My biggest fear before starting my first blog project was that after just a few short weeks, I would have nothing left to say. I spent a significant amount of time researching what it takes to create a successful blog, and I consistently came across the headline, "Post Regularly!" The term regularly is of course relative, but the idea is clear: in order to build an engaged blog audience, a certain level of consistency is required.
The pressure to deliver unique, insightful and creative content on a regular basis can become so burdensome that the infamous "writer's block" begins to take hold of your thoughts. I am going to go out on a limb and say that the majority of bloggers out there know exactly what I mean.
Here are some simple actions to take if you find yourself struggling to come up with new content ideas for your blog:
Skip a turn
Whatever your posting rhythm may be, if you are struggling to find something to write about, I encourage you to simply skip a turn. While publishing regularly is important, quality typically trumps quantity, so it is not a good idea to post something for the sake of consistency. Instead of forcing it, try reading the "about" page or the mission statement of your blog. If you don't have one, I recommend using the time gained by 'skipping a turn' to write one. This will allow you to refocus and could potentially lead to new ideas.
Take a field trip
Aside from recess, field trips were my favorite part of elementary school. Field trips allow us to experience a new and exciting setting, inspire creativity and increase our (real-life) social interactions. A big help for me is attending industry events as a listener. There is no better way to take the pulse of an industry and obtain new topic ideas than by attending an industry event where colleagues, customers and experts are all jammed into a single area. Industry events can, however, be very expensive to attend.
That being said, field trips don't have to cost a lot of money. It is important to pick a destination that will inspire your writing. I, for example, blog a lot about supply chain management, and a field trip to an Amazon distribution center provided me with some new inspiration. Are you a fashion blogger? Take a trip to the local mall. Are you inspired by nature? Take a hike to clear your mind. The point is to get out from behind the computer and get inspired.
Scanning hashtags on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ is like taking a virtual field trip. Identifying the appropriate hashtags to scan requires you to go back to the core focus of your blog and hone in on the key terms that make up the blog's identity. Once these terms have been found, you can use them to hunt for new ideas. This could include putting your own twist on a certain topic that is currently trending, or writing an industry news wrap-up with curated content.
Aside from digging through hashtags, it is important to keep an eye on other current events and industry news. International sporting events (i.e. the Super Bowl!), holidays, and breaking news stories can all be used to add a creative and relevant twist to your content.
Recruit guest bloggers
At the beginning of 2014, I started hearing grumblings about how guest blogging is dead. This may be true from a Search Engine Optimization point-of-view, if the sole purpose is to build links with spotty content. However, there is nothing wrong with asking a trusted source to provide quality insight to your blog. It may be hard to fathom when looking at the daily bombardment of new content posted to the internet, but not everyone has their own blog. Recruiting these people to write a guest post can provide your audience with a fresh and unique take on a certain topic or issue. Furthermore, guest bloggers help relieve some of the pressure associated with posting regularly.
If you decide to follow the first tip and skip a turn, use the time to review your past articles. Is what you wrote still relevant, or have things changed? I, for example, wrote an article back in October 2014 covering my 3-step-approach to twitter success. The article was based on approximately four months of trial and error experience. I have learned a lot since writing that article, so it would be a good idea to expand on the content, sharing additional aspects that can lead to a fruitful twitter experience.
Another way to dig deeper is to conduct a survey with your readers. Creating a survey involves more work, as the questionnaire needs to be created, participants need to be recruited and the results must be analyzed. The upside is a minimum of two new articles and increased involvement of your readers.
Still stuck? Try these 5 post ideas:
- Start a blog series
- Vary your content - make a video or create an infographic
- Get personal - write a "how I..." instead of a "how to..." article
- Create an analogy post (Online Marketing is like...)
- Conduct an interview with an industry expert and post the transcript / video
Sometimes we are blind to our own experience, so it never hurts to brainstorm further ideas with friends and family members. The actions and post ideas mentioned above have helped me in my quest to "post regularly" and deliver quality content. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to posting regularly, which emphasizes the importance of finding what inspires you!
How do you stay creative and keep the blog ideas flowing?