Blog Challenges for Blog Improvement

In case you have missed it WordPress.com Staff are running a 30 day blog challenge titled Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog. The challenge has entered day 4  today. Anyone can join in.  It matters not if the blog is brand new or one you have been publishing in and want to improve.  So click on over and participate.

© All Rights Reserved – Any content reblogged from one cool site must adhere to the terms of © Copyright

Every day there is a new task to accomplish and so far the tasks have been:

Day 1: Introduce Yourself  Write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

Day 2: What’s your name? Edit your title and tagline, and flesh them out more in a text widget.

Day 3: What’s on your mind?  Write the post that was on your mind when you decided to start a blog.

Day 4: Explore the Neighborhood   Follow five new topics in the Reader, and begin finding blogs (and bloggers) you love.

Zero to Hero Assignments

I have been monitoring my own internal responses to the Zero to Hero tasks being assigned. It has been nearly a decade since I began to blog and the first 4  tasks have not a been good fit for me.  I have a different approach to developing a new blog and the tasks we are asked to do are aimed at producing content I have either already prepared for the blog, eg. an About page and a widget,  or content like Day 3 that I  do not want on the blog, or  Day 4 aimed at compelling me to use the WordPress.com Reader which I would rather not do.  I have not entered the URLs for the majority of blogs I follow into the Reader and I use Google search and other tools to quickly locate blogs of interest to me.

Indirect benefit from  Zero to Hero Assignments

This is not to say I did not find value in undertaking and completing the first 4  Zero to Hero assignments because I surely did.  The value I found wasn’t direct as the software, its features and how to blog, promote posts, comment and create community do not mystify me. The indirect value in I got was reading what beginners, who are also participating in the challenge struggle with getting their heads around in support forum threads. That provided some insight that I am sure Staff will benefit from as well.

Apparently many bloggers who have been blogging for some time now need blogging tips help but have failed to locate it in the support documentation, support forums threads, in Lorelle’s blog, in this one cool site blog, or by using Google search!

I’m astonished at what I am seeing bloggers ask for help with and controlling my desire to post a response to every cry for help. It they did not read the documentation provided via links and a video found in every new blog,  and did not click through to find the support docs and the support forums previously,  then directing them to those sources now that may not be productive.

Lightbulb moment

I began by entering my new timeless topics blog into the challenge and I was having some fun with it until I changed themes. Those issues brought me up short and I began to think deeply about this new blog notion in terms of scheduling enough time for creating original content, promoting it, answering comments, reading and leaving comments on other blogs. I knew I could manage adding another blog into my busy schedule but then I discovered another possibility I hadn’t considered before, and it was right under my nose!

I have withdrawn my new blog from participating in the zero to hero challenge and made that blog private. I will be entering my other blog in the  Zero to Hero challenge instead. The 4 posts I published already and the other content I planned to publish on the new blog can be easily accommodated on my blog on this domain thistimethisspace.com under the category timeless topics. Why oh why didn’t I think of that before?

So I’m off to move the posts from one blog to the other blog today and I will I continue to publish a new post every day there this month. I do hope you will visit thistimethisspace.com tomorrow and check out posts in my new timeless topics category. They will be short posts containing visual prompts and about 250 words of text aimed to inspire those, who are focused on self improvement.

UPDATE: I have now moved the zero to hero posts. As the exporter had a queue I just copied and pasted them because I’m one day behind as it is. Sadly, I lost the comments by doing that. If you would like to visit the posts are at:
Seize the Moment Surrender the Outcome
From Ridiculous to Ubiquitous
Timeless Topics
Applause Time After Time

Discussion

Have you ever entered a blogging challenge?

Why or why not?

Are you considering entering the Zero to Hero Challenge or have you already entered it?

Related posts:
Blogging: Real Name or Pseudonym?
Creating a new blog
How to Identify Your Blog’s Target Audience
Top 5 Site Title Tag Tips
Do I Need a Domain?
Creating an effective blog tagline
OMG! I can’t find my blog on Google
WordPress: Placing images in text widgets
8 Hot Widget Tips
Copyright basics for bloggers
Writing a Blog Post

52 thoughts on “Blog Challenges for Blog Improvement

  1. Pingback: Zero to Hero: The Inside Track | one cool site

  2. Timethief, I admire the way you are modeling revising your thinking as new insights come to you – inspirational!

    I’ve had a somewhat related experience in that I created my blog for a particular purpose and I was not always sure I wanted/needed to participate in each day’s ZerotoHero challenge. But in making it work I’ve had interesting learning experiences that have solved some problems and cleared up some confusion in using WP for me.

    – and thanks for the explanation of how WP makes its money – demystification!

    – Theresa (TJ)

    • Hi there Theresa,
      Truth be told I’m worrying because I didn’t create a post for each blog last night as I had planned. I have have cold that’s knocking me down. I ate, bathed and laid down to “rest”. Well I didn’t wake up until this morning. Thankfully hubby was home and to0ok care of the dogs so I slept like a baby. Now I’m in a flap. Something that came to mind is that I need to stop blogging in the zero to hero challenge threads and only offer help when needed. Why?
      I could turned the entries there into a post here. … lol :D

      Every business has to have an income to pay for expenses and salaries, etc. The Ads Team here at WordPress.com does a good job of ad selection and minimizing where ads appear and how often the display. We also have the option of purchasing the No Ads upgrade and that’s what I do for both blogs. http://en.support.wordpress.com/no-ads/

      • timethief, so sorry to hear you’re under the weather. Hope you’re on the mend soon!

        I completely get the tradeoff between developing content on your own blog vs. giving assistance in a forum thread that only reaches the readers of that blog. You’ve put in a breathtaking amount of assistance on the Zero to Hero fora and it seems like in other WordPress fora as well. Amazing!

        Yet the investment there – being very very credible to a bunch of us new WPers – seems to provide the opportunity to increase your visibility and help others find your blog. Like me, for instance! Have you considered a strategy of putting in a few solutions on the fora and a longer post on the blog? Perhaps you are already doing this.

        Also, thanks for the info on the NoAds upgrade – I have been considering it. I wanted to get a good start on the blog and see if it was something I planned to continue long-term, and I think I’m almost there. It’s been great to do the daily prompt postings as I’ve learned a lot about my writing and about problem solving for fiction – both valuable for my profession.

        Finally – I’m curious about how you chose your WP name “timethief” – it’s definitely memorable and intriguing!

        BTW – thanks also for taking a look at my site and “liking” my recent post! – Theresa (TJ)

        • Theresa,

          I completely get the tradeoff between developing content on your own blog vs. giving assistance in a forum thread that only reaches the readers of that blog. You’ve put in a breathtaking amount of assistance on the Zero to Hero fora and it seems like in other WordPress fora as well. Amazing!

          Thanks for the understanding. I’m not sure if my other readers understand how much time I spend answering support forums questions and why I do it. Yes, answering support question brings traffic to this blog as most traffic comes from search engines. I’m always intending to cut back on answering support questions but I like it. I will switch from answering forum questions today to creating content in a short while. I’m still multitasking from work until my hubby returns and will have more time later.

          Have you considered a strategy of putting in a few solutions on the fora and a longer post on the blog? Perhaps you are already doing this.

          I’m not clear on exactly what you mean. We are not allowed to blog on the forums. The questions I answered there in the zero to hero threads there meant I picked up a troll who submitted threatening comments to my personal site. However, all the other great bloggers in the challenge are making up for it. We can only blog in our blogs and I have over 944 published posts. Some are under the wplongform category so maybe that’s what you mean http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/category/wplongform/

          Or maybe I’m being thick and you mean I ought to develop a post based on the help bloggers needed to complete the zero to hero assignments. Is that the case?

          Re: my username
          I’m a cancer survivor who has twice escaped death so way back when I thought timethief was a good choice because I’m was living on borrowed time. That was before there was a negative connotation given to the nickname.

          P.S. I will be following your blog from my other one when I log out under this username and log in under thistimethisspace, my other username for the matching blog.

        • TimeThief, I really admire your thoughtful responses. I apologize if my earlier comment was a bit confusing. Yes, you are correct in that I was thinking of the combination of a sprinkling of responses on the forum threads along with a longer post on your own blog (like the one above) – a sort of compromise between option 1 of putting all your assistance into the forum and option 2 of putting the same information on your own blog.

          With your wealth of experience, you may have a more sophisticated and detailed understanding of strategy for blogging, branding and increasing your visibility, and perhaps my suggestion was naive – and thanks for considering it!

          Re: the origin of “TimeThief” – that is awesome! Congratulations – it seems very original. Too bad you’ve had some negative connotations arise.

          Re: following my blog – very kind of you – I’m glad I met you through the fora!

          – Theresa

  3. I love the look of your new blog and am interested in some of the topics you’re promoting. While I’ve seen a few blogs that have a new look, I’m happy with the one my hubby and I designed. Stuck in a groove, I will focus on my writing instead.

    Hope you’re feeling better, timethief.

  4. I’ve been blogging on WordPress for 6 months now. I was on the fence about zero to hero because of the time commitment – but so far I’m keeping up (except for Day 3 challenge – which I’m actioning, but will likely post later as it required some background effort).

    So far I like what’s been done on the challenge. Maybe that makes me the right target audience, who knows. I figure I’ll take help when offered. And if there are some days that don’t appeal to me, I won’t beat myself up over not doing them.

    As an aside – I’ve been following your blog and tips for a while. It was a tip you posted one of the boards that helped me finally figure out how to do a link to my Pinterest Account in my sidebar – so thanks for code!

    I’ll follow what you have to say throughout the challenge.

    • Your approach here is right on!

      I figure I’ll take help when offered. And if there are some days that don’t appeal to me, I won’t beat myself up over not doing them.

      The terrfic thing about the zero to hero challenge is that we aren’t locked into completing any assignment – we can simply choose what to do. The focus is on creating a better blog and doing what you can to get there is fine. Don’t feel that you are constrained – you aren’t. We can use the resources Staff and others provide when they suit and our instincts when they don’t. This is the slowest month of the year and the zero to hero challenge means we are reading blogs we haven’t read before and meeeting new bloggers. I am enjoying the journey and hope you are too.

  5. Pingback: Timeless Topics | this time - this space

  6. Thanks for the great post Timethief – good advice. Blogs grow by following and commenting, and posting – might not get to it every day, but probably 6 days out of the week and post an average of three times each week. This is the best my time allows me.

    • Hi Mary,
      Blogging and commenting 6 days a week deserves a gold star IMHO. I love your latest Sheep in Winter oil pastel, Mary. The sheep are just barely visible white on white and mood is so beautifully portrayed in the delicate shading and shadows.

    • It’s okay if you miss one day or two. It’s all up to you. The assignments are guides to creating a better blog and improving blogging skills. If you miss one then get on board for another one and don’t forget to blog frequently becaus it’s content that attracts readers and keeps them coming back.

  7. Great take on this. I too read the zero to hero challenges but thought that they were too basic for my stage of blogging. You’ve made me look at it through fresh eyes and I’ll be popping over to This Time This Space and following with interest. Happy new Year.

    • I’ve found that what’s happening for me and others who have blogged for some time is that we are using the assignments as prompts. The first ones have been very basic as would be expected but there’s more to come with variations for new bloggers and for those who have blogged for sometime. If we aren’t new then we revisiting some things and updating and rethinking this or that. No one is compelled to complete any assignment. We are encouraged to exchange creative ideas and discuss blog improvements. That’s what it’s really about.

      There are so many others who have joined in on the zero to hero challenge now that there’s a huge number of blogs to visit we may not have visited before. That’s a positive thing given how slow this time of the year usually is.

        • There’s a wide variety of interesting blogs in such a wide stage of development. Where there are interesting blogs there are, of course, interesting bloggers. The strong spirit of goodwill generated by the zero to hero challenge alone makes it worthwhile to get on board no matter how short or long a journey you intend to take.

  8. a couple of comments. first, I love the reader. I have customized it a little bit so that when I have free time and can peruse blogs I go to those categories that I set up (Madrid, Malaga, Spain, retirement, inspiration…to name a few) and I have found plenty of new blogs there! I participate in the weekly photo challenge most weeks. some weeks I am stumped as to what to post. I participated in only one writing challenge so far. I’m not participating in the 30 day one going on right now because just looking at the first 4 days tasks it would not be worth my while since I’m past those things. If I were starting a new blog like you did, it might be worthwhile. I’m going to go check out your new blog now!

    • Hi there,
      Long term blogging does not happen unless it’s fueled by passion for the topic being blogged about. That’s why I avoid visiting blogs that appear to be in operation only because each post is promoted by the daily prompt or weekly challenge. Nothing is weird about using prompts and challenges on an occasional basis but when there is no other content generated without them I wonder why the blogger doesn’t take up another hobby.

      I’ve never taken part in a challenge before but I recommend this one because I’m benefiting from it. My exception re: challenges is the zero to hero challenge because we aren’t locked into completing each and every task. It’s flexible. For me and every blogger with an established blog it’s an opportunity to rethink what we did previously and improve what we can where I can. The bonus is viewing new blogs I probably would never have visited and enjoying what I read and see on them. I also think you may want to keep watch on the zero to hero assignments because over a 30 day span you are bound to find some that are helpful when it comes to building a better blog.

      I’m using the Reader begrudgingly but have no doubt that I would toss the design in the garbage if I were able to do so and select a simple feedreader design instead.

      I don’t need the Tag option at all – no ones does. We have always been able to simply type a Tag link into our upper browser bar a tag link in this format http://en.wordpress.com/tag/madrid/ for example. Voila! Then we can locate all posts assigned to that Topic (category/tag) page. Just change the last word in the format and you can locate blog posts assigned to any Topic (category/tag).

      All I want and need in a feedreader is permalinked titles to articles published in the last 72 hours on the blogs I follow. I do not want or need images, videos or tags. I strongly dislike and will not use the pop-up. No permalinked titles for all post but clicking a timestamp to get directly to the post is not intuitive design. However, it that did not exist I’d ditch using the Reader completely.

      P.S. Note that for the zero to hero challenge I have now shifted from my new blog which is now private to my personal blog instead. Check out the timeless topics tag page.

  9. Thanks for taking time to pass that along – I’ve not been reading their posts lately and totally missed it. I’m tempted to make up the last few days and do it, but January is never a good month with the overtime at work. I’m hoping to just get back to blogging once a week!

    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,
      The challenge is entirely flexible. The assignments can be treated as prompts and you don’t have to undertake or complete theme in any order or at all. If you don’t have time to do one or don’t think there’s any benefit in it move on to do something else. The flexibility is what’s cool about it.

  10. Somehow I didn’t hear about the Zero to Hero challenge. But based on your description, I wouldn’t have participated anyway. I’ve yet to undertake one of the WP challenges. My blog is for my enjoyment and I don’t like being bound by commitments to someone else’s topics or timelines. Yes, I’m guilty of total self-indulgence.

  11. Hi tt,

    When I used to haunt the forums, all too common was the question Why is no-one visiting my blog?

    Well, because you’ve written nothing beyond Hi, I’m here – what do you expect?. . . was the most common reason, followed by – and somehow I always managed to avoid saying this, though, god, it was tempting – Because you haven’t a clue how to write – it’s appalling.

    I’d been writing, periodically, for an assortment of organisations, for over 50 years before starting my WP blog, the most recent prior to that was a several years writing a column for a UK magazine, plus a blog tacked onto my own website, so I had a huge advantage, but I still remember some of the purple prose I turned out in my twenties; with hindsight it was truly horrible. Most of us have probably done that, which is why I’d never tell someone they’re rubbish for fear of blighting an embryonic talent – so I addressed the problem by writing a series of “How to Write for Blogs” posts (having been an adult literacy tutor I figured I was qualified).

    I once followed a young single mother – well, followed her blog in an online rural newspaper, I’m not a stalker! – and watched her progress from barely literate to, well, if not excellent then at least very capable. Far too many newbie bloggers (and a lot of established ones), can’t be bothered to even find out where the spell check button is – and use it! That young woman clearly wanted to improve, and she put the work in that was needed. Too many don’t.

    Then there’s the person who gets a new PC for Christmas or a birthday, and thinks, What I need is a blog! So on the forum we’d wind up answering not just WP-related questions, but Computers 101, as they posted endless queries!

    Hey, I see you have an offline life, tt – I’ve heard about those – thought they were just a legend ;-) My life happens mostly online – it’s not necessarily a bad thing (you know my situation, so I won’t bang on about it again), and very much better than it would have been had there been no Web, and thus no Twitter (can’t abide FaceAche).

    If anyone is interested, I’ve posted this on WP a couple of days ago http://ronsrants.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/a-touch-of-nostalgia-the-best-of-my-very-first-year-as-a-blogger/ That was 2006, my own embryonic bloggery. I’ve changed a tad since then . . . Other than checking for typos, its exactly as originally published. I used Dreamweaver at the time – after that learning curve, WP was a walk in the park.

    Ron.

    • Hi Ron,
      Thanks so much for your comment here. There’s no doubt about the opportunity that blogging provides when it comes to improving our writing skills and our ability to share what we think and do effectively. Without doubt my early writing was bad and it makes me smile when I see I have progressed. Here’s my belated Happy New Year!

    • Thanks for your interest, David. I’m writing in a very abbreviated style in my challenge pieces. My preference is for essay writing so it’s an exercise in discipline. Check out the timeless topics tag page.

      I’m six days in and one day behind but I need the sleep I got when I crashed after dinner last night. This cold is a nasty type that keeps hanging on. I’m planning to pick up the pace later today provided work is not hectic.

  12. Hi TT :D Thanks for the offer of doing this challenge. My main problem is TIME. I have had to cut back from 3 blogs to 1 blog as blogging was becoming office work, I was losing the fun of blogging. There are so many challenges around, 100 word stories, pet photos etc. and at the moment I am happy with doing my own thing. Maybe one day in the future if I do dry up, which I doubt, I’ll look at this again. Ralph xox :D

    • Hi Ralph,
      I here when you say having to many blogs eventually feels like work and sucks joy right out of the blogging process. I`ve been there and done that two. I gave up posting to my scoopit pages because I already curater content every time I blog and the time commitment to keep up the two pages was too much for me.

      I think we are all time jugglers. If you have a bit extra here and there then keep attuned to the zero to hero challenge. You may want to try an assignment – who knows?

      Best wishes for a great 2014.

      • Thanks TT. I’ll consider what you have to offer. At the moment I have found a happy balance with blogging and real life, but as you say “we are all time jugglers”. Have fun my friend. Ralph xox :D

  13. Found your response interesting.
    While challenges are intriguing, I usually stay at a distance. I try to read posts and pick up hints/explanations, but really don’t like “assignments”. Some are dumb. And I like to just write stuff – as it comes up…not narrowly defined homework. Not a fit at this time.
    But everyone works differently. It’s really a great idea for those it works for.

    • Phil,
      This is a dead time for blog traffic. WordPress.com makes money from blog traffic via blog advertising and site advertising. Free hosted WordPress.com blogs have advertising on them unless the blogger purchases a No- Ads upgrade. There are also many free hosted blogs in the WordAds program and the advertising income is split between the bloggers and WordPress.com from WordAds.

      It’s important for Staff to offer challenges at this time of the year and at other times too to create a buzz that stimulates publishing and networking because (1) it will increase traffic to blogs and (2) it will increase advertising revenue, so not only the bloggers benefit from it, WordPress.com benefits too.

      I took a 4 day tour of many blogs in the zero to hero challenge and noted the quality of attraction for me and/or lack thereof, noted whether or not there were ads running on them and then I read my message to myself between the lines. When as I was fretting about the theme change issues I finally had a lightbulb moment. DING!

      I have No-Ads upgrades on two blogs that are on their own domains That puts my blogging bill for the two at $100. annually. Because I have a terrible head cold I was not thinking straight when I started the new blog (which is now private BTW). I’m not willing to add on another $30.per year for a new blog, nor am I willing to run a blog that has any advertising on it. But my personal blog http://thistimethisspace.com will benefit from any Zero to Hero traffic and it has a No-Ads upgrade. Ta da!

      • Traffic is important to WP. Good reason for them to do things to increase it – and all the information is useful.
        I try not to think about the ads – someday, I’ll go ahead and pay to be clear of them – but ads help WP, so I’ll not complain.
        Is this the absolute most dead time for blogs? Seems like other times of the year have been worse.
        Will check your your new location. Do hope ya’ll are feeling better – no fun, for sure

  14. I am doing a blogger challenge for the whole year of 2014 with a lot of other bloggers. Of course it’s more for networking, but it does help post regularly and write!
    ~Zhenya

  15. It’s interesting to hear your response to the challenge. I’ve been blogging for 3 years, and I know that I still have SO much to learn. I just don’t have time to post everyday or anywhere near that. I know the challenge doesn’t require that exactly, but I prefer to produce one really quality piece per week, rather than churning out 7 mediocre ones. (I’m curious to check out your other blog, as well.)

    Hope you had a great holiday. We had guests from the US and then did a good bit of traveling through the Andes, so I’ve been away for nearly two weeks. I was Freshly Pressed during that time and had a heck of a time keeping up with the comments. I’m still behind.

    At any rate, hope you had a wonderful holiday!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  16. Looks like great fun, but I’ll miss it since I seem to have dropped into the rabbit hole for the moment… but in a good way! Time is my challenge. I desperately need more of it. That was part of the problem with blogging challenges, besides a strong tendency to go my own way. Will I need to do a separate follow for the zero thing?

    • Lack of time and a strong tendency to go my own way is certainly something we have in common. I need to the tab to the support forums, focus on moving the content and publishing a new post.

      I don’t know what you mean by separate follow. We are asked to ad 5 new blogs to the Reader and follow them. I followed several new blog yesterday from the one I made private today. I’ll move them over today and start anew in my personal blog tomorrow.

  17. Thank you Timethief for your tips. It’s already the 3rd year I’m following you , and got a lot of experience. Because of today’s zero to hero challenge, I was thinking, whom I should follow first. And, Of course, you were N1 in my list!!! Thanks

  18. I completed NaBloPoMo this year. I am doing this challenge now, but like you the first four days didn’t really fit since I have been around for a year. Today’s challenge…I plan to do tomorrow since I have already posted for today. I figure the reminders won’t hurt and I may learn more tricks. Plus, meeting new bloggers is always a plus.

    • I agree that the assignments are good reminders and I know I will benefit from continuing in my other blog as we progress. However, I don’t click through the resource links provided because I am a follower of both Staff blogs and I have already read what they backlink to. The blogs featured in the earlier content backlinked to the assignments don’t need my traffic (understatement). They are doing extremely well during this low traffic month and that’s good for them but there’s no value I would take away from re-reading those posts now.

      Provided we share similar interests then I agree that meeting new bloggers is a plus. If we don’t have common interests then we are ships passing in the night, because I have a vibrant offline life and I operate on a tight schedule.

      Best wishes for doing well in the Zero to Hero challenge and thanks for the visit and comment.

Your comments are welcomed. Please submit them here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s