Seven Great Sources of New Ideas for Your Blog
Do you ever struggle to come up with ideas for your blog?
I think all bloggers do, at some point. Sadly, this is one common reason why blogs get abandoned: the blogger couldn’t think what to write about, and days went by, then weeks, with no new posts … before they eventually gave up altogether.
The great news is that there are tons of ideas all around you, just waiting to be written.
And don’t worry about ideas having already been “taken” by other bloggers. What matters is not having a totally new, never-before-seen idea – but having a solid idea that you can bring your unique perspective and skills to.
Here are seven of my favourite ways to come up with blogging inspiration:
#1: Common Questions from Beginners in Your Area
Whatever you blog about – writing, parenting, organisation, crochet – a fair number of your readers will be new-ish to the area.
For instance, if your blog is all about getting organised, then people new to this might have questions like:
- How do I find the time?
- How do I not only get organised but stay organised?
- What are the best tools / books on organisation?
- How do I get other family members on board?
(A lot of these questions can be tweaked and applied to other blog topics, too.)
Try It: Look at established blogs in your niche. What posts are on their “Start Here” pages? What questions often come up in comments? Do these spark off any ideas that you could write about?
Many people want to start a blog for free, often because they haven’t got much money to spend on what might essentially be a hobby. This beginner-friendly post is one I wrote to answer the common questions of “how do I start a blog?” and “how do I blog without spending much money?”
#2: Problems You Had a Few Months / Years Ago
If you’ve been working in or thinking about your topic for decades, then it’ll be hard to remember what it was like to be new. But if you’ve got started more recently, then hopefully you haven’t quite forgotten all your early struggles!
When I first started taking my writing seriously, I had problems like:
- How to find the time and energy for writing around my (non-writing) day job.
- Whether to focus on fiction or non-fiction as a career.
- How to master lots of the “craft” aspects of writing, like dialogue and descriptions (in fiction) and sales copy (in non-fiction).
Try it: What were you struggling with a year ago? What do you wish you’d known then that you know now? If you’ve got any old diaries or to-do lists, those might help jog your mind.
While I don’t have much trouble with motivation these days, it used to be a struggle for me. When I wrote this post for my blog Aliventures (back in 2012) it was a problem I’d mostly resolved in my own writing life … but it wasn’t so very long since I’d struggled with it, and I could still remember what had helped.
#3: Problems You Have Right Now
Over the years, a fair number of my blog posts have been my way of working through a particular problem I’m facing! I’ve seen plenty of other bloggers do this too – and addressing a difficulty you have, or a struggle you’re going through, can really help you connect to your readers.
Don’t feel that you have to have all the answers. Sometimes, what people need most is the knowledge that you, too, struggle to be organised / find time / feel confident. It helps them feel less alone.
Try it: What problem are you up against right now? How could you tackle that on your blog?
I wrote this post in part because several of the blogs I freelance for have a policy of setting external links to open in new tabs. I’d also come across a question related to this in the ProBlogger Facebook group. I was considering whether or not to change my own approach (of having all links open in the same tab) as I researched the post.
#4: Other Blog Post’s Titles
While ideas don’t tend to come as fully formed titles, there’s nothing stopping you taking a title and using that as the starting point for your post.
One easy way to do this is to look out for great titles and “borrow” them: use the structure of the title and change some of the words to create a unique take on it that’s appropriate for your topic.
Take this post’s title, for instance: Seven Great Sources of New Ideas for Your Blog.
Depending on your blog topic, that could become:
- Seven Great Sources of New Activities to Try With Your Kids
- Seven Great Sources of Inspiration for Your Organised House
- Seven Great Websites for Free Crocheting Patterns
Try it: As you read blogs or follow links on Facebook / Twitter this week, jot down any titles that particularly grab you.
This post’s title was inspired by a previous post I’d written for Aliventures, 4 Reasons You Should Do NaNoWriMo … and 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t (and that was quite possibly a riff on someone else’s title, though it’s so long ago I now can’t remember).
#5: Part of Something You’ve Read or Listened To
Have you ever read a post (or a newsletter) by another blogger and wanted to reply? Of course, you can leave a comment or drop them an email – but perhaps you felt like you had too much to say.
Other people’s words and ideas can be a great sparking-off point for our own. Maybe you disagree with a fellow blogger about an important issue in your field … or perhaps you agree with them and want to expand on a point they made in passing.
Try it: When you’re reading blog posts (or email newsletters, or books, or listening to a podcast or talk), stay alert for sentences or ideas that stand out for you. Jot them down as ideas for you to write about on your blog.
This post on Aliventures was inspired by, and drawn from, a talk by Marty Coleman (aka “The Napkin Dad”): his talk was about creativity more generally, but I took his key points and applied them to writing specifically.
#6: A Comparison With Something Different
Done well, comparisons can shed light on your topic area by approaching it in a new and distinctive way. A couple of popular ways to do this are:
- With an extended pop culture reference (e.g. “Ten Organisation Lessons I Learned From Watching Stranger Things”)
- By comparing your blog topic to a different domain of your life (e.g. Why Blogging is Like Training for a Marathon)
Try it: This is a great time to get creative and have a bit of fun! Is there a popular TV show or movie that you could use as inspiration for a blog post? How about something new going on in your life (e.g. a new baby, a house move)?
Written a couple of months after the birth of my first child, this post was a fun way to get back into regular blogging on Aliventures again.
#7: Blog Comments and Emails from Readers
Some of the best ideas you’ll ever have won’t be from you at all … they’ll be from your readers. Keep an eye out for any suggestions in comments or emails, and let readers know that you’re very open to requests and suggestions.
Try it: If you don’t have many comments and readers rarely email, create a simple survey (I use SurveyMonkey) to ask them what topics they’d like to see more – or less! – of. Make sure you give them an opportunity to write in their own ideas.
Example: 7 Habits of Serious Writers
I wrote this post on Aliventures early in 2011: the title was suggested by one of my readers, the lovely Michael Pollock. Ever since, it’s been one of the most popular posts on my blog.
This week, pick just one of the above techniques, and try to come up with three possible ideas for your blog from it. (For instance, if you pick #4, find three blog posts titles that you love and come up with unique twists on them.)
If you get stuck – or if you have any other favourite sources of ideas – then drop a comment below.