You need to publish regularly!
This is the siren of the online blogging world. Any blogger who has experienced even a modest amount of success (and plenty of others who haven’t but think they know what they’re talking about) will tell you that publishing on the blog regularly is what helps you build traffic and a readership… and, ultimately, a career.
Shoot, some of them even tell you to publish three times a week!
Whether you’re new to blogging or writing regularly, this comes across as very intimidating advice.
“Can’t I just write when I have an idea? Or when I feel like it? How am I supposed to come up with enough ideas to write about?”
Ah, that last question I can answer for you.
Ideas are everywhere. If you can’t come up with blog ideas, that’s on you to resolve. But before you fall into a shame spiral of “I must not be creative because I can’t come up with ideas!”, let me soothe your concerns.
You just need a perspective shift.
As a writer, you’re probably tempted to try to reinvent the wheel at every turn. After all, creative people can do this whenever they want! They’re brilliant at it!
Not so much. In fact, true creativity really comes from taking old ideas and putting them together in new and interesting ways.
Do you know what makes a satisfying story or movie? A recognizable structure. Most successful stories use some form of The Hero’s Journey. It’s nothing new. It’s just effective.
And the creative geniuses who use it are just taking different existing ideas and popping them into the same outline.
So you see, ideas exist already, and you are free to use them. You just have to find them first.
Here are seven different places you can go for new blog post ideas, and how to use them in your blog, no matter what industry or topic you’re covering.
1. Use real-life conversations
I met with a colleague to discuss business recently, just to get to know each other and see where he’s at. It was a fruitful conversation for a lot of reasons, but it also inspired my next blog post. He made one comment in the middle of an hour-long conversation:
“Nobody has life figured out yet. We’re all still trying to learn what we want to do.”
Boom. Life lesson. I noted it after he left and pulled it up later when I wanted to write a blog post. Sometimes, a casual comment by someone else can fuel a new idea for you.
2. Tap into old memories
This is a strategy that is focused on in the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. If you don’t know what to write about, just start with your earliest memory. Or write about school lunches.
Lamott does a much better job of explaining this in her book, but starting with just a memory can actually yield ideas that can apply to your own blog. I used this to write about a time someone made fun of me in college to my face without me realizing it, and about a time when I wore plaid pants in a school play.
It seems odd to blog about that stuff, but once you get into the habit of writing about them, they can turn into interesting and personal blog ideas – and remember, being personal on your blog can be a great thing. It’s what separates you from your competition – you’re the only you, right?
3. Show a slice of life
I have a list of readers who signed up for emails from me through my book releases. Many authors use these lists just to publicize their next book release. I tell stories about my life through them.
One of the biggest responses I ever got was from an email I wrote about how I developed tendonitis in my wrist from working in my wood shop. Is that related to publishing books? Not really. But that little slice of life connected with my readers and they engaged with it. Don’t be afraid to move outside the box once in a while.
4. Keep a notebook handy
Like I said, ideas are everywhere. Have a place to write them down. I use Google Keep on my phone to do this and it works very well. Start seeing the world as an endless treasure trove of ideas, and you’ll never run out.
5. Read stuff, and save interesting thoughts
Is your well running dry? Fill it up again! Read books. Get an account on Feedly and start subscribing to websites. The more ideas you encounter, the more opportunities you’ll have to create new ones.
How many blog posts are out there from people reacting to a new book, or to the latest “advice” spewed from Goop? Keep exposing yourself to other people’s ideas, and you can find new ways to come up with your own. (But don’t read Goop. Seriously. Let’s let that one go.)
6. Talk about yourself
This sounds obvious, but no matter what industry you’re in, you have a story to tell. You might not think you’re that interesting, but your readers probably disagree. And they want to get to know you.
Even a simple post detailing the stuff on your desk can be interesting to people. I’ve published a handful of books now, and that makes me interesting to other aspiring writers, even though I am criminally boring. Tell a story from your life once in a while and your audience will engage with you more often.
7. Discuss current events – but with a unique spin
I’m not talking about politics. There is enough of that. Please, I’m begging you, don’t post about politics. But there are plenty of other current events in the world that you could react to, write about, and use to bring new ideas to the surface.
Talk about that NFL quarterback who is retiring, or the rise of that new pop star. The closing of that department store that you loved to shop at. There’s stuff going on at all times in the world. Take notice.
See how easy that is? Those seven approaches to idea generation will keep your blog full of new content for as long as you want to write.
Any limits on your blog publishing are self-imposed. The ideas are out there. Now go find them.