Chances are, if your blog has any sort of following, you already know what it means to write in an engaging manner, to provide expert blog articles, and to capture all that is uniquely you in written form. But even the best bloggers run out of ideas sometimes — all the more so if you update regularly (and you should update regularly). To keep things fun and fresh, it’s important to do your research into best blogging practices and to read a good guide to business blogging.
Below, we’ve provided a quick glimpse into a few techniques that will get you going.
Choosing (and sticking to) your niche
With so many voices on the internet clamoring for readers’ eyes, choosing a niche and sticking to it is the best way to stand out from the crowd. But doing so may be easier said than done, particularly if you’re operating in a flooded market. A few steps for finding truly unique space:
1. Know your audience. Writing about design for corporations will lead to an entirely different set of ideas than writing about design for artists or independent professionals. Research your demographic and consider doing a quick profile of your ideal readers so you can better determine just what their interest areas will be.
2. Patch holes in the blogosphere. What questions are your readers asking that don’t seem to be getting very many answers? Use Google’s keyword tool to find out, and take a look at the comments on your competitor blogs for more casual research.
3. Develop your own voice. One mark of a great writer is the ability to take tired content and make it brand new. You may find your niche — and many blogpost ideas — not through what you write but how you write it. Take, for instance, this life coach. Is there anything that’s very distinctive about her business model or chosen niche? Not particularly. But how she writes about it is — and that makes all the difference.
Developing a content strategy
Once you’ve found your niche, it’s time to get planning. In fact, not doing so is the quickest way to run out of ideas as you wait for a stroke of inspiration.
1. Mix up your format. Just because you run a blog, doesn’t mean you have to rely solely on blogposts. Take a look at the types of formats your competitors are using; then do something different. You might want to experiment with long versus short-form articles, expertise posts versus funny op-eds, videos, infographics, white papers, case studies and contests. Even better, get into the habit of being a content curator, not just a producer. Reach out to other well-established bloggers for guest posts, and plan to post regularly on other bloggers’ sites as well. You’ll find that when you step out of the limiting blogpost framework, more ideas will “just come to you,” and you can even cover similar ground in a new and inventive way.
2. Create an editorial calendar. First, add any important industry and holiday dates that are likely to have an effect on your industry. Make sure to create both an overall calendar, and one for each type of content you produce, be it for a blog, a newsletter or more. Then, add in any important sales or promotions dates for which you might like to create content and calls to action. Set regular production dates and brainstorming meetings, and plan out specific articles for 1 – 2 months at a time, building in room for unexpected breaking news in the industry. Building room for creativity into a greater structure will keep you on track so that you’re never caught unaware, and it will also keep that ideas engine running.
Finding your inspiration
Of course, it’s entirely possible to get all of this framework in place and still run out of ideas. To keep the inspiration high, you may require a little more strategy.
1. Use popular prompts. Just because you want to create engaging new content, doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. Top 10 lists, beginner’s guides, dos and don’ts — they’ll all work well as a frame for your unique idea, and the format might just spark a few more, too. Take a look at this tip list for 10 safe fallbacks.
2. Track the trends. Whether you’re reading industry blogs, browsing Quora, or using any number of tools to track industry trends, staying abreast of all the new news is a great way to keep stimulated. And, when you’re really running low, it’s easy to simply put a new spin on someone else’s article by re-writing tips to fit your own viewpoint, taking an opposing opinion, or simply offering similar advice in your distinct voice or using your own work as an example.
Keeping up with the content demands of a blog can be daunting, but with the right tools and structure and in place, you’ll be well-equipped to meet the challenge. And you just might find yourself having fun, too.
Luke Clum is a Seattle based designer and web developer. He loves UI design, videography and alpine climbing in the mountains. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum