By Cynthia Dora
Every year, I greet January with new resolutions. Often, I never end up fulfilling them. But that doesn’t stop me from making new ones every year.
One of the resolutions I made at the start of 2017 – one I thought would be easy to keep – was to write a blog post every week on WordPress.
But it’s May already and I am way behind schedule.
Not that there isn’t a heap to write about – there’s U.S. politics, the immigration debate, racial justice and healthcare rights. There’s easily enough to have me raring to go every morning. But like I said, I am failing miserably.
What’s the big deal about slacking off from time to time, you ask?
Well, I recently came across a WordPress statistic that says its users produce almost 80.7 million new posts every month. I will admit that made me feel pretty slack!
So a bit of introspection, research and discussion with like-minded bloggers inspired me to come up with this list of ways to motivate yourself to blog when you really don’t feel like it.
Without further ado, here are seven quick ways to generate blogging ideas when you’re seriously stuck, tired or unmotivated.
1. Choose to write on a topic that you know
If you think writing on a trending topic will help you gain followers and industry respect, think again. You won’t provide sound advice or commentary unless you know what you’re talking about, and you may get stuck at the research end of the process to boot.
Try to blog on what naturally interests and engages you – not what you think will get clicks and shares.
For instance, artificial intelligence and cloud software are concepts most marketers and technology buffs are keen to prove they’re super up to date on. But unless they’re industry leaders, they’ll probably have trouble finding anything new, informative or even original to say.
That’s not to say writing on pertinent and current issues isn’t important – but blog on topics that appeal to you as an individual.
If you are a tennis enthusiast then sharing your views on Steffi Graf and Serena Williams’ record would be an ace idea (pardon the pun!).
I am an ardent and passionate reader so both fiction and nonfiction writing appeals to me. This means writing a book review for my blog is much less intimidating than writing about artificial intelligence (and I know which one I’ll do a better job on!).
Unless you are passionate about a topic and know it in great detail, it is unlikely that you’ll have anything ‘extra’ to add to the noise on the internet. You’ll be wasting your time, other people’s time, and the creative energy that could be put to better use elsewhere!
2. Get inspiration from social media
In this article on Social Media Today, it was revealed that the average person has five social media accounts and spends almost 1 hour and 40 minutes a day browsing through their different feeds.
Turning to social media for ideas is like digging in a gold mine. People are constantly sharing, discussing and debating their views as well as enthusing about their interests and passions.
Join a few groups on Facebook that are based on your interests. You’ll not only meet like-minded people, you’ll generate ideas and views through discussion.
If you join a group aimed at writers or bloggers, you’ll also gain a channel for creative inspiration and be able to improve your online presence by actively participating in posts shared by fellow group members
It may surprise you what pops up to dislodge an idea in your brain. I’m a member of ‘Mad Over Marketing (M.O.M)’ on Facebook. They shared an image of a Nike ad a few months ago – and it actually inspired me. Take a look.
The quirky intelligence of this ad aside, it generated the gem of an idea for a blog post called ’11 Ads That Will Make You Smile’ that could easily lead into a second blog post titled ‘How Brands Inspire People To Get Fit Via Marketing’.
See? A single ad shared in a Facebook group generated two different ideas in my head for two different blogs. Impressive, but so easy!
3. Use web tools to brainstorm
Web tools exist to help people out – especially when we are stuck.
Let’s pretend you already have a pretty good idea of what you want to write. Say it’s a piece on email marketing or social media marketing. You can start by looking at sites like BuzzSumo, Alltop and SocialAnimal to see what’s trending and what’s being shared by users.
Once you have an idea of what people are clicking on, use a tool like HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator to help you take your idea to the next level and generate some potential titles.
Personally, I don’t just use one particular site. I look up 3-4 sites until I come up with a topic or title that resonates with me.
Have a look at this topic Portent’s Content Idea Generator suggested for email marketing.
What a perfect topic! It’s catchy, it talks about something my audience wants to know about (email marketing), it contains my keyword, it cues familiarity because it mentions a celebrity and it gives me ample creative scope!
There’s absolutely no shame in using web tools to brainstorm and generate ideas for blog posts. In fact, they could provide you with just the prompt you need in dire, uninspired times.
4. Format blog posts as lists
The whole reason I’m writing this blog arose from my 2017 New Years’ Resolutions, so it’s fair to say I’m a big fan of lists.
But in this instance I’m not talking about aspirational lists, but listicles.
Listicles are articles or blog posts structured in the form of a list: for example, ‘7 Best Productivity Apps For Android Phones’.
Not only do people love reading listicles, their thematic structure makes the writing process a whole lot easier.
Next time you are stuck over what to write, contemplate whether your content could form a series of items presented as a list.
The internet is filled with listicles so just try not to make them too clickbait-y.
Also, be as specific and positive as possible. Instead of writing ’13 SEO Trends To Watch Out For In 2017′, try ’13 Things Your Business Should Be Doing For SEO In 2017′.
5. Follow people who influence your industry
But following influencers, industry and thought leaders, as well as daily news sites is a great way to come up with new blog ideas and writing inspiration.
For instance, I follow Virgin Group on LinkedIn and they made the two posts below on their page.
It inspired me to explore the link between mindfulness and productivity. I knew I could either either use each idea separately or combine them into one, for example, ‘Why The Happy Employee Next To You Is 12% More Productive’ or ’11 Ways To Improve Mindfulness and Productivity At The Same Time’.
And seeing it on Virgin Group’s feed meant I knew there would be research and studies to back it up.
6. Ask questions on message boards
How else will you learn?
Start by choosing a basic search term or keyword and looking through the conversation threads on it to see what you find.
Your natural interest in particular ideas will help you identify an appropriate topic to write on.
Then ask questions if you have them.
For instance, say you want to write about a trip to Hawaii. You can log into Quora and post a question to get an alternative point of view to your own.
Based on the response you get, you can come up with your new blog topics, such as:
- Do’s + Don’ts While In Hawaii
- What To Pack For Hawaii
- 5 Things You Will Learn In Hawaii
7. Look inside yourself
This is the part where you get to be you. You don’t have to look outside but think about your own personal insights and experiences, and how best to share them.
You can share personal insights and experiences in many forms: learning lessons, success stories, failure admissions and more.
Blogging is not as easy as it is made to sound. It’s easy when you consider that it’s just words – but daunting when you think about what you want those words to mean and the ideas behind them.
My initial problem with writing is always starting.
Fortunately now, using the above steps, I usually find a way.
And I am certain that if you try them too, you will be able to wrestle yourself out of your rut.
Guest Author: Cynthia Dora. At the age of seven, I wanted to be a teacher. At 14, I wanted to be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. Finally, at 25, I ended up being a writer! During the day, I am the Lead Content Marketer at Span Global Services, an organization specializing in building B2B email lists. The rest of the time, I am the mother of a five-year-old who shares my passion for teaching, writing and imagining.
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