Everyone gets stuck. It can be challenging to start a blog and it can be just as challenging to keep it going. Last post, I walked you through a simple strategy for starting your business blog with a plan and a list. But sometimes it doesn’t matter how many ideas you have on your list, you just don’t feel inspired.
Even veteran bloggers have “those days” when they’d rather eat a bug or scrub the bathroom grout than write a single word.
You must resist the temptation to give up or even to do otherwise neglected household chores. A successful blog takes time – more time than many people realize. You may not see results for a year or more, but even if your traffic has been hovering somewhere in the double digits and the only comments you’ve gotten are spam, you need to keep going. You may need some better marketing skills, but if your content is good, do not quit.
So for days when sagging traffic and lagging comments or just an ordinary case of “the blahs” are sucking up your inspiration, here are some blog ideas to pull out of your hat.
1. Tell A Story About Your Business
Who doesn’t love to tell stories about themselves? If it’s a success story, an underdog story, a “come from behind” story… tell it. People love to root for other people who are struggling and if you’ve been in business for any length of time chances are you’ve struggled with something. Share that story and its happy (or maybe not so happy, but lessons-learned) conclusion.
2. Address Customer Fears
Tackle a touchy subject – if you sell orange doohickeys and people are always worried they’ll fall apart in the rain, address that concern. If they don’t fall apart in the rain, explain why. If they do, offer alternatives and solutions. Give the pluses and minuses of your product or service. Or address a common concern like, “Why are orange doohickeys so expensive?” Your honesty will be appreciated.
3. Write A List
The possibilities here are endless. Write a list of the top 10 uses of your orange doohickey, of the lessons you learned your first year in business, of the most common mistakes you see people in your industry making, of the best apps for people like your customers. Think about lists that include the best, worst, biggest, dumbest, craziest, funniest… adjectives will get you far in this case.
4. Write A Series
Take a topic and turn it into a theme by breaking it down into smaller components. This post is a simple example of that. I started with how to plan a blog, progressed to giving you ideas for blogging and plan to follow up later with some marketing ideas for your blog. Or take a list and turn it into multiple posts. “10 ways to enhance your home décor with orange doohickeys” can be 10 different posts.
5. Conduct An Interview
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Grab one of your good customers and interview him about his business and throw in a few questions about how he uses or feels about your product or service. Your customer will appreciate the recognition and you’ll get a testimonial out of it, too. You can also interview someone else in your industry, a colleague, staff member (as part of a profile series), supplier, or fellow blogger.
6. Teach Something
You’re successful because you’re good at something. Take that something and turn it into a how-to. Even if your livelihood depends on installing tile, go ahead and tell your customers how to tile their own bathrooms. On this blog we tell people “how to” all the time. And yet we still have jobs doing things we tell people how to do. Why? Because most people want to know, but not everyone wants to do. Don’t be afraid to give up some information.
7. Tell Your Secrets
I don’t mean how many cookies you really ate or what you do in the dark of night, but what you do when you’re in your customer’s shoes. If you’re writing how-tos, they’re probably fairly general. But now I want you to tell your readers how you do it. If you were going to tile your own bathroom, set up your own 401k or build your own website, how would you do it? What would you start with or think about? What specific tidbits have you necessarily left out of a more general guideline? Better yet if you have done it. There’s a ton of fodder there – what mistakes did you make? What horror stories can you share? What do you wish you had done differently? What worked really well? What tricks did you learn that made things easier? Every experience is another blog post.
8. Shoot A Video
Not an expensive, animated, high end video. One you sit down and do with your webcam. There’s no rule that says a blog has to be in writing, so “write” out loud. If you’ve got something on your mind, say it.
9. Do A Roundup
If you’ve been blogging for some time, do a “what you’ve missed” post that compiles the headlines and teasers of your top 10 or 5 most recent or 6 most underrated posts. Chances are someone out there has missed them and will be glad for the summary. Do this on a regular schedule and you’ve got a built-in topic that you can use over and over.
10. Explain A Price
If you’re in a service industry, you can have an entire lineup of blogs based on the cost of your services. We did that recently, when we covered the cost of a website. This doubles as addressing customer concerns and triples as a series. Many business owners hesitate to put price tags or even price ranges on their services, but I say don’t be afraid of it. If someone is scared off by the price tag, that’s probably not someone who would have done business with you anyway. Plus if you do this well and explain the rationale for your pricing, you can refer prospects to it when they ask you why something costs what it does.
11. Curate Content
Make a list of the five best blog posts or news stories you’ve read on a topic of interest to your audience. Add a snippet with your review or perhaps an opinion on the topic and a link to the source. You may even get some bonus attention that way, when other bloggers see you’re promoting them.
12. Review A Book
Remember all that great reading you’ve been doing (as per the advice in my last blog…)? Make it do double duty by reading and then reviewing. Talk about something that inspired you or that you completely disagreed with. This shouldn’t be a high school book report, so only do this about a book you particularly enjoyed… or particularly didn’t. Either way, it’s your passionate opinion that counts.
13. Ask A Question
This can be a question you really want answered, or it can be a hypothetical question that you plan to give your very strong opinion on. Why are orange doohickeys the best deal in town? How can orange doohickeys help you combat boredom? Take any statement or headline and turn it into a question. I guarantee your brain will want to answer it, and then your hand can write about it. In my industry we talk about social media a lot. A recent headline stated, “Facebook Purchases Instagram For $1 Billion.” You may read that and barely notice it. But turn it into a question: “Should Facebook Have Spent $1 Billion On Instagram?” And now it makes you wonder. Do this wondering out loud.
14. Challenge A Convention
I stirred up some pretty strong opinions recently when I wrote a post telling people that the best way to do social marketing was to stop engaging customers. I honestly didn’t expect the reaction. Mostly I was so tired of hearing the word “engage” and seeing so many people do it poorly that I wrote about it. But it sparked an interesting conversation – an “engaging” one, in fact. It must be something you can back up, either with fact or a reasoned opinion, but if there is some conventional wisdom in your industry that you can refute, do it. You’re not looking for agreement or a pat on the head. You’re looking to get people thinking and responding.
15. Make A Comparison
Do you offer more than one product or service? Compare them. Do you offer a product or service that has a competitor in the market? Compare those, too. Compare your orange doohickey to your blue one. Compare a WordPress website to HTML. A leather purse to the fabric one. A 401k to an IRA. If you sell Diet Aid A, compare it to your competitor’s Diet Aid B. Whatever you sell, give your customers the pros and cons of choosing it over a similar or competing product. Avoid the temptation to sell. No product or service is perfect and there are pros and cons all around. Customers are smart enough to know this and if you’re the one being honest, you’re the one they’re going to trust enough to buy from.
Bonus: Finding Ideas Wherever You Are
When you’re sitting there staring at a blank page or screen is not the time to start thinking of blog ideas. You should be thinking about blog ideas all the time. You don’t even need to be a workaholic to do it.
Once you get into a blogging mindset, a listening, watching and learning mindset, you’ll find that ideas practically generate themselves. You won’t be able to stand in line at the supermarket without thinking of a way to turn it into a blog post. Every magazine headline will scream “blog post!” Every time someone says something funny, stupid, interesting or odd it will start churning in your mind as fodder for a blog post.
That’s when having a notepad or an app comes in handy because you’ll want to capture your ideas immediately. I implore you not to wait until you get home or until you get in the car or until you get to your desk to write your ideas down. By then the inspiration and probably the entire concept in general will have passed.
Remember, you don’t need to blog about an idea immediately. You just need to be gathering ideas and adding them to your list. My list is pages long, but on any given day I don’t want to write about 99.99% of them.
It doesn’t matter.
The longer your list of ideas, the more you’ll have to choose from when it’s time to write. Then you can pick the topic that really does inspire you, the one that makes you feel passionate enough to sit down and pound out a few words.
I hope these ideas go onto your list and I fully expect to read some of your blogs about them later! If you have other ideas or story-starters up your sleeve, please share. Even I have days when I dislike 100% of the ideas on my list!
Join the discussion 21 Comments
And to all these great ideas I want to add: whatever you create, make sure it’s something your target audience will find valuable. Don’t talk about “How to use an orange doohickey” if your audience would prefer to read, “How the orange doohickey lowered overhead costs and boosted productivity.”
It’s a fine line, but one that bloggers should pay close attention. Know what your audience wants and provide it.
Absolutely right! The title is what will capture their attention and then obviously the content has to deliver. It’s important to know your audience first… and since I’m not entirely up on the orange doohickey industry, I didn’t exactly rock the headlines 🙂
But totally agree that the content must provide value and real information that people want.
Hi Carol, these are all great ideas. I particularly like to teach my readers something and also interview someone who my readers would find fascinating. I think you can’t go wrong with any of these concepts, especially if you keep in mind that you should write FOR your reader, not TO your reader.
Will definitely share this post!
Thanks, Bob, I appreciate that. It’s funny how sometimes I can share all this great advice and then next time I sit down to write I’ll think… eh, nothing to write about 🙂
I agree, it’s definitely about writing TO your audience. I wish I could remember who said it recently, maybe Sylviane or Adrienne… that you should sit down and write as if you’re writing a letter to a friend. It’s so much easier to do when you’re thinking of a person who will be reading what you write rather than just “writing” about some abstract topic. Good tip! Thanks!
With #7 it is nice to tell people about an embarrassing mistake. Every expert was new and did something wrong. You learned and never forgot. That is how you got to where you are today. It really can relieve the anxiety of your audience who may be struggling the same way you did once.
I love “lessons learned”. They can be tough to write because it can be tough to admit you did something that badly but they have a ton of value. Plus everyone loves stories, so there’s a double bonus!
Carol, this is awesome!! I love Roundup!! Never thought about posting about what people may have missed.. I will have to check your bog to see one that you have done! All of these are great ideas! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us 🙂
We haven’t done a roundup in a while, and the old ones were so old I actually recently deleted them! Mostly I wanted to start a new format, but the idea is to have the title and a teaser with a link. Another roundup idea is to aggregate similar posts, rather than chronological. So if you have 5 posts about, say, email marketing, you can create a roundup of the top 5 email marketing posts. Then you have a theme that can appeal to people who have a particular interest.
I really truly enjoy your posts every time. I know I’ve done two of your suggestions mentioned here, recently. Well, one has just start this last post where I am writing a series of 3 posts about how to turn a browser into a reader. This type of series, really make you going and forces you to write, and not go scrub the bathtub just yet 🙂
Three months ago I interview Barry Well and it turned out to be one post and a dozen videos. That was my first interview 🙂
Recently, Sonia, from logallot gave me the idea to write a post about how in the world I keep up with 3 blogs 🙂 Well, it’s just because I used to have 7 :)! But, jokes aside, yes, I am going to write a post about that – great idea given by another blogger.
I will definitely use some of the other ideas that you mentioned here.
Great job, Carol!
I’ve been reading your series and it’s a great idea. For starters it gives you three posts instead of one! But also it gives other people (and me!) something to look forward to and a good reason to come back to your blog. I should take my own advice and chop some of these posts up into series 🙂 But then I get impatient and I want to say it all at once.
Oh Carol, great tips… I can’t say I’ve used them all but quite a few and you’re right, they work great.
I love to tell stories and my secrets. Things most people would rather not share or they suggest that I should have people pay for that information. Heck no, give it away. Share the love with your readers and they’ll love you for it.
Okay, I have had my moments when I didn’t feel like writing. I admit that… But I’ve never lacked for ideas, that’s for sure. This list just gives me even more things I can think about so I’ll be bookmarking this one for future reference.
Great post Carol… Loved it!~Adrienne
Thanks Adrienne! Even the most verbose among us still need topics sometimes 🙂 I add to my long list of topics and ideas every day. Some days I want to write about everything and some days I hate them all. That’s why I find it helpful to have a few “tricks” – things like lists and true stories that there are always a lot of ways to spin.
I love all your stories, so keep ’em coming!
Hi Carol Lynn, These are great ideas. I don’t run out of ideas writing about tech, but these are very handy for those who need some inspiration. I love your suggestions and how they each point you in a different direction for ideas. When they stop inventing new tech, I may just run out of ideas so I’m bookmarking this post! Off to share it!
Well, given how many gadgets and gizmos and new software comes out on any given day, I bet you do have a lot to write about! In fact I bet you can get overwhelmed with how quickly things happen sometimes. Thanks for sharing!
So true, Carol Lynn. I can’t get to all the tech I want to write about. But it sure keeps life interesting. 🙂
By the way, make sure to enter your Twitter ID to your Buffer and tweet buttons so people can give you credit for your great articles! 🙂
Thanks, Carolyn, I’ll check out my share settings!
Hi Carol Lynn, What a spectacular post. Every blogger gets stuck. There are those dreaded days where my post is due and I have no clue or too much to say. This is a perfect outline of what we all need weather we are a beginner or a seasoned pro.
Writing a series is something I find is a great way to blog. It is taking one idea and explaining it in several parts. I find that when I’m passionate about a subject I write three or four pages about it. That I can break up into a series and sit back and relax for a while.
Also, writing a list of ideas is a wonderful suggestion. Lately I have used Evernote that organizes all my ideas. When I want to retrieve something it is so easy to do. It’s been a great time saver for me and helps me with my content.
Thank you for all your advice,
I use Evernote too, it’s a great way to jot down ideas. It’s funny that you said you write a few pages then break them up – I end up writing a few pages and I really SHOULD break them up! Actually that’s how this post came to be – I started writing about blogging and it got way too long so it ended up as 2, going on 3. Hope I can help spark some ideas for those deadlines!
very interesting post i really enjoyed reading it and thank you for sharing it with all the great points.
Hi Carol Lynn,
Great 15 Tips.Crystal clear post.Thanks for the post Carol.Keep it up.