For my second Blogging Behind the Scenes post, I thought I would share a bit about how I come up with blog post ideas – which feels like a natural extension of my post about how to blog five days a week (in fact, I started talking about these things in that post and then realized it was better off being a separate post). If someone were to ask me, how do you come up with post ideas?, my natural inclination is to say “they just come to me.” Which I know is an annoying answer, so I’m going to try to dig a little deeper into it for this post!
The funny thing to me is, I don’t have too much trouble coming up with blog post ideas, but when I try to come up with ideas for freelance articles for other publications, I find it practically impossible (which is kind of annoying, actually!). So maybe what that means is that instead of trying to come up with “ideas”, per say, just think in a more natural way. What are you interested in at the moment? What’s getting you excited, catching your interest? What’s occupying your mind?
What Are You Interested In?
For me, I’m obviously interested in/inspired by interior design. So I wrote about products I love, home tours I find inspiring, things I’ve done in my own space, and other things in that area. When it comes to blogging, I think it helps to have something that you really love and enjoy sharing and talking about. Similarly, I blog about my hobbies: reading, design, photography, exploring NYC. So think about your own hobbies and what you enjoy doing, and that’s a good place to start for post ideas and a blog focus.
Another important thing that can get ideas coming is to explore – explore the Internet, explore other blogs, explore Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, explore your own city. Read magazines, read a book, read a newspaper. You really never know what will spark an idea – I can’t tell you how many ideas of mine have been sparked by scrolling through Instagram or just “wandering” around the Internet, and suddenly you see something that you like or something that gets the wheels turning and before you know it, a post idea is born.
If you don’t have a particular passion or interest that translates easily to a blog, but you’re still interested in writing and sharing ideas, here are some brainstorming tips:
Share Your Expertise
Are you an expert in something? Posts that help people and solve a problem for the reader tend to do very well.
It sounds dorky, but search out writing prompts – one of my most popular posts came from a writing prompt from (the unfortunately now-defunct blog) The Well. I really wouldn’t have thought to write about that topic if not for the writing prompt, and it got a great conversation going in the comments section. Writing prompts can just get your wheels spinning in a different direction than usual, and there are tons of resources for them online if you just Google.
What’s on your mind?
Honestly, just what is on the top of your mind lately? You never know, it might be top of other people’s minds too, and they might really connect with what you write on the subject. That was the case for this post, and I was really pleased with the response that I got. Same goes for this post. It feels great to put out a post that evokes thoughtful comments, because you feel like you made a connection and offered something useful to your readers, plus again, it’s great to get a real conversation going.
Something I learned from my reader survey is that people want more personal posts, and I can totally understand that because I like reading personal posts as well. I think the reason why is that writing in a personal way or about a personal thought or issue – it’s the only thing you can offer that is truly unique. Here’s the thing: nothing is new and no idea is original. Everything you’ll blog about has probably been blogged about in some iteration before – but the one thing you can offer that is totally unique (and believe me, being unique is very necessary in the saturated blogging world), is you! Your thoughts, your feelings on a topic, what’s going on in your life. Nobody else can replicate that, and nobody else has blogged about that before. Like for instance, this post I’m writing right now. Believe me, there is a plethora of posts out there about how to come up with blog post ideas – probably thousands. But I’m telling you how I come up with ideas. And that is what hopefully makes this article unique and interesting, not a boring and done-to-death rehash of old ideas.
One caveat to the personal posts, though – I just read this article and think it makes a good point. Keep your posts relevant to your readers. People might not be super interested in what you did over the weekend, (unless you spent the weekend jet-setting around Europe or something) – but if you do something to make the post compelling (beautiful photography, perhaps, or making it into a bit of a city guide), the post will be personal but also helpful to readers. An interesting point that I hadn’t considered before reading that post.
Two last quick tips that I think are really helpful for trying to crank out quality posts: One, remember that not every post has to be a novel. Not every post has to have a full set of original photos, or be a completely groundbreaking idea, or be super long. Of course, some posts will be…and those are great and those are some of the ones I myself am most proud of – but readers don’t always have the time or inclination to read long posts every single day, especially if they read lots of blogs. You can take a favorite quote and make a Pin-able graphic out of it in Photoshop and that’s a post (I’ve done several of those). You can post a magazine spread or home tour that you’re loving, talk a little about why you love it, and boom. Quick post – it’s not too time-consuming, and you mix it in with other, more meaty posts. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be proud of every post you produce, and that it shouldn’t be your highest quality work, but just that they don’t all have to be in-depth and long. A lot of bloggers (again, myself included), do a Friday link round-up. That’s a fun way to pull together a post, and I’ve made some great connections with the people that I’ve featured! Just remember, some people like to read a quick post here and there – we’re all short on time!
That brings me to my second point – it really helps to have a series (or several), that you post every week on the same day. That way you don’t have to come up with an idea for that day (which can be half the battle), but rather just “fill-in-the-blank.” That’s how my Friday link posts work.
Make it Your Own
One caveat to all of this – remember to be original! Don’t just post a magazine spread – make it original by talking about what you think of the space that’s featured, why you like it, what you like best, etc. You always have to do something to make the post your own. With my link posts, I’ve found a lot of satisfaction in adding in some personal “life” updates. It makes it feel more original and personal – every blogger posts links but by sharing some insight into what’s going on in my life, it gives me a way to connect with my readers and makes the post completely unique to my blog.
I hope you guys found that helpful if you’re a blogger struggling for content ideas or you’re looking to start a blog. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments!
image source with graphics added by me
Thanks for this Jackie!! I’ve been having trouble thinking of content to post lately, and it’s just been rush-and-post-something which is stressful for me and it results in poor quality posts.
I have one thing to ask; what tips do you have for blog photography? Your pictures are amazing!
Just looking at your blog I feel mine needs a major makeover =)
Hi Megan! I would love to write a post with photography tips – do you have any specific questions you’d like me to address? It’s one of my favorite topics to chat about! And don’t feel bad – it takes a lot of time to get better at photography. You should see some of my old posts (actually, don’t)…yikes. Takes a lot of time and practice!
Well, in specific the makeup of a shot. Like, what should you put in the picture to make it look professional? Do you have tips for lighting? I think those are my two main questions.
Also, do you use photoshop to enhance them afterwards.
Great questions! Answers coming up next week 🙂
Great ideas! One I would add, that goes along with your “survey” idea, is to consider what you like most about the blogs you read. I do a “Friday Gratitude” post almost every week, because another blogger I read does something similar and I really like it.
So, I am curious, was the big blog expenditure you recently made related to your etsy shop, or is there something else coming down the line? 🙂
Really good idea, other bloggers are a great place to look for inspiration.
I’ll be posting about the purchase next week, it’s nothing too dramatic but wanted to talk a little more about it in a post!
As always, Jackie your post was spot on.
I like how you emphasised on being yourself and how you incorporate life updates into your Friday links posts.
Thank you so much Maria! I always like reading little life updates and even just random thoughts from other bloggers so I’m glad to hear it’s something you guys enjoy as well 🙂
A great post Jackie. Clear, logical; a “how to” on posting which provides us readers with your insights and reminds me why I read your blog; the topics you write about are thoughtful, insightful, interesting and, above all, fun.
Thank you so much!
Definitely appreciate this post! The past few months have been pretty quiet over on my site—for a number of different personal reasons, but also because I haven’t felt as creative or inspired. Thanks for sharing a few ideas to get me back up and running!
Ashley | Sunday Brunch
So glad this was helpful! There are so many things that can cause a blog to take a backseat, which is totally ok too. If it’s adding more stress to your life, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and I’ve done that many times. When it’s adding more happiness or helping you achieve other goals, that’s the time to step up the posting frequency I think. It ebbs and flows. Hope things are well with you! xoxo