Do you find yourself staring at your blog, wondering what you should write about? I used to, but now it’s a thing of the past. Actually it’s quite the opposite: My own WordPress admin console is full of blog post draft ideas I can’t write about quick enough! It’s not magic not difficult. Here’s how to you can totally summon the same blog writing inspiration.
Last year I started combining my usual writing about chocolate, cakes and baking with content about…insurance claims. Maybe you can imagine just how I felt (initially). It was quite a leap to say the least. Quite a challenge in terms of finding writing inspiration. Then I went back to the core principles of why I love writing blog posts. Suddenly, inspiration was flowing out so fast I couldn’t type quick enough! And yes, I’m still talking about insurance claims. A great example of this happened with a blog post I wrote about claiming on your insurance for a lost wedding or engagement ring. Turned out to be a fantastic blog post topic. I’m serious. So much so that I’m going to use it as an example to illustrate tried and tested tips you can follow – and never run out of inspiration on what to write for your blog. These tips and habits don’t cost a thing and will work (I think*) for any blog topic.
The most important thing to start is to stop thinking about what YOU WANT to write about. Instead, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Have a think about what they would find useful, funny, entertaining, encouraging, supportive, insightful, mind-blowing, clever, savvy. If you write with the goal of helping people in mind, in any of these ways, the topic itself nearly becomes “irrelevant”: Your goal and your brain will start to focus less on what you want to talk about, more on sharing your unique knowledge and expertise to help people answer a question or a problem. That’s the thing: Your unique knowledge will add value to someone else’s day – much more if you share it from the angle of what people are asking about. In the case of my insurance topic, I quickly realised that loosing your wedding or your engagement ring can be quite stressful and worrying/ I decided to focus my efforts on helping people with suggestions to find it first, as well a sharing practical advice on how to claim for it on your insurance. It might sound more boring than writing about painting with chocolate of course, but in the end, in both cases, you’re helping people and giving them solutions to a problem they are having, irrelevant of what the problem is. And immediately, this starts to feel rewarding and boost your motivation to write.
3.5 billion searches are performed on Google daily. (Check out the volume of Google searches happening today on Internet live here). So Google is very well placed to know what you and I are asking about in our day to day lives. You should totally use that ginormous mass of knowledge to inspire your writing. I particularly love 2 features on Google: Google search auto predict, which gives you a lot of ideas on what clusters of questions and topics people are asking about. Here’s what it looks like if you type “wedding ring lost”:
(Note that against some of the searches, you can see the volume of monthly searches and an estimate of how much it might cost you to bid for this keyword for paid advertising. I use the KeywordsEverywhere plug-in on my browser to get this insight. It’s free and a great little helper to see which of the suggested search terms are most popular).
Google questions are another great tool to turbo-boost your inspiration on any blog post topic. Let’s look at my example on wedding ring insurance claim again. I’m not particularly an expert on that topic. But when you type this “wedding ring lost claim insurance” in Google, not only you get a list of blog posts and articles that you can read to get initial ideas, you can check, click and expand “People also ask”. Do it. Do it. DO IT. It gave me lots of additional ideas of what people want to know about, from what to do if you’ve lost your wedding ring in your house and where to look for it, to whether you can claim for it on your home insurance or not….
Click on any of these questions and even more clues appear….
BLOG WRITING TOP TIP: If you are stuck on what to write for your next blog post, pay a visit to Google “People also ask”. Google questions are a gold mine of ideas for writing blog posts that people will be interested in reading.
I love Twitter. Twitter is great to understand what people are talking about in relation to the topics you want to write about. There are many ways you can leverage the power of Twitter to help you get more inspiration for your blog posts:
BLOG WRITING TOP TIP: Sprout Social has got more great tips on how to use Twitter effectively to help you find inspiration to write great blog posts.
Google is fantastic to help you with writing inspiration but if you want truly unique stories for your blog post, then there is no substitute for asking real people. How to get those? Just ask people around you. Especially if it’s a positive story (more on this later). People generally love to share happy ending personal stories if you ask nicely. When I was researching my blog post about wedding ring insurance claims, I put a note on my own Facebook wall and got fantastic real life stories to illustrate it, including this magical one:
Nancy Squires was living in St Lucia age 22/23. She recalls: “My English boyfriend proposed with a ring bought from the local emerald shop. We would spend many weekends at the beach and were there with some friends. They were all swimming in the sea, but I was a bit nervous so was pulling myself around in the shallows with my hands. I felt the ring slip from my finger, stopped in place and called to my friends to help look for it. Even though I had not moved my hand no one could find it, as it had slipped into the sand beneath the waves. We had to leave, but knew someone, who new someone from the local US Airbase who had a metal detector. He agreed to look for it. The next day a tropical storm came through whipping up the sea and the man could not get to the beach for 2 weeks. We went with him to watch. After about an hour he asked me to describe the ring and then said he had found it. I couldn’t believe it! 2 weeks later and right where I thought I had lost it there. And it was even more sparkly after having been tossed about in the sand for two weeks
I learned this tip from an ex journalist who’s now running a PR and marketing coaching group. Janet Murray’s online PR and marketing coaching platform has got tons of tips and idea to help you be more productive with your blog post writing. Despite having eaten my weight’s worth in podcasts and blog posts from her Studio, this early tip is still one of my favourite way to motivate myself when writing a post: Give yourself a deadline. Janet has got a blog post writing template where you break down your post into section and assign a finite amount of time to write each section. It’s very simple yet super effective. How does it help with writing inspiration? It makes you get things done. And when you get things done, you feel good about having achieved that task, so you are more likely to want to do it again, to get that feeling coming back.
Another great way to get inspiration around a blog post topic is to share a list of solutions to a specific problem. With my blog post on wedding ring insurance, the more I read conversations on Twitter, the more unusual places I saw people mentioning where they looked for (and often found) their wedding or engagement ring. Yet I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of all the places you can look for your lost ring in your house. So I created one, collecting all the suggestions people were sharing with each other across social media. Which brings me to my next point….
Once you’ve written your already great blog article, stay curious. Keep listening to conversations, make notes of anything new you hear that you haven’t mentioned in your post. Then set aside time to go back to it and make it better, time and time again. After I published the original list of 22 places to look for your lost wedding ring, I keep asking people where they found theirs when I cam across a conversation on that topic..And adding their suggestion to the list. The list is now 43 places long ans still growing, making it hopefully more useful each time.
Once you’ve written your blog post, treat it like a brioche dough. Leave it to rest overnight. Then come back to it and:
when you look at a blog post topic you could stick with providing helpful, new, updated data and research, share something new about your expert knowledge ….Of course I think you should do all of this. I also think that people love positive stories and are more likely to share happy ending ones, like this one:
Damian Cullen, Health and Family Editor at The Irish Times in Dublin, Ireland was cleaning the bedroom one morning and spotted a coin under the skirting board. Damian explained “Trying to get it out, I only managed to push it further in. Using the inside of a pen, I managed to coax it out and saw what I first thought was another coin behind it. It was my long-lost wedding ring!”
You might think it’s a bit “airy fairy” but after all, Chief Fairy is my official Twitter title. I like to sprinkle a bit magical happiness around….
There you go, my 9 top tips to get blog post topics inspiration constantly flowing out of your brain. Use these tips to gather lots of inspiration. You can apply them to topic research full days but also to as little as a weekly hour blast-off. Of course the longer you spend doing this, the more ideas you’ll collect, but you can achieve a great results in an hour. Sometimes more if you are the kind of person who gets motivated by a hard deadline. just keep coming back to it and practice them until they become second nature. As with most things in life, I’m a believer that a lot of your success comes from combining discipline, regularity and consistency.
BLOG WRITING TOP TIP: Keep “feeding” your inspiration bucket of blog post topic ideas. I’d personally say that it’s as good to block an hour a week practicing the tips above – then acting upon them, write one blog post and get it out there; than spending days or months doing tons of research that you then take…months to action. #Littleandoftendoesit
Breaking down the huge task of topic research into hourly bite size chunks, can definitely make it more manageable, fun (I tend to race myself against the clock….to the reward on a cup of coffee and a square of dark chocolate…) and impactful for your blog or your business. Perhaps it’s the greatest tip: Focusing yourelf on delivering improvements you can measure on a short time scale. To makes you feel more productive, which makes you feel good about your work and yourself, which motivates you to keep going, increase your efforts and keep the writing wheels turning on and on. Or perhaps on reflection I have already had too many cups of coffee today!
*(if there are topics you think this method won’t work for, let me know!)