You have slaved over your post, carefully crafting each sentence, paying attention to facts and figures, mixing all ingredients of great content in the right amounts to come up with a delicious pot roast of a post.
Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
But wait, you must now get cracking on the next post and come up with another sizzler. No resting on your laurels for you! That’s the “tragedy” of blogging. You need to come up with one post after the other, each as good as the other, if not better, all the time.
No prizes for guessing, that to keep coming up with amazing posts regularly is difficult, but let me tell you something you already know in your heart – it’s not impossible. There are certain blogging practices that help you come up with an incredible post every time. Every. Single. Time.
See if you agree—
1. Build an Idea Bank
There are days when your mind is an absolute fountainhead of ideas, and post ideas just keep on coming. Since you cannot use all of them at once, why not store them in a safe place (not in your head), for later use? Creating an Excel sheet of ideas and categorizing them into various domains such as Blog, Social, Reviews, etc. isn’t too difficult. This Excel sheet is your idea heaven. Just refer to it before you begin writing a post.
Keep entering new post ideas into your sheet as and when you get them. And when you have the time, pick a few and start creating titles around them. Also try researching pertinent facts and figures for some of the more interesting ideas in your bank, so that when the time comes to actually tackle the idea and turn it into a post, you are absolutely ready.
“Hmm… an idea bank is great, but in order for your mind to become the fountainhead of ideas, there must be some source(s) that allows it to germinate and nurture these ideas…”
The secret to an interesting guest post is a new idea that nobody has discussed before. This idea needs to center on a subject/topic that everybody wants to know more about. So how do you go about finding such ideas? How do you go about finding new ideas?
A post on 7 Effortless Ways to Find New Ideas for Your Blog formed the basis of my idea exploration efforts. That was two years ago, and since then I’ve found plenty of other ways to come up with post ideas.
The thing about ideas is that you need to stick to a step by step process. It can be a one that suits just you, your personality type, or the industry you work in, but that’s fine. Having a process is what’s important. Being an online marketer, the first step I take is try keyword tools to know what my target audience is searching for on Google, and check for terms and queries that I can weave a post around.
If I don’t find anything, I move on to sites like Topsy, Alltop and a collection of news sites (Google News is one of the best from the ideation point-of-view). If I’ve still drawn zilch here, I dig a little deeper into my rabbit hat and explore other innovative ways for coming up with ideas.
The next two pointers, talk about it in some detail.
2. Draw Inspiration from Authority Blogs
Identify authority blogs in you niche and become obsessed with them.
Say you are a designer who loves to blog about design related stuff. Blogs like Smashing Magazine and Web Designer Depot should be on your radar – they do a new post or two every day and between them cover anything and everything that is worth talking about on web design. This will help you identify topics of audience interest.
Source: IM Free
No, I am not for a moment, remotely telling you to just rehash an interesting post you come across and spew it out on your blog. I am saying you can use these authority blogs as idea-resources and know what industry experts are talking about. You can even check readers’ opinion (in the comments) of a certain topic, draw your own conclusions about the piece, and use your imagination, expertise and experience to come up with a whole new idea founded on everything you read in the post.
Word of Caution: If you’re getting inspired from the big boys, it’s difficult not to come out looking second best.
But you can come out smelling of roses and everything nice as well.
Here’s what I do: If I read a post such as X Amazing Social Tools, I try and come up with X+5 Social Tools. And yes, I make it a point that 75% of the tools in my post are fresh.
(Trade secret: I research to find new tools or pick tools listed across different posts.)
This helps me come up with a whole new post, completely original and packed to the brim with information that readers will love going through.
3. Explore Deeper
Let’s face a harsh truth, shall we? If you’re writing on a subject that’s all the rage and which everybody’s talking about, everything that has to be written and said on that topic might already have been covered in depth by the time you even come across it.
But wait, don’t look miserable just yet.
There is something called the practice of deeper exploration, which can be used in such cases.
I frequently write about business software and processes. Say you’re writing something about project management software (a subject done to death and resurrection and death again). You can dig deeper for product data in comparison tables or reviews and ratings. And if you want to bore your way to the absolute bottom, you could take a trial or even request a demo of the software or collaboration service to find out how it works.
This will help you get firsthand information about the features and functionalities enabling you to create a useful post that delivers valuable and relevant information to your readers.
Making this practice a part of your blogging armory will help you add variety to your blog posts. Also, in the off chance that you don’t get a great idea when you need it most, this habit will come to your rescue. Just zero in on a trend that’s generating a lot of buzz, identify what all the noise is about, dive deep and write about it. Yes, it’s that simple!
4. Do NOT Follow a Set Formula
Keep experimenting with the kind of topics you write on, your writing style, as well as the format of the content. Widening your horizons will help you come up with different posts that have every chance to grab reader attention.
Source: Gerwin Sturm, Flickr
Sticking to a writing formula – even a successful one – gets boring after a while and stops paying dividends. You need to mix it up a bit, test uncharted waters. If you’ve only been writing opinion pieces, why not discuss a survey or two? If a new development is being discussed in your niche and everybody singing praises about it, adopt a contrarian point of view and substantiate it with facts. Try to do something different all the time. As a blogger, this will help you come up with posts that cover different perspectives, as well as continue to challenge your writing ability.
You’ll never get bored or suffer from bloggers’ block if you follow this practice.
And it’s only if you challenge yourself that you can come up with readable, actionable, and shareworthy content post after post.
5. If You Think You Can’t, Don’t
If you think you cannot come up with an attention grabbing post, don’t even make an effort to write. You might have a habit of publishing a post a day, but there will be off days when you feel out of sorts and just cannot come up with an interesting idea. These are the days when you should cut yourself some slack, relax, watch a movie, and not think about your blog. Just wait for an idea to come to you.
The worst thing you can do is put yourself under too much pressure.
Wrapping It Up
Some of the best bloggers in the world come up with great posts all the time. The single biggest reason why they are able to do so is their domain proficiency and ability (individually or in a team) to keep track of the latest happenings in their niche.
But there is something else at work as well, and that is their ability to reimagine a particular idea/topic/subject and continuously reinvent it. Do this, and coming up with exceptional posts time after time won’t be all that difficult. It certainly involves a lot of hard work, leg work and handy work!
About the author
Brian Zeng is a full service digital marketing consultant based in Shanghai, China. He specializes in SEO and content marketing. Brian works with some leading Asian startups, and helps them implement result-oriented internet marketing strategies that take their business to the next level. You can connect with him on Twitter.