Struggling to find ideas for your blog post writing? If you feel you're suffering from an inescapable bout of writers' block, here are 10 ways you can refuel your mind and start thinking outside the box...
1. Create a Content Pool
Otherwise known as a 'brain dump'. Open yourself up a Word or Pages document, or download a notetaking app like Evernote, and set yourself up a content pool. Even if you don't have anything to add to it right now, go ahead and create the content pool. You'll be glad you did when the time comes to jot something down because this will be where you will house and store up all of your content ideas, no matter how great or small. A content pool can be as simple or as complicated as you would like it to be. Start out with whatever dry and dull ideas you can pull from the murky depths of your writers' block-contaminated lake, and put them into your clean content pool, even if they are just one-worded and non-descript. Look at the words you have written and then try to break them up into multiple different titles. The more you expand on the ideas you note down, the more blog post titles you will create and the easier it will be to put them into categories!
2. Head to Pinterest
Pinterest is one of my own personal favourite places to source ideas. Pinterest is the internet's definition of 'inspiration'. Search just about anything and you will get an abundance of images and web links that can generate ideas for you. If you really are stuck, to begin with, try simply searching for 'inspiration' and see what comes up. You might be able to kick your brain into gear reading those motivational quotes! Ideally, you would look for inspiration within your niche when racking your brains for a blog post idea, so try searching for a few words, or short-phrases, relating to what you like to talk about. Be sure to pin all of these ideas to a specific board on your account so that you can make sure you have a reference to come back to - a visual notebook or content pool, if you like!
3. Refer to Stock Image Libraries Online Like Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash
If Pinterest has got you feeling like your ideas might not be 'original enough', head to over to sites that feature stock photos that can be used freely under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License and generate some ideas from them yourself. There are thousands of photos and tags to scroll through, so see what catches your eye. Think about how the picture makes you feel, what you think could be going on in the image...then turn it into a post! Photos under the CC0 License means you can essentially use them to your hearts' content. Always make sure you double check the information to make sure you are using the images correctly when featuring them on your website or social media channels, but who says you can't gather inspiration from them just by browsing?
4. See What's Trending on Social Media
Whether you're a loyal Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Facebook user, check the latest trends by viewing the most used hashtags. See what's being talked about the most, right here and right now, around the world. You can even go as far as to conduct a Google Trends search to see what is getting the most hits on Google's endless search terms library. Some of you, like myself, who have been on the Internet for a long time, will remember this software as Google Insights. This powerful tool is completely free to use and can help you to see what is trending worldwide or in any country of your choice. If you want to get smart with your blog post writing, see where the most search hits are for a particular term and target it their way - go go go! Don't wait; trends are exactly what they say they are, so get onto something big before it blows up!
5. See What's On TV
I don't want to encourage anybody to become a couch potato, but watching television can truly expand your knowledge and broaden your horizons. There are always insightful documentaries you can watch for ideas, whether you are into your history, science, business or crime and investigation. Watch the news as another great place to look, especially if your concern is for political or current affairs. Whatever it is you are into, there will inevitably be something you can draw content ideas from. But what about so-called 'trashy TV'? Cynics will question whether entertainment and reality shows are actually worth watching and how could they possibly make you smarter. You know what I say? Look outside the box, so to speak. Ask yourself: What are the people on the show wearing? What are they talking about? Where are they? How have they decorated their homes? How do they run their businesses? Yes, I am saying you can definitely get inspiration from The Real Housewives..., Geordie Shore and more shows of the like!
6. Write About Something You Are Passionate For
Your blog post inspiration doesn't just have to come from external sources. Think about the things that you experience in daily life, good or bad, that you would like to share. Complaining about people turning up at the self-checkout with a full weekly shop might not be something your friend wants to hear, but you can bet your bottom dollar the Internet wants to know about it. Look at Buzzfeed, where do you think they churn much of their ideas out from? However, I expect most of you are not here to write about any old spiel. The chances are, you've come here as a business owner or a lifestyle blogger of some kind. You want your content to be engaging and relatable, so think beyond the checkout scenario (unless that's the kind of thing you are going for) and look at bigger issues. If you are a chef or a food blogger, why not write about food in different cultures, or sustainability in food production? As a fashion blogger, write a post about your passion for ethically-sourced clothing and share your favourite clothing brands that fit this description. You can be a gaming blogger experiencing a bit of a drought until the next title comes out, so write about what a certain series means to you! Writing about your passion barely requires inspiration at all - you've already got it, so go for it and find readers who can relate to your words!
7. Read Books
Whatever your niche, whatever your drive and ambition, reading books is an excellent way to draw inspiration. Reading books in your field will give you a greater understanding of what it is you want to talk about, which will translate into a relationship of trust with your readers. They read your content because they believe you know your stuff! They want to come away from an article having gained some valuable information, even if that inspiration is about how to repurpose yoghurt pots around your home. You can also read books from fellow entrepreneurs, established businessmen and women or distinct public figures to get ideas. There's no need to copy them or to feel as though you are on the wrong route by not completely following their journey the same way. Just take some motivation away and think about what you learned, personally, from that book. How can you immortalise that revelation in your own words to help other people? But if you're still stuck, or if you were just truly blown away by the book itself, try thinking about writing a review.
8. Read Magazines
Magazines will also spur you on with some ideas. In this day an age there are so many magazines available to read online and some have special free e-zines that can be sent straight to your inbox each month. Just think, every month you could be getting a new lead for a completely original blog post for free! Read a wide variety of magazines that cater to your (and your readers') interests. Trade magazines, technology magazines and lifestyle magazines can all produce great leads. In addition, we've already talked 'trashy telly', now we're talking gossip mags. If there is a Dear Deidre section in your magazine, what do people need advice for?Have you got a solution? If you have, translate it over into a blog post.
9. Read Other Blogs
In the same vein, make sure you follow other blogs. They say to be a writer you should be a reader. It would be quite difficult to manage a blog without knowing what a blog does or should look like, wouldn't it? Just when you thought you didn't need more inspiration, your favourite blogger just came out with a new blog post that has got your mind working. See what other people are saying in the comments section and take advantage of it. What do people need to know more about? It goes without saying really. In a digital world chock-a-block with blogs, you need to be a little ruthless, especially if you want to earn money or grow your readership. Always write your posts with a motive in mind - what new information can I bring to this topic? Don't just churn out the same material as your idol blogger. Expand on it and share it like nobody's business!
10. Talk to People
Talk to people, your friends, your followers, your readers. Ask them what it is they want to hear. This is a classic way to get easy ideas. I'm sure you've seen content creators holding polls on social media, seeking out content ideas. It's tempting to think that they've probably just run out of steam, just like you have, but look at it from another side. Have they really just run out of ideas, when they could just as easily implement all of the suggestions above? Of course, they haven't. It's that same thing again. The principle behind any blog or website is to capture readers' attention and to make them stay long enough to engage fully with the site. By appealing to their followers to ask them for content advice, they are really just positioning themselves in the appropriate target market and seeing what topics can earn them those views and follows. You should do the same. Like I said before, you can simply ask your friends - you don't need thousands of followers in order to get feedback.
I hope you found this blog post 'inspiring' and that these tips gave you a few content ideas. I will be talking more about inspiration in future blog posts, so stay tuned to hear more. Remember, as long as you're not downright imitating someone's work or thoughts, you are gaining inspiration, turning a small idea into a view-count machine or even a potential money maker!