My Blog This Year or: A Lesson in How Not to Succeed as a Writer
There’s a few secrets to success as a writter or especially a blogger, such as: post a consistent number of posts over time, write about topics that are timely, popular and you’re passionate about, and when in doubt, just write!
As you can see from scrolling through my blog, I’ve failed at all of these! I sat down and asked myself - why am I so horribly inconsistent with writing new blog articles? Is it lack of time? No, I make time to keep Twitter and other social media channels updated. Is it lack of interest? No, writing and blogging have always interested me. Finally, I realized, it’s that I have no idea what to write about, or the topics I do pick to write about are so daunting that I find myself overwhelmed and never writing.
So, I’ve decided to do a bit of research on how great bloggers find topics and use that not only as a jumping off point for a revival of my blog, but also as a topic idea for an article - this article.
How Great Bloggers Find Topics
So, I started simple - with a Google search for how do great bloggers find topics. My first result, interestingly enough, is Google Alerts - the service from Google that will email you any time a search query you’re interested in has new results. Interesting idea, but then I see the 2nd result is from @copyblogger - if you’re not familiar with copyblogger, the best summary of what Brian and his team does comes from a tweet earlier today: “We should just go ahead and designate @copyblogger as the official professional associateion for content marketers.” In other words, the guys and gals at copyblogger know a thing or two about generating great content.
The copyblogger article is titled 50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics and I highly recommend reading it. I’ve broken their suggestions down into a few different categories that I find helpful:
- Challenging Others
- Challenging Yourself
Finding New Blog Topics: Reading
A number of the ideas mentioned in the copyblogger list involve reading - reading Google Alerts, newspapers, magazines, small publications, trade publications, competing sites, your comments, competitors comments and your social media networks. You’re looking for topics that other people are writing about, and either writing about the topic yourself or even writing a reaction, agreement or disagreement with another author.
Finding New Blog Topics: Synthesizing
Taking the content you read or see and synthesizing it into new ideas is another source of a number of the ideas on copyblogger’s list, such as asking yourself what’s missing or what will happen next about a hot topic or even mining your hobbies for a unique take on a topic - the great example given by copyblogger here is a post titled 7 Things I Learned About Business From Playing Bejeweled Blitz.
Finding New Blog Topics: Networking
Networking and mining your network for topics is another frequent suggestion in the copyblogger list, with suggestions like talking to a friend, joining a blogger’s group, scanning industry conference schedules for topics , interviewing someone, debating another blogger in your industry or take part in an industry networking or local community event. This gives you a chance to get topic ideas from people who are actively involved in your industry while getting out from behind your computer to engage other parts of your brain in some creative brainstorming for topics.
Finding New Blog Topics: Challenging Others
In addition to challenging someone to a debate, copyblogger mentions riffing on a popular post, challenging your readers to overcome a pain point or problem they face, weighing in on a controversial topic in your industry, asking a question about an industry topic you’re undecided about or even just holding a poll to ask your readers what they’d like you to write about.
Finding New Blog Topics: Challenging Yourself
Perhaps the most challenging of copyblogger’s entire list of techniques for finding great blog topics are the items that cover challenging yourself. These range from the simple - getting out from behind your computer and out of your comfort zone - to techniques that greatly challenge many of us, such as no longer worrying you’ll look dumb, forcing yourself to just write something or even talking about your own mistakes. These techniques show your unique personality and help humanize you to your readers, so while they’re not the easiest techniques to apply, they can have the greatest results.
Practical Usage - New Blog Topics
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to challenge myself to use these ideas, and especially these 5 overall themes I’ve picked up from the copyblogger article to write consistently about topics I hope you find interested. Catch me on Twitter as @JoshuaSWarren or post a comment here if you have any feedback or topics you’d be interested in!