I always joke with my friends that blog writers block is the lamest possible type of writer block in the world, but it’s still a problem that a lot of us have. If you set yourself a commitment like I have with ExpertPhotography, where you have to write three posts a week, it starts to get a little bit hard to come up with good content ideas. This website is even harder, we post five times a week, but we do have the help of 3-4 different authors. In this post I’m going to help you get out of your writers slump and start producing content that people want to read.
As someone who has been blogging for nine months, I’ve learned a huge amount along the way (oooh there’s a potential blog post ‘What I’ve Learned from 9 Months Blogging’), and I’ve written 125 different posts, each one of them different to the rest. IncomeDiary has over 260 posts published now, with that number going up by five every week. We still manage to keep our content fresh though, and give the readers what they want to read, and what they need to learn, and that’s because we come up with good ideas.
The absolute first thing that any of you need to do is to take notes. No matter what, wherever you are, when you get an idea, write it down. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of idea that I’ve had that have been lost because I didn’t write them down straight away. You should keep a notebook just for this purpose, as well as notes on your phone, and notes on your computer. On my Mac, I have loads of these stickies on my dashboard where I can write down all the ideas that I get, so I never lose one.This is part of the problem that we all have; we think we can do it in our heads. How often do you start writing a post without putting some notes on paper first? If this is all you ever do, then I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your start taking notes first. It’s so much easier to have everything down in one place, getting all your ideas out of your head and onto paper, before they disappear. The same goes for coming up with blog posts. You can’t just sit down and expect the ideas to arrive, you have to invite and encourage them out of the depths of your brain.
Brainstorming is an obvious choice for coming up with content ideas, and that’s because it works. The good thing about brainstorming is that there are no bad ideas. I mean obviously there are bad ideas, but they’re not bad in the sense that they can often spurn new and improved ideas, which you may not have though of if you hadn’t put that idea down onto paper.
Back of the Mind – Not as Simple as it may Seem
I credit my improvement as a photographer over the past year to the carrying of my camera everywhere. Everywhere I am, I’m carrying my camera, so I’m always looking for potential photos to take. If you can work out a way to walk around with your blog in your mind, then that’s half the battle; the ideas will just come to you.
One of my post popular posts, my beginner’s guide to photography, came about when I didn’t have any good ideas for my website, and it was a Sunday and I had to get something written. I went out for a roast dinner with some friends, but I always had it in the back of my mind. When it came towards the end of my meal, it struck me, and instead of sticking around for another pint, I headed home and got to work. I didn’t really want to work that day, which is what made this post ideal, because I was mostly collating parts of different tutorials and sticking them all together in one place. It was my lazy state of mind, and constant thought in the back of my mind, which made me come up with one of my most popular posts yet, which has led me onto creating a product that I can sell about it. If you keep your blogging hat on, then there’s no reason why you can’t come up with new ideas everyday, which will be different all the time, depending on how you’re feeling.
Search your Competitors
This is one of the best techniques that I can recommend, and it involves using your competitors as inspiration. There are certain things that everyone in your niche is going to write about, that you simply might not have covered yet, so it would be a good idea to see what people more successful than you are doing. If it’s something basic, like exposure would be for photography, you simple copy the subject matter, write your own content, and give it a better name.
This is also a really good way of coming up with potentially better titles than they have, and something that I have done in the past. I saw a post called ‘how to take great photos with a pop up flash’ or something similar, and I came up with my own post on the back of that, which was very successful, called ‘When you SHOULD and SHOULD NOT use a Flash’. Just by browsing what other people are writing, you can see what’s been popular, and come up with something original for yourself.
Clever, Creative Brainstorming
You’re probably in need of brainstorming because you haven’t come up with enough decent ideas yet for your blog, and you’ve hit a wall. This happens all the time, don’t worry. The first thing I would suggest would be to look at your most popular style of posts on your website, and for me, that’s my tutorials on the basics. Now, I know you’re not stupid, you know how to brainstorm, but there’s more to it than that.
Here are some tips for generating new ideas, inspired by another post that you’ve already written. I’m going to use my beginner’s guide to photography post as an example.
- Write something positive about it like ‘Why being a photographer is Great’, and then write the opposite, ‘Why being a photographer Sucks’. – You’ll find the negative side gets a lot more attention.
- Collect people/links to inspire your readers ‘Top 20 Young Photographers’.
- Interview someone on their experience with the subject – how they got started as a photographer.
- Talk about your personal experience with the subject – ’10 Embarrassing Mistakes I Made as a Beginner Photographer’.
- Talk about what they can do with the information – ’10 Steps to Taking Better Photos’.
- How they can improve they can make money with this information – ’10 Quick and Easy ways to Make Money as a Photographer’
- Talk about aspects related inside the post, and extend them further. For example, I talk about composition in the post, so I could then talk about the beginner’s guide to composition, or composition tools to improve your photography.
- Lastly, follow it up with a sequel, people love sequels.
There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this post, you’ve exhausted your brain from coming up with blog posts, and that means that working with what you’ve already Written. Lets take one of my posts on ExpertPhotography as an example and see what we can do with it to come up with new ideas. I think you’ll probably be surprised with what we can do. Do the same with your website, but make sure you pick a fairly popular post. I’m choosing 4 Steps To Understanding ISO, which is my fifth most popular post of all time.
Here’s a quick background to the post. It covers one of the most fundamental parts of photography, which is exposure, and the reason for the popularity was because it was shared by the people at Adobe Lightroom on their Facebook and Twitter.
So you see, you might think that there’s nothing more that you could write on a subject, but there’s still plenty, which can be largely written without overlapping. From my results, I would probably select three of them, so that I don’t bore my readers with the same subject matter.
Making them Killer
Ok, so you’ve come up with a load of ideas by now, but this isn’t your average ‘how to brainstorm’ post, I’m here to help you make them killer. To do this, you need to take a good idea and make it better. The first thing you’re going to have to do is use Google to find out what your competition is. Search what you’re writing about, and see what has been written before you, and then see what you can do to make yours even better. Don’t expect that just because your content is better, you’ll be higher up in the search results than your competitors, because that sort of thing takes time.
In a crowded market, you need to separate yourself by the competition, and the best way to do that is to be unique, and to be better. Do one or the other, or even better, both.
I’ve always said that when it comes to writing content, coming up with what I was going to write about was half the battle, and I really do believe that. When you’ve come up with a decent post title that will attract readers enough to click on the link (something that Michael is very good at), then you’ve done what you set out to do really, it’s up to them if they want to read it or not.
Lets take one of my brainstorming ideas from above, and see how we can come up with a killer title that will encourage people to click on my link, and spend time on my site. You need to start off with your keyword, so for photography, I might use the word ‘composition’. Then I like to include a verb, and because of the nature of the keyword, I would probably use ‘improve’, and then I like to add an eye-catching phrase that will encourage people to click on my link. Put all this together, and you may want to add a number as well, if you like writing in a list format. Lets break this down into chunks:
Keyword with verb:
Composition Tools to Improve your Photography
Keyword, verb, and eye-catcher:
Composition Tools to Improve your Photography and Change the way you Shoot Forever
Number, keyword, verb, and eye-catcher:
10 Composition Tools to Improve your Photography and Change the way you Shoot Forever
Now tell me, which one are you most likely to click on?
Call to Action
Take 10 minutes now with some pen and paper, and come up with as many new ideas that you can; don’t put it off or you’ll just use it as an excuse to put off writing. Leave a comment below letting me know how many you can come up with. If you want to keep up to date with IncomeDiary, please come and like us on Facebook.