Blogging basics: 5 tips for coming up with new content
The blank white page. The empty screen. The blinking cursor. If part of your job includes coming up with ideas and creating content — heck, if you’ve ever done any serious writing at all — you’ve probably spent plenty of time staring at new documents, willing the words to come.
We’ve all been there. It sucks. But if you’re going to run a blog, you’re going to have to, you know, blog, and that means opening up a New Post and putting some text in the box. In other words: You’re going to have to come up with something to say. Don’t panic.
Today we’re going to talk about where good ideas come from — specifically, where good ideas for blog posts come from. (Spoiler alert! It’s not just from inside your head).
Here are our five tips for coming up with new content for your blog.
1. Look for cues
No matter how uninspired you may find your everyday routine, it’s teeming with experiences and ideas ripe for blogging. A good writer is a good observer, so start looking for ideas right under your nose. It could be a snippet from a radio story you hear on your morning commute, a trend you notice in a report once you get to work, something someone says (or eats) at lunch time — anything at all.
2. Talk to your tribe
You may be the one doing the writing, but you’re not the one with all the ideas. Find the people who are talking about what you want to talk about, and talk to them (yes, that’s a lot of talking — but talking leads to new ideas!). Ask what they’re interested in. Ask what they already know a lot about. Learning from the best will lend credibility to your blog and give you confidence to take on that blank page.
3. Beg, borrow and steal
We would never promote ripping off a competitor’s ideas or words, but there’s much to be learned from the success of others. Keep apprised of what other companies and bloggers in your industry are up to, and don’t be afraid to borrow (or steal) a blog post topic to use yourself. If you want to keep your conscience clean and show gratitude, give your source some link love — who knows, you might even spark a conversation that inspires a whole series of posts!
4. Write what you want to read
People say all the time to “write what you know,” but as the writer John Gardner put it, “Nothing can be more limiting to the imagination than sticking with you know.” Instead, he argued, you should write what you know and like best.
This approach is great when you’re blogging about a topic you know well and care a lot about, but even if you’re new to the subject, you should be able to use Gardner’s advice to determine what your target audience wants to read about. What are people talking about and sharing? What are the gaps in the content that you could fill? The answers to these questions are the seeds of future posts.
5. Track your ideas
The thing about inspiration is that you never know when it’s going to strike. Ideas can be fickle and fleeting things — the best way to keep track of them is to record them and keep them someplace safe. Start a spreadsheet of all your half-baked ideas, add to it every day, and make changes as your blog evolves. When it comes to creating new content, there’s no better security blanket than a well-tuned backlog full of your own ideas.
Finally, don’t be afraid to hit Publish. Some posts will get picked up and shared and commented on, and some posts won’t. Not every idea is a great idea, but when it comes to blogging, any idea is better than no idea — and a blog without posts is not really a blog at all.