April is a month when thousands of bloggers embark on what’s called the The A-Z Challenge: where people blog on 26 near-consecutive days (every day except Sundays) – on a theme of their choice. It’s a fantastic exercise. It can get the blog blood flowing, prodding bloggers either out of a pit, or into a routine; and it’s a sure-fire way to either increase your audience, or get one in the first place.
Well, I’m not doing it. You’ll thank me later, when you realise how much blogging content increases next month, that I’m not going to be adding to it. I’ll be slow blogging as usual, but reading and cheering all challenge participants loudly from the sidelines.
And yet I’m going to do one bolshie post on this whole lark anyway. How dare she make pronouncements when she’s not even participating, you cry!
Because it never stopped me before, that’s why.
And so, as I sharpen my mouse in readiness to click on the content of others, here are a few tips from one of the people who might be reading you in April.
1. Use the opportunity to do something you wouldn’t usually do.
You’ll get away with murder in the A-Z month. Try something new. For some of you, that will be starting your blog in the first place. For others, it could be switching from blogging about household tips and world peace, to posting pictures of drunk-looking snakes, or paying tribute to the greatest dark alleyways of your environs. This is your chance: do something mad.
2. Understand that this is an exercise for you, not other people.
The A-Z challenge is a brilliant way of getting more hits, simply by virtue of providing more content to click on. However, whether you’re new to blogging, a seasoned old sea-dog or someone who fell off the wagon some time ago, and has been wandering the information superhighway since in a daze, you should probably accept that even regular readers don’t have time to get through so much content. Relish each hit for its own sake, don’t compare yourself to what other bloggers are getting, and move on.
3. Pick a theme which at least has room to evolve.
It’s all very well picking “The 25 Things I Love Best About Bellybuttons…and 1 Thing I Adore About Earwax” as your theme, but if you run out of things you love about your appendages by the 9th of April, it’s going to be a catastrophe on the scale of that incident with the gerbil and the exhaust pipe.
[The solution is not necessarily having everything pre-written by April 1st either, because that doesn’t leave much room for engagement with your readers. And we can tell.]
4. Don’t blog about blogging (she says without the tiniest hint of irony)
Posts which start off with “well, it’s Day 14 and I’m still here” – “So, it’s Day 20 and I’m back even though I don’t have much to say” – or pretty much anything which starts off with purposeless interjections are going to lose me faster than an infant’s socks. Sorry.
5. Find some blogging buddies, and cheerlead their A-Z efforts in April.
Look up the list of bloggers doing the challenge, and call round. If you stop by someone else’s blog, they’ll come back and visit you too. It’s not rocket science. But it is a valuable window to have a little trawl on the Interweb and see if anything takes your fancy. This is your best chance to interact and discover; don’t squander it. And be bloody nice, or I’ll send the boys round.
And so, good luck to all participants: particularly the ones I know personally, because I’m a total snob like that. Go get ’em folks, and enjoy yourselves!