You’re staring at a blank page. What should you blog about? You’re tired and fresh out of ideas. Where should you start?
There is a secret I use to come up with clever blogging ideas. When I see something on the street, when a friend complains because she or he can’t find the information they were looking for online, when I watch a video and a follow-up question pops into my head, I write it down. Some people like to use an app like Evernote, but I prefer a simple task list on my phone, which I can reach easily in my pocket or purse, wherever I am and whenever I have an idea.
Now, about filling up that blog idea list. Here are five tips I use that are designed to spark thinking and creativity.
1) Step away from your computer and go outside.
Walk through the park. Visit a coffee shop. Chat up a few local merchants. Eavesdrop and observe. What are people talking about? What’s on the TV over the bar? How are parents interacting with their kids? Is every other person walking a dog? Riding a scooter? Wearing the same kind of parka? These are all starting points for a blog topic. Write them down.
2) Read, watch, listen to, or participate in something different.
Read industry blogs—even the comment section can give you ideas. If you prefer nonfiction, read a magazine. If you hate network television, watch it for a week. Listen to hip hop or country or some other genre that’s new to you. Go bird watching or bowling. Take a trip to the beach when it’s snowing. The point is to jolt your brain into thinking differently. And when it happens, write down what it’s telling you.
3) Follow weekly best-seller and box office lists.
Find out what’s on people’s minds by following top sellers at the box office and in the book store. Popular culture shapes trends and interests. For instance, the Hunger Games books and films have generated an enormous upsurge in the number of teenagers who want to try archery. If that’s not a story in itself, perhaps you can develop a blog post using archery as a metaphor—taking aim, hitting the bull’s eye, etc. Write your ideas down in your notebook.
4) Research and engage with your audience.
Read polls to find out what’s concerning them right now. Conduct your own poll on Survey Monkey or some other platform. Ask your readers what they want to know about. Find out what irritates them. Check out the comments on the Huffington Post or whatever sites your readers visit. Has your audience changed since you last looked? Write down your insights.
5) Take a free ride on corporate advertising.
Mega corporations like McDonald’s, Proctor and Gamble, and automakers spend big bucks on customer research used to create their advertising. Identify companies that seem to be targeting the same audience as your blog, then analyze the content of their ads, websites, or blogs. If the content appeals to the same audience as yours, it’s reasonable to assume the content will make a good blog topic for your readers.
Also, be sure to write down every idea that crosses your mind, even if you think it’s uninspired. What seems silly today may connect brilliantly with something that happens a week or two later. There will be some ideas that you never use, but there will also be some you can turn into quality content that builds your readership and your blog’s reputation.
How do you come up with blog ideas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!