Friday, January 2, 2015

Ten Tips to Survive a Blogging Challenge

Have you signed up for blogging challenges this month that require you to post daily, for 31 straight days?

Day one was intoxicating - you spent time reading and commenting on a lot of blogs.

Now it's day two.  You know there is no way you are going to do this.  You are already running out of ideas and energy.  Are you thinking of quitting?  Are you wondering how you are going to survive the next thirty days?

I have been blogging daily since late April of 2011.  When I took my first challenge in May of that year, I had been blogging for almost two days, but my schedule was irregular, and almost no one (except friends and relatives were reading my blog.

Several days out, I hit a wall.  Yes, I almost didn't do it.  I remember that feeling so well, and want to help anyone feeling they need the extra boost to succeed.

I'm just an ordinary woman.  You don't have to be a super person to complete a blog challenge.

The challenge is worth it!  And I am going to show you how to do it.

1.   You can do it!  You MUST believe in yourself.  You WILL do it.  Believe in yourself.

2.  Use the prompts your challenge provides, at least at first.  If not, find prompts online. One nice place to find prompts is a site called NaBloPoMo, which gives prompts each month for Monday through Friday blogging. Eventually, you won't need them except if you run out of inspiration.

3.  Pre scheduling is your friend!  No, it's not cheating. All of us have obligations, and sometimes you know you aren't going to be able to write a daily post.  All the major software (I use Blogger, but many bloggers use Wordpress, either the Wordpress hosted or self hosted) allows you to.

4.  Keep a supply of "evergreen" posts - always relevant posts that can be written months in advance, and kept in your drafts, just in case.  They should not have any material in them that "dates" them - and, if you use links, please make sure the links still work before you post.

5.  Read and comment on other blogs, but not so many that you feel overwhelmed.  A blog challenge with thousands of participants will overwhelm you. But do read and comment on blogs that sound interesting.    And, learn from them.  What content interests you?  What turns you off?  Reading other blogs will give you inspiration.

6.  If something isn't working for you, don't be afraid to change.  If you don't enjoy your blog, it will show, and you will run out of energy.

7. Make sure you are in the right challenge.  Is the challenge giving you what you want? Are you looking for writing practice, increased page views, encouragement, support, or something else?  If the challenge isn't right for you, you will get discouraged.  But do give it a chance.  Wait several days and see if you still feel the same way.

One of the most supportive challenges I have found is the Ultra Blog Challenge. There are several "levels" of participating, but there is a free level, and there is nothing wrong with staying "free", if it meets your goals.  It has an excellent moderator, and is held monthly.  Other challenges I have enjoyed, and participated in, include Write Tribe (excellent articles), the four times a year Ultimate Blog Challenge, and the WordCount Blogathon (June only).

8.  Post daily, even if your challenge doesn't require it.  I can't emphasize this one enough.  You MUST develop the habit of writing, of blogging, of reading/commenting of other posts.

9.  Don't get discouraged if you don't meet your goals right away.  Overnight successes rarely are overnight.  You are seeing the tip of the iceberg if you look at overnight successes. 

Finally,

10.  HAVE FUN!  Without having fun, it is hard to succeed.

Do you have any other suggestions for those participating in challenges?

I am linking back to the Write Tribe Pro Blogger Challenge:  writetribe.com/write-tribe-pro-blogger-challenge/

19 comments:

  1. Dear Alana Mautone,

    I LOVE this post! I agree with all of your suggestions. May I republish this on the Official Ultra Blog Challenge site with a live link back to your blog, of course. :-)

    BTW, I want to add, that I was just like you (and probably many new challenge members). I had a very difficult time the first few weeks of my first blog challenge years ago. But I really just pushed myself through those 2 weeks because I was told it would get easier. And it did! The last two weeks were much easier and then I ended up blogging every day for over a year. :-)

    Here is the amazing part for me and why I created the Ultra Blog Challenge....in the course of my own experience, I found ways to really skyrocket my blog reach and I hugely increased my numbers on all social networks, my list signups, and clients! It helped my SEO so very much, that to this very day, I get more sign ups every single day for free than I used to get paying for ads on facebook!!! It is so very worth it.

    Kathy Hadley

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    1. You certainly can republish this on the official Ultra Blog Challenge site - it's an honor. Thank you!

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  2. I am participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge currently. I attempted the challenge in October but had a small health crisis that interrupted that challenge. I am giving it a go again this month and already have about 10 posts outlined. I am really liking the calendar plugin for wordpress. It helps make planning future posts much easier.

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    1. Best of luck. I wish Blogger had all the plug ins Wordpress features - especially the ones to fight spam!

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  3. I love your "evergreen" tip. So smart! I am going to use it for sure.

    Kassy

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    1. Yes, and you'll be glad you did. The evergreen post trick has saved more than one blogger.

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  4. If at first you don't succeed, try try again. :)

    My first blog challenge was a bust. I think I did all the days except 7, which really wasn't bad for my first try, but I was determined to finish the second one. ROFL

    I think I was 3 days short on that one too!

    All in all, my first two attempts at blog challenges stank in my book, but I didn't quit! When the next challenge rolled around, again I participated!

    I finally finished a challenge and even started my own! :) Now... I know exactly what it takes to finish one!

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    1. We all improve with practice! I'm glad you didn't give up, Bonnie. Starting your own challenge - that is awesome.

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  5. Excellent suggestions, Alana. I love blog challenges for the consistency they force me to create for myself. I have also made so many amazing connections and created lots of new opportunities as well. I now have friends around the world from participating in these challenges. Plus, I have stumbled across some amazing bloggers I would not have discovered any other way. I agree with what Kathy Hadley said - the blog challenges have greatly increased my reach and connection with others. One tip to share with other bloggers - don't think every post has to be perfect or long. Look at Seth Godin, one of my favorite bloggers, he only writes 300 word posts and they are awesome!! You can use pictures, video, and tip lists to make up some of your posts. I have found that creating series also helps me to stay focused, breaking up a longer topic into a series of shorter posts keeps readers coming back more more.

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    1. Thank you for sharing those two tips - and they are very good tips. Perhaps I should collect some other tips for another post in January. I have more tips to share, too.

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  6. Alana,
    Great advice! When I first started blogging regularly, I only blogged three times per week. But then it got difficult and I just did it once or twice. Finally in October when my book came out, I committed to blogging daily, and I made it 28 out of 30 days! I was truly building a readership. Then my family went through some difficulties and I was trying to market my book so I couldn't find the time. But now I'm back and will try to be consistent in sharing my ideas and building a platform. Thank you for your encouragement!
    AMY

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  7. Excellent post, as usual! I have not been very successful with blog challenges because one thing or another always distracts or interferes. Inconsistency and poor time management are my usual culprits! I am really endeavoring to make some lasting changes in this new year - thanks for this great list of ideas!

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  8. Interesting post. I blog almost daily and since I take many many photos, I always have a backlog.

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  9. Enjoyed the article as I enjoy the blog challenge but sometimes live gets in the way. I do use the post date and write ahead when I have a chance. This month we are selling our house or at least trying. That requires getting rid of a lot of items we have collected over 25 years so sneaking in a few minutes a day to write a blog post will be great fun as well as a good challenge.

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  10. These are really great tips. I struggle with being consistent on my blog. I keep telling myself I'll write 2-3 times a week and then I sometimes skip entire weeks. *sigh* I really like your suggestion about autoscheduling posts. I'm going to start writing extra posts when I have time and then have them scheduled for days I know I'm going to be too busy to write.

    Thanks for this post and the great suggestions in it.

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  11. I read every single blog posted in the post where people linked their posts in November and December. I commented a lot. It took a lot of time. But it was worth it. This month I am not even reading the ones on the platforms which I cannot use to comment. If it is a Google blog that doesn't let you comment without joining a google circle, I don't read it because I am not joining google circle. If it is a blogger blog that doesn't allow open ID, I can't comment. I used to be able to use my wordpress ID to comment on blogger but over the past three days, it isn't taking my wordpress ID. It keeps defaulting to a blogger ID and just won't let me change it to Wordpress so I'm not wasting my time on those blogs. Why read them if you can't even comment on them?

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  12. These are excellent ideas! I will be using a few of them. You should also try the Ato Z challenge, I did it last year and really enjoyed my self. Finding the alphabet to blog about is fun.

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  13. Wonderful tips! I have participated in many every day blogging challenges and agree with all the pointers you have shared! Everyday writing has some positive effect on the overall writing style, or so I like to believe. :D And yes, these challenges help you to develop a new network of bloggers too. I met so many like-minded bloggers during the A to Z April Challenge and UBC too :)

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  14. Hey Alana,
    To begin with, I'm new to blog challenges. Yes, I felt it very challenging, get into the rhythm of regular blogging added to that are the technological glitches. How to get linked up took a lot of my time, and now commenting too is a challenge. In some posts, I cannot comment. Hey, and reading your post amidst all these challenges was like finding an oasis in a desert journey. Thanks a lot for that.

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