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2 1/2 blogging ideas for when you’re out of them

January 12, 2010
Just Full of Ideas

Source: Cayusa's Flickr page

The hardest part about blogging for me is posting every day. Even on days when I have a good idea, I can end up in shambles because I don’t have time to flesh it out and I don’t want to kill a good idea with a crappy post.

Fortunately, I’ve got two good fallback options and one half option that may come in handy if you’ve got the same problem:

1. Give props to your blogger friends

Promoting other people’s work never gets old.* Flip through your RSS reader (or whatever you use to browse blog posts) and if you aren’t particularly inspired by anything you read, think about the bloggers who usually do inspire you and write about them instead. People will appreciate the nod(s) and you may even get some extra traffic to your site.

*Promoting other people’s work does get old: when you do it all the time. If you want to make a week out of “tip of the hat” posts, I’d advise planning it out and wrapping some theme around it (“awesome blogger week!”) so people don’t assume you’ll keep going on like a broken record.

2. Give your readers something to do

If you don’t have any deep thoughts to share, give your readers something cool to use/look at/etc. Yesterday, when I was a little short on ideas, I posted this New York Times heat map of Netflix trends. My only rule for posting is: offer value. This way, you’re giving readers something you value (make sure you actually do) and that may benefit them in some way.

Bonus tip: If you’re one of those people who can’t stand to see a “tiny post” on your blog that’s short enough to reveal yesterday’s post on your home page (like me), adding a big huge photo will give you the illusion that you did more work. Keep in mind that this isn’t so much for the benefit of your readers (though maybe it is—I’ve heard photos tend to help drive consistent traffic) so don’t feel like you’re artificially inflating your content.

2.5. Keep your ideas on file

In essence, don’t let yourself run out of ideas to begin with (see? non-advice advice: a half idea). Whenever you have an idea, jot it down wherever you keep notes. I use a lot of stuff: Evernote, Tumblr, paper notes, the drafts folder in my WordPress blog, etc. I like to save my non-time sensitive posts and work on them a little longer because, well, why not? It’s like saving your triple red shells in Mario Kart—it’s better to hang onto them just in case you get into trouble.

Got tips of your own? I would love to hear them for myself and I’d happily Tweet them for others to hear, too.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 10:00 pm

    I put my ideas on good, old-fashioned pieces of paper. Lots of them. Strewn all over my desk. But, hey! It works!

  2. January 13, 2010 9:46 am

    Yeah, my desk is more or less the Tina Fey variety, too. I’ve heard Evernote can scan text that’s been photographed (i.e. take a picture of a sticky note with your iPhone and you’ll be able to search for the text that’s contained within the photo), but I’ve never seen it happen. Maybe I should start saving my written notes to it. I don’t know; I’m one of those disorganized organized people (maybe it’s a journalist thing).

  3. January 14, 2010 2:53 pm

    Great suggestions for stimulating ideas. It gets hard to turn out frequent meaningful posts. One other thought that seems to have merit is writing long in one setting and then distributing sections over time. A friend of mine does this. She writes long pieces and essentially serializes them for distribution over the course of a week. This helps here create consistency and keeps the conversation on topic for a period of time.

    Regarding notes and capturing ideas and inspiration I use a Mac and have found a product called Notebook by Circus Ponies to be a great tool for keeping notes, clips, ideas, etc. Easy to just drag and drop links, pdfs, etc and have it automatically organized. Another good resource for capturing and organizing ideas is Yojimbo — also for Mac.

  4. January 14, 2010 3:09 pm

    @Bill – That’s a great idea; I wish Bill Simmons would implement it. I’ll give it a whirl next chance I get.

    Thanks for dropping a comment!

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