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How Responding to a Photo Challenge Focuses Your Writing and Increases Your Followers

Allow me to introduce you to my friend Terri.  When I started this series on hosting challenges, the intent was to focus just on writing challenges. However, many bloggers do some of their best writing in response to photo challenges. 

If you host a writing or photo challenge, please contact me. I’d love to set up an interview/guest post with you.

Please, give Terri a huge Always Write welcome with tons of comments and likes. Don’t forget to participate in her challenge, Sunday Stills


Guest Post by Terri Webster Schrandt, Second Wind Leisure Perspective

Ⓒ 2020

My Blogging Journey 

I began blogging consistently in Fall 2014, as I neared retirement from my 32 years with a public parks and recreation organization. Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers. As I neared retirement, I thought I would start a consulting business and blogging seemed like a good fit for promoting it. Once I went back to university lecturing, teaching 15 units a year, I found I lacked the time to sustain a side business. 

I blog on the WordPress hosted platform which sponsored several blogging how-to’s and challenges. Some readers may remember the Blogging University which taught new bloggers about the basics of blogging (Blogging 101) and Photography 101. In 2014, not only did I meet and follow new bloggers, but I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

It was during this time I realized I had a knack for photography and used my background in art and journalism to write posts about recreation and leisure using my original images. 

I learned quickly that including an image with a blog post created visual interest and attracted more readers. Over time I was inspired to write my first short book Better Blogging with Photography which continues to sell worldwide on Amazon. 

Better Blogging with Photography cover
Better Blogging with Photography

Like any blogger, I wanted to write interesting content and meet other bloggers.

What prompted you to begin to host a photo challenge?

Challenges bring new readers, interest, and engagement to any blog. Challenges fit well within the framework of hobby blogging. 

I always enjoyed the WordPress Weekly photo challenge early on in my blogging journey and I discovered other challenges and participated in link parties. This was during the time I was building my readership and meeting new bloggers. I enjoyed the Sunday Stills Photography Challenge, but the original host announced he was through with blogging and called it quits. 

My own blog morphed into photography with emphasis on fitness, leisure, and recreation. After a lengthy blogging break in early 2018, I woke up one night with the idea that I could reinstate and host Sunday Stills myself. The timing was rather interesting. I jumped back in with Sunday Stills in May 2018 just as WordPress announced the end of its ridiculously popular weekly photo challenge. 

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it help photographers?

The purpose is simple: to inspire others to create images related to a weekly theme. I am challenged, too, as I select each month’s themes in advance. Many photo challenges out there are very specific to photography techniques and their hosts are not only a wealth of information about photography techniques, but accomplished photographers in their own right. 

Photobloggers help each other in this way by sharing techniques, ideas and continuing support and enthusiasm for each other’s work. 

One photographer in northern California went so far as to recommend a camera to me. For that I am eternally grateful for his advice and support. 

I also believe that images help create the idea for the story when inspiration is lacking. 

Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images.

How much time does it take to create a blogging challenge?

It can take 5-10 hours a week. Just creating my own post and prepping my images for publication often takes me 3-5 hours. Being that this has a weekly theme, I first decide on each month’s set of themes. I publish this on my Sunday Stills page so the planners of the blogosphere can plan their images and posts in advance. Of course, I must find my own images for each theme, post-edit them, and write a post that not only showcases my images but provides examples for other participants. I comment and share each post on Twitter and Facebook when possible. Bloggers are not limited to posting only on Sundays, as they have all week to share their own post and images. Some of the time spent is checking daily for new pingbacks and approve, comment and share. 

What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

At the end of each month, I choose themes and post them one month advance on my Photography page. I choose photos that highlight the theme while writing a title and post that is general but inspiring to other bloggers.

How do you follow up with your participants? I post every Sunday at 7:00 am Pacific Time and bloggers read and many link to the challenge. I approve links, read and comment on each post and share on social media.

How did you attract people to participate? 

I have a good following and many folks seem to enjoy my photography. Sunday Stills had been popular, and many were excited to see it come back. As I join other challenges, other bloggers find my blog and participate in my challenge.

Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post? 

Not really, but I have a Sunday Stills image widget on my sidebar where bloggers can click to the page for more information.

Do you determine winners? If so, how? 

No, everyone is a winner! I share posts of new bloggers in the first day of the month’s post with links to their blogs. 

I also grew a set of followers as a result of the community that developed around the challenges. 

Do you post or promote the results or links anywhere? 

I share Sunday Stills posts to my Facebook Page or Twitter, sometimes on Pinterest.  When I began Sunday Stills, I hosted a link-up on INLinkz for a few months. Not as many linked to it, so I stopped after a few months.

For my favorite photos, you can see more at


Terri is a writer, self-published author and retired recreation and parks practitioner living in Northern California. As a university lecturer teaching various courses in the recreation and parks major, Terri takes leisure very seriously because it involves one-third of our lives…really!

Her active lifestyle involves stand-up paddling, camping, hiking, reading, writing, gardening, walking the dogs, traveling, and photography.

Second Wind Leisure Perspectives is her blog about leisure, fitness and photography.

Connect with Terri


More about the images I chose:

I added five of my favorite images that represent milestones on my photography journey and some good luck!

This one titled Autumn in Quincy, taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera in 2010, was the first image where I received many compliments and suggestions for entering it into contests.

I captured the plumeria with my galaxy edge mobile phone. It was the first plumeria I grew in 2019.

The sunflower with the bee was also captured with the same mobile phone in 2019, truly a lucky shot!

The windsurfer and my dog Brodie were taken in July 2017, with my Lumix FZ300, my beloved bridge camera with a long travel lens. Both represent action shots that were taken in major zoom mode but details still stood up to the wind and action.

Thank you so much, for participating in this series on writing and photo challenges, Terri. It was great having you here.

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63 replies »

  1. I know just how much hard work goes into hosting a blogging challenge, so a big thank you from the blogging community for hosting Sunday Stills, Terri. From the comments you get on your posts, I know you have inspired many bloggers to take up your challenge and take up photography. I’m sure many are now budding photographers. Had I not taken up the WordPress weekly photography challenge, I’d never have got an interest in photography.

    Thanks for hosting Terri, Marsha.

    My best wishes to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Hugh. You are one of those who spends hours on your blog and even more hours encouraging others. Terri is an exciting blogger, and I am thrilled that she is coming to see me soon. Through her, I met Tina and she and her friends host the challenge that stepped in after WP quit the weekly challenge. You are going to love that post, too, Hugh. Thanks for stopping by. BTW, if you want to write a guest post for Always Write or have me write one for you give me a holler.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Marsha, that’s great that you and Terri are going to meet up. There’s nothing quite like meeting up with other bloggers. There’s never an awkward break in conversations because there is always so much to talk about.

        I’d love you to write a guest post for publication on my blog. You can contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on my blog.

        I look forward to hearing from you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice interview with Terri, Marsha! Terri and I meet virtually through WordPress Photography 101, then several times since then in person. I have always enjoyed her photography and her generous spirit. Her Sunday Stills challenge always has great prompts and I join in when I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janis, Thank you for your response. I live a few hours south of Terri. We have talked on the phone several times, but she is coming to see me next week, so I’m so excited! I’m so glad to get acquainted with you and look forward to getting better acquainted. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed your conversation with Terri Marsha – I’ve been following her for some time now. Your interview with her introduced me to your blog which is terrific ! Terri participates often in our Lens-Artists Photography Challenge which posts each Saturday. We have a 4-person team running the challenge, which was a follow-on to the WP Weekly photo challenge. Our latest post is here . We’d love it if you could add us to your list of challenges. There are several listed that I’ve not seen before so I plan to give them all a look. Many thanks for your promotion of some outstanding blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi again, Tina, I will definitely check out your challenge and add it to my list. I’d love to interview your co-hosts to tell your story. It’s great that you followed up on the WP Photo Challenge. I used to participate in that as well. So to clarify, I add you to the Saturday list! 🙂


    • Thank you Suzanne. Terri honored me by sharing her story. I love that she saved a great photo challenge. I will also poke around your blog as well. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. I’ve been behind the wheel of the car for about twelve hours a day for the last three days. Feels so relaxing to sit behind a computer screen! Marsha 🙂


        • What are you doing to stay busy during these strange times? CA is not in total lockdown but restaurants have closed indoor seating, same with churches and many other services. AZ is tight, but a few more freedoms.


          • I play golf and do water aerobics. Reading a lot, cooking and cleaning keep me busy. Lots of down time. We used to travel a lot, and when we weren’t traveling, we were planning a trip. That took a huge bite out of our schedule. Florida is a hot mess, so we stay close to home as much as possible.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Our county in California is a hot mess, too. I just got a call from our best friend saying that her daughter may be sick with it. I couldn’t quite tell if she had been tested or just self-diagnosed. Either way – hot mess! A friend and I just traveled to AZ to look at houses. Restaurants were open, but careful. We wore masks everywhere. They don’t always wear them here at home, though that is changing quickly. I hope we can soon put this into our history! Be careful and stay safe. Thanks for the wonderful conversation. 🙂


  4. Nice to meet you, Marsha. I greatly enjoy Terri’s beautiful photography on her blog and on Instagram. I bought her book “Better Blogging with Photography” and it is filled with many photography gems.

    I enjoy photography, yet I have always thought a weekly challenge could be very time consuming. After reading this interview I may consider it again. I like when photobloggers share techniques and ideas. I think for many of us, photography is our happy place. Your images are stunning here, Terri. The picture of you, beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Erica/Erika, Terri is one of my favs, both as a photographer and as a friend. Another friend suggested that we combine a photography with a poem challenge then publish a book. I thought that sounded intriguing. I think it would be fun to do as a group rather than putting all the work on one person. I notice that there are several bloggers doing that now. My email is Email me if you might be interested in doing something as a group.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Susan, Did you host a challenge? I tried, too, but I didn’t have a clue about how much work it was to get it off the ground. So it languished on my pages for a long time. I had trouble posting consistently. It’s a lot of work. My hat’s off to Terri! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂 Marsha


          • Hi Marsha, I hosted a weekly macro challenge for about a year. I had about twenty loyal submitters. One photo a week was chosen as the next week’s banner, sometimes by me and sometimes by the group. I learned a lot and made some wonderful friends. It took so much time that I decided to close down the challenge to allow myself to participate in more challenges. I now participate in anywhere from three to six or seven different challenges each week.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Time is the key element, isn’t it? What happened to your loyal submitters? It sounds like you are still busy. It takes quite a bit of time to respond to that many challenges. I would love a guest post from you on life after the challenge and possibly how you choose the challenges you follow. What do you think?


          • Marsha, I am still I’m touch with many of the submitters. We contribute to the same challenges, so out paths cross. Some of us participate in a weekly macro challenge on Flickr called “Macro Mondays”. I am honored to be asked, and would love to write a guest post for your blog. I actually gave a presentation (Zoom) to my photo club last month about the challenges that I participate in.

            Liked by 1 person

          • That would make a fabulous post! How did they respond? Did you convince some of them to submit their photos to the challenges? Were any of them already participating in challenges? Anyway, just let me know when you can submit a post. Send it to my email, I’m so excited! 🙂


          • Hi Marsha, I would like my post to be about the challenge and life after the challenge; how I choose the challenges that I participate in. I don’t really have enough information about the participants in my challenge to answer the questions that you’ve posed above. I can submit something to you around mid-August. I am currently completing a Pandemic Porch Portraits project. Thank you!

            Liked by 1 person

          • That sounds fabulous. My readers and I will look forward to it. Your new project sounds interesting. Is everyone wearing masks?


    • Hi Susan, I’m reading backwards, from most recent. Thanks for your comments. I’m coming to your blog as soon as I answer all these comments. I look forward to seeing your great photos, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marsha, your post came out well, thank you for hosting me today. 😁When I get organized this morning, I’ll reblog it on my site. I hope my experiences might inspire others to participate in blog challenges of any kind. By the way, I’m loving the click to tweet feature. That used to be exclusive to self hosted blogs.

    Liked by 1 person




Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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