Have you ever had bloggers block? If so – you’re not alone. Almost every blogger I’ve ever asked has admitted to having it at least once!
Below is some practical tips on how to break through it (including a little homework to action it).
Recently I was speaking with a blogger of a ‘how to‘ type blog who told me that he’d been struggling over the last few weeks with coming up with things to write about.
We chatted for 15 or so minutes about a range of things he could do to break through the problem but one that we kept coming back to was the idea of identifying problems to solve for his readers.
“Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem a turned it into an opportunity.” Joseph Sugarman
It’s not rocket science but almost every time I sit down to write any blog post on my blogs I start off by identifying a problem that I or my readers have and then try to write a post that solves that problem.
In my experience – when you solve a person’s problem you’re going to create an impression upon them and have every chance of them thinking of you (and your blog) next time they come up against a problem.
Solve enough problems over time for a person and you’ll find them coming back again and again… and bringing others back with them too.
Of course for some bloggers identifying a problem that readers have is easy but for others coming up with a problem every single day to solve is tougher.
7 Ways to Identify Readers Problems to Solve
In my ‘31 Days to Build a Better Blog’ eBook Day 16 is all about solving a readers problem and in it I share 7 ways to identify these problems.
Here’s the headings (I write more on each one in the eBook but hopefully just the titles will give you some clues):
- Solve Your own problems (what problem did you have a year or two ago that you’ve solved?)
- Look for questions in search referrals (what people search Google for to arrive on your site can give insights)
- Analyze internal searches (use a tool like Lijit to track the internal searches on your site)
- Ask Readers for their Questions (run a survey, poll or even a focus group with readers)
- Look on other Sites in your niche (the questions people ask on forums can be particularly good)
- Use Social Media to Gather Questions/Problems (this is a gold mind – just do a search on your topic)
- Ask Family and Friends (the people around you will often give you great ideas on this)
4 More Tips to Breaking Bloggers Block Through Identifying Reader Problems
Here’s four more tips on how to identify problems among your readers that I’ve not written about previously:
- I personally find that coming up with ‘problems’ to solve is easier done when you put aside half an hour or so and come up with a whole heap of them. Put aside time to ‘Brainstorm’ or ‘Mindmap’ the problems your readers might have and come up with a list of them so that you’ve always got a supply of them when you need to write a post.
- I would also highly recommend that you create some kind of system for capturing and recording the problems you see your readers having. I have a folder inside dropbox that I constantly am adding notes to which contain topics, questions, problems etc that I could write about one day. I know other bloggers use physical notebooks while others use apps like Evernote.
- As you’re writing posts be on the look out for tangents or questions you ask yourself while you’re writing. I often find that when I’m writing a post that there are ideas hitting me that I can’t include in the post that I’m writing but that could be good to do a followup post on – capture them!
- It is more than ok to come back to an idea that you’ve written about before to build upon. In many ways that is what I’m doing with this post. I took 7 ideas I’ve written about before above but am also adding new material to it based upon what I’ve learned since writing previously on the topic.
HOMEWORK for Bloggers with Bloggers Block
If you have bloggers block I challenge you to put aside 15-30 minutes to go on a ‘problem hunt’.
Choose a couple of the 7 places I mention above (my favourite is starting with identifying my own past and present problems) and see how many you can come up with.
In doing so you’ll also be creating a list of posts to write.
Let us know how you go in comments below!
Thanks for the great tips, really helpful. I often ask myself what I can do to help my readers walk through my website. Often I don’t really see a problem and then I get several Emails of people asking me what to do. Usually that’s the moment when I contact my programmer to make the site more user friendly.
Oh, this is so useful! I love the “problem solving” approach. I am already in the habit of carrying a little notebook around for ideas (if I see something that motivates me) but I find the suggestions here really empowering! Rather than wait for the idea to come to me… I can set aside some time every day to brainstorm!! Fabulous! Sometimes we need someone else to tell us the obvious… so…thank you!
Great post Darren. I find that meditation and relaxation exercises help with creativity. Sometimes we can try too hard to think of what to write about. Just closing your eyes and breathing slowly and deeply whilst counting the breaths can really help the mind consciously escape the “problem”. Meanwhile the subconscious is thinking about what to write about. Usually the idea will just hit you out the blue without you realising that you were subconsciously thinking about it.
Most of the ideas for a new post comes from comments section of my post. I think you should add that.
So here are problems I found
1) From past – How to start a blog, will people like me or I need inspiration to write.
2)From Search referrals – Why was my adsense account banned.
5)Forums – I get 100s of visitors when I submit on reddit but 100% bounce rate.
6)Social Media – How will Panda effect my page rank
7)Family and Friends – How much are you earning? That is their only problem :P
Love this! I agree with the point about tangents. Some of my best post ideas have come while writing a completely different post. I think to myself, “Hey, I should do a how-to for THAT too!”
Thanks for the great advises Darren.
I have some ideas as my post topic, my problem is how to stay focused to start write them down. There are too many distraction when we open internet now, starting from Twitter, Facebook and reading other blogs itself. Despite I write more often in my mother language blog, but now I want to get more focus on this new blogging focused blog written in English.
Any time mastering tips gurus want to give me help? Thanks before :)
Great stuff, Darren.
Another good tip is to look at what your competitor’s social audiences are asking them. On Twitter, you can monitor their @ mentions that include a question mark (using the advanced Twitter search).
This is good Darren,
Another tip that works well to break the block is to use the internet waayback machine.
Search your keyword and look up what the biggest news articles were saying in the past.
This always uncovers excellent points that you would have never otherwise though about.
thanks for the great advice, i especially liked that you use mindmapping to coming up with problems to solve.Brainstorming like you said is a fantastic way to get your problem ideas on paper and tackle them one by one. I also liked your idea of having notebooks in dropbox to record and capture problems your readers are having, nice.
I like to write a daily problems sheet out on normal paper so i know what problems i had that day and then create a plan of attack for each problem.
thanks darren, great content
all the best
Thank you so much for this! I’ve been struggling to come up with things to write about lately. I will test the ‘problem hunt’.
Nice post Darren.. You are right that we can get nice ideas only when we think about solving problems for ourselves and readers…. I will implement the same with my blogs too.
Gosh – bloggers block sounds really good: it might stop me coming up with so many ideas LOL.
I have to be strong to stop myself going off at tangents. :-|
For example, I have been planning a 13-week coaching course. Then weeks 3 and 4 became bigger and bigger – and before I knew it, I was off planning a 30-video course for that topic!
Nice – I have lots of new material planned – but ten days went past. doh!
Now back on track.
I know a lot of bloggers do have trouble thinking of what to write about. So that is a useful post.
I think this is one thing we as bloggers have to remember, that at the end of the day we are solving peoples problems. All businesses are based around that. I constantly use my own problems and visit other blogs and forums to find issues that people want help for. Thanks for the great post, Darren!
It helps if you’re actually a member of your own niche and thus can spot problems that readers may have (I’m always amazed at people who write about something they’re not really into, just because they think they can make money at it)! It’s not always handy for me to write an idea down, but if it’s a product or a situation, I’ll pull out the smartphone and take a quick photo as a reminder.
Another thing that I do is make the “contact me” quite visible on the site and in the newsletter (and make a point of responding to comments on FB so people know they can contact me there) — I get lots of questions from readers that spark ideas for articles or even series (and if they’re asking, it means that they’re not finding what they want on the site, even if it’s there — which can mean I need to make it easier to find the info).
But I go further and use this as a way to cement a relationship with a reader — if something they said gave me an idea for an article, I offer to send them a thank you gift of a reusable grocery bag. This ties in perfectly with my blog (cooking on a boat) AND has a nice big bright-colored logo on it as a bit of advertising! Others in the marina or grocery store see the bag, ask about it . . . and the original writer of course sees it every time they use it . . . and slowly it builds more traffic. They become my most loyal readers and real ambassadors for the blog. Double win for me: post ideas and cementing the relationship with readers!
Excuse my poor english…, but:
Thank u for all your wonderful postings about “Blogging”.
I don’t tend to get bloggers blog very often because one of my blogs (the main one) is a technology news site, so it’s actually very easy to not get writers block!
Thanks for the cool tips. For me, when comes to blogger block, problem solving is not my immediate focus. Instead, this is what I do as a little trick : I will go to my bookshelf and pick a book (any book) and just open to a page (randomly) and focus on the first word or phase that comes to my eyes and expand the post from there…. Sky is the limit! ;-)
Thanks Darren for an awesome post! I really liked the idea of capturing questions I ask myself while I’m writing. It really saves a lot of energy & saves unique ideas from getting lost.
I use tools like Quora to find out what problems people really have. Using tools like Qualaroo to gather the data on which topic blog readers would like to have the next post on is a great deal. Asking questions on the Facebook page. To monitor this on Twitter I like using InboxQ to find people asking questions about things in my niche. Also blog comments help a lot in this field.
Thanks again for an great post Darren :)
Darren, awesome post. How long do you spend to write an article. Looking forward to implementing your tips.
Writer’s block is something we can all relate to. This is a great tutorial for getting the most out of your blog.
Thank you for this article, Darren. It’s so easy to get caught in a blogger’s block but implementing your tips can sure help one.
In blogging for niche markets, I often hit that idea roadblock, and turn straight away to socia media to conjure up my next set of problems to solve. Twitter is a particular goldmine, even for long tail queries. Where would we be without it?
I’ve written about this before and I commend you for doing the same, bloggers block has killed many potential blogging superstars but with the right strategies it is easily overcome. I recommend using these ideas:
Use Google search and see what it suggests from your keywords, there could be a post in them.
Use comment sections on your own blog and others in your niche to find out about people are struggling with.
Ask your readers what problems they’re having or what they’d like you to write about.
Really glad you’ve written about this problem and if it stops one more blogger giving up then I commend you.
Nice tips. I’ve been blogging about WordPress for few months and I found it interesting as I got so many ideas to write on when solving problems when building clients’ websites.
ps: No doubt that writer’s block is a huge challenge for any type of bloggers, even for those who have been blogging for few years.
This is something I’ve been actively trying to do with the company blog that I write for. When I first started, I spent a lot of time writing articles I thought would be interesting or fun but, over time, I’ve shifted the focus so the articles are more relevant to what we can actually offer.
Since the company I work for sells printers, I thought that focusing more on what we do would be boring but the “boring” articles are the ones that get the most traffic. Now, I’m taking it a stage further by researching the problems our customers have and writing articles which address these problems.
Blogger’s block used to be an issue but it is much less so now; finding interesting things to write about can be hard but there’s no shortage of problems to solve.
Thanks for the great tips. Also we have adding keyword rich blog articles on site http://www.expertseocompany.co.uk/articles/
Also was trying finding new ways for expansion. Your tips can be of great help
Thanks for sharing the wonderful post. It is always easy when you already have the piece or ideas for the post stashed somewhere and thinking of problems to solve.
What a great idea!!! I am going to try this the next time I get stuck.
great post! Thank you, it was very helpful!