If the title wasn’t clear enough, what I’m referring to is the issue of “blogger’s (or writer’s) blockage“, I’m not sure if that’s a real term… but to me, it means the moment when you, as a blogger, don’t have any new ideas on what to write about, or if you have a topic to write about, you don’t know exactly what post would be nice to publish. I have experienced this rough moment several times and found various ways to keep writing, to keep delivering that great content to your readers; so maybe my methods can help you with this and hopefully, you will surprise your readers with something unexpectedly awesome!
Let’s first remember how a blog is usually structured, you divide it into various categories and subcategories, then file your post in those categories and give it one, two or more tags to provide a wider understanding on what your posts are headed or come from. For example, this blog has some categories, such as wrestling, personal, graphic design, web design, coding, software, books, the web, manga, cinematography and series (and more!); inside, let’s say, graphic design, I can publish a post that talks about “The complete guide to signage design”, which is tagged with signage, guide, tutorial, graphic design, urban, visual communication, typography, icons, semantics, semiotics, sign and more tags that might come to mind.
Now that you have that in mind, I want you to extract that information, both from your blog (wordpress, blogger, whatever you use, just copy the tags and categories into a blank piece of paper) and your mind; the mind, how? Well, grab the very core of what your blog is about, for example: literature, web design, computers, religion, your country, a TV show, fashion, interior design, traveling, culinary arts, plastic arts, inspiration, architecture, cars and motorcycles, rock music, cinematography, photography, sports, crafts, news or the one you have.
Let’s say I have a blog about literature, I ramify it into its sub-topics such as history of literature, famous writers, genres, mythology, philosophy, civilizations, etc (I’m not really a literature student haha). Or say I have a blog about architecture and I ramify it into these: geometry, rules, units, 3D, styles, icons of architecture, history, structures, civil engineering, the architect profession, pricing, new projects, inspiration, famous buildings, concepts, considerations, habitability, measuring, construction, materials, cultures and architecture, the industry and its evolution.
Now, each one of the sub-topics can also be divided in lower ones (like a conceptual map, with a clear hierarchy); concepts can be divided, styles can too: minimalism, modernism, bare and bones (like the Bauhaus). In my case, I divided the Graphic Design category into signage, photography, typography, editorial (the grid, software, profiles), packaging, arts, illustration, drawing, concepts (such as point, plain, line, volume), colour (the colour wheel, the human eye, contrast, saturation), printing (CMYK, RGB, Types of printers and materials, techniques), visual communication, psychology (gestalt principles, grouping, emotions), advertising and much more.
You basically do a mind or conceptual map and put it where you can see it clearly, whether as a poster or an accessible document in your computer, even your mobile phone will do. Based on all those topics and subtopics, you can choose to schedule posts, one each category, one category every 2 days or a week. But that’s on what to write about, let’s keep keep diving deeper!
Have your approach in mind
Every blog has an approach, a target audience or at least an expectation on what types of readers will your blog be (or is already) attracting. If your blog is meant for students or beginners, put yourself in their shoes and start thinking on the content you WOULD LOVE TO SEE in your blog. If it’s a professional blog with a serious focus on experts, keep in mind that they look for constant update on new tools to do their job; one example is web development, you can’t keep feeding them with obsolete content, poorly written tutorials about HTML 4 and CSS 2, no! You need to inform yourself about new jQuery plugins, useful CSS frameworks, groundbreaking software to make their jobs easier, new launches and of course, the current trends. Which brings me to my first advice:
Follow and read blogs that are related to your content, don’t be afraid to write about the same things, what matters is the perspective you view it in, the effort you put in it and thinking outside the box.
Imagine you read in a random movies blog about the upcoming flick “The Avengers 3”, you see all the other blogs are putting the trailer, a description about the movie, release dates, and so forth. What do you do? Easy, you take things further and TALK TO THE READER, don’t write for yourself, remember there’s another person using the computer in the morning while drinking a coffee ready to start the day, they are reading your blog because they stumbled upon it or because they think you (or what you write) is worth their time. This makes me think, what do you think they expect to see when they clicked on the “Avengers 3” post you just wrote? If they already knew it was announced, they might even skip the post, that’s where you barge in and say “Hey, I got more info than the others do!”, your beautiful reader who deserves all of your respect and don’t want his/her intelligence insulted, needs more than just a trailer, the reader needs… what? (stop and think on your answer before continuing reading) I can think in a release date, a plot synopsis, the actors (cast, duh) who will be in the movie, direction and production info and maybe some sneak peeks; okay that’s good, enough to make your reader happy but, is that enough? Nope, you can think big and include a recap of the previous movies, a comparison of the movies with the original Marvel comics, an opinion about the characters, a review/critic, more releases that can interest your reader (if there’s a new Captain America or Thor movie to be released soon, write about it), find interviews online, try to see if you can find scenes, do everything you can to make the post memorable and worthy of being disseminated by the masses.
Your experience and opinions count
Never hesitate to take your personal life in the open (don’t take me wrong) and write about thinks that happened to you (that are related to your blog, of course), or things that you found extraordinary. You can give your own opinion and flavour to your posts, put quotes that you’ve heard of, interesting texts that you’ve read in the past, just be yourself and connect your daily life to your blog; this applies more if your approach is more like mine, a personal blog, or a blog about my personal interests.
Use the social media buzz
Social media is by far one of the best places to keep one self informed about the trending topics, but you can also be bombarded with useful information, impressive creations and viral content that’s shared across the globe, spreading at a very quick rate. It doesn’t hurt to take a look every now and then into your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr stream to check what’s expedient to publish or talk about. There are blogs that compile a list of the best tweets of the month.
Try to have in mind that information spreads faster nowadays, something cool’s out and ready to surprise us, and immediately, the social media gang starts to spread this info from its very origin to the rest of the world; all we have to do is to be tuned in the right channel (follow related social media accounts or people).
Inspire yourself, take notes!
Inspiration can be found inside a dark places, it can be obtained everywhere you go, but you need to be open to it. I recommend to go outside, travel, go to museums, watch movies, relax, read, do activities you’ve never done before, walk through the streets of your city and observe your surroundings, talk to people and do some research in the nearest library. As I stated earlier, you can follow blogs, read the newspaper, turn on the TV and see what’s cooking. Go to museums, participate into circles and communities, sketch your ideas and write down everything cool you think.
Sketchbooks and Moleskines are good for taking notes, there’s a high probability that you will forget a good idea if you don’t write it down your notebook. Diagram your ideas, expand them, think on more ideas that might come from it, see the relation between all of your ideas and amalgamate them into something huge. It’s also not a bad idea to ask your readers or your closest friends for post ideas, don’t feel ashamed by it.
Types of posts you can publish
Time to get our fingers to work, I’ve compiled a list of posts you can create to impress your readers and have fun while writing them, it’s not all about articles, OK?
This is the type of post I have the most predilection for, grabbing individual elements and meshing them into a big collection can save your audience a copious amount of time, you have NO IDEA how much you can make a reader feel thankful for this, you take a big weight off their shoulders. Let me give you an example, I was once looking for a good WordPress theme for one of my old blogs (all dead now), but all I had was 3 theme sites, with a boring pagination, no filters whatsoever; what did I do? I searched on Google “beautiful WordPress themes” and came across a post with like 70 or 80 freemium (cool themes with premium quality and appearance that happen to be free!) WordPress themes. I also found collections of minimalistic, dark, framework, portfolio, typographic and magazine themes.
It takes a lot of time to do it, trust me, a post with no more than 10-20 sites to learn Web Development, Web Design and coding took me about 2 hours to write. Maybe I’m slow (or getting) but it’s nothing that takes minutes, so, do it when you have free time, patience, a big folder with favourited sites (markers, read later, extracts, articles) and something to say about each item, not just a download or visit link.
Inspiration posts also enter in this category, you don’t have to write things about the items, just put an image, a title and a link, but you may need to browse sites like Flickr, DeviantArt, Twitter, Dribbble, personal designers’ portfolios, etc.
Do you have skills for something that others might not have? Can you share your knowledge? If your answer is “yes”, start by writing a tutorial! Tutorials need to be clear, understood, well-explained and easy (if it’s difficult, go thoroughly step by step); the practise makes the master, remember how you became good at what you do and help others accomplish the same. All you need is to know how to take screenshots, a digital camera (or video-camera), patience (yes, again), a scanner (may not need it) and a good sense of text-formatting.
How-to do this and the other is the very start of tutorials’ titles, but you can think on something different that attracts more readers, maybe something like “Become a Packaging Samurai in 30 days” or “Learn Photography Easily.”
Found out something that could change the course of the universe? Share it with your readers, even if they’ve already read it somewhere else; what if you have a subscriber who reads your blog first than the others? I have in mind some new gadgets that I saw, and would like to share with my readers right now.
Reviews and criticism are hard to write, specially when you try to talk about something that you don’t know or haven’t even tried; this is why I ask you to try different things, open yourself to experimentation, and then write about it. Some people appreciate when others take the bullet for them, hehe. You can also comment about something, like an awesome video you just watched, or a poster you saw on the streets (with its correspondent picture inside the post).
Freebies and contests
Do you have money? If so, make them fight for a big prize, you can host a photography contest, for this I use randomize.org. The selection process can be done your way, but always prove your honesty, we don’t want legal problems do we? Try to NEVER ask your readers for money, it all comes when you give, and not when you take.
I once hosted a tournament, the prize were iTunes cards, subscriptions to Tuts+ Premium and a Wacom IntuOS 4 graphic tablet, the tournament consisted in re-designing (just a PSD) the blog, the winners would be featured, the 1st place’s design, implemented, and of course, the prizes would go to their hands. Wasn’t my blog, nor were they my prizes, I only hosted, but I will soon (once I get more readers) make a contest, pinky swear ;).
One of the best audience boosters is the classic “freebie“, create something useful (no matter what) and give it away for free to your readers, free download, you can choose any licensing you want as long as it’s free!
Courses for beginners
Make a big gathering of articles, tutorials, news, courses and information about something that requires an introduction to it, such as web design, drawing, music production, photography, learning a new language, magic, literature, engineering, a math branch, sewing or whatever comes to mind.
Hire or invite authors
This is a common practise inside the blogosphere, bloggers hire authors for a series of posts, or just one, they can be even hired as normal authors who write when they can (or asked). Another great technique is to pay them with exposure (if your blog has a big reputation).
Invite readers, ask other blog authors to join your blog or write a post, if they expect more, offer yourself to write a post for their blogs, you can make a beautiful network doing this and keep your posts flowing even when you are not there, but depends on your approach though… can’t be done with personal blogs. On a personal note, if you want to contribute with something, whatever it is, just let me know.
My final thoughts are the same, help others, think about your readers and write for them, always write quality content and think outside the box, make yourself notable, and try to keep up to a schedule if you can; there’s always the option of having “of the week” types of posts if you are in blockage.
If you can share your methods of always having something to write, please write them down below in the comments section, make your thoughts be read and let me know if this post was of any help.