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31 tips for a great 31 days series

It’s that time of year. September begins with a few mentions here and there of 31 days series and ends with hundreds of bloggers ready to link up with Nester and her friends to share information, encouragement, photos, tips, ideas, and whatever else you can think of for the 31 days of October. Last year, Erin offered her wisdom on self-publishing and I shared 31 of my favorite 31 days series.  I’m still waffling between a few ideas for my series this year but I have a few weeks left to decide. In the meantime, I thought I’d offer some tips for those of you who are planning out your own series. 31 tips in fact.

31 tips for a great 31 days series

  1. Choose a topic you know at least a little about since it can be much easier to write about a topic you are already familiar with.
  2. Choose a topic you want to know more about and use the 31 days to research and explore it.
  3. Think beyond words.  Your posts can be photos, videos, or a mixture of all.
  4. Don’t feel bound by the 31 posts.  If you only write 28, it’s okay.  There are no “31 days series police” who will take away your blogging permit.
  5. Don’t feel bound by the 31 days. If it takes you 33 days or even more to get your 31 posts written, that is also okay.
  6. Think outside the box.  Last year I didn’t “write” a series, I just highlighted other 31 days series I thought my readers would like. {I connected with some pretty amazing bloggers this way too.}
  7. It’s okay for these posts to be shorter than your normal posts. In fact, you’re probably going to want them to be.
  8. Decide your goal before you start. Maybe you want to be a more consistent writer or develop the start of an ebook.  Just know what your goal is so you don’t get distracted by what others are doing with their posts.
  9. Use a graphic for your series … even if you have photos or images with each posts, take the time to make a good graphic for your series.
  10. Put your series graphic in your sidebar.
  11. Be sure you have an index page for your series.  This can be separate from any of your posts or you can add links to all the posts on the first one.
  12. Link to the index post on all your other posts.
  13. Make sure you update your about page before you kick off your series. Hopefully you’ll have lots of new visitors and they’ll usually visit your about page. This is a great time to make sure it’s up-to-date.
  14. Make sure your plugins are all up-to-date. You want your blog to be at its very best if you are going to invite people in every day for a month. And you certainly don’t want outdated plugins to slow down the load time on your site and cause people to leave before they get a chance to read your content.
  15. Clean up your sidebar. Now is a great time to eliminate anything extra.
  16. Add affiliate links to your sidebar and posts as appropriate.
  17. Give some link love! Go ahead and link to other posts and bloggers who have encouraged or inspired you.
  18. Use this opportunity to share about a ministry or organization you support. Think about how you can include this type of information in a natural way with your series.
  19. Make a hashtag for your series and use it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. But don’t forget to use the #31Days hashtag also. That’s a great way for people to find you.
  20. Pinnable images, people, pinnable images! At the very least you want a great pinnable image for the introduction post.
  21. Allow time for people to find you. Last year over 1200 people participated in 31 Days. It may take a few days for people to find your series. Don’t be discouraged.
  22. Consider a collaborative 31 days series. Maybe you and 2 friends could each write 10 posts and link to one another’s blogs.
  23. Build off something you’ve already done on your blog. What is your most viewed post? Could you add to that?
  24. Try to write at least a few of your posts before the series starts. It will help you feel more in control.
  25. Stumped for ideas? Check out the series from last year and see if any of those sparks inspiration.
  26. Look back at one or two of the series you most enjoyed on someone else’s blog. Think about what made those series great.  Identify how you can learn from what those authors did in order to improve your own series.
  27. Brainstorm post ideas!! Remember, in brainstorming no idea is foolish. Write down everything you can think of relating to your topic.
  28. Consider what else you can do with your 31 days posts. Last year, our editor Sandra compiled her 30 tips {see, not every series has to be 31 days} into an ebook for writers.
  29. Embrace the chaos! Seriously, it will probably get crazy … and you might even want to quit. Prepare for that possibility. Give yourself permission to feel a little overwhelmed and even to wonder about your sanity. But know everyone feels that way.
  30. Be sure you wrap up your series well. Create a call to action of some sort to keep these new readers connected!
  31. It’s okay not to do a 31 days series. I think everyone needs to know that. Don’t do it just because you feel like “everyone else is.” This isn’t a merit badge for bloggers. While there are many compelling reasons to do this type of writing exercise, there are just as many legitimate reasons for not participating. Be okay with your decision either way.

Gretchen wrote a great post about preparing for your 31 days series, 13 Ways to Prepare for Your 31 Days Series.  A definite must read.

And if you’re still trying to decide if a 31 days series is a good fit for you this year, check out this post:  31 days series: will you or won’t you?

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Have you ever done a 31 days series? What did you find most challenging? And what’s your best tip?

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16 Comments

  1. Great post with helpful links, thank you so much for putting this on my radar. I haven’t participated in the past because I didn’t do any advanced planning, therefore lacked direction. But I’m setting a goal for myself to participate this year and have an idea in mind. As a reader of 31 days with a whole smorgasbord of topics to choose from, that first post has to hook me or I probably won’t come back. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering but there were a few instances where I clicked on that initial link on the Nester’s page and it took me to the right blog but not the correct post so I moved on to reading something else. Just my 2 cents.

    1. You are welcome, Heidi! The 31 Days community is wonderful and encouraging. Be sure to let us know if you decide to participate. We definitely want to visit your series!

  2. Great tips, Teri! Love this post! This is my first year doing 31 days, really excited and grateful for all the tips Gretchen and you have shared. I’m hoping ot get my whole series written and scheduled before October…is that crazy??? lol I don’t see myself following through otherwise, because, ahem, I’m havinb a baby in October. LOL I have scheduled in at least one post toward the end of the month that I’m leaving open in case inspiration strikes during the series, also, I”m doing a Q and A post in the last week to highlight and answer questions from the comments.

  3. Hey Teri … Last year was my first 31 and it sure won’t be the last! I did a series on awesome relationships
    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2012/09/31-days-of-awesome-relationships.html

    and dug into all that I’ve learned along the way as a counselor and a mid-50s woman with an ever-expanding tribe. I loved the people I met along the way, the blog took wings, and I’m counting the days til we jump right back in.

    Best tips? Keep posts short and sweet … don’t make yourself crazy. And then find some time to visit around. This group is the cream of the crop … and friendly, too!

  4. This is great advice! I’m planning to do the 31 day challenge for the first time this year. I have a topic and (more than) 31 ideas for posts, but thanks to this list I’ve just make a task list that will help my series be better organized and better presented. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for these wonderful tips! I heard of 31 days last year but was too late to join. So, I’ve prepared early and cannot wait for this year’s series to begin! I especially appreciate tip #18, as this was actually how my 31 days of Compassion series was started–sharing about a ministry I am very passionate about, and inviting readers to learn more and join in showing God’s love and compassion locally and globally. A few posts have been written early, and I am still working to write a few more before next Tuesday. As a college student with a crazy courseload, this will be a fun challenge! However, I seem to love blogging rather than essay writing, so blogging will be my reward for getting homework done each day! 🙂

  6. Great post! Thank you for this. I’ve clicked over to it often as I’ve prepared for the coming month for the last two months. 😉 Love all these tips (and Trina’s about having a Q&A post!).

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