Have you ever struggled coming up with blog posts ideas? Whether or not you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, my guess is there have been times when ideas to write about were hard to come by and you suffered from the dreaded writer’s block. When this happens it can be very discouraging and stressful.
I experienced this early in my blogging career. It was as though everyone else had posts to publish day after day and my well had already run dry. Nothing was flowing and I felt my blog was in danger of getting shut down before it even really got started.
So what did I do?
For starters, I didn’t panic. Whenever you start something new it takes the mind some time to adjust to the newness of that thing and begin thinking along those lines. Blogging is no different. Eventually the mind will adapt itself to the concept that you are now a writer and that it needs to be thinking about writing topics – not who’s going to be voted off the island this week on Survivor.
The second thing that I did was pretty dramatic and literally changed the direction of my blog. From then on, and with a few other things I’ve learned along the way, I’ve had little problem coming up with blog post ideas to write about.
Ways to Come Up With Blog Post Ideas
Expand Your Horizon
My intention at the beginning of Luke1428 was to only write about what the Bible had to say about money related issues. I realized about 30 posts into this endeavor that my knowledge about personal finance and my passion to share that knowledge went well beyond what I knew from the spiritual angle. I had so much more to offer.
So I decided to expand my writing horizon and discuss areas of personal finance where I had knowledge without necessarily linking it to a spiritual component. In addition, I began to write about my running, our rental properties, my personal goals and, like today, the practice of blogging itself. This created a pool of new ideas on which to draw from.
Not only did stretching my content areas create a bigger pool of blog post ideas to draw from, but it also gave my website more value in terms of its usefulness to the reader.
It also kept my writing fresh. I wasn’t covering the same topic or themes day in and day out (although that may be necessary if you are trying to provide content for a very specific niche).
In case it seems like I “sold out” on my original intent, I don’t feel that way. I still remain devoted to my original purpose for this blog. I follow that vision on Fridays in my Hidden Nuggets Series. In a strange way diversifying my topic content has helped those Friday posts stand out as a special feature of this blog people look forward to.
So step number one to coming up with more blog post ideas is to think how you can expand the available pool of topics. Even if you have a very defined niche, most likely you can find ways that it connects to or intersects with other facets of life.
Your Life – “That’s a Show”
In the classic Seinfeld episode “The Pitch,” Jerry and George attempt to sell their idea for a TV show about nothing to the executives at NBC. In the meeting with the president of NBC Russell Dalrymple, Jerry, George and Russell have the following exchange:
Russell: “Tell me about the stories. What kind of stories?”
George: “Oh no…no stories.
Russell: “No stories? So what is it?”
George: “What did you do today?”
Russell: “I got up and came to work.”
George: “There’s a show! That’s a show.”
Russell: “How is that a show?”
Jerry: “Well, maybe something happens to you on the way to work.”
George: “No, no, no! Nothing happens!
Jerry: “Well, something happens!”
Russell: “Well, why am I watching it?”
George: “Because it’s on TV!”
Russell: “Not yet.”
That’s true of all of us who blog and our readers. We are all interested in watching stories unfold and more importantly, we love learning from those stories. But we won’t know your story unless you publish it.
Stories happen everyday. In the personal finance niche, the story about the clueless checkout clerk that messes up a transaction needs to be shared. That time as a kid where you lied to your parents about money needs to be shared. How you saved for that special trip needs to be shared. What personal struggles you are going through and how you are working through them needs to be shared.
Use the experiences of your life to develop content. Think about every situation as a potential blog post. Once your mind starts thinking this way you will be amazed how easily ideas can be generated.
You also interact with family, friends and co-workers everyday. They have stories to tell and questions they ask you all the time. You may have to keep their names anonymous or ask permission from them to share but that’s a great treasure of information waiting to be written about.
Read and Feed
I love to read and share work from other blogs. Some of my favorites can be found in my blogroll. It’s through my reading of other people’s work that I come up with some pretty good ideas.
Now, just to be clear, I wouldn’t condone stealing other people’s work. But I’ve already established that we all have our own story to tell in our own way. Another blogger does not share the same writing voice as you and may not tackle a problem/issue from the same angle as you.
So perhaps you can take a topic someone else began and explore it in a more in-depth manner. Maybe something they wrote sparks a question in your mind you can develop a post around. It’s possible they wrote something you disagree with and that spawns a post on the opposing viewpoint.
In any case, if you play off another blogger’s idea to develop a post, give them some credit in the post you write. Say something like, “The other day when I was reading at…” and then link to their article in the body of your post.
If they are a blogger in your genre and you plan to write a post disagreeing with their position on a topic, email or direct message them on Twitter ahead of time so they know. Not only is this a professional courtesy, but it lets them know you’ve been reading their blog. They may just return the favor and read yours on the day you publish the contrarian post.
Reuse and Recycle
Old content you have written can be another valuable source for blog post ideas. Granted, a new blogger will have to wait a bit until some content has been established on the site for this practice to be helpful. Once you do however, routinely review the articles you have written and reuse or recycle one for a new post.
I remember the first time I went back to get an idea from an old post. I felt dirty. It seemed like I wasn’t coming up with new, original content and was cheating my readers because they had already read that before.
Here is why that’s silly:
1) New readers are always coming to your site and don’t know all you’ve written before, and…
2) Your regular readers have likely forgotten most of what you wrote six months or a year ago anyway.
As I see it, there are three things you could do with your old content:
1) Republish it as is (noting when it was originally published).
2) Reword it, using the same main idea but with new examples.
3) Expand on it. Find a particular point in an old article and develop a new post around that.
Even if you aren’t having a difficult time coming up with blog post ideas, I would recommend reviewing your old content at least once every six months. Just scanning through your list of articles can be a beneficial exercise.
Media Outlets in Your Niche
Whatever your blogging niche, most likely there is some form of major news media that covers your topic either in print, television or online. Their publications can be a great source for ideas to pass on to your readers.
This happened to me just the other day. I was reading financial news online and ran across a video segment by CNBC on Yahoo Finance. The short video about the direction of the markets sparked an idea for a post on long-term investing which I wrote and quickly published the next day.
Again when taking information from a media source, never plagiarize and always give credit where credit is due.
A Final Note on Blog Post Ideas
Ideas can come at any time and in some really weird places. I’ve thought of ideas while in the shower, when running, in the doctor’s office and even in the middle of church.
So, if possible, keep something with you at all times (a notepad, recording device, iPhone, etc.) to jot down your ideas when they occur. Ideas are tough enough to come up with. You don’t want to lose them because each one is a post.
Questions: How do you come with blog post ideas? Do you do anything creative when stuck for content?
Next Post: Why I Value the Advantages of a Debit Card
Prior Post: Feed Your Pleasures and Break the Bank