Last Updated on by

As I write this post and hit ‘publish’ many in the blogging world are probably staying away from their laptops for a much-needed break! They are all recovering from a month-long blogging marathon- the A-Z challenge- an entire month of blogging through the alphabet, where we wrote posts for a letter each day.

We then blog hopped across a minimum of 50 blogs a day, left comments on the ones we liked, shared the ones we loved and felt guilty and terrible about the fact that we didn’t do justice to all the lovely blogs out there, who slogged their hearts out, writing for the world at large. My reflections on this challenge came up in this post last week.

This is my second 30-day challenge in 6 months and there are a few things I learnt from these experiences. If you would like to know how to get through a marathon like this in the future, please read on.

7 Actionable tips to help you survive your first #blogging marathon! Click to Tweet

1. Decide and Schedule Posts:

If you know for certain that you are going to commit to at least 30 posts in a month, it helps if you can decide on the topics beforehand. This is easier if you have a theme in mind, since all the topics can stem from that root.

Once you’ve decided on the topic, decide on the approximate length of the post. This really works for me, since I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to word count and readability. Editing the post after I have written- for errors, run-on sentences, fact checks- takes up a good 15 minutes.

*Some challenges come with daily prompts- which work great for those of us who struggle with writer’s block. So, in case you are the ‘write-on-the-fly’ kind of person, who prefers the adrenalin rush of writing daily and just an hour before the deadline, this works very well too.

Just make sure you leave yourself time to edit the post before you publish. For what it’s worth, I have gone both ways and have found them to be refreshingly different ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Add pin-worthy snaps to your posts:

This challenge, I paid attention to grabbing a picture for every post of mine. Primarily, this helps when you are building a Pinterest following. The more eye-catching ย and unique the picture, the more readers will want to check it out further. Click here to read a great tutorial on how to do it!

{Pin this post for later}

Blogging marathon runner. Surviving one easily.


Similarly, sharing it on your Facebook page/ blogging networks makes it far more fun than a repeated pop-up of your face or a common logo on your blog.

3. Share your posts on social media

Now that your posts are ready, make sure you share them- on your Facebook blog page, your personal page, your blogging groups, your Twitter account, your Google Plus page and your Pinterest account.
ย Be ready to understand that not ALL your posts will necessarily be read, but this will improve visibility for your blog tremendously. That one post which strikes a chord will pull in readers and ensure that they stay.
On Twitter, use hashtags to share other people’s posts and your own, since people typically scroll through those to pick out interesting posts. So, a post for this challenge should have the tags #atozchallenge #AtoZ2014 orย @AprilA2Z.

4. Set up easy sharing options

You’ve spent all that time writing the post and now you would like the world to read it. It makes sense to add ‘Sharing’ buttons to your posts. Make sure that you have at least the following four enabled: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.One-click shares are the best, where the reader will click once and auto-share the post to his/her network.ย Shareaholicย works best for both Blogger and WordPress blogs.

Configure your sharing buttons to reflect your Twitter handle, so that you get notified when someone tweets your post.

You can configure your stand-alone Twitter button this way:

  • Click on this link:ย
  • Select the first option ‘Share a link’
  • Ensure that the ‘Use the page URL’ option is selected.
  • Under ‘Button Options’ scroll down to ‘Via’ and add your twitter username/handle to the box.
  • Under ‘Preview and Code’, copy the HTML code and add it to a gadget on your page.
  • ย Decide the position on the page where you want it to be displayed. A good option is the top of the sidebar or just beneath your post.

5. Start the blog hops/ comments

Now, you know that writing and sharing isn’t the end, right? A marathon indicates that a number of others have joined the bandwagon too. So, they are going to expect those visits to their blogs, just as you would.
Start off with visiting those who leave comments on your posts first. It is a basic courtesy and we love reciprocation in any form. In the comments form, leave a hyperlink back to your blog post for that day, if you would like a return visit from the blogger.
ย If you cannot relate to the post in any way and don’t know what to say, don’t leave a generic comment like ‘Wow’ or ‘Stopping by from A-Z’. That just looks like you are link-dropping.
Usually, there will be something you can identify with- the content, the language, the structure of the post- find something good to say. Believe me, you can if you try ๐Ÿ™‚
For tips, read this great tutorial on how to leave meaningful blog comments.

6. Let go of the guilt:ย 

ย You will notice as the month progresses, that you are unable to keep up with two things:
  1. Responding to comments on your blog
  2. Visiting and commenting on others’ blogs
For both of these dilemmas, I have just one suggestion. Let go of the guilt. You cannot possibly do justice to all the blogs in the challenge. At least, not in the time frame provided.
What you can do, however, is bookmark the blogs that you like as well as the ones of those who visit you. Keep track of their posts and hop back over to visit and comment on them when you get time, after the challenge. Bloggers love comments and visits, so seeing a comment a few months after you’ve written a post is a sweet feeling in itself.
You can either decide to read a bunch of their posts at one go, on a single day. Or you can space it out over a period of time. The same goes for replying to comments on your own blog. Take your time, but do reply. It makes the commenter’s efforts worthwhile.

ย 7.ย Bookmarking favourite blogs:

The whole idea of an exercise like this one is to build your blogging network. You can choose to do that in one of the following ways.
  1. Create an account with Bloglovin’. Add your favourite blogs there and get alerts as and when they write new posts.
  2. Create a pages feed on Facebook for those blogs which have Facebook pages. The alerts will show only the new posts and what the page owners share. This way, they don’t get lost in the regular News Feed. Make sure you have checked the ‘Following’ button on their Facebook page!
  3. Create a Twitter list of your go-to bloggers. This, however, can tend to get a bit crowded, since all their tweets will show up on your timeline.
  4. Subscribe by e-mail. This is ideal if you want alerts of new posts delivered directly to your inbox. I created a separate e-mail address, exclusively for my blog, just for this feature and it has helped tremendously!
Did you do any or all of the above?
Do you have any tips to share for making a blogging marathon easier?

Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Inderpreet Kaur Uppal · May 5, 2014 at 9:26 am

Well done Shailaja! ! I love the clear, crisp and concise manner in which you have mentioned the things that will help people finish the job challenge.
I am following the bloglovin trick and now would be utilising the separate email idea too.
Good stuff you have here.
My post will be up soon. …I am one of those who are doing other things with my laptop rather than blogging.
Happy writing.

Sreeja Praveen · May 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

First up, Congrats on surviving the challenge !! Introspection in Shades of Eleven must soon come out as an e-book ๐Ÿ™‚
Good set of tips ๐Ÿ™‚ These are things which we might be aware of, but tend to forget in the excitement of the challenge itself ! Good that you shared them here, because this will help us in our future challenges too !
We're gearing up for the UBC July, aren't we ๐Ÿ˜‰

Vidya Sury · May 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

Tip: Don't stress over anything. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have fun.
Is this your reflections post, Shailaja?

Beloo Mehra · May 5, 2014 at 10:05 am

Hey Shailja, this post tells me that you must be a very organized person ๐Ÿ™‚ Really, quite a step-by-step analysis you have done here. Very well done! Both for the challenge and now this post ๐Ÿ™‚ I think Vidya has added another very helpful tip there – have fun!

Beauty Interprets, Expresses, Manifests the Eternal

Shesha Chaturvedi · May 5, 2014 at 10:36 am

I have learned a little of this in a long time of my blogging journey. Though now when a newbie asks for tips I share my two cents. I wish I could reach such a crisp post long back to know the insides. I will share the posts with the ones who haven't taken part in this years challenge but want to go for the next one! ๐Ÿ™‚

Swathi Shenoy · May 5, 2014 at 11:16 am

I have learnt not to leave everything pending up to the last minute if I want to enjoy the challenge ๐Ÿ˜€

Swathi's reflection post

Sandy · May 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Nice post, I'm HUGE on the reciprocal thing. Last year I did I think 3 challenges one after another and agree with your logic. Write posts ahead, return visits, and make new ones. I'm not up to speed about how the following on facebook etc is helpful though. I have a general facebook page, where I link my new blogs but it's not tied directly to my blog…I have 5, though only 2 are active at the moment. Can you follow up on that. And bar thing you show with other social media…can that be used in part? I used to have one long ago for other social media…earlier ones. I too get frustrated when people stop by and say nothing more then glad you're doing a-z…means they're not taking the time to read your post. Comments should reflect you've read, then add what you want if you've something additional to share.

Eli Z · May 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Yup – still recovering over here! But ready to get out there again I feel ! My first big blog challenge – crazy busy but fun! Loved reading your Survival – steps today!! No, did not do all that – and Yes- still has a lot to learn about smart tricks for next challenge! Thanks dear – it was very useful, interesting and fun to read your tips and thoughts:-) Hugs

Jayanta Tewari · May 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Great!!. Got to learn a lot in this sphere… Thanks for this article…

Shilpa Garg · May 6, 2014 at 5:00 am

A great round-up and some fab tips there, Shailaja. Thanks for sharing and it was a lovely journey with you this April ๐Ÿ™‚ โ™ฅ

G Angela · May 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Very informative post, there is so much to learn from you, thanks for these tips, some of it i am doing and there are many more i need to learn… thanks for sharing I do appreciate you !

Red Handed · May 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

congratulations on surviving the challenge and how wonderfully! Great tips these r indeed!

Kathy Combs · May 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Congratulations on surviving the challenge. You have some great tips listed here on how to get through it. It sure is a big relief that it is over for another year! ๐Ÿ˜€

ovengoodies · May 6, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Congratulatory hugs for completing the challenge in style, for all the encouragement across media, for inspiring me to sign up…..and for this wonderful round-up. I wish I knew about some of this stuff before like Bloglovin'. You live, you learn! ๐Ÿ™‚

sulekkha · May 7, 2014 at 6:42 am

Great tips, did all these and had a stress-free month of happy blogging, reading, commenting and challenging myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Lovely post, Shailaja…very informative and helpful.

Nabanita · May 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

You are a treasure house of tips, aren't you? Congrats on successfully completing the challenge and thanks for supporting everyone throughout!

Reflections on A2Z Challenge-Random Thoughts Naba

Nisha · May 7, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I didn't do any of the above!!! I just loved the thrill of finishing the task at hand. It was so much fun. I need to work on bloglovin and my 'handles'!!! I am so engrossed in writing and reading my favorite blogs that this somehow seems unnecessary to me. Nevertheless… I shall try to follow these rules!
Thankyou for all the love on my blog, Shailaja. I shall definitely be reading you!

debi o'neille · May 7, 2014 at 6:27 pm

I couldn't have read this at a better time. I'm still struggling trying to catch up with yesterday's comments on my blog, and return those visits, and reading your words suggesting that it's okay not to get this done in one day really helps. I was drowning in guilt. Thanks so much!
Deb@ · May 8, 2014 at 11:01 am

Great tips! I have been following some of these, will try to follow the others as well.
The most important tip: “Let go of the guilt”

Aditi · May 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

Superb post! I bookmarked it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

beingFab · May 10, 2014 at 5:28 am

Thank you so much for the tips and links, they're very useful!

Swapna · May 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Great post Shailaja! I don't know how you all do this. I would never survive a 30 day challenge. ๐Ÿ™ But kudos to you all!

Pratibha · May 11, 2014 at 3:17 am

Neat! I am sure that I can never survive a 30 day post challenge or the A-Z challenge, but I would surely bookmark this post for some awesome tips I can use as a blogger!

Dr. Gauri Kekre · May 12, 2014 at 7:17 pm

You should start a coaching and goading for blogging marathon classes ๐Ÿ˜› No seriously, you were awesome, and if it weren't for your tips, I'd never have completed the challenge. So all ye readers, three cheers for Shailaja!!!

B · May 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

hmmm those are some very good tips… for sure let go of the guilt …

I could not do such challenges, so well done for the marathon ..


Aparna · May 21, 2014 at 4:51 am

Wow! This is going to be super useful the next time I manage to gather up the enthusiasm to do a marathon :).. Very well put together Shailaja!

Gayu · January 28, 2016 at 8:03 am

I enrolled for UBC twice, but couldn't complete them. These tips are very handy, especially having a pic ready to pin to a post makes its visually appealing. Thank you shailaja for these tips, surely gonna use them

Sarah Zama · February 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I've only done the challenge once, last year, but I can see that your suggestions are spot on.

One think I want to implement this year is having as much posts ready as possible when the challenge starts (ideal would be all of them done), so I'll have time to comment. Last year I only had one week worth of posts ready and by the mid challenge I was running to keep up. I did manage to reciprocate and answer to all the comments on my blog, but by midmonth I was no longer trying to discover new blogs, because I simply didn't have time.
This year, I'd like to do better.

I also want to change the tamplate of my posts the way you recommand: adding pinworthy imagens (I hope I'll have time to work on this!) and twitter worthy snippets.
Let's see ๐Ÿ™‚

Great post!

Rachael Ann Mare · March 4, 2016 at 11:55 pm

Thanks for these! I'm entering the challenge for the first time this year … doing a lot of planning and some writing already to get a jump on things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.