Out of blog post ideas? It happens. Other bloggers will tell you to “look through your archives” and to “read other blogs.” While they’re both good suggestions, I have a better strategy: Don’t run out of ideas in the first place.
It is possible to avoid Blogger’s Block, but my strategies aren’t infallible. It is still possible to run out of ideas if you’re not careful.
Get a Blog Notebook
My theory is that if you have enough ideas on file, and you keep adding new ones, you’ll always have plenty of things to blog. So head over to your local office supply store and buy a 5-subject spiral notebook. How you use it may vary. Personally, I have it segmented between my various websites, though it is perhaps better to do it more like this:
- Subject 1: Post ideas.
- Subject 2: Feature ideas. Features are posts that take more time and planning to write. Some blogs, like ProBlogger, separate the normal posts from the features, though it’s not totally necessary. You know, posts like this or this. Essentially, they’re your pillar content.
- Subject 3: To do. Tweaks you need to make to your template, plugins to install, sites to check-out, etc.
- Subject 4: Linkbait Ideas. Keep a list of things you could do to pull-in links. Some linkbaiting schemes could be considered Features, but not all, thus the separate subject. ProBlogger Darren Rowse has an excellent guide to Linkbaiting.
- Subject 5: Misc. Everything else that doesn’t fit in the other categories.
Whenever you’re stuck, select an idea from your notebook and write it. Also, if you come up with a good post idea when you don’t need one, enter it into the notebook so you don’t forget. I’ve been using a blog notebook for awhile now, and it works well.
Note: Some people prefer to use a three-ringed binder or a set of .txt files instead of a notebook.
Speedlinking and Other Recurring Posts
If you open a magazine, you’ll notice that they generally have “Departments” or “Columns,” which are segments of the magazine that appear in every edition, while the rest of the content changes. If you look at PC Magazine, you’ll see that John Dvorak has a column on the last page of every issue. Why don’t you apply the same principle to your blog? You can have a column of sorts that you publish every now and then, that way you have some easier content. Here are some ideas:
- Speedlinking – Once or twice a week, post a round-up of interesting links you found over the previous days.
- Weekly Comic – Add a weekly comic to your blog, no artistic skills require. If you look around the web, you’ll find cartoonists who allow you to freely syndicate their work. One example is Blaugh, the comic about blogging. Another is WeblogCartoons.com, which is separated into categories. Consult Google for more.
- From the Archives – Unless your blog is really new, then you’ll have a large archive of old posts. Why not highlight some old ones now and then? Just point your readers in the direction of a few posts. Also, it works well to highlight posts that are relevant to a current event.
- Monthly Guest Post – Let someone else post something on your blog. It benefits you and the guest. If you look at ProBlogger.net, you’ll see some occasional guest posts.
- Q&A – Let your readers ask you questions via email, and answer them in a blog post.
Look For Ideas
You have your blog notebook, but what good will it do you if you don’t put ideas into it? Look through your archives, read other blogs etc. Here are some generic ideas to help you out:
- “Sneeze Posts” – I’m quoting Daren Rowse there. Name aside, this is a great, and easy, type of post. Pick a topic, round-up some links from your archives on the subject, and post.
- Lists – 10 Ways to…, Top 20…, 103 Great Links For… Lists are easy to write, and readers like them. Tip: Digg users like anything with a huge number in the title. Take a look at Smashing Magazine and Mashable. They’re famous for their huge lists.
- Poll – Ask your readers a question or two.
- Tutorial – Teach your readers how to do something. You can pull-in some extra traffic by submitting it to tutorial directories like Good-Tutorials and Tutorialized.
Well, that’s all for now. Go buy a notebook!