Welcome to my A to Z Challenge theme reveal post. It is wonderful to participate for the sixth consecutive year.
The A to Z Challenge involves posting every day in April, except Sundays. 1 April starts with the letter A, and son on until the letter Z.
Didn’t really have took far for my theme but if I really had to give it a name, it would be “Collecting Smiles” as always, considering it is my mission in life.
There will be posts around…
And anything else that catches my fancy, keeping in line with the alphabet for the day.
In summary, it will be business as usual here. The only difference: I’ll post every day. Maybe even Sundays, because you know how writing is!
Of course, I’ll try my best to keep up with the schedule but won’t beat myself up (or anybody else for that matter) if I am unable to, simply because … eh…. it is not a crime and I can get away with it. Also, work deadlines that take priority over everything else.
Not going to bore you with what I did from 2013 every year—but one thing I would definitely say is—the A to Z Challenge is my favorite blog hop. Check out the reflections posts if you like. (click any image to read the post)
Whether or not I keep up with the posting—though I usually do—I thoroughly enjoy the planning phase. It is delightful to mull over ideas, jot down possible topics and lose myself in the abundance. Also, it is fun to play with crayons and sketch pens and shortlist possibilities and feel rather smug that I have enough to write about for the rest of the year. And brainstorm with anyone who’d listen for ideas and have a good time—different perspectives are always interesting to hear.
All set to enjoy the experience. How about you?
If you haven’t yet, do sign up for the April A to Z Challenge.
To ensure that you enjoy the process, here are some tips that have worked for me. If you are already familiar with these, high-five to you!
1. Mention your blog name when you comment
Originally, I had suggested creating a signature. But since then, I’ve discussed with other bloggers and the consensus is, leaving a link in the comments can be spammy. Also, comments with links do not go through. To keep it simple, just include your blog name as it appears on the A to Z challenge Master List. This list is searchable, so if someone has an issue identifying where you came from, the blog name will help. Also, most blogs have the Name/url option that must be filled when you comment. So simply following the link to your name should bring them back to their blog. Another thing: some blogs have Commentluv enabled, which shows the link to your latest post.
2. Posting tips and theme
Obviously, whether this is your first time or sixth, if you’ve signed up for the A to Z, you’ve been planning your posts.
- Keep your posts fairly short. Not more than 500 words to make it easy for people to read. (that’s one bit of preaching I won’t practice—but you know what I mean.)
- More than that, it will keep you less fatigued as you post on a daily basis throughout the month.
- You and I both know that visitors to your blog anticipate a quick read. So make it easy on the eye with sub-headings, bullet points and internal links as applicable.
- If you expect your reader to take action, don’t forget a call to action at the end.
3. Schedule posts
If you can, plan posts ahead and try to schedule them. (yeah, I actually do that sometimes—because April always brings travel!). The relief is amazing, making it stress-free to go blog hopping.
Here’s the posting calendar–yeah, I made it for you. Feel free to save/print
If your posts have featured images, do spend a couple of hours gathering suitable images and storing them in a folder with your post drafts. Don’t stress for hours over finding the perfect image. There are wonderful websites with millions of free photos, no attribution required. So for April, don’t waste time on images. Can you tell I am actually talking to myself? Sigh.
Here are some great free image sites:
And while you’re at it, add the A to Z Challenge official badge to your sidebar or post. More badges and banners here.
5. Make Pinterest pins ahead
If you create Pinterest pins for every post, you can actually get started on those. I have. I use Fotor on my computer to quickly do it offline. Canva is fabulous online but if the page freezes and has to be refreshed, the design disappears and you don’t need that stress especially if there’s an iffy network.
6. Add/Configure social media buttons
Check to see if your social media sharing buttons are working. Configure your Tweet button with your Twitter handle. If you need help with that, feel free to ask.
7. Configure WordPress
If you’re using WordPress or are on self-hosted, configure the Publicize option in Jetpack to share your posts on social media as soon as you publish. If you are sharing manually, don’t forget to add the hashtag #AtoZChallenge and tag @AprilA2Z on Twitter—that is the official AtoZChallenge Twitter account.
Not on WordPress? Use IFTTT to create an applet to share your posts.
8. Review your blog’s appearance
Now is also a good time to take a quick look at your blog. Consider the following:
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Can you knock some things off the sidebar?
- Does the page load reasonably quickly?
- Is there something you want to add to your blog?
If you plan to be an active participant there’ll be more than the usual traffic and now is the time to get more eyeballs on affiliate banners/ads/books you’ve authored–you get the idea right? Or just add a post footer with the info that matters most to you so it appears under every post.
Save the A to Z master list of participants(it is a Google Spreadsheet) to your Google Drive. All you need to do is open it and add to your Drive. (I am assuming you use a Gmail account). If not, simply download it on the day the sign ups close (sign ups are open till 1 April). It will give you a master list of participants, category-wise to visit during the month.
When you visit, read, comment and share. Be kind. Imagine, your words can make all the difference and brighten someone’s day.
Enjoy the process. This is perhaps my most important tip. What’s the point in doing anything if it doesn’t make you happy?
Here is the link to add your A to Z Challenge theme reveal post.
Here’s the link to frequently asked questions on the A to Z Challenge blog
Happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to ask for any help. ♥
Happy A to Z-ing!