You don’t know what to blog about? You have absolutely no idea for your next post? Are you staring down a blank piece of paper at 4 am?
Sometimes it is much harder to come up with an idea than to write about it. And today we are going to tell you how we learned to find post ideas quickly.
Write your ideas down
Write every idea you get into a notepad or a smartphone app. Set up a reminder that will trigger five times a day, so that you won’t forget about it.
We asked Unihost employees to tell us where they keep notes with their ideas.
DAMIAN, editor: I keep my ideas in a separate list in Wunderlist. It doesn’t work well with ideas that have a lot of content, but I don’t have that many ideas that need it.
CYRILL: For long term projects I use Trello. I separate ideas into lists by type and further separate them with tags — IDEA_content, IDEA_work etc. And I use Evernote for reminders, notes, to-read lists and other small stuff.
NICK, marketer: I use Trello and Laverna. Laverna is a personal knowledge base.
TONY, CEO of Unihost: I use Trello on the phone. Sometimes I use a notepad or post-it notes. Also from time to time I send e-mails to myself.
Borrow ideas from competition
Using the same idea you can write two completely different posts. So never shy away from taking ideas from others. You just have to have your own point of view.
For example, a competitor has published an article How to install Windows 7 x64 on Oracle Virtual Box. You can turn the same idea into:
- A detailed review of Virtual Box.
- Top-5 of virtualization systems.
- A comparison between running a Windows 7 and Windows 10 VM, with surmises on what has changed and why.
All the while, the idea will be the same — Windows 7 x64 on Oracle Virtual Box. But the points of view will be different, and that’s what truly matters.
For example, a famous saying «Bad artists copy, good artists steal» has been used by a lot of people. Even Steve Jobs said it in one of his interviews in 1996. But it was actually coined by Picasso — although who cares about it as long as the phrase is fitting?
“Bad artists copy, good artists steal.”
Michael Scott Steve Jobs Pablo Picasso
Ask the audience to help
One of the best ways to get new ideas is to read the comments. Look up the comments on similar blogs and scan them for questions. Those questions are your ideas for future posts.
Also don’t be afraid of continuing the old articles. If your year old about hunting the sabertooth tiger is still popular and relevant — tell your readers about your experience hunting a mammoth.
But if the goal of your resource is not purely entertainment, do try to spread those articles with some original content. Otherwise you’ll turn into Buzzfeed, with hot headlines and boring, lame writing.
Follow the trends
Sometimes your writing is impeccable, but the readers still don’t flock to your post. Usually it’s because the subject of your writing is unpopular. In order to check this, use Google Trends. You can use it to track popular subjects in your country and analyze the tendencies.
Also, follow the news. You can use news aggregators for this — Feedly, Flipboard, Stumbleupon. Just subscribe to the channels you are interested in and follow the publications. Got an interesting point of view on some event? Here’s your post idea.
Do an interview
If your blog has a defined subject, there must be a person that sets the tone in this subject. So find his contact information and do an interview. It really works — for example not so long ago, a fan-owned video blog Valve News Network got an interview with Valve’s founder Gabe Newell. And the owner of the blog has simply sent Gabe a request for an interview on Reddit.
It is also a good idea to add some sample questions to the request. Preferably the first five you are going to ask. It will help the person understand the tone of the interview and how prepared you are.
Just start writing
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to just start writing something completely irrelevant to your current task. And during this you will get a good idea. As long as you remember to write it down.
Of course it’s just a review of our own pratices. If some of these tips do not work for you — it’s OK.
But if it’s your first time facing the crisis of ideas and you do not have a good way of dealing with it — do try those methods. You will almost definitely find some that will help.