It was a Sunday afternoon of March. Mumbai temperatures begin soaring around this time but they are still bearable. I was going through my SM feed where I found this contest called #BlogchatterA2ZChallenge. This is an annual challenge by Blogchatter, India’s largest blogger community. What I liked the most about this challenge was the fact that you had to write every day of the month (except Sundays) starting from a each letter of English alphabet. So 26 posts in all from A to Z.
I am strong believer of the inner voice, a calling. Without giving it a lot of thought, I simply enrolled myself for the contest. What about content? Where would I get topics for 26 blogposts? Well, I didn’t have a damn clue. As always, procrastination and I were chilling together until the thought of this challenge struck back. I looked at Blogchatter’s Instagram page and found many people are doing a theme reveal. The next Saturday, I spent the entire day reading FAQs, researching themes, content planning and finally decided that I would amalgamate the two things that I love the most. Finance and Technology. Our beloved Fintech! My theme for this challenge was decided.
So this blogpost, is dedicated to the impact this challenge has had on my life. Saying that it was just fun would be an understatement. Let’s find out how!
I realized it at a right time that it won’t be possible for me to complete this challenge if I don’t stick to a routine. You know the thing about motivation? It is a feeling. And feelings are temporary. So it fades away pretty soon. What gets one going in life is discipline. If somehow discipline can be clubbed with motivation, it would become a deadly combo. However, until that happens, discipline will keep you afloat. So, in a mood or not, motivated or not, you had to show up every single day.
To achieve this a feat, I made a following high level routine:
- I woke up at 6 AM sharp.
- I used to run through the updates and SM during the Potty time till 6:30. (Apologies in advance. I am sure you did not sign up for these intricate details)
- Later I exercised for 1 hour till 7:30 AM.
- I used to start writing immediately after that, it took me about two hours to write and optimize a blog, provided I had researched for it and had the skeleton ready, the previous day.
- I started my office by 9:30 AM and worked till 6:30 PM.
- In order to avoid distractions, I had a dedicated time allotted to social media and networking. So, from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM, I used to read blogrolls (blogposts by other bloggers taking the challenge) and also networked with them. It widened my perspective so much. (more on it in a while).
- After dinner, I spent an hour reading /listening to a book and finally 9PM to 11PM was meant for blog related research (topic for the next day).
Looks difficult right? It was. Did I follow this routine for the entire month? Nope. There were some hiccups at least twice a week but I managed to get back on track almost every time.
Also, I shared a copy of this Google note with my wife as well. I think that biggest mistake that we do is not aligning our partners on such endeavors. It is going to suck up time and when you are doing it parallelly with your full time job, this time has to be borrowed from ‘our time‘. Therefore, it is always better to set the expectations right from the very beginning.
So I have divided the impact the in two key categories. One on my personal growth and second on the tangible aspect of the challenge i.e. on the blog itself. Let’s start with the personal front:
1. Understanding of Fintech:
Did I know about these 26 fintech platforms already? Hell no! There were about 10 platforms that I discovered for the first time while researching for them. This has had a tremendous impact on my understanding of the fintech ecosystem in India. Apart from that, I came across some amazing startups doing phenomenal work in this field. Also, my overall comprehensive abilities were boosted because of contextualization. Because I was reading about it daily, I could grasp the offerings of each platform quickly and easily.
It’d be a lie if I’d say that I enjoyed writing all blogposts equally. There were days when work load was at it’s peak and I had to start early or stay back late. I wrote a couple of my articles at 5:30 in the morning and one was also published at 1 AM. Night owl or early bird, this challenge made me live both lives. One good thing was the fact that it got into a habit after 10 odd days. When I wrote my last blogpost on 30th April, I felt so empty the next two days. It was the kind of feeling you have after binge watching an amazing series.
A lifelong learning from this challenge would be that famous quotes like, “Do what you love, that way you won’t have to work for a day” are crap. No matter how much I love blogging, there were down moments when I just couldn’t look at the screen any more. However, visualizing the end goal of finishing a task kept me going.
I wanted 2021 to be an year of networking. While others may think that we are unable to travel, I see it as the biggest opportunity to network. You can network in Pyjamas for god’s sake. What else do you want? And this challenge did exactly that for me. I came to know about so many bloggers and the great work they’re doing. Connected with some of them outside blogosphere as well. I would like to endorse a couple of them; If you are into books and nature, I totally recommend going through Your life Mirror. Also, if you are curious about the life of a professional content writer, I recommend this blog by Mrs. Satabdi Mukherjee.
I primarily write on technology and finance. This means that most of time goes in reading about these domains. So, I had developed a tech myopia of sorts. Once I started reading the blogrolls, I was amazed to discover amazing new niches everyday. There were blogs on Hindu Mythology and Sanskrit, Parenting, Image Management and Bollywood. This challenge reiterated the power of blogging in my mind.
For those of you who are left brained and are craving for numbers at this point, here it comes. The tangible benefits of participating in BlogchatterA2ZChallenge:
- My traffic originating from direct sources grew by a 12% in the month of April.
- People coming from search engine generally get the job done and leave. However, someone coming from a platform like Blogchatter came with the intention of reading the entire post. Therefore, there was a drop of 18% in the bounce rate.
- April was also the month where I got most likes and comments on my blog. Ever. I crave feedback and this challenge gave me a plenty.
- My Alexa rank was 38,000 when I started this challenge. It has come down to 24,500 as I am writing this.
Downsides of the Challenge:
While the entire exercise was an enriching experience, but I could find a couple of issues with it as well. Decided to quote them too:
1. Misunderstood Meaning:
I personally took this up to challenge myself. I wanted to improve my knowledge and skills. The Blogchatter algorithm gives you a popularity score basis the (a) blogposts submitted and (b )number of people interacting with your blog. Another key factor influencing this rating is (c) your engagement with other bloggers.
I could see some people abusing this. I won’t name them but they would just like your post for the sake of points. While I like to win at every challenge thrown at me, I chose my battles wisely. Some people just put everything out, including their souls, to stay at the top.
While some posts were an absolute delight to write, there were some where I could have done a little better. Now that I would be switching back to my posting regime of 3-4 blogposts a week, I would spend some time fixing it.
Well, it was not easy. At times I felt that my eyes were giving up. I am with some kind of screen the entire day. And during this challenge, there were no breaks. My Sundays were spent planning for the week ahead. But the million dollar question is if I would do this challenge again in 2022? I think yes! It was fun. Totally aligned with my strategy of ‘Seek Discomfort’.
If you haven’t already, you can check out my posts of BlogchatterA2ZChallenge here. Tell me what do you think?
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Until next time..