“For the Love of Challenges” Explained

Great teachers tell you what you are going to learn, then they teach you, then they tell you what you learned. Me? Maybe not in that order.

-Cee Neuner

Always Write Series: #Bloggers Hosting Writing and Photo Challenges

I’ve been asking some of you to participate in an interview about hosting a writing or photo challenge. Seven of you have already responded, and we have learned the back stories behind your great challenges. Through guest posts we understand how and why bloggers choose to participate in challenges.

Kevin Cooper asked me to send him a link to the post explaining my new series of interviews. I slapped my palm against my forehead. I hadn’t posted any reasoning for my interview series of the bloggers behind the writing and photo challenges. How dumb was that? (Rhetorical question)

So this post is to rectify that wrong.

My Thesis Questions

The most important question when I started on this quest was, who is hosting writing challenges? Are there as many independent writing challenges hosted by volunteer hobby bloggers as there are photo challenges?

The bigger question is why do hobby bloggers, not professional paid staff, take the time to create challenges? All the challenge hosts have great answers for this question in their interviews. I hope that you will read them all.

My Challenge Backstory

When I first started blogging in 2012, I quickly discovered photo challenges and awards. Both tools helped new bloggers like I was to make friends and create a presence on the blogosphere. It only takes a few posts written to empty air to realize you need friends.

I made some lasting friends through award giving on WordPress. However, the process of giving and receiving awards tired me out, took hours to complete, and didn’t add much to the overall purpose of my blog. Photo challenges molded my blogging style.

To up my game and my WordPress stats, I created several photo challenge pages. No sweat – post a picture and a theme, give participants choices, and thousands of talented bloggers would flock to my blog and share their stories. Right?

I should have stuck to it. Doesn’t this guy just make you want to say something?

Of course, no!

I got zero responses and gave up. Must be more to it than to leave it up on a page and hope someone saw it and wanted to join in. I didn’t know what to do, and I was so busy experimenting with just writing that I couldn’t focus on one thing. (That hasn’t changed over the years, which is why I still don’t host a challenge – yet.)

I participated in challenges that fit the stories I wanted to tell. I wanted to meet people. Then something happened and the photo challenges started to determine what I wrote, what pictures I took and published on my blog.

I got hooked. The challenges gave me a topic to fill up my blank screen, and new friends to read what I wrote. Impressed by people like Sylvia and Carol, I used challenges to tell the stories of my life.

Writing challenges are a new adventure for me.

Motivation Behind the Interview Series

This project got me excited about blogging after a long dry spell of not wanting to write. Let me tell you a few reasons I got so excited about interviewing other bloggers.

So what’s happened along the trail? That’s what I wanted to find out.
  • No one else writes the back stories, the history behind hobby blogger’s challenges. Aha, a new niche. Doesn’t T C History Gal have the responsibility to record some of these stories for posterity?
  • These bloggers develop communities. I want to be part of their communities. I like these people! I would love to see these communities intersect and reach out beyond themselves as a result of these interviews?
  • People have had such positive responses to doing the interviews and guest posts. Charli Mills said, “It’s nice to have someone take an interest in what I do and ask me these questions.” Awww
  • I wanted to collaborate more with other bloggers. Charli from Carrot Ranch invited me to host a challenge for her Rodeo Contest coming up in October. Norah Colvin and Irene Waters both agreed to judge for my week. I’m super excited about this.
  • I had a chance – an excuse really, to slow down and study my interviewee’s blogs. Slower is better if you want to have strong relationships.
  • I wanted to have more fun blogging. For example, here’s my limerick for Esther Chilton’s blog this week’s prompt – Zoom.

Does Zoom work better than Skype?
If not, then what’s the big hype?
It’s free, mercy me,
But all we can see –
Your scalp and the chat you type.

What Is Success for the Interview Series?  

It would thrill me if the blogger who writes a guest post or has an interview on Always Write had a sudden surge of visitors and people liking their work. My stats have definitely grown during this series of interviews, but I suspect that it will take time to realize tangible results.

If the challenge hosts tell me that the interview questions gave them a chance to reflect on their work and examine their own motives and practices, then I have done my job.

Primarily, this project is to honor the hard work bloggers do as challenge hosts and give them a little recognition and hand clapping for their many hours they pour into their blog and their challenge. If they feel encouraged, I am fulfilled.

If the interview itself is something the challenge bloggers can use on their own blog to promote their challenge or use as part of recording their own history, I feel useful.

If I make some new friends and reconnect with bloggers with whom I lost touch, I’ll be over the top happy.

Challenge hosts invest hours of time and tons of passion. They don’t offer participants cash prizes. They aren’t from huge photography studios or literary magazines. But their success is worldwide. Let’s celebrate their hard work.

Do You Know a Challenge Host?

This has to be a community project. Maybe you already participate in a writing or photo challenge. Write a guest post about why you chose the challenges. Refer one of your favorite challenge hosts to me for an interview.

Help me update my list and create a new one. Photo challenges are already listed on my menu. I did not have the same resource for writing challenges, and so this series was born. After I started, I found that Cee Neuner had developed an excellent Writing challenge resource on her blog.

Related Posts

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant - Promoting Hobby Blogging

28 thoughts on ““For the Love of Challenges” Explained”

  1. Hi Marsha – I used to have a blog page with a list of like 50 challenges that I liked – I took it down a while back to streamline my blog menu – but I was amazed with how many “hits” that page got on a regular basis – and I also like how Cee lists the many challenges on her blog.
    and I like Cee’s challenges —
    so this backstory to your interview goals was a nice idea and I look forward to following along –

    Liked by 1 person

  2. PS – I do not really hots a challenge – but I did try it twice – and could share more about my experience with that – and with other challenges I have done and still do – so if you want Priorhouse in the queue for this series – would love to participate – 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post, Marsha. I participate in writing challenges including Sue Vincent’s, Charli’s, Linda Hill’s SoCS, Colleen’s poetry challenge and the weekly Blog Hop. I am a bit random about them all these days as my writing takes up so much of my time now. I find it hard to write for a challenge when I am deep into a story of my own. I also do some photo challenges including Terri’s occasionally and I’ve recently started participating in Norm’s Thursday doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robbie. A couple of those writing challenges are new to me. Thanks for sharing. I’ll check them out. When I’m writing, everything else goes out the window, so good for you for even trying. You are amazing! I love both of those photo challenges.


  4. I used to participate regularly in photo challenges and even hosted my own for about six months a couple of years ago. It started feeling too much like a job, so I stepped away. I’ll still jump on a photo challenge from time to time if the whim strikes. 😀


    1. Hi Susan, Thanks so much. I enjoyed having you. It was a great post, I thought, as did many of my readers. Thanks for keeping up with the posts as they keep coming. Cee Neuner is one of the next Photo Challenger hosts to be on stage. 🙂


  5. Thanks for such an interesting back story Marsha. I can attest to the time host bloggers put into their challenge and thank you for giving them acknowledgement of that. I hosted Times Past Challenge which was a memoir challenge which wanted to not only have those wonderful personal stories that every one of us have but to look at how things have changed from generation and also location. Unfortunately health issues saw the end of this challenge but you never know one day I might resurrect it. Looking forward to being one of your judges. Carrot Ranch has had a wide reaching impact on writers with not only the challenge but also the publishing of an anthology and the annual writing competition. Cee has done a great job compiling the challenges and I can see you doing a great job letting us know the faces behind those challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Irene. When you have time, I’d love to do an interview about your challenge. Maybe someone would love to help you get it back online. It sounds like it would be super interesting, and might even spark some books. 🙂 It would be good to do just before our own Carrot Ranch challenge comes out, too as an introduction to one of our star judges. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes an interview would be fine Marsha. I have had two posts that for me went viral and one came from this series – how you were punished as a child. Obviously there were huge generational differences with this one and still generates community interest. Sadly those that visited didn’t leave comments which would have been very interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Awesome, Irene. That is an interesting topic. Another one that we used as an ice breaker in teacher trainings was “favorite toys you played with.” That is very generational and produced some emotional sharing – even among strangers. Let’s chat about your interview by email. I’ll email you tonight or tomorrow. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said Marsha, your reasons make tons of sense and it was very thought-provoking for us when we were interviewed for your challenge series. I think most bloggers are generous and help each other whenever they can. Your series will hopefully open new doors and facilitate more connections as it grows. Kudos to you for your hard work and your interest in others’ success.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tina. I think the bloggers in our circles are wonderful and do so much for each other. In my eight years of blogging I haven’t met any obnoxious bloggers. We will see where this series leads. I am hosting a writing challenge for Carrot Ranch in October as a result of this series. That will be a first.

      Liked by 1 person

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