Writer’s block when it comes to your blog content? With these methods at your fingertips, you’ll never be stuck for a blog post idea again.
We’re told to keep blog content fresh. To post regularly. To live up to the promises we make to our readers.
But let’s be honest.
After the first few weeks or months, it can become hard to think up ideas for the next post.
You find yourself staring at a blank screen the night before your next post is due, with no inspiration whatsoever.
Don’t worry! I’m here with my bag o’ tricks to help you.
Why are you blogging?
Before we get into the five main methods I use to keep my blog content fresh and regular (did someone mention prunes?), you need to think about why you’re blogging in the first place.
For most people, it will be either self-promotion (you provide a service or a product), or the desire to help people. These two often go hand in hand.
Take my blog, for example. I want to help people write better words and read better books. I also want people to know that I offer a professional editing and proofreading service and that I’m writing a novel (that I will eventually be selling).
Let’s say, for sake of argument, that your primary reason for blogging is self-promotion. (And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!). That does not mean you have to go all salesy and turn people away with marketing copy.
Quite the contrary.
It’s about helping people get to know you better, giving your audience what they need and want, and keeping them coming back for more. Build their trust, be “relentlessly helpful”, as Tim Grahl puts it.
Therefore, your content should:
- answer keyword searches by your target audience
- be of interest to your audience and show them how fascinating you and your work is
- help your audience get to know you better. Not in a stalky way, but we human beings tend to buy from others we know and trust.
Preamble dealt with, let’s dive into what you came here for.Your blog content should help your audience get to know you better. Not in a stalky way, but we human beings tend to buy from others we know and trust. Click To Tweet
5 ways to find unique blog content
1. Answer your audience’s questions
You don’t have to ask your site visitors directly (although this can be very effective). There are plenty of ways to find out what your typical visitor needs to know:
- You may have a list of pre-existing queries in your inbox, in comments to your previous blog posts, or on your social media profiles.
- Sites like Quora and Reddit are good sources of pain points for different niches.
- Visit other blogs in your niche and look at the comments on their blog posts. What posts generate the most interest? Obviously don’t copy the posts of others, that would be plagiarism! Use the comments to generate new content. If their post is a few years old, is it now out of date? Could you write a more current post about a similar topic?
- Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are a rich hunting ground for what people need to know from you. For example, if you’re an author, try search terms like “recommend horror book”, “new book by Xxx”, “why can’t authors xxx” and see what comes up.
- Join relevant groups on Facebook and other platforms to see what people are complaining about, what they’re interested in finding out more about, what they’re struggling with, what they can’t find, and so on.
Make a list of what you have discovered about your audience’s needs and, hey presto, plenty of ideas for blog posts!Make a list of your audience’s needs and, hey presto, plenty of ideas for blog posts! Click To Tweet
2. Write book reviews
This works for all types of blogs, because, well, there are all types of books.
Start with books you have read recently, as these will be fresh in your mind. Depending on the subject of your blog, the books may be fiction or non-fiction, long or short, niche or not. It doesn’t matter. As long as they are of interest to your audience (and that is the key thing), a review will help to draw people to your site.
I personally only write reviews of books that I would recommend to others. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but whatever I think of the book, the author will have toiled hundreds, probably thousands, of hours over those pages. I’m not about to cost them a few sales because the book wasn’t my cup of tea.I only write reviews of books that I would recommend to others. I'm not about to cost an author a few sales because the book wasn't my cup of tea. Click To Tweet
If you’re a writer, as many of my visitors are, it may seem counter-intuitive to include book reviews of other authors on your site, but don’t forget that your visitors will not only be interested in you. They are likely to be avid readers of many other authors in the same niche. By recommending other books to them, they are more likely to return to your site time and again to see what you have for them this month.
At the end of each review, encourage them to sign up to your email list so as not to miss your next recommendation.
Even if they don’t sign up, they will hopefully feel motivated to visit your site regularly to see your next unmissable review. When you have something to promote, they will see it.
Be sure to contact the author whose book you are reviewing. While (as far as I’m aware) this is not a legal obligation, it’s good practice and polite to do so. If you’re using images that you haven’t taken yourself, or that aren’t on their media webpages (generic book cover image, author headshot etc), you should get their permission for these too.
They are likely to be chuffed that their book is getting some free marketing, and they may share your social media posts linking to your blog article if you tag them. More traffic back to you, and so the circle continues.
3. Call upon your current research and knowledge
We’re constantly learning new things:
- figuring out industry- or craft-related processes
- trying our hand at new technology
- researching diverse topics for our latest book.
All of these are easy pickings for blog posts. It is a wonderfully efficient way of working, as you can both learn something new AND get a blog post out of it!
What’s more, you will be helping others who need help with whatever it is you’ve figured out. Everyone’s a winner!
If you’re an author, and your writing research has taught you about the decomposition of dead bodies, how bees make honey, or the Australian outback, there will always be an audience for these topics!
Remember to always bring the post content back to your work/services. This will help drive the right audience to your site, thereby improving your search ranking and keeping everything focused and relevant.
4. Promote your activities
First things first: get organised by creating an editorial calendar. This needn’t be anything fancier than a simple date spreadsheet listing the title of your blog posts.
If you fancy something more … fancy, just enter ‘editorial calendar’ into your favourite search engine and you’ll find lots of free templates on offer.
The next step is to pre-populate your calendar with known activities. For example, if you are speaking at a conference, launching a product, service or book, or attending an event relevant to your website, stick these in the calendar.
There will be a blog post just waiting inside you for each of these entries, either beforehand to promote it, or afterwards as a report about what went down. Don’t forget to snap some photos for inclusion in your post!
5. Share personal stories
This may not be for everyone; it depends on how much of your life you’d like to share with your readers. Also, be aware it’s highly advisable to avoid posting personal details online, eg. names of pets and family, dates of birth. These could potentially be used against you in identity theft. I know that sounds alarmist, but if you don’t need to share personal information, then don’t.
We all have a ton of anecdotes to tell, and these can be turned into blog posts. If you’re a writer, you could create flash fiction pieces out of them, or leave them as biographical snippets from your life.
This kind of content helps to forge a relationship between you and your visitors. That, after all, is what we’re trying to do here.
Again, try to find a link between the stories and your website topic/product/service, to draw the ‘right’ audience to your content.
Hopefully, that’s sparked a long list of blog content ideas that will keep you going for a while. Remember to plug them into your editorial calendar, as mentioned above.
If you’d like more ideas on specific things you can blog about as an author, as well as things you should avoid, check out this brilliant post by Anne R Allen: Your Author Blog: What Should An Author Blog About?
Finally, if you’re unpublished and wondering what the heck you have to bring to the blogging party, read this inspiring post by Amrita Chowdhury: Ten Things To Blog About When You’re A Brand New Author.
Let me know in the comments if you have your own ways of coming up with fresh blog content. Feel free to include a link back to your site (get that search ranking up). Others (including me!) will be very grateful.