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Monday, March 14, 2016

A to Z Tips - Running with a Theme #atozchallenge

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.

If you’ve toyed with the idea of a theme or not, let me tell you - it’s easier if you have a theme for the month. We offer the Great Theme Reveal on March 21, which gets people excited about your theme. Plus we run a feature here during the year called Themes That Rocked the Challenge that gives you an idea of the variety of themes out there.

Here are some reasons why a theme helps:

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. You don’t want to be confined? Choose a good theme and it will expand your possibilities, not limit them. 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. We’re creatures of habit and like consistency. 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 – and educate others in the process.

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, CassaStorm, Dragon of the Stars, and his blog can be found HERE

27 comments:

  1. Great advice. I didn't have a theme the first year and didn't have all my posts ready ahead of time. It ended up being stressful instead of fun. I'm glad I tried again the next year after learning those lessons.

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  2. I too didn't have a theme the first year I did the challenge. It was easier to have a theme the other years I participated, including this year. Glad to say except for one picture I need to take, I got everything written for the challenge. Looking forward to theme reveal day next week!

    betty

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  3. I don't think I had a theme the first year either... I'd have to go back and look. All I remember is that I came to the party late.

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    1. Bish, we both came late to that first one!

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  4. I didn't have a theme for my first year either.
    I've already formatted half of my posts for the challenge. I'll complete the rest over the next few days.

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  5. Great advise. I had a theme during my first and this year I am again running with a theme. It helps me stay up with what to share with my readers and they know what's coming up.

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  6. I wasn't very organized my first year: no theme, no idea what I'd post from day to day. I really don't know how I muddled through, but I did. The second and third years I was much more prepared. I hope I'm ready for this one!

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  7. Your likening of blogs to being "theme parks" for a month.....how cool?!! All of the rides, games and cotton candy in store....it's a fun correlation indeed. Now that you mention it, they could make for a great theme as well :)

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  8. I have run with themes previously, and will this year too. I just like the structure a theme provides, otherwise I'd be overwhelmed choosing between possibilities.

    Great tips, and that comparison with theme parks is super-relatable! :)

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  9. I'm a theme person, I like the fact that doing the challenge with a theme gives me a package of alphabetized posts that can be grouped under a tab after April. Many of my past themes continue to get pageviews long after the challenge. And yes, I am prepping my posts beforehand, that way I get to enjoy the research. . .

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  10. I like working by theme and this year I am using a my theme to research a book I'm writing. Plus, who doesn't like theme parks?

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  11. I love having a theme. It helps me get ideas easier.

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  12. Yay! I've got the theme, now - start writing.

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  13. Unfortunately I'm still undecided, at this late date, whether or not to participate. We'll see. Thanks, Alex!

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  14. This is the best advice! I didn't use a theme the first year either and it was so hard. I'm know it's coming down to the wire, but I'm still trying to decide if I'll participate this year.

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  15. I like themes both as bloggers and as commenter.
    As bloggers, it does give me direction, as you mentioned, and this year I'm really learning, because I chose a theme I don't know as well as I'd like and about which I'd like to know more.
    As reader, I like to know what the blogger is blogging about, so I can decide whether I want to follow along.
    I can't wait for the Theme Reveal day!

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  16. No theme for me and I haven't got any posts 'in the bag'. That's not how I roll. To quote 'Pretty Woman' 'I am more a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal' Yeh this will be my first time. Let's see how it goes.

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  17. I've had some theme every year. My favorite so far was my musical memories last year. I do try to stay true to the tone of my blog and the types of things I usually write about. For one thing, I like to use the challenge to find new blogs to follow. I am very disappointed when I follow a blog through the challenge for their theme and then when they get back to regular posts it's all about something I care nothing to read about. Also, I abhor research. Research is work. Blogging should be fun. Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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  18. I've had a theme every year. The first two years, I did theme directly related to my writing, but since then, I've chosen themes indirectly related to the things I write about. I felt that would make my posts more accessible and relevant to a wider audience. I have themes for my names blog as well, and always feature both a male and female name each day, in the interest of fairness. I've done wildcards for the letters which aren't found in the themes featured (so far, invented Soviet names and names from The Decameron).

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  19. Excellent post. There's a lot of truth there. Good job and thanks for sharing.

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  20. Excellent post...Thank you for the tips...looking forward to it:-)

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  21. I have enjoyed getting to know my theme a little better and finding things to match the obscure letters. Looking forward to everyone's theme reveals!

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  22. Hi Alex - a theme certainly helps .. and I learn about my own subjects - easier to get the A-Z to work too ... cheers Hilary

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  23. Love the "theme parK" analogy! This will be my third A-Z and I always use a theme. Definitely easier! Still challenging, nonetheless, especially "X" and "Z".

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  24. Thanks for sharing .it very useful information for blog commenting lists…
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    Berita Bola

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  25. This is my first year and I am both nervous and terrified. I chose a theme and did a post on my theme reveal today. I did tag it with #atozchallenge. Is that all I need to do for the reveal?

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