It's been nice to have a couple of days to rest from blogging, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it just a little bit. Being in the routine of having a post ready to go every night just became a way of life. Without a post to edit or check on, I've felt like something was missing for the past few nights.
Today, it's time for reflection. It's time to look back over the last month and review how things went for me, what I enjoyed (or didn't), what went well (or didn't), what I did, and what I plan to do in the future. It's really just a good way to wrap it up in a nice and tidy bow.
This was my second year participating in the A to Z Challenge. I learned a few things beyond what I learned last year. I also had a bit of a different experience than my maiden voyage. These are my thoughts...
I completed a total of 26 project posts, including 25 projects new to the blog and 1 throwback post. I call that pretty successful. (Full listing of projects -- with photos -- at the end of this post.)
Like last year, I spent a lot of the challenge getting projects ready, editing photos, and writing posts. I was a little more prepared this year, with only about seven projects to complete during the month of A to Z, but I had less time available thanks to my adventure in going back to school this year.
I still did my best to get out there and read other blogs. I started out by visiting a minimum of 10 blogs a day for the first 10 days or so. Then it felt like things exploded. I was getting swamped just trying to keep up on posting, replying to comments, and visiting both the bloggers I had already visited and felt interested in, as well as those who were commenting on my posts. (By the way, if you commented on one of my posts along the way, I followed you for the remainder of the challenge.)
I tried to comment on as many posts as I could, but I was amassing a stack of posts in the 100's each day from A to Z blogs alone. My other blog reading got neglected a lot of the time. My poor Feedly grew to over 1000 unread posts on several days throughout the month.
Instead of bookmarking blogs to a tab this year, I added everyone I visited into my Feedly. This kept things better organized and ensured that I didn't miss any posts. It worked quite well and it's how I'll be doing things from now on.
I really enjoyed visiting and interacting with the other bloggers as I had last year. I like the sense of community that the challenge brings. That is my primary reason for participating. While not every blog I read will remain in regular rotation, there are a small handful of blogs that I will continue to read now that A to Z is done. Like last year, the majority of these bloggers are ones who visited me consistently throughout the challenge. I feel like friendships and connections have been formed.
The Social Media:
Social media was different for me this time around. I didn't focus on other blog linky posts like I did last year, partially because I was just too darned busy to mess with it and partially because I just felt like being a little more mellow about it all. Because of this, I didn't gain the number of followers I did last year, nor did I have as many hits consistently throughout the challenge.
However, overall I still had just as many hits, if not more. Some of this was due to A to Z traffic, but a lot of it came from Reddit. I posted my projects there beginning about midway through and noticed a sudden spike in hits. Since my project posts are now set to automatically crosspost (thanks to IFTTT), this will be helpful for next year.
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 Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- Once again, my preparation work was very helpful. I wasn't as on top of things with my scheduling as I was last year, but having the majority of the projects and photos completed before the month even started was beyond helpful.
- Like last year, I met some great new people. It's what will keep me coming back.
- Revamping my blog through my participation in Bloggiesta a mere week before A to Z was genius. I feel like my page got cleaned up and classed up just in time. Everything was up to date and organized and that felt great.
- Photos were better this year. I still have some work to do on finding good light sources in my house and I need to figure out a way to take decent in-progress pictures even when my craft time extends beyond daylight hours.
- I survived! Despite my hectic schedule, I made it through the entire A to Z again, only having to use one throwback post and taking one Hail Mary from a previously completed (but not planned) project. It worked!
- My blog reading goals weren't met after the first week or so. I became so overwhelmed by everything else that I just dropped the ball a bit. The good news about this is that I will continue to visit down the Reflections list and I will be taking part in the Road Trip to keep seeking out A to Z bloggers until next year.
- The schedule was a killer. Between work, family, school, and this challenge, I exhausted myself during the month. I went to bed later than I should have every night and I was pushing deadlines all over the place. I was better at the balance than last year, but I still have work to do.
- Ha...looking back at last year's reflections, it seems that my "ugly" is the same. "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." Yup...time to start moving. It's heading towards summer and I need to get myself back in shape. It's time for a change.
- Like last year, there is a mess to clean up. Both the scrapbook room and the sewing room have been decimated. I need to gather and regroup so I can start working on new projects. There is much to be done...
I am once again calling the challenge a success! Despite the exhaustion and the craziness, I still enjoyed myself. I will be prepping and planning for a reboot next year.
I met another handful of excellent bloggers and I am very thankful that they took the time to come check out the craziness that I had going on over here. To those bloggers: THANK YOU for being my A to Z cheerleading squad; I hope I was able to be something of the same for you.
I'm not really sure what the blog will be up to in the next few months. I'll still be here and posting something, I'm just not sure what the mix will entail.
With the craziness of school, it seems the time I have available for crafting has shrunk dramatically. I have a few things I want to tackle and get better at (primarily pattern sewing and sewing clothing), so we'll see if some of that translates into bloggable things.
...and now the important part...
Since there will no doubt be visitors who weren't here during the entire month, here's a recap of the projects I completed this year (along with links to their individual posts):
Thank you to all of you once again, bloggers and challenge organizers alike. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to be a crazy challenge participant again this year. Congratulations to all of you who, like me, managed to survive the madness of the A to Z Challenge!