What’s your next blog post going to be?
Not sure? That seems to be the story whenever I sit down to write up a new post, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
How can you build a post that will provide constructive information and resonate with readers, while remaining true to your own artistic goals and ambitions?
It’s a tough task and that is why I wanted to share how I find ideas for all of my blog topics. Enjoy.
Ask the readers
My most “commented-on” posts are ALWAYS the ones where I took a question, concern or simply just a subtle remark from a reader and turned it into an article. The most comments I ever received was on a post called Crushing Writer’s Anxiety, where I responded to a frustrated reader, who commented on one of my previous articles. That article talked about being free with your writing life and simply embracing the chaos that comes with it.
However, this particular reader wanted more. She found it hard to believe that I could simply just talk about being stress free, when the realities of being a writer are quite the opposite. So, I went into detail on how I actually cope with the stress of being a writer, and it turns out a decent amount of other people wanted to hear about that as well. Comments are always the first place I look when trying to come up with a new blog post, as the readers are the ones that know best and if one of them expresses their concern, there is a good chance that others have the concerns as well.
The same goes for surveys. I haven’t done a survey in a while (shame on me), but they allow for honest (often anonymous) feedback on what you are doing right and wrong. Not to mention most survey sites like Survey Monkey do all the statistical work for you, showing you what the majority of your readers are thinking.
No great artist created their own style out of nothing. It’s rare (if not impossible) and will typically lead to a style that falls flat. Why not learn from the greats that have preceded you and take a page out of their book? One of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon, blatantly stated that he simply copied off of the likes of Philip Roth and F. Scott Fitzgerald (among others) and eventually developed his own style. He stated that it is clearly the best way to learn.
Frank Lloyd Wright was known to copy directly from his mentors and early architects until his style evolved into something new. Quentin Tarantino uses scenes directly out of movies he saw as a kid, using his own twists to make them different. Everyone does it. It’s not cheating. It’s learning. You don’t learn science by proving a theory, you learn from scientists from the past, and then maybe one day you can prove your own theory. So copy one of your favorite bloggers and put a new spin on an article they have already written.
Whether you take pictures or simply browse some pictures on internet, photos are my go to resource when I don’t seem to have any ideas sprouting from my comments section. It takes just a few minutes to examine the intricacies of a picture to create a story out of it. For example, my post 5 Things To Do While Your Young came to me while I was looking at some rock climbing photos, and my post We Are All Children’s Writers popped into my head when I saw a picture of a heart shaped balloon. It reminded me of a kid holding a balloon and I thought that many kids have a certain flair that is often forgotten when people grow older.
Many of my blog topic ideas come when I stop thinking like a writer and just absorb my surroundings. Whether it be personal frustrations about differences with my girlfriend (Collectors vs. Seekers), getting in touch with my passion for movies (Can Your Writing Learn Something From The Film Industry?) or simply my beef with today’s societal obsession with monetary success (To Those Who Don’t Fear The Dream), I try to sit back and realize that every interaction, past, present or future has a story in itself, and these stories are often perfect for a blog post.
I dreamed a dream
Think about what your wildest dreams are. Blogging can often be intimidating since people are reading your work. However, the most personal posts (as opposed to professional sounding posts) often elicit the most powerful response. After all, once you connect with others on a personal level, they are more likely to see you as human. Using your blog as a diary is often the breath of fresh air your readers need.
The beloved schedule
This source of blogging material comes from my experience in the business world. It’s not the most creative way of finding inspiration, but it produces results. For a few weeks I did a Writing Myth Monday series and a Writing Tool Wednesday series. These highlighted various myths that I wanted to bust about writing and technological tools that have helped me in my writing endeavors.
However, the greatest thing about these scheduled posts was that whenever that day rolled around, I sat down, thought up a myth or a tool and always completed the post. If you are looking for a reliable way to make sure you post at least once or twice a week, make up your own series. This creates anticipation for your readers, a sense of responsibility to deliver and a foot in the door when deciding on a new topic.
I have only done one seasonal post: A Blogger’s Valentine. There are some upsides to seasonal posts and some downsides. The upsides are that it makes thinking of a topic easy and you have lots of people searching those particular keywords before the season, holiday or event. On the other hand, I try to stray away from seasonal content unless I really can’t think of anything else.
Why? Because it is gets outdated. Creating something more timeless, where people can come back to find relevant content ten years from now (during anytime of the year) is ideal. However, this can be helpful when looking for a quick topic that could potential receive many views.