Reading time: About 4 minutes
Do you need better blogging ideas? Here’s a formula to stop your struggle with finding topics for your blog….
I happen to enjoy cooking so I almost never object to making dinner. It’s fun and it helps me relax after a day of work. The only part of the job I dislike is figuring out what dish I’m going to make. In fact, my husband and I have a joke: Cooking dinner is the easy step. The hard job? Figuring out what to cook.
Exactly the same principle applies to blog writing: It’s not so hard to write a blog. The challenging part is determining the topic.
If this difficulty plagues you, here are some suggestions.
First, never try to determine your topic and write your post on the same day. Heartache (not to mention exhaustion) lies that way. I like to convince myself that writing is easy, relaxing and fun. In order to maintain this World of Oz, I need not to feel rushed or pressured. Coming up with a topic is enough work for a single day.
As a result, I always do my content generation on Mondays or Tuesdays — eight or nine days before this post reaches your eyeballs. Then, when I go downtown each Wednesday (for a job with a longstanding client) I walk part of the way there, giving myself plenty of time to think about the post. That way, when I start writing Thursday morning, I’m ready to go.
And how do I perform my content generation magic? I have a storage system.
The challenge of creative work is that it doesn’t operate according to a schedule. Ideas for blog posts pop into my head at all sorts of times, many of them inconvenient, to be honest. That’s why I’ve developed a system for capturing these ideas, whenever they occur. (Don’t expect that sitting at your desk is going to make ideas spring into your brain. Instead, they’re more likely to arise when you’re walking to the bank. Or making a sandwich. Or having a shower. Or reading a book or a blog post.)
To capture ideas, I use Evernote. This web-based software gives me a way to save notes so that I’ll never lose or misplace them. The basic service is free although once your monthly upload goes beyond 60 MB, you’ll want to buy a “plus” or “premium” plan. (I’m a premium member but I’m not an affiliate so I’ll make no money if you decide to join.) I also have an Evernote app on my cellphone so access to the software is always right at hand for me.
The thing I like best about Evernote is the way it allows me to capture web pages with a single click. I also find it incredibly useful for storing PDFs. Or I can simply type little notes to myself. When you save anything in Evernote, you attach it to at least one “tag” (I always try for three to six), which means you are essentially building an index-on-the-go. Everyone I know who tries Evernote raves about it. The software now has 200 million users worldwide.
One of my Evernote “notebooks” carries the title “Power Writing ideas” and I insert into it ANYTHING that strikes me as a potential topic for this blog post. Here are the categories of items contained in my notebook:
- Ideas from readers. For example, after my post on how to leave reading stress behind, reader Jan asked me to describe my daily shutdown ritual, which gave birth to last week’s blog post. If there’s ever a topic you would like me to cover please put a note in the comment section below (you don’t have to join Disqus to comment. Instructions here.)
- Ideas from social media. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can all give you insights as to what people are talking about and what they want to know. Capture these ideas in your Evernote files.
- Ideas from Amazon. Find the top three to six books on Amazon that cover your topic area, looking for well written reviews. That way you’ll discover what people are most interested in learning about and then you can spin those questions into your own blog post later.
- Ideas from Reddit. With sections dedicated to just about every area of interest, Reddit allows you to track what people are sharing and the questions they are asking. Save the best ones for your Evernote list.
- Ideas related to products. Readers always appreciate honest assessments of products they might be considering buying. I know my post “Is it worth paying for Grammarly?” has drawn 243 comments, making it the most commented upon post on my website, ever.
- Ideas from other bloggers. Whenever I see a blog post that gets my brain humming, I “clip” it and file it in Evernote. Of course, I don’t want to copy these posts, but I am happy to have them inspire me.
Effective blogging isn’t about what captivates you, it focuses on what interests your readers. If you can develop an easy to use system to capture these ideas, you’ll never be left scratching your head saying, whatever am I going to make for dinner write about, today.
If you want some help fighting writerly procrastination, consider applying to my Get It Done program. I’m holding a no-charge webinar this Friday (June 14/19) to introduce you to the principles I teach in the program. Register to join by emailing me. To learn more about the program, go here and if you want to apply, scroll down to the very end and select the bright green “click here to apply now” button.
My video podcast last week addressed how you can get your clients to meet their deadlines with you. Or, see the transcript, and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. If you have a question about writing you’d like me to address, be sure to send it to me by email, Twitter or Skype and I’ll try to answer it in the podcast.
Are you a blogger? How do you develop ideas for your posts? We can all learn from each other so, please, share your thoughts with my readers and me in the “comments” section below. Anyone who comments on today’s post (or any others) by June 30/19 will be put in a draw for a copy of the non-fiction book The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer. Please, scroll down to the comments, directly underneath the “related posts” links, below. Note that you don’t have to join Disqus to post. See here to learn how to post as a guest. It’s easy!