Dear Q&A Team,
I manage a blog and post to it on a daily basis. Recently, I have been struggling to come up with fresh new ideas for the blog. Do you have any tips for how I can ensure that I will always have a blog post idea handy? Are there any websites/places I can for inspiration? Can I utilize any of my old posts for future posts?
Dear Blogging Blues,
It can be challenging to constantly come up with interesting topics to write about. Here are suggestions from eight ProfNet experts on how to never run out of blog post ideas:
"I will often write down an idea for a blog that I had or start a blog post and return to it at a later point if it doesn't seem to be flowing. I've found that it is hard to blog if I am particularly busy or overscheduled because it is moments like that when I lose touch with the emotional aspects of life and am just checking things off of my to-do list." -Amy Przeworski, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University
"Blogging requires an emotional investment and presence and therefore it can be really therapeutic and a way to keep you fully experiencing your life. It fails when you have no connection to the topic or your emotions are tucked away. Some of my most successful blogs were ones that were the hardest to write or on topics that were emotionally raw for me." -Amy Przeworski, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University
“I use my iPhone to record audio or text, or you can even keep a small notepad with you as you people watch and observe the environment you currently write about. So if you blog about customer service and were treated well by a waitress that was outstanding, you might capture all the content before you leave your meal.” –Drew Stevens, president of Stevens Consulting Group
“I recommend for you to read voraciously. Your readers desire to understand more about what is happening in the world around them, and the more you can use in your posts the more value you provide to your reader base.” –Drew Stevens, president of Stevens Consulting Group
“Make a list of what’s operative in your world and don’t be afraid to chunk it down. Blogs need not make too many points, as who has the eyeball time to absorb more than perhaps three takeaways.” -Ahvi Spindell, founder of Spindell Media Relations, LLC
“When a thought comes to mind, write it down immediately. My bulletin board is replete with posted topics that might have otherwise melted away.” -Ahvi Spindell, founder of Spindell Media Relations, LLC
“Look for new and interesting research that challenges weakly held assumptions.” –Rita Gunther McGrath, associate professor at Columbia Business School
“There are times when a posted comment is just as compelling -- if not more compelling -- than the actual post. You can morph such a comment into a post with additional perspective or tapping the person who posted the comment to expand on the thinking.” –Lou Hoffman, CEO of the Hoffman Agency, and they conduct workshops on corporate blogging
“Express your opinion -- the stronger, the better -- in letter form. What I like about this technique is the letter format automatically personalizes the content. You can see an example of this in a letter to the CEO of LinkedIn about customer support: bit.ly/1auWvDu.” Lou Hoffman, CEO of the Hoffman Agency, and they conduct workshops on corporate blogging
“One thing I learned as a reporter and editor was to localize stories. If something was happening on a national scale, find a local angle. In marketing and PR, ‘local’ doesn't necessarily mean geographically; it can also refer to finding the relevance to your specific target market.” -Keith Ecker, content strategist at Jaffe PR
“Do some research on commemorative and celebratory months, weeks and days, and let that influence your post. For example, perhaps you are writing a post for a healthcare-oriented website, and you discover it is National Ice Cream Day. You could let that inform your post by writing about the need to limit sweets to maintain a healthy diet.” -Keith Ecker, content strategist at Jaffe PR
“Follow the news! There is always something to write about when you follow the news. Go to Google News and type in the subject you’re writing about to get the latest in that industry.” –Micah Warren, principal at Large Media, Inc.
“Write about a news topic and then offer your opinion on it. People read your blog because they want your opinion. Every blog post doesn’t have to be Shakespeare or full of useful tips.” –Micah Warren, principal at Large Media, Inc.
“Focus on being more aware. The biggest mistake I see with writers who struggle with idea generation is that they wear blinders -- they don't see material staring at them in the face and it's because they're too busy thinking, 'I don't know what to write about' when they should be continually asking themselves, 'Is there something here I can work with?' or 'How can I use this situation?'"–Diana Burrell, Boston-based freelance journalist and author, and runs a class on story idea generation
“It's okay to ‘steal’ ideas. No, it's not nice to post copy on your own blog from another blog and claim it as your own, but it's perfectly fine to take an idea you've read about on another blog and put your own spin on it. If your competitor blogged about the five ways to cut employee expenses, maybe you could turn that into a blog post about 10 ways to cut employee expenses without them knowing it.” –Diana Burrell, Boston-based freelance journalist and author, and runs a class on story idea generation
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image via Flickr user Blog Oh Sphere