Putting out a steady stream of blog posts can be challenge.
Some of us run into the challenge of not having time to write, or getting nervous about publishing, or getting in fights with technology (why does technology usually win the fight?). But another common obstacles is that sometimes just run out of good ideas of what to post about. Or that there are so many idea swirling around in our heads that we aren’t sure what to start with.
Here are some techniques to help you identify what you can write about and what your readers will connect with.
One of the great exercises in Darren Rowse’s best-selling 31 Days to Build a Better Blog ebook is a mind-mapping one. Here’s how it works in detail: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/04/16/come-up-with-10-post-ideas/
I use FreeMind for mind-mapping if I want to brainstorm on the computer screen. It’s a free program you can download here: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Download
I’ve found mind-mapping posts out around a topic or question works really well for developing a series of posts.
For example, I did a series about a year ago on Twitter that I came up with by mind-mapping:
- So, What’s the Deal With Twitter?
- Rock Your Twitter Profile
- 5 Ways to Find People to Follow On Twitter
- Get Retweeted! Are Your Tweets Retweetable?
- Build a Following on Twitter With #Hashtag Tips
One post idea — to write about Twitter — turned into 5 connected posts. Later I used the topic of finding connections on Twitter into several more posts, step by step instruction sheets, and YouTube videos.
2. Think Like a Reader
Get inside the head of your readers and answer the questions they’re asking. One thing that’s constantly talked about in marketing is knowing your ideal customer. Bloggers need to know their ideal reader.
Need help identifying your ideal reader? Try writing a “personal ad” for your blog! Follow the tips I offered here in how to write a “personal ad” for your business.
Once you’ve got that picture in your head of who you’re writing for, you can start to figure out what they want to know and deliver the information they’re seeking. What challenges is your reader running into? What questions does he/she have about your topic?
3. Ask Your Readers
If you aren’t sure who your ideal reader is, or you have trouble thinking like them, why not just ask your current readers what they want to know?
You could simply post a status update on Facebook or Twitter, send out an email to your list, or write a blog post. Or you could get fancy and use a tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Docs to create a survey and ask people to respond that way.
4. Mine Your Comments
Another great way to come up with blog post ideas is to look through the comments section on your own blog. Let’s work through an example of that. Using a post from earlier this week: Smile With Your Comments
This comment from Lisa could spark a post about when to use your photo and when to use your business logo, or the bigger picture of personality as a business asset, the idea of personal vs. business (this makes me think of Meg Ryan’s line in You’ve Got Mail, “whatever else business is, it’s got to begin by being personal” – or something like that).
From Jeff‘s comment my mind jumps to several ideas: what causes us to connect with people (smiling faces), hiding out in life (not showing ourselves, being anonymous), how to decide which generic icon to use as the default on your blog (did you know you can choose? monster, mystery man, patterns), or a step by step tutorial about how to customize that default icon to make it unique and branded to your blog. From there of course my mind tends to wander of into thoughts of branding – what else can be branded on a blog besides the mystery man for comments?
And Ryan‘s comment brings up the great topic of trust — how do you build trust online? What can you do besides adding your photo to your comments to help people trust you? Or on the topic of simplicity (see, one single word in a comment can trigger ideas) there’s a whole lot of blog posts that could be written: When is simple best? Should we ever avoid simplicity in favor of mastery? Why do we like step by step directions? What else can I write step by step directions about?
That’s more than a dozen blog post ideas from just three comments on one blog post. And that’s not considering that your blog comments are a great place to find potential guest bloggers and people to interview for blog posts!
5. Go Read Comments Elsewhere
For blogs that don’t have too many comments yet, take a field trip over to a more popular blog and look at their comments. Something is sure to spark ideas for you.
- Grab the free content ideas guide from me at www.simplestorming.com
- Join the www.UltimateBlogChallenge.com – it’s free and we’ll send you a blogging idea every day during July
Choose one or two of these strategies, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and spend the next 15 minutes coming up with blog ideas. Just 15 minutes. Write everything that sparks in your mind without worrying about whether it’s a good idea, good fit, or anything else. You can go back later and choose the best ideas to write about. For now, just write it down.
Photo Credit: leedsn/StockFresh