*The 2018 Challenge is under development. Information will be forthcoming in the weeks to come.

This year's Challenge will open on Sunday April 1st. Be watching for details!

Monday, February 23, 2015

A to Z Challenge Tips - The Advantage of a Theme

If you’re participating in the Challenge, you are probably already planning your posts. That’s great–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. That’s another reason why we’ve run the feature Themes That Rocked the Challenge. It gives you an idea of the variety of themes out there.

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 some obscure band called Q-Tip–not good!)

A theme will give you direction. If you select movies, you can go with the movie titles. Music? Go with band or song titles. Sports? Go with players or teams. By narrowing the focus, it’s actually easier, because then you won’t feel overwhelmed.

A theme also lets visitors know what to expect. They will be more apt to return, especially if they like your theme. Include a line or two at the beginning of each post that states your theme for the month if it’s not obvious in your post title.

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.

Have fun with it. Just think–your blog is a theme park for one whole month. Make it fun! Because if you’re having fun, so will your visitors.

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm, and his blog can be found HERE


  1. Thanks for the encouragement Alex!

  2. You're so right about the FUN factor!
    For the past two years, I chose interactive themes, where bloggers were invited to play along, and I had an absolute blast!

  3. Off on a tangent - but I remember the Q-Tips - singer Paul Young (swoon!) and the daft song 'Toast!'. And that's actually what I love about the A-Z, you never know what you're going to read when you land on a blog :)

  4. A theme definitely does help. Ours is simple and fun this year on the Untethered Realms blog.

  5. Suzanne, that's amazing you know the band!

  6. So true about having fun with your theme; I really did enjoy my theme last year (things we saw where we walked our dog). Good thing I used the theme then since the dog is no longer with us :( This year another simple theme but I'm having fun preparing for it.


  7. An A to Z theme park - I like that! I agree, a theme can be a big help. I think it's a good idea for other projects as well. Thanks for the tips.

  8. So many themes to choose! My favorites are the ones that have to do with movies or music.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  9. I did the same thing my first year and it was sooo hard that I almost didn't participate the next year. But I chose a theme and discovered how fun it could be.

  10. I didn't choose a theme my first try, and it was a mess. Also started from scratch on Day 1. That was an even bigger mess!

  11. Replies
    1. Yes, you come up with some good stuff about pop culture though sometimes I'm not familiar with the things you talk about--I'm kind of stuck in the distant past much of the time.


  12. I know about a rapper named Q-Tip, but not about a band. When I told my father about Q-Tip, he laughed and said that was a horrible rap name, like he just named himself after the first random item he found in his house.

    I'm really looking forward to revealing my themes for both of my blogs, and hoping I get more visitors to my secondary blog than I did last April.

  13. My first year I didn't have a theme - it was a fun mess. My second I did writing prompts, specifically about building characters. My third I did 'Things I know" which was fun for me but not universal enough to build much lasting interest in my blog. This year my theme will rely a lot on audience participation so hopefully that will be fun!

  14. I would love my visitors to always have fun. Good points!

  15. Thanks for the tips! Now I must begin jotting down different theme ideas! Maybe it will help me dream up something exciting!

  16. I remember my first year was so hard without a theme.
    They do help, but they're not for everyone.
    Great post, Alex!

  17. I just got the skeletons done for the 26 A to Z posts I will do for my Movies, TV and Streaming, Oh My blog. I still need to go back and add the letter jpegs, but soon i will begin forming the posts. i definitely want to have them done and scheduled prior to April 1st. Right now we have a foot and a half of snow to keep me inside, but by April my second love gardening will demand nearly all my spare time.

  18. Fun is the name of the game! A to Z is meant to be a blessing, not a burden. Just have fun!

  19. Themes definitely help, although I don't have mine completely nailed down yet - it might be a "mixed" kind of theme - like . . . well, I won't say yet.

  20. you listed it out clearly, though my mind is un-theme and so temperamental, I want to check out that word

  21. I have a theme in mind, Alex, but I love the idea of sports and players! Maybe next time!!!

  22. This will be my 5th A to Z challenge. How the years have flown. I've got a theme, its going to be good,, Yes its Science Fiction and I'll try not to send readers diving off the deep end with marathon posts.

  23. Hi Alex - thankfully I didn't do the first year - it was a close call-up - but by the time year 2 came around I had worked out what to do .. I scrambled with the posts - but have done similar themes each year - and 2015 will be no difference ...

    Having a theme - makes life easier all round ... and helps those who visit - if they like the first posts - then they'll enjoy the others along the same mode ...

    Cheers Hilary


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