Monday, May 5, 2014

A to Z Challenge Reflections

I had SO much fun doing the A to Z Challenge this April. It was a really great time for me. I got a lot of crafts up on the blog, added a lot of traffic, and met some great bloggers. Today, I just want to share how the month went for me.

First of... The Posts:

I set my challenge this year and figured that since this is a project blog, the theme should be the projects. To me, that meant posting a new project every day. It was a daunting task, but I wanted to give myself something that would be worthwhile. And I was right. It was very much worth it.

I finished off the challenge with a total of 26 project posts, including 24 projects new to the blog and 2 throwback posts.

In case you missed any, here is a list of the projects I posted:

A: Jean Aprons
B: BSU T-Shirt Quilt
C: Cereal Box Coasters
D: Gameday Dresses
E: Easter Decor
F: Family Go Fish
G: Beer Bottle Glasses
H: Heating Pad
I: "Idaho" Home T-Shirt
J: Jake Bag
K: Kitchen Rag Rug
L: Little Kitchen
M: Monogram Plates
N: Name Quilts
O: Custom Iron-On Onesies
P: Pajama Pants
Q: Alphabet Soup Quilt
R: Homemade Spice Rubs
S: Scrap Fabric Stockings
T: Toddler No Sew Tutus
U: Unicorn Hoodie
V: Vinyl Birthday Board
W: Wild Animal Hand Puppets
X: Xilinous BSU Rag Quilt
Y: Yarn Hair Doll
Z: ZigZag Monster

Some of these projects were very well received. I was actually surprised at which posts were the most popular. In order of popularity, the three top projects were: the "Idaho" Home T-shirt, Jean Aprons, and Cereal Box Coasters.

The Social Media:

This was totally impressive to me. Things kind of took off a little over here. I went from 40 Blogger followers to 55. Facebook followers grew from 78 to 100. Twitter followers increased from 86 to 121. Not horrible. Obviously I'm not taking over the internet anytime soon, but a little growth is nice. It's good to see that people are somewhat interested in what I'm doing.

Best of all? My participation in linky parties at other blogs during the April whirlwind managed to get me featured SIX times. Seriously. Wow. I'd never been featured before, but was featured six times in two and a half weeks. Amazing. I'm totally humbled by that.

Thank you very much to all of you who have followed in one way or another. Also a big thanks to those of you who have pinned my projects. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The Bloggers:

When I wasn't getting projects ready, editing photos, or writing posts, I was reading the blog posts of other A to Z Participants. And I read some amazing stuff. There are some really great bloggers out there. Seriously.You all deserve a pat on the back, a hearty handshake, or just a big hug. Your choice.

I worked my way down the participant list a chunk at a time, adding blogs to my A to Z bookmark folder along the way. On average, I read between 45 and 70 blogs a day. About 30 blogs ended up in my regular reading rotation and I read all of their A to Z posts. A large percentage of those are going to get transferred into my Feedly reader now that A to Z has ended. Finding new blogs just makes me happy.

Oh...and in case you're wondering...I read down the participant list at random. I took sections of 100-200 participants and clicked over to those ones that sounded interesting. The blogs that I read on a daily basis and that I'm going to keep following? Most of them are written by people who came and commented on my posts. It just works out that way. You bond a little through comments, I think.

The Good, The Great, The Bad, The Terrible, The Horrible, and The Ugly

The Good & Great:
  • Prepping my posts beforehand was a good idea. Most of them were ready to go at least 3 days in advance. Only a handful of projects required work to get new photos. Only 2 projects were made from start to finish during the month.
  • Great things happened because of my participation. I met new bloggers, grew my blog audience and really started feeling validated as a crafter. 
  • The interaction of others during this project has encouraged me enough that I'm going to get my Etsy shop off the ground by June 1st.
  • I now have the satisfaction of knowing that I MADE IT! 26 project posts in 30 days is a big deal. It was hard, but I didn't give up. I did it!

The Bad, the Terrible & the Horrible:
  • I didn't hit every blog on the list. I'm kind of bummed about that. In fact, I'll probably keep going back to the list for a little while and keep visiting. I'll probably use the reflections list as another source for searching people out.
  • I'm exhausted. Seriously. I don't think I went to bed before 1 a.m. the entire month. And most of those days I was up by 7 a.m. For someone who operates on a minimum of 8 hours a night...that's tough.
  • I've wrecked my evening schedule. I need to start moving again. I'm so used to spending my nights checking out blogs or writing posts that I haven't done much in the way of physical activity. So my slug days need to be over. I'll be working on getting back in the swing of things again.

The Ugly
  • Well...maybe that last bullet point above applies here. There has been a bit of weight gain. I'm not super happy about it.
  • Some of my photos. Ugh. Seriously. I need to work on finding good sources of natural light in this cave of ours. Whoever designed this house was not a photographer. There are very limited good locations for photos.
  • The crop room has had a bomb go off again. Crazy crafting has led to a mess. I'll be cleaning that up now that the month is over. 

The Verdict:

I loved the A to Z Challenge! I will be back again next year for sure. I had a great time and was happy to get home to get on the blogs every night. I looked forward to what everyone was coming up with and I liked watching my stats, reading my comments, and responding to the great people who came over here to visit.

I've already told Collin that I need to start mapping out projects for next year. There is a lot of planning that needs to be done. I'll probably be building my 2015 A to Z list off of the 2014 Christmas project list. Then I'll be filling in the gaps with other projects along the way. Having my projects done by April is a must. Otherwise I'm likely to lose my marbles.

So a big THANK YOU to all of you who were here for the A to Z Challenge as a fellow blogger, a friend, a family member, a cheerleader, or a visitor. You all helped make this a wonderful experience (and a wonderful month) for me. I can't thank you enough.

The Future:

I'll be working on my 2014 monthly plan and continuing on with the themes I posted back in January. May is all about books. June is the Pinterest Challenge, where I'll be making projects, cooking recipes, and reviewing books that I pinned on Pinterest.

The Etsy shop will be opening in June. I'm aiming for June 1st. Some of the crafts from the A to Z projects will be sold in the store. Keep on the lookout for coasters, animal puppets, aprons, and more. I'm pretty excited about it. I'm hoping there are a few other people out there who are too.

Just because the A to Z Challenge is over, don't expect the crafting to stop. I'm still pushing ahead. Projects will continue. If they didn't, then I couldn't very well call myself the Erratic Project Junkie now, could I?


  1. How great that you will be getting an Etsy shop opened! That is on my bucket list.

    1. It's been in the plans for about a year, but I'm slooooow to get it going. Story of my life.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog and congratulations of completing the challenge your projects sound amazing.

    1. I was truly glad to find you Rosie Amber! I look forward to sifting through your A to Z posts and finding myself some new books to love. Thanks for stopping by over here!

  3. That's awesome reading ur A to Z experience and enjoyed..wil gone back to read ur projects n liking ur fb page:)

  4. been trying to comment ... here's another test.

  5. my other comments on the Jake bag may or may not have gone through. maybe you will still see them? Short story: cute bag. Carey from abundance in the boondocks.

    1. Got them Carey! I have it set to require approval on comments for any posts over 7 days so that I don't miss any. :) Thanks for swinging by and glad that you liked the Jake bag!

    2. oh, good to know. I'm going to check my settings now.

  6. Thanks Vishal! Glad you came by and thrilled that you'll be hanging out with me over at Facebook. A to Z was a blast and I'll definitely be back again next year!

  7. Hi Elle - congratulations on all you did - your projects were super amazing and I'm certain will help many with kids etc .. sadly I'm not at that stage in life! I have some time ...?

    But great to know you enjoyed it and you're already working towards next year ... cheers Hilary

  8. Glad to hear the A-Z challenge was a success for you!

  9. Congratulations on completing the challenge.

    I love your Reflections post. You sum up your month really well. :-)


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