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Friday, March 1, 2013

A to Z Tips - The Advantage of a Theme

If you’re participating in the Challenge, you are probably already planning your posts. That is good – plan and write as many as possible before the Challenge begins so you have more time to visit other bloggers in April. And it’s easier to do that if you have a theme for the month.

If you intend to wing it, nothing wrong with that. The first year of the Challenge, I didn’t have a theme. Of course this meant some days I was scrounging for something that matched the letter. (For Q, I blogged about Q*Bert and the crappy 1983 movie, Q – not good!)

A theme will give you direction. If you select movies, you can go with the movie titles. With music - band or song titles. With sports - players or teams. By narrowing the focus, it’s actually easier, because then you won’t be overwhelmed.

A theme also lets visitors know what to expect. They will be more apt to return, especially if they like your theme. If you can, include a line or two at the beginning of each post that states your theme for the month.

It’s good research. Select a topic you want to know more about – you’ll learn something as you search. Perhaps it’s something you need to research for your next book or for school. Kill two birds with one stone.

Does the theme have to match your blog exactly? No, it can be anything you want. If it’s something that interests you, chances are you’ve already talked about it on your blog. Brainstorm some different themes and pick one. If it fits your style, then do it.

If you need some ideas to get you started, I recently listed some fun, geeky themes at Allison’s blog, Geek Banter.

Have fun with it. Just think - your blog is a theme park for one whole month. Make it fun!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of CassaStar and CassaFire and his blog can be found HERE

56 comments:

  1. Mine is already done and dusted,

    Enjoy your week-end.
    Yvonne.

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  2. I'm half done with my posts. Hadn't thought, though, to include that line or two at the beginning to let readers know of the theme.

    Excellent idea! Thanks so much.

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  3. I'm planning on poetry. And so stuck with the letter X. Looking forward to April! :)

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  4. I haven't started my posts yet but I have an outline of what I'm going to do. I'll stick to the themes of my blog so my readers will have a good idea what I do when it isn't the A to Z Challenge. I'll be blogging about the Civil War and the Old West, with a bit of adventure travel thrown in just to spice things up.

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  5. I have the theme, the topics and some of the posts! I plan to finish all of the next week!

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  6. I'm working on it! I did a theme last year and wrote most of them ahead of time and it was definitely easier. I love the idea of making the blog like theme park - fun!

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  7. I guess you could call recipes a theme. I am doing those again this year, but I am also writing a short piece on the appropriate letter.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  8. I'm not sure if I am ABC brave.

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  9. Hi Alex .. theme decided, posts partly written (very short for me!) and I love your suggestion as to learn something in the process ... most of my posts follow that route.

    I'm looking forward to it - cheers for now .. Hilary

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  10. I'm excited that I picked a theme last week and already have all my letters figured out. I just need to start writing some posts...arrghh.

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  11. I have a theme. It's only half done. I wish it were completed.

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  12. I have this month to write my posts in advance. Otherwise, I'll be writing them the night before each A to Z day like I did last year. I completed the challenge, so it worked for me. However, I prefer to have them written up before April. When you're super busy, though, that's sometimes hard to do.

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  13. Terri, it does help to let people know.

    Sean, looking forward to your theme!

    Hilary, and that fits your blog theme so well.

    Jolie, I plan to write mine this month.

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  14. I find doing a theme to be way too hard. I've already got all my A-Z posts done and ready to publish but I might tweak them.

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  15. I have a theme, letters are narrowed down or chosen, and my first post is written. Plan to do an intro post the day before launch to introduce theme, but a line or two at the start of each post reiterating it is an awesome idea. I'm on it!

    ~VR Barkowski

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  16. A theme helps to keep thoughts organized. I winged it the first year with daily posts improvised as I went along, but then again that was part of the Challenge that first year. The bigger sign-up numbers created a whole new type of Challenge.

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  17. Great argument for a theme, Alex. Having done it both ways, I know that I'm always going to theme it for as long as the Challenge shall live. I had a LOT more people return - there were folks (and I thank you so much!) Who read everyone of my April posts. That was what prompted the IKEA gift card I gave away at the end - reward the faithful.
    Writing stories of my childhood in Sweden, with pictures of me growing up, and teaching one or two Swedish words a day proved easy and popular.
    This year I've chosen Adventures in America, and will be blogging about my first year as an immigrant at the age of 9. I'll include more pictures. My mom The Nutritionist made me fantastic albums so I have a lot at my finger tips to choose from. I have letters assigned, but with all the health issues around here, still need to WRITE the posts. It's my goal to write one a day in March.

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

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  18. Theme is good, but I found last year that theme didn't work if I didn't have it planned out ahead of time - at least the title of each day's post. This year, I have a theme, I have some pre-written, and I have a word for each day's post picked out. Finally, I feel ready for the A to Z challenge.
    and I get to have some fun with it too. :-)

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  19. My blog doesn't really have a theme so I wonder if my readers would think THEME..what is she thinking?

    I'm a more go with the flow gal. I just wish I had more post written in advance. I've only gotten three done!

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  20. Thanks, Alex. I've selected the themes for my blogs. Need to finish writing up the posts though.

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  21. I've got my theme picked out and my letters decided...next step is finding a pic for each post. Then I should probably start writing some of them

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  22. Definitely a theme does work and getting an early start on writing posts too!

    betty

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  23. I've already got my geeky theme and posts for each day planned out. Thanks for the tips!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  24. I had a hard time -- at first-- coming up with a theme. Then I had a "DUH" moment! (As in "DUH"--this is obvious!) The theme for my business (newspaper) is the mission statement; "To inspire, encourage, and motivate readers on their Christian walk." (www.nebraskafamilytimes.blogspot.com)

    I'm also blogging A to Z on my "book" blog, "Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide" (www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com). That theme took a little longer to come up with, but I finally decided on "Teach your children well" because I have a passion for encouraging moms.

    I'm working on my posts! After a busy and rather stress-filled year of many changes, I haven't gotten (made the time) to write much--this will force me to! :-)

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  25. Themes do help. Although, I stepped out of the box for a few letters. And Z has me scratching my head still.

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  26. Hey Alex, Great advice. I have a theme in mind, but I think it's a bit ambitious. I need to get started now. I can't wait for A to Z.

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  27. I don't have a theme per say. I am also planning to post my intentions on March 29-31, and include a reminder line each day. Does that make sense. I need some coffee...

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  28. I'd be completely lost without a theme.

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  29. I think mine is done. I might change it. We'll see.

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  30. VR, glad to help!

    Lee, yes it did.

    Tina, and that's why a theme works - people keep coming back.

    Tyrean, this year you are ready.

    Shelly, sounds like those theme fit perfect for you.

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  31. Your theme was great last year Alex! I'm still not sure that a theme will work for me, though some of my posts will be indirectly related. Thanks for the reminder to get started!

    Julie

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  32. I'm doing a theme this year and keep procrastinating ideas for it. I keep saying, I still have this much time. >.< Pretty soon I'm going to be out of time.

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  33. I know my theme this year and found it easier to follow others who also had a theme.

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  34. Oh dear all of these wonderful posts about the Challenge are making me want to sign up. Stop it, you guys!

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  35. I've got my theme and my 26 blog titles, just have to write them up.

    mood

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  36. This is my first year doing A to Z. I hadn't even though of doing a theme. I just started trying to come up with topics. I have written about half the posts, but do have a few letters that I haven't thought of yet.

    Maybe next year.

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  37. I'm struggling to come up with a theme, and this is my first year. If I come up with one, do I need to change my sign-up settings in any way, or is too late after I've signed up?

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  38. I've got my theme, and it will be much easier (I hope) to keep up than last year. Thanks for the advice!

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  39. I agree a theme makes it easier and more interesting too. I see so many folks getting an early start on their posts. I haven't started yet and I'm getting anxious. I'm excited for April!

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  40. I learned by lesson last year in not having a theme and winging it. It was fine, bit it seemed that those who chose a theme had an easier task. I will certainly be having a theme this year and pre-preparing posts because you are right, having a theme gives you focus and direction.

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  41. Worked with a theme last year (my first year) and going with a (different) theme again this year. Uh...haven't written any posts yet, though I've identified some words for some letters; that's good, right??? ;-)
    Some Dark Romantic

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  42. Hi Alex,
    Yet another wonderful help blog post especially for the a to z participants.
    Good that you connected the other links too, Keep inform
    Best Regards

    Phil @ Philipscom
    An ambassador to A to Z Challenge @ Tina's Life is Good
    And My My Bio-blog

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  43. Patricia, time is running out...

    Karen, join us, join us, join us...

    Brett, first year I didn't have a theme.

    Marie, no. Your designation is for your blog, not your Challenge posts.

    Raising, you know now!

    Mina, I haven't written my posts yet either.

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  44. I have a theme and am working on the actual posts.
    I hope to be done by the last week of this month.

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  45. This gave me some good ideas (especially since I didn't really have any ideas this year). It also made me feel frantically unprepared (which may not be a bad thing). I wung it last year, but that might've been harder the second time!

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  46. I need a theme so bad, its not even funny. Having done both sides in previous years for the challenge, I've gained enough experience to know that winging it this year would be messy, since my time is limited these days.

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  47. Good stuff Alex...now if I could just get going!!

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  48. I already have my theme. I came up with it late last year. I like to plan ahead.

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  49. Andrea, no panic - you still have a month to go.

    Nicole, no way I could wing it now.

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  50. I just started doing this blogging stuff. I knew of a few people that have done it, so I am giving it a shot. I am only 2 post into my blog life. I am hoping that this will all go well. I already have a theme picked out and I am planning what I'm going to do each day.

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  51. Last year, I think my general theme was 'things I like.' Which was fun because it's nice to think about things you like for a month :) But it wasn't super-unified - made me feel like a bit of a random person. This year I'll have a much more cohesive theme. So excited!

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  52. This will be my second year taking part in the challenge. Last year, I did not have a theme and just winged it- I did not make it all the way through. This year, I am doing the challenge on two blogs- one theme is phobias and the other has yet to be decided. bad thing is that there are no phobias for two of the letters

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  53. I have no theme, but I've figured out each letter.

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  54. I didn't use a theme the last two years. I had such a hard time choosing one but I finally did.
    Now I just need to start writing..
    Good Luck everyone!!

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  55. I am planning to use genealogy as my theme for the A to Z challenge. I do not have any posts written or scheduled yet. There just hasn't been time between appointments and various other time snatchers.

    Have fun, all of you! I plan to. :)

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  56. ....still trying to decide if I should take the plunge. Smh. I'm somewhat overwhelmed and intimidated. To theme or not to theme, that is the question. I think if I can wrap my addled brain around that I may have the opportunity to succeed. :)

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