Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Five Great Ideas for Your Blog

Do you struggle to come up with ideas for your blog?
Most bloggers do – at least from time to time.
You might have had loads of ideas when you started out, but if you’ve been blogging for several months (or even several years), it can be tough to come up with fresh inspiration.
And if you are in the first few weeks of your blogging journey, you may feel that your ideas aren’t very original, or you might have used up all your best ones already.
Here’s how you can come up with plenty of great ideas for your blog, whenever you want. Give one of these five techniques a try this week.

#1: Read Plenty of Other Blogs in Your Niche
Hopefully you’re already reading other blogs on your topic. It’s a great way to start forming connections with other bloggers, it helps you learn more about your subject, and (most importantly!) you’re probably really interested in your niche so you’ll get a lot out of reading blogs within in.
When you’re reading your favourite blogs, though, don’t just read the posts: read the comments too. Look for the questions readers ask, or the things they respond to most strongly in a post. Comments can be a goldmine of ideas.
If you’ve been around the blogosphere for a while, you may have a handful of tried-and-tested blogs that you read – and it could be a while since you’ve tried anything new. Shake things up a bit by finding a new blog to try every week (if you love it, add it to your regular reads).

#2: Set Aside Time to Brainstorm
Do you always rush to come up with an idea whenever you need to write a post? Or do you keep a “bank” of ideas that you can draw on whenever you need one?
It’s good practice to come up with a bunch of ideas at once, during dedicated brainstorming time. Once you’ve listed five or ten ideas, you’ll often find that it’s easier to come up with more – it’s as though you switch your brain into idea-generating mode.
When you’re brainstorming, don’t pre-judge your ideas. Don’t tell yourself that something is “stupid” or “too hard” or “unoriginal” – just write it down. You might find that it later sparks a much better idea … or you might realise it wasn’t so bad after all.

#3: Use Prompts or Objects to Spark Ideas
This isn’t a technique I see being discussed much in the blogging world (though it’s quite common in creative writing, which I also have a strong interest in).
You can do this when you need an idea in a hurry, or as a warm-up to a brainstorming session. Simply look around the room you’re in and choose an object. For instance, on my desk, I can see the following:
·         My landline phone
·         A security device I use for online banking
·         Lots of bits of paper (I need to tidy up…)
·         A camera
·         A Kindle fire
·         A pair of scissors
·         A glass of water
·         A laptop
Any of these could spark an idea or several. For instance:
·         The pair of scissors makes me think about the importance of cutting out words when you edit your blog posts.
·         The Kindle Fire reminds me that I want to write some e-reader reviews at some point.
·         The glass of water has associations like “refreshing” – for instance, I could write a post along the lines of “Three Ways to Make Your Blog a Refreshing Oasis in a Desert of Boring Posts”
See how it works? This is a fun and easy technique that can help you make new connections and spark ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. You could do it wherever you blog – on your sofa, in a coffee shop, in a library, etc.

#4: Choose a Headline to “Twist”
Great blog post titles are rarely totally unique. They often follow a tried-and-tested pattern, and the title of a post you read may well have been inspired by someone else’s post.
It’s fine to use other people’s titles as a basic structure for your own; just “twist” them to change the topic (and other aspects, e.g. number of list items if it’s a list post) to suit you.
For instance, if you took the headline for this post, here are three ways you might “twist” it:
Five Sure-Fire Ways to Come Up With Great Ideas for Your Blog
Variation #1: Eight Sure-Fire Ways to Come Up With Great Characters for Your Novel (creative writing blog)
Variation #2: Ten Easy Ways to Find Great Guests for Your Podcast (online marketing blog)
Variation #3: Five Simple and Creative Ways to Entertain Your Kids This Summer (parenting blog)
The first doesn’t change the title much, and the third goes quite a distance from it – you can stick quite closely to the original, or simply use it as the initial inspiration.

#5: Ask Your Readers What THEY Want
This one obviously won’t work well if your current readership numbers in the single digits, but once you get up to 50 or so regular readers, you can definitely give it a try.
Either ask readers to comment or email with requests for posts on particular topics, or (even better) run a survey to find out what your readers would like to see on your blog. Some readers will feel too shy to comment, but will be happy to check boxes on an anonymous survey – and they may even write in their own ideas.
Some of your most popular posts may well come straight from ideas suggested by readers (either in a comment or survey, or from a conversation you’ve had by email). Plus, if you name and link to the reader who inspired the post, that could turn them into a loyal fan!

Which of these five techniques will you try this week? Or do you have another brilliant way to come up with ideas? Let us know in the comments.


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