A - Z Reflection Post 2018

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Welcome back for a last time, for the reflection post on 2018's A-Z challenge! 

This year I felt like the crowd of participants had decreased drastically. About 700 bloggers originally signed up. If I remember correctly, in previous years it was around 3,000 people, of which many ended up not posting at all or dropping out over the course of the month, though.

Between 350 (at the beginning of the challenge) and 250 (by the time the letter Z rolled around) bloggers linked up on the daily list.  Less than 50, however, used the convenient option of dropping their daily link on the respective letter post in the Facebook group.

I liked the clean and organized way the list was set up. It included the themes, so you knew what to expect of the posts, whether they focussed on food, relationships, sports or travel. If there was a column for the blogger's actual name it'd be easier to find some people's blog who left a comment but not their URL.

I've got to be honest though, I didn't check out many bloggers that were completely new to me, the main reason being that I am lucky enough to have a pretty extensive network since this was my fourth time around this year.

Some of the new blogs I visited daily were:
  • AJ Blythe at Aussie Cozy who wrote about serial killers. Who knew there were enough of them to cover the entire alphabet, even the hard letters? I was especially appalled by the female offenders that were portrayed.
  • Shari Elder at Life's a Story, write it bold chose a memory theme. Sounds tough? She rocked it! Olfactory memory, songs that trigger memories, alcohol that may actually wipe out memories...
  • Iain Kelly at Iain Kelly Writing did a brilliant job writing authentic fictional stories taking place at cities within the European Community. There are currently 27 member countries, but that's where Brexit came in ;-)

Then there was the bunch that I met last year and loved reconnecting with:
  • Leanne Le Cras at Cresting the Hill talked about the A to Zen of Life via the Dalai Lama - very inspiring! She also did a great job structuring her posts and keeping everyone about the same length.
  • Molly at My Cozy Book Nook picked "Boston" as her theme and was lucky enough to spread out this fabulous city over 26 posts (as opposed to one, which was what I had reduce myself to)
  • Karen O'Connor at Weekends in Maine benefitted from the fact that winters in New England are long enough to actually make it into A-Z season, so she talked about her favorite aspects of that.
  • Shirley Corder at Rise and Soar blogged about aspects to take care of yourself and pointed out habits that help to improve your life by improving your mind.
  • Donna B. McNicol at Our Prime Years managed to find something to write about her precious goldendoodles Cooper and Murphy every day.
  • Tuomas Kukkonen at True North Brick found another 26 ideas to combine his love for music Aerosmith, movies and Lego!

Finally those I consider old A-Z / blogger friends (and you know what is said about them: oldies, but goodies!):
  • Pamela at The Wright Days of Fun. This year she focussed on aspects that help keeping the romance alive in a relationship. Every post included a song dedicated not only to letter but to her post's theme.
  • Lissa at Rainswept once again proved her creativity by surprising us every day with  her unique approach to the current letter: paintings, quizzes, inspiring fictional short stories,..
  • Mandy at Your Everyday Traveler used A-Z to talk about her five year anniversary trip to fabulous Hawaii by reviewing hotels and other travel experiences. If I ever get to go, I know where to check!
  • Arlee at Tossing it all out did a round of purging and blogged about it. I need to go back and follow his lead, now that A-Z month is over and I've got all that free time on my hand...

You can tell I've been busy visiting their posts while still completing my own.

As much as I tried to work ahead - and I did! Over the course of February and March I mapped out the alphabet, assigned the letters, customized my template, collected most of the pictures, and wrote a dozen posts - there is only so much you can do while life happens and demands your time and attention.

So during the second half of this challenge I had to focus more on finishing my own posts than to explore a lot of others - while still trying to read my favorite ones and returning visits to those who left comments. And I was super pleased about that engagement! 

While my 2018 posts didn't perform as well as the ones in 2017, (not even half as great) the engagement in relation to the page views was much higher, and that made me happy! 

I don't have any sponsors, so while page views are a nice indicator that people are interested in what you're writing, what good is that interest if they don't tell you, and you don't know who your readers even are?

So I want to thank you very much for not only visiting and reading (or at the very least looking at the pretty pictures) but leaving a few friendly words, too!

For the first time this year I posted a daily picture on Instagram. While I don't think it brought additional blog readers, I did get a couple of news IG followers, and I'm not talking about the companies or groups that want to sell their merchandise or services, and will drop you the next day if you don't follow them back, but actual people, which is nice.

I chose a travel theme this year. Destinations I've visited at one or several points in my life. Let's have a look at my five most popular posts this year:
  • Denver, Kruger, Boston, Amsterdam, three of which went live at the very beginning of the alphabet / challenge. I'm guessing, most visitors = bloggers were like me, they covered their own posts for the first couple of days so they had time to explore. Not so much after that.
  • And the winner is - much deserved - Geneva! Why? I took a day out of my already busy month to actually drive there, 3 hours each way, to soak up the environment and snap some blog worthy pictures in order to make the post current and authentic.

Allow me to recommend some posts / destinations that deserve a little more love than they've actually gotten so far:
  • London, Cape Town, Edmonton and Sydney. Why? Not only do they include a ton of awesome pictures and info on what to do and see, they also compare the English language in terms of, well, terms. What expressions are unique to their country? What is a two-four? A braii? Dead horse? What will they serve you in England if you order chips? Find out.
  • And finally please visit Zug which is the closest city to where I live in Switzerland. And because poor Z always comes last.

Now I have a few personal favourites that I poured my heart into:
  • Nashville - not only is it a fantastic place to visit for the country music and the Batman building, it's also the name of a TV show that I only stumbled upon while doing research for my post. I am now wrapping up season 3 and loving it.
  • Jerusalem - Israel is my mother's home country, which makes me half Jewish on paper, but I have mixed feelings about what is going on in this country, and I like to think that I've captured my thoughts pretty well in my post. But see for yourself.
  • Utah - just for the pictures of the breathtaking scenery in those national parks. May I beam myself up to Moab right now? I'd do it!
  • Xojayli - which is a city in Uzbekistan, and I have never been there! I just used it to tease you. Instead the X post is a collection of 17 pictures of destinations that deserved a post of their own but didn't make the cut. There are no captions, so you need to find out for yourself! Will you give it a try?

Thank you for being part of my 2018 A-Z journey, I appreciate your support! Here's the link to find the other brave A-Z bloggers' reflection posts.

Take care and keep in touch (only eleven months till A-Z 2019, haha):


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