#AtoZChallenge

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal 2018 with Tips #ThemeReveal #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Challenge 2018 Theme Reveal and Tips #atozchallenge #tips #themereveal

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…

Mindfulness
Parenting
Book reviews
Personal development
Some nostalgia
Inspiring quotes
Wednesday Wisdom
Gratitude

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.

A theme really helps—both you and your reader. Here’s why. I had a theme in 2015: Letters to my son, as he was going away to college.

  • 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

Posting calendar: April 2018 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal #themereveal #atozchallenge

4. Images

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:

Pixabay
Unsplash
Stocksnap

And while you’re at it, add the A to Z Challenge official badge to your sidebar or post. More badges and banners here.

April 2018 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal #themereveal #atozchallenge

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.
Right?

9. Visit

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.

10. Engage

When you visit, read, comment and share. Be kind. Imagine, your words can make all the difference and brighten someone’s day.

Bonus tip

Enjoy the process. This is perhaps my most important tip. What’s the point in doing anything if it doesn’t make you happy?

Have fun!

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!

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal and Tips #atozchallenge #tips #themereveal

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39 Comments

  • Reply
    Shilpa Gupte
    March 19, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    This ought to be used as the guide for A to Z participants, Vidya! SO detailed and informative..one can never get lost!
    Looking forward to your posts next month, and wishing you the very best, dear!

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      March 19, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      Thank you Shilpa! I am looking forward to your posts too!

  • Reply
    Balaka Basu
    March 19, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    This is such a helpful post. I am taking part this year and I am going to bookmark this post as it is surely going to help me loads. You indeed made me smile with this helpful post.

  • Reply
    JazzFeathers
    March 19, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Well, that sure sounds like a great theme. We all need more smiles in our lives.
    And what an awesome post! I’m going to share it everywhere, since is one of the best guides to the challenge I’ve seen.

  • Reply
    Angel Stew & Devil's Brew
    March 19, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Good luck to you, Vidya! I’m not participating this year but I will be your #1 cheerleader! 🙂

  • Reply
    Vasantha Vivek
    March 19, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I always love to read your post, Vidya. So much of positivity in every post. Looking forward to this also.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      March 19, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Thank you Vasantha!

  • Reply
    Aparna
    March 19, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Vidya I loved the way you have written all the points which will be helpful for all …
    Looking forward to read to read your posts…

  • Reply
    Roshan Radhakrishnan
    March 19, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for the tips… with the exception of the 500 word limit (I have a bit of Stephen King in me… I love to ramble) was planning on following most of these awesome steps. Coincidentally, I dropped by here to get your url to add to my Spreadsheet 🙂

  • Reply
    Obsessivemom
    March 19, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    As always yours is one of the most helpful theme reveal post I’ve read. Had I been participating I’d have benefitted so much from it. Since I’m not I’ll look forward to reading your posts because they benefit me in the best way ever – by making me smile.

  • Reply
    Shalini
    March 19, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    That’s a beautiful theme, Mam. Truly looking forward to reading your posts. Hoping to have fun this April. Thanks for the tips. I am checking Fotor right away 🙂

  • Reply
    Luccia Gray
    March 19, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Great post with lots of good tips. Good luck with the challenge:)

  • Reply
    Cheryl Sterling
    March 19, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing the code. I will be using it!
    I have all my blogs written, but they are >500 words as they’re short stories. No bullet points this time!
    I have dedicated time over the next two weekends to prepare the blogs, adding images, SEO and other features to make the posts more uniform and ready to go April 1st. I’ll use your guidelines.
    Thanks again and see you in a couple of weeks.

  • Reply
    Jemima Pett
    March 20, 2018 at 3:08 am

    Yes, here we go again, Vidya! I wonder how many new wonderful friends I’ll make this year. (order of adjectives intentional!)
    The tip on sprin-cleaning one’s sidebars is a good one 🙂

  • Reply
    Kalpana
    March 20, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Sounds like a perfect theme – a little bit of everything. I’ve kind of decided not to do the A to Z this year as April is such a busy month workwise but I’m feeling very left out of all the fun. Will read. Good luck – looking forward to your posts.

  • Reply
    Ramya Abhinand
    March 20, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Loved the tips and keeping each of these in mind to help me through the challenge. Looking forward to your posts as well..

  • Reply
    Nilanjana Bose
    March 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I like the laid back approach to the challenge 🙂 and collecting smiles is always a great thing. Wishing you the very best for a successful and fun A-Z.

  • Reply
    Shilpa Garg
    March 20, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Aha! This should be a lot of fun… I’m definitely going to be here this April, Vidya!!
    Cheers 🙂

  • Reply
    G Angela
    March 20, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Vidya, I loved your post, you are such a generous soul, every thing that you mentioned is useful, I was not sure of myself, after reading your post – I am motivated to join this challenge this year. Thanks for sharing…

  • Reply
    Sonia Chatterjee
    March 20, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Beautiful as always. I am going to continue visiting not only to read but also to gain insights since this will be my first A2Z challenge.

  • Reply
    Birgit
    March 20, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I decided to join again this year even though I believe I am depressed. I feel overwhelmed with my mom dying and getting into debt with a car because of the accident I caused. The bathroom can’t be fixed yet due to money and my hubby talks about getting a car for himself in 4 yrs plus the upstairs is a shambles and he mentions other things to fix….aaaahhhhhh. I decided this A to Snis. Good step to get my mind off everything and I will be enjoying your posts.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      March 20, 2018 at 7:43 pm

      Oh Birgit! I am glad you decided to join. Sometimes it is good to do something unrelated and feel good. I am going through my own set of troubles but didn’t want to miss the A to Z either. Hugs. I know how you feel. Losing your Mom is heart-breaking and it will be a while before you get over it. About fixing the house…hugs. All in good time. Love you!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal 2018 with Tips #ThemeReveal #AtoZChallenge

  • Reply
    Shalzmojo
    March 21, 2018 at 7:03 am

    What fantastic tips Vidya- thanks for sharing this valuable info on AtoZ challenge. This would be a life saviour for any and every new entrant into this blog hop.
    Love your theme and look forward to reading your inspiration filled posts daily in the challenge. Cheers

  • Reply
    Paige Burkes
    March 21, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    I love the thought of writing every day. Just wish it were possible in my busy life. These are wonderful tips for this challenge and every day! Thanks so much!!

  • Reply
    Debbie L Hampton
    March 21, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    All good advice, Vidya. I’m going to put it to good use. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply
    Random Musings
    March 21, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    Looking forward to your book reviews. I’ve done everything on your tip list except the signature – it’s just not worth getting seen as spammy by Google for link dropping in comments
    Debbie

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      March 21, 2018 at 11:58 pm

      Thank you Debbie!
      Yes, I get what you’re saying about the signature. In fact I am too lazy most of the time and try to choose the Name/URL option, where enabled, on Blogger blogs. Still, sometimes it helps.
      Looking forward to reading your AtoZ posts. Innovative theme!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…But what about the beer #WednesdayWisdom

  • Reply
    anupriya
    March 22, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Yours is one blog I am really looking forward to read throughout april. And thanks for the tips. Am going to get back to this post, whenever I feel jittery through the challenge.

  • Reply
    Elle Sommer
    March 22, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    Great advice Vidya…I need to be better practiced at some of your tips. 🙂

  • Reply
    NotesinaBook
    March 24, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Looking forward to reading your posts during the challenge.

  • Reply
    Sandra Pawula
    March 25, 2018 at 2:56 am

    I’m so impressed that you do this each year, Vidya! I can’t imagine keeping up myself. I’m so used to long form writing I find it hard to write shorter ones. I’m looking forward to all the wisdom you’ll share in April.

  • Reply
    Lavanya
    March 26, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    That was an interesting post, Vidya. Loved the energy and the tips. I am participating too, so lets keep things interesting throughout the month!

  • Reply
    Archana
    March 30, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Wow! This should be invaluable for first timers and repeat AtoZers like me!! Thanks Vidya! I agree with you that the planning part is fun.. I have discarded three themes before I chose a fifth one!!! Looking forward to your posts. Happy AtoZ!!

  • Reply
    Heather Erickson
    May 8, 2018 at 7:42 am

    These are fantastic tips! Thank you for sharing.
    Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker
    and
    Facing Cancer with Grace

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