Coming up with ideas for blog posts is one of the toughest challenges a blogger faces.
We’ve talked before about using a feedreader to speed up your blog writing. That may be all you need if most of your posts involve linking to someone else’s and then offering insights of your own. It can also give you brand new ideas as your mind goes off on tangents from what you’ve read.
But what if there’s nothing worth linking to today? What if you want to write something original, and nothing in your feedreader is inspiring you? Remember: it’s not a great idea to write when you’re uninspired. You need to believe in what you’re writing in order to make it unique and different – something people will link to, and something search engines will recognize as a cut above the rest, now that they’re on the lookout for quality.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for inspiration to come to you.
Generating blog post ideas
If you’re struggling to find something worth writing about, here are some topics and formats that not only provide new posts, but can get the creative juices flowing again and lead to even more new posts.
- Do link roundups of old posts you wrote in the past. Pick posts on a certain topic, or do a “retro roundup”, or choose posts that generated great reader comments and discussion (thereby highlighting your commenters). As you put together posts like this, you’ll re-read some of your old articles and find inspiration in their topics. Or even in the mistakes you made with them: sometimes I read my old posts and just want to re-write them. (In fact, this post is a re-write of two existing posts.)
- Make posts out of great comments. Why not let your commenters do some of the work? Put a blockquote from an interesting comment up and write an article about it. You can take a moment to compliment your commenter on his or her great thinking while you’re at it.
- Read niche forums to target discussions. Visit forums in your niche to see what questions have got people talking. If you can answer a question, not only do you have a blog post, but you can also drop a link to it in the forum (per whatever rules they have about links – even if you have to “unlink” the URL, people wanting answers will copy, paste and visit).
- Do pro and con posts. Pick a topic that’s controversial (if that suits your niche), and make some pro and con points about it. This kind of critical thinking gets your mind running, and new ideas should follow.
- Interview somebody. If you can interview someone of interest in your niche, go for it. And don’t assume you can’t! It doesn’t have to be someone famous. A fellow blogger will do just fine – and be glad of the publicity.
- Look through old posts on your favorite blogs. Sometimes reading what people were saying about widgets in 2004 makes a fascinating contrast with what they’re saying now. Or you might discover an intriguing pattern about, say, algo updates then and now. Look for something you can add to these old posts, and say it. As a time-saver, you may want to take notes in Google Docs and use a tool like Wordable to import them.
- Remember to answer your own questions. Did you just spend an hour trying to figure out how to make your own oil paint because you were curious? If you have a blog where that’s an appropriate topic, share what you learned with everyone else.
- Link roundups on topics. This is especially good when you feel like you can’t find anything new or unique to say. Find a topic in your niche and do a link roundup from other websites. To make this post a resource instead of just a mini link farm, offer some commentary on the links and select them carefully. If people find your post helpful, they’ll refer it to their friends over Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, etc. And in composing this post – choosing the content and writing about it – you’ll often find you do have something unique to say.
- Beef up and repost an old article. There’s nothing wrong with re-publishing posts that are still relevant and useful – especially if re-check your facts, make any needed corrections, and add something to the “revised” post.
What are some of your best tips when you find yourself at a loss for new article ideas?