We've all had one of those days where we just can't figure out what the heck to blog about. An editorial calendar can work great, but how do you come up with ideas to fill it with in the first place?
Today I'm sharing 5 foolproof ways to come up with kickass post ideas so you never have to worry about running out again.
Be sure to stick around til the end! I've also got a free bonus gift for you!
1. Know your WHY.
I know, I know. I sound like a broken record because I say this all the time. But it's such a vital part of any blog or biz. To create a blog with impact, you gotta know your WHY.
Your WHY shapes every aspect of your brand. It defines your purpose and goes much deeper than "to share my DIY projects" or "to create beauty tutorials."
- WHY do you want to share your DIY projects? Is it because you know how expensive home decor can be, and you believe college students like yourself should be able to have their own unique decorations that they can feel proud to display?
- WHY do you want to create beauty tutorials? Did you struggle with your self-image and now want to help other women feel beautiful and confident in their own skin?
Your WHY is the driving force behind everything you do - every blog post, every product, every service, every single piece of content you create. It's the very core of your entire brand.
- Your WHY defines your purpose.
- Your WHY shapes who you are and what you do.
- Your WHY makes you stand out from the crowd.
- Your WHY connects you with other like-minded people and those you can help most.
- Your WHY prevents you from giving up when things get tough.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What do I value?
- What problems do I want to solve?
- Who do I want to help?
- Why do I care about this? Why is it important to me and to others?
- What's the one thing I want someone to know after visiting my blog for the first time?
Related Post: How to Overcome the Fear of Starting a Blog (Includes a free worksheet to help you define your WHY)
2. Know your audience.
If you don't know who you're creating for, then figuring out what to create can be nearly impossible. Get to know your target audience REALLY well, and then create content specifically for them. I find one of the best ways to do this is by creating an ideal reader.
When you know who your audience is, you're able to produce content that's helpful, effective, and shareable.
"Whoa whoa, wait a minute," you might be thinking. "I want to help as many people as I can! How will writing for only ONE person do me any good???"
I'm glad you asked! ;)
Think of it this way:
Do you identify with the values, ideas, hobbies, hopes, dreams, or personality of someone else?
I’m gonna guess...yes!?
While we’re all unique individuals, we can share many similar traits with others. Others will identify with your ideal reader. They will benefit from the same things your ideal reader would because they're similar in some way or another.
It's commonly said that when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. You can't be afraid to turn away those who aren't the right fit. This is how you'll attract the RIGHT audience. The people you can help most. YOUR people.
Related post: 6 Steps to Creating Effective, High-Quality Content
3. Research the common pain points of your audience.
Now that you know who your audience is, it's time to figure out what they need most. Luckily, there are tons of ways you can go about doing this.
- See what people are talking about on social media. What questions are they asking? What frustrations do they have? Twitter chats and Facebook groups are great places to start!
My Favorite Twitter Chats
#CreateLounge by Kayla Hollatz - Wednesdays @ 8PM EST
#ElleChat by Elle and Co. - Thursdays @ 8PM EST
#FireworkPeople by We are Firework People - Tuesday @ 9PM & Wednesdays @ 3PM EST
#NectarChat by The Nectar Collective - Every other Wednesday @ 9PM EST
My Favorite Facebook Groups
DYOB: Blog Beautiful
The Badass Solopreneur Society
- Do some profesh "stalking" and go through your readers' blogs. Are you finding similar problems or areas that could use improvement? Then babe, you've got yourself a shiny, new blog post idea! ;)
- Make note of what people are asking you specifically. This one's an absolute gold mine for idea nuggets. What do you receive emails or comments about? You can even go one step further and ask your audience directly what they're struggling with. I do this by asking questions at the end of my blog posts and emails, as well as by creating surveys (I love using Typeform for this!).
Don't be too quick to pass up on using someone's question for future content only because it isn't commonly asked. If someone has a question about it, odds are others do too. And they might not even know it until you show them the answer!
4. Take massive brain dumps regularly.
Did that sound kinda gross? Ehh maybe. But it gets my point across.
What is brain dumping, you ask? It's basically another way of saying "free writing," except it's funnier, which makes it way better.
Brain dumping is my favorite way to come up with new ideas because it's so. freaking. effective. If you've never tried it before, here's what I want you to do:
Write non-stop for the next 10 minutes. No pauses. Don't even go back to edit spelling or punctuation. Write everything comes to mind even if it makes no sense or seems totally insignificant. Heck, you can even write "I don't know what to say" over and over again until you do. Just don't stop writing.
If you're a fellow perfectionist, I know this probably sounds like the worst thing ever. Yep, I can see you cringing at the mere thought of it, eye twitch and all. I totally get it because I used to be the same way.
But keep in mind that this isn't a blog post, so don't pressurize yourself by thinking that it needs to be. This isn't even a first draft of your blog post. It's a separate exercise altogether that gets your writing muscles a-workin' without fear of trying to sound perfect. No one else is ever going to see this but you, and even you don't have to read it if you don't want to!
This type of writing has 3 main benefits:
- It gets your fingers moving and back into the flow of writing.
- It gets all of your thoughts out of your head, clearing your mind in the process.
- It gives you a starting point for future blog posts and content.
90% of my brain dumpage is pretty much crap (no pun intended). But that's okay! Because within all the ramblings, there are lines and sections that I can refine later on. These can be used for...
- Blog post content
- Blog post titles
- Instagram descriptions
- Facebook updates
- Static pages (ex. Your about page)
- Sales pages
- Email content
- Email subject lines
- Video or audio recordings
- Content upgrades
- Webinar content
And whatever else you can think of. Sky's the limit, baby!
Related Post: 7 Ways to Stop Procrastinating & Start Blogging
5. Write detailed notes and ideas the moment they come.
When I first started out, I would jot down a few words for an idea and leave it at that. But then I’d come back later and be like, “Uhhhh...what was that supposed to be about again?!?”
Those notes didn't get me anywhere and sent me right back to square one.
Instead of vague notes, write with as much detail as you can. Include anything and everything that's on your mind at the time. This is a great way to get into the same creative mindset when you come back to it.
Things you can include:
- What you're doing at the moment
- What sparked the idea in the first place
- Basic points you might want to cover
- Potential images or other resources to create/include
- People to interview
- Examples or additional content to link to
- Possible end results or goals
These can be added to your notes to make them meatier and give you a better starting point. You don't have to include all of them. Just whatever your original idea includes.
Keeping a notebook on hand at all times is a guaranteed way to make sure you can always record down any ideas that come to you. If this isn't possible, a basic note-taking app or voice memo on your phone can work just as well.
And if you're thinking, "Nahhhh, I don't need to do that. I've got an awesome memory!", think again. I used to tell myself that every time. I thought I'd remember all those juicy details, no problem. Guess what? I NEVER did.
Don't risk losing your ideas! Just write them down. Trust me, you'll be so glad you did.