Blogging is tremendous fun, and pretty engaging even if you don’t love your topic. Well, this is true most of the time… Here’s how to generating new blog ideas when you’re stumped.
Even if you’re blogging from a passionate commitment to your subject, there are times… you recognize the moment they occur… when creativity just fails and you have no blog ideas. However, the blog must go on.
If you’re writing for the joy of it, you owe something to your loyal readers who anticipate your posts with delight. If you are writing for an employer, your production on schedule could mean the difference between being replaced and keeping your gig. Or if you are writing to publicize your own services to prospective clients, your income and future success can be on the line.
We all need to have sources of ideas for those moments when fatigue, boredom, the press of other life events, or other obstacles, block the flow of creativity. Below you will find some ideas to help get you thinking in a different direction and generate blog ideas.
1. Keep a bulletin board for yourself
As you write, you will probably find yourself thinking of points or approaches that are simply not appropriate for the current blog post you are creating. This phenomenon, common to all creative people, need not be distracting.
Simply create and maintain a document that you keep open at all times (Notepad or word processing), or keep it handy in your computer files under a distinctive and recognizable name (e.g., A FILE OF IDEAS). Copy/paste or type into this document any items that seem terrifically promising, but which won’t fit with your current assignment or post. Some online apps also allow you to save useful ideas before creating a final document.
2. Recycle, re-use, re-purpose
The temptation to address again some issue or question you have dealt with before is powerful. If you merely copy an old blog post, you may get yourself in trouble with your readers, spoil your standing with Google, or if you are blogging for an employer, possibly get yourself fired. No, you certainly don’t want to copy yourself closely enough to trigger a plagiarism flag!
Fortunately, this is not necessary. You can talk about something repeatedly without repeating yourself.
Remind your readers that they have seen something similar before. You want to be honest with them about returning to a familiar theme. This is a perfectly legitimate technique. Restate the previous message, but find new ways to get the point across. Here are some possibilities –
- Use new examples.
- Change the order of your arguments.
- Change your emphasis.
3. Turn upside down
Most bloggers have a recognizable point of view. Try arguing some relevant point from the opposing stance. This fine mental exercise is often employed by debating coaches to strengthen arguments.
4. Spin the globe
What are your opposite numbers doing on the other side of the world? In any topic, there is probably someone out there, maybe located several time zones away, looking at a similar subject. You can highlight, comment, compare, analyze, or apply their perspective to your local situation.
If language is an issue, use one of the translation features at least to approximate what is being said. To confirm this, summarize what you think they said, GoogleTranslate it, and ask the author for confirmation. Most bloggers will be quite flattered to be asked!
5. Read, read, read
Keep up with the publications, whether print or online, in your specialty area, even if only intermittently. Spot what might intrigue your readers as well. Summarize, critique, analyze, or extend relevant arguments.
6. Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark
Reflexively click ‘bookmark’, or ‘favorite’ for everything potentially useful. To prevent exploding unwieldiness, assign consistent, distinctive titles (e.g., ‘AN IDEA_ICING RECIPE’). Note that sites themselves generate a provisional title, sometimes clumsy and wordy, which you can edit.
7. Adopt a new identity
Write from the perspective of someone else – perhaps a character from history, or an alien, or a time traveler. For recent history, check out oral history information in Story Corps,
8. Borrow from your readers – even if you have to make up your readers’ comments
Although answering reader questions is classic journalism, fledgling blogs may lack vocal readers, just make up a plausible question or comment, and then answer it. Remind your gentle readers to write!
Where were you, and your topic, a year ago, or before you began blogging? Show your readers how your thinking, and the state of the art, has changed. Share examples of evolution and transformation.
10. Hold a mirror up to your readers
Give your readers a snapshot of their own demographics, or as much as you know of them. Many online stat trackers provide an almost disturbing amount of information about visitors to your site. For example, even with many free stat trackers, you can characterize your readership in terms of location, language, the type of websites that referred them, and by when they visit you.
Do you have any other tips for generating new blog ideas? How do you get inspired to blog when you’re feeling a creative lull? Let us know in the comments section below.
David Tucker is a professional blogger and editor. He currently works for HelpfulPapers.com, a content management service and academic writing help provider. David spends most of his free time with his family and friends.