3MW (Tips for the 30 Day Chart Challenge)

Guten Tag!

Many greetings from Munich, Germany. The 30 Day Chart Challenge is coming! In case you don’t know it, it’s a community-driven event with 30 prompts that you can use as inspiration for creating a chart. Here are the prompts for this year:

You can use any tool or data set to create a chart that works for the prompt (and “working” is meant very loosely here.) For the data days (6, 12, 18, 24, 30), the goal is to use a data set from the mentioned source.

And to equip you for the challenge (because I think it’s a great idea to participate), let me share you some of my tips. But first my usual announcements:

Upset charts

Speaking about charts, have you heard of upset charts? These are a bit complicated at first but they’re a great way to visualize counts among different combinations of groups. You can learn how to create them in my newest YT video:

All right, now let’s dive into my tips for doing the 30 day chart challenge.

Do one small thing at a time

This is the same idea that I’ve used when I first learned ggplot2 as part of the weekly TidyTuesday challege. The goal should always be to try to improve something very small that you think is manageable. Don’t set out to create the nicest, most amazing chart. Just try to come up with one thing that you want to be able to do in a chart.

For example, maybe you want to

Just worry about accomplishing this one thing and then you’re done for the day. 🥳 

Set multiple goals

Honestly, I wish I could finish the whole 30 Day Chart Challenge, but realistically this will not be possible for me. So I tried to come up with a few numbers that are hopefully attainable. The idea of using multiple numbers is to not fixate on one particular number but rather also have Plans B and C.

For me, I’m trying to go bold and try to do 15 charts this month. I hope I will make it, but we’ll see. If that fails, 10 charts is my fallback. And if that fails, 5 charts it is.

The point here is to go into the challenge knowing that you don’t have to finish all of the prompts. You can skip as many prompts as you like. Just try to go for numbers that are attainable for you, and don’t be afraid to make it as low as one.


It’s easy to think you have to do all of these hard work on the exact date that a given prompt is on. But really, there’s nothing stopping you from preparing things in advance. In fact, preparation is one crucial ingredient for making it through the challenge.

For example, I already looked at the 30 different prompts, and for each of them, I’ve taken a couple of notes that say

  • what data set I want to use and

  • if I already have an idea of how to visualize this.

For some prompts, I’ve even started the preliminary code work. All of that is summarized in a tool called ClickUp which I use to track my tasks and projects. But a simple Excel file will do as well.

Reuse data sets

Once you start thinking about these 30 days globally and brainstorm what you can do, you will naturally realize that you could use a data set for multiple prompts. And that’s great! This means that you can use a data set you’ve used before to

  • create a similar chart type, or

  • maybe you just do the same thing as in a previous day but tweak it a little bit to get one additional small thing in there.

And if you’re looking for data sets, here’s a small list of data sets I like (some of which I’ll use in the challenge):

And sometimes you don’t even have to find a dataset. You can always just go to your favorite movie franchise and get a revenue table from Wikipedia. Or you can try to recreate a create chart that you have seen online by writing down the data manually.

MVP first, details second

When it comes to execution, one really important thing is to first create an MVP (minimum viable product). Just generate a quick first chart that includes that one small thing that you wanted to accomplish with this chart. Get this done as fast as possible, and then move on to your next chart. You want to have rough drafts before you start working on the details.

The next step, when you iterate over your charts, is to not get stuck. That’s something I personally often struggle with. I often have this cool idea of what I want to do for a chart, and then it just doesn’t work.

Sometimes, I can’t make it work because ggplot doesn’t do what I want. At other times, the data just doesn’t support this kind of flashy idea I have in my head. The responsible, time-efficient thing to do is to shift gears a little bit and do something similar but different, which might be exactly what you needed to get unstuck.

Mindful publishing

As frightening as it might sound to you, it’s a great idea to share your charts online. I will share my charts on LinkedIn using the #30DayChartChallenge hashtag. I will be looking into this hashtag to see what other people do because I think this is one of the best parts about these public community challenges.

Also, since you’re putting things out there, be mindful about bold claims and citing the data sources. You should always make sure that your data is linked somewhere. At a minimum, you should have a caption that says “data source: [source]”, but you should also link to that source in your post.

Finally, be mindful about bold claims. This is a 30 day chart challenge, not an elaborate data analysis (usually). You haven’t spent ages analyzing the twists and turns of the data, and you’re usually not an expert on that type of data. Seeing an increase in numbers and saying the category with lower numbers is complete rubbish - try to avoid that. Chances are, you probably won’t know if there’s some nuance to the data that makes the lower numbers perfectly valid.

The goal of the 30 Day Chart Challenge is to have fun and learn new stuff, but you should also be mindful that what you produce might not be the most thorough work you could do. This is why all of my charts come with a caption that says “30 Day Chart Challenge” as one additional reminder that this chart was created as part of a challenge. Anyone hopefully realizes that if some number is off, they should check the original data source again and do their own due diligence.

Want to create better charts?

Need more help with the technical side of things? My free YT videos are there to help and if you want to get really good at creating great charts with {ggplot}, then my video course teaches you everything you need to know 👇️ 

Okay, these were my tips for the 30 Day Chart Challenge. You’re now all set to go. Enjoy your Easter holidays (maybe you can use them to prepare a bit for the challenge 🤪). And if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reply to this mail or contact me on LinkedIn.

See you next week,
Albert 👋

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