Starting a blog is like signing up for a gym membership. You throw yourself into your exciting new habit at the beginning, giddy at the prospect of where it might take you.
Then the novelty starts to wear off, and other people stop noticing all the hard work you’ve been putting in. You realise that getting the best results means staying with it… and you will, honestly, but not today because you just can’t dredge up the energy for it.
There are two important things I’ve learned about staying consistent (with the gym and blogging). The first is that you must do it for yourself, first and foremost.
The second is to remove the uncertainty of what’s going to happen after you’ve changed into your fancy legwarmers, or poured a lovely drink and sat down to write.
Gym-wise, this means planning your workout in advance. Blog-wise, it means having a continuous flow of ideas to pick from for your posts.
If that sounds challenging, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you’ll probably be surprised by how easily ideas start flowing, once you’ve cleared some headspace for them.
Know what you want to say (before you say it)
It’s a simple tip, but knowing what your blog is actually about will help you unconsciously train your mind to look for ‘sparks’ that turn into post ideas.
(Your blog doesn’t have to be about a specific, concrete subject, but it must have an underlying theme for you to be able to recognise those sparks that make instant sense.)
For example, if you’re writing a blog to attract people to your business, you’ll suddenly find yourself squirrelling away snatches of the conversations you have with your clients, or noting the questions people ask before they start working with you.
If you’ve chosen a personal topic for your blog, you might start noticing news stories, books, or thought pieces that spark post ideas, or a friend will make an idle comment over lunch that’s worth exploring further.
When these sparks happen, get them down. Carry a notebook with you, open a note in your phone, record a voice memo… whatever works for you. If you don’t do this, your idea will fade, just like when you wake up from a vivid dream you’re confident you’ll remember all day.
Writing my personal diary has also thrown up some great blog post ideas for me… if you don’t keep one, why not start? If you feel daunted at the thought of writing a personal diary, you could start with a ‘one line a day’ journal (or just use a small notebook!)
Create an ideas ‘hub’
Now you need to find a home for your ideas, where they can be developed further and selected from when you need to write your next blog post.
For me, this is a dedicated Word folder. When a spark happens, I’ll open a new document and make a note of it (or copy it across from my notebook) then save it in my folder.
Often, once I’ve done this, I’ll think of ways to expand on those notes over the next few days. This is a process Stephen King refers to as leaving it to the “boys in the basement”, whereby your unconscious mind works on ideas in the background as you get on with life.
Keep doing this regularly, and you’ll cultivate a well of ideas to pick from as needed, removing the mental strain of “what am I going to write about?” You can just sit down and write, instead.
Five quick idea-generators
If you need an idea NOW, try one of these generators on for size:
- What’s occurring? What’s in the news today, that you can relate back to your blog?
- Search Google or social media to see what people have been talking about in relation to you blog’s subject or theme.
- Tell a story about something that’s happened to you recently, or a surprising fact that people generally don’t know about you (we’ve all got at least one.) For a business blog, you could explain a little-known fact about your industry.
- Use your ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ – this one is great for business blogs. Examples: What’s the story behind your business name? How do you work with new customers?
- Expand on a previous post – you could re-work or update your most popular pieces.
If you haven’t got round to starting your blog yet, my six-week Blogging Basics course starts on 29th September.
You’ll learn how to set everything up from scratch, along with some top tips, test your ideas (and grow your confidence) in a small, private group… and you’ll also write a new piece of content as part of each week’s session, to keep your new habit going!
Contact me with questions, or to sign up.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
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