The rest of this week I’m going to post a series on blogging. But not just blogging as a general subject, but instead the guts of blogging – Content. I hope to give you four posts that will help you when you are starting to write content, and will inspire you in moments of content desperation. Because, here’s the truth of it: writing blog posts is hard. And for me, writing five blog posts a week can sometimes feel like an impossible feat. It takes a lot of brain juice to provide five interesting, well-written, and valuable blog posts a week. I am not writing this to complain, but just to put the truth out there.
For small business owners, you probably aren’t putting out five posts a week, but that doesn’t mean that your one or two posts a week aren’t born out of a lot of brain-fueled blood, sweat, and tears.
When I first started this blog two months ago I had done SO much research. I had 20 blog posts written. I had been reading all the top blogs on blogging, in addition to all the smaller ones I had also found. And many of the posts were something along the lines of: it’s hard to stay focused, it’s hard to provide so much content, and if your content is going to suck, then try to scale it back and only write posts of value. I talked a little about this last week too in my quantity vs. quality post.
Of course I thought that I was immune to all that talk of it being hard. I was prepared, I did research, and I was going to rock it. Turns out, it is as hard as everyone says.
However, all that means for me is that I’m going to work as hard as I need to in order to keep the content coming, keep the blog posts of value, and keep myself relevant.
Which leads me to the real point of the post, which is, how to get inspired. I find this the most difficult part for me personally. Once I think of an amazing topic, I’m off and writing with no problem. It’s the thinking part and making sure what I come up with is worthy of being written that I find most challenging.
So without further ado, here is what I do to get inspired. I hope you’ll chime in with comments on what you do. I’d love to get more ideas and more ways to keep up with the goals I’ve set for myself.
I read as much as humanly possible.
If you saw my Google Reader you’d be in shock. And not only do I read, but I try to comment on as many posts as possible. I do this for two reasons. One, to be part of the community. Two, because if I’m going to comment I have to really read the post. Otherwise I’ll end up sounding like an idiot.
I talk with clients
I’d say most of what I would consider to be my most “useful” posts stem out of a conversation I’ve had with someone. My post on Facebook Marketing was based off an email I received. My post on the first steps to conquering Twitter was based off a comment I received on another post. It’s amazing how just listening and talking with those you are trying to reach in the first place can be so rewarding.
I ask myself: Will this idea add value?
This really is my mantra of blogging. If I have even a nugget of an idea, I make sure to ask myself this question and if the answer is yes, I run with it. If the answer is no, I either have to figure out a way to add value or else I trash it. And believe me, trashing any sort of idea is hard for me. But I do it. Having one sacred question really helps keep me focused.
I Go Back To My Favorite Posts Again and Again
Whenever I read a post that I find particularly helpful, I make sure to bookmark it so I can come back to it again and again for inspiration. This has been especially helpful for me in writing headlines, as Copyblogger has a wonderful post titled 10 Sure-Fire Headlines Formulas That Work. I refer to this often. In fact, if you go back through my headlines you’ll see a few of their suggestions quite a few times.
Those are my tried and true methods of getting inspired and writing the best content I can. What are your ways? What do you do when you’re just not sure what to blog about?
September 14, 2010
Hi Rebecca! I’m looking forward to this series of posts! I just started my blog and I would love the advice. Thank you!
September 15, 2010
I hope this series helps! Blogging really can be so fun and beneficial for your business. But it is important to remember there is an art behind business blogging. I hope this series helps you figure out how to appeal to your customers while still infusing your blog with personality.
Thanks for the comment!
September 14, 2010
A lot of times a new blog post generates a new idea for a subsequent post.
I read a lot, books, journals, magazines and white papers and this helps me relate what I am reading to ideas for possible blog posts. This has to be the lifeline of any blogger.
I read a lot of blogs in my niche area which results in ideas for future posts on my blog.
As you said talking to customers results in new ideas for blog posts. It works for me too.
I use Google Alerts to monitor keywords that are specific to my niche, doing this has provided me with a regular stream of ideas for blog posts.
September 14, 2010
Hi Peter, I didn’t mention Google Alerts, but that is a fantastic idea of how to generate ideas. Thanks for the comment! Rebecca