlee Bird who started this epic journey years back, all the co hosts and Blogchatter for making sure to post #atoz tips for bloggers throughout the month and for the constant support through mails, tweets etc.
All in all We survived ! We lived ! We conquered !
Until next year…. Live.Love. Laugh <3 <3 <3
This is Sneha, #galfromtheisland signing off 🙂