This is the third post in a series on taking your blog to the next level.
Image by …rachel…
“How do I keep posts flowing on my blog?”
This is a question that most bloggers face at one point or another – particularly bloggers who have been blogging for 6-12 months.
The reality is that there comes a point where most bloggers feel either uninspired, unmotivated, that they’ve got ‘bloggers block’ or that they’ve said everything that there is to say on their chosen topic. This is something that we’ve all felt at one time or another – so what does a blogger do about it?
The first thing that I want to encourage you with is that all is not lost. Every blogger has this challenge at one point or another (in fact most of us face it regularly) and it is possible to break through it. They key is to persist through the tough times – something that many bloggers do not do.
At this point it is important to sit down and work out how you will generate content going forward. There are a number of strategies that come to mind for doing so – all of these I’ve used at different points and I hope that some will give you inspiration and a way forward:
1. Mind Mapping
My favorite technique for coming up with new topics is using mind maps. I outline my mind mapping technique here but in short the technique is that you take one post idea (one from your archives perhaps) and then brainstorm ways that that topic can be expanded upon into numerous new topics. You then take some of those new ideas and think about ways that they too can be expanded upon into new posts. This technique can literally help you identify hundreds of new topics to write about.
Whether you use Mind mapping or some other kind of brainstorming technique the key is to set time aside to do it. I try to do this at the start of each week and find that if I do that the writing task for the week ahead is a lot smoother – sometimes just coming up with the ideas is as hard as the writing of posts.
2. Involve Readers
One of the resources that a blog who has an established readership has (remember we’re writing this series for these types of blogs) is that it has a knowledge based within it’s readership that can be drawn upon in a variety of creative ways to help create content for your blog. There are a lot of ways to do this – but here are a few:
- Guest Posts – in every 100 or so readers there is bound to be 1 that has the knowledge, expertise, motivation and skill to contribute posts to your blog. The key is to identify them and give them the confidence to contribute a post to your blog. Pay particular attention to those leaving comments on your blog. You’ll find that some comments just go the extra mile and contain wisdom and depth that are not far off being the standard of actual blog posts. Also don’t be afraid to invite contributions by writing post asking for guest posts or having a page linked in your navigation inviting contributions.
- Reader Questions – stuck for a topic to write about? Ask your readers to ask questions. A post inviting reader questions can draw out some great ideas to write about.
- Community Written Posts – one of the things that I’m loving about Digital Photography School at the moment is that some of our best posts are actually ones that our readers provide the majority of the content and teaching for. My role is not to ‘write’ the content for these posts – but to ask a question and set some boundaries for a discussion – and then open it up for readers to add their suggestions. Examples: How do I take band promotional photos?, How Would You Photograph a Funeral? and How to Photograph Grandma?
3. Explore new ‘Voices’
One way to break out of a rut as a blogger is to experiment with new types and styles of posts. Sometimes doing so can unleash creativity and new ideas. So if the majority of your posts are ‘tips’ posts – try an opinion piece. If you always write ‘news’ type posts – why not try something with a bit of humor or controversy.
Further Reading: I’ve outlined 20 types of blog posts for bloggers battling bloggers block here to give you a little inspiration.
4. Update Previous Posts and Topics
Even after a few months of blogging you can hit a point where you feel like you’ve covered most topics in your niche. Many bloggers get to this point and simply give up the blog – however I’ve found that most posts that I’ve written in the past can be expanded upon, updated, improved or rewritten with fresh insight.
Also keep in mind that many of your old posts will only have been read by long term readers and your new readers will not have seen these posts.
Further Reading: The Why and How of Updating old Blog Posts.
5. Guest Posts
The decision to allow guest posters onto your blog has both good arguments for and against it – but it is certainly one way to keep the flow of content going on a blog when you’re a little low on inspiration or don’t have enough time on your hands to be writing content (see also Why Guest Bloggers are Great for a Blog).
Getting people to submit guest posts on a blog is not always achievable when a blog is very young and the blog has little profile – but once you gather a readership and build your reputation as a growing community it becomes easier to attract contributions from other bloggers and freelance writers looking to grow their own profile.
If you’re new to the idea of finding guest posters for a blog – start with your own readers (as described above – look in the comments section of your blog) and then also look at other blogs in your niche or even forums that are on a similar topic to your blog. I’ve also had some real success lately with finding guest posts for Digital Photography School from non bloggers, particularly pro photographers who are looking for a little extra exposure to their business sites.
Further Reading: How to Find a Guest Blogger for Your Blog
6. Hiring Writers
Another way to approach bringing others onto your blog as writers is to look at hiring a blogger (or team of bloggers) to help you create content for your blog. This has some cost associated with it – but can (if you do it right) increase the quality and frequency of posts as well as decreasing some of the admin of relying upon guest posts.
I’ve hired a small team of writers for DPS who I pay on a per post basis (as well as giving them exposure in the posts that they write) and have found this experience to be well worthwhile. For a start it has attracted a good caliber of writer to the blog, increased the knowledge base and expertise of the writing, added to the variety of topics we can cover and increased the frequency with which we can post.
When it comes to hiring writers – I’d advise starting with your current reader base – you might find that some of your regular readers would take on a regular writing job for a little financial reward. Another approach is to look at other bloggers on your topic or to even advertise on a job board like the ProBlogger Job board. I advertised for my team of writers almost 18 months ago and had so many great applicants that I couldn’t use them all and most of them still write weekly posts for me today.
Another quick tip on hiring writers – you can also hire them for short periods. As long as you’re up front about the length of the period that you’re hiring for I’ve found that bringing on a staff writer for a couple of months when you know you’re going to be away or have your attention on another project can be well worthwhile doing.
Further Reading: How to Advertise for a Blogger
7. Develop an editorial calendar
One technique that can help a blog grow beyond its infancy is to begin to think longer term about the content that you produce. I personally find that when I only think a day ahead about the content for my blog that it can be difficult to build momentum in the content that I’m writing. It’s also difficult to keep coming up with topics.
A way to help overcome this is to set aside time either on a weekly or even a monthly basis to map out the direction for your content in the period ahead.
This enables you to do some brainstorming/mindmapping (see point #1 above) and set the course for your blog. Doing this takes some discipline and can feel like a chore when you sit down to do it but the result is that it gives you a lot of freedom and can take the burden of having to come up with topics from your shoulders.
I find that the months I set out a plan for the content on my blogs are much better than the months that I do not. I usually find on these months that I end up writing a series of posts and that readers really respond well to the momentum that I build.
Another spin on the idea of an editorial calendar that I know some bloggers have a lot of success with is to set different ‘styles’ of posts for each day of the week. For example:
- Monday might be ‘tips’ day where you write a ‘how to’ or ‘tip’ related post
- Tuesday might be ‘review’ day where you review a product related to your topic
- Wednesday might be ‘news’ day where you summarize the latest news in your niche
- Thursday might be ‘link’ day where you link up to another blog in your niche
- Friday might be ‘opinion’ day where you express your opinion on a topic
- Saturday might be ‘reader discussion’ day where you post a question or poll for readers to interact with
- Sunday might be ‘from our archives’ day where you highlight an old post on your blog
The sky is the limit in terms of the types of posts that you write (look at the 20 types of blog posts list that I mention above for other types to consider) – the key is to find types of posts that are relevant to your topic and that readers respond well to. This might feel a little contrived or structured for some bloggers, but I find that many bloggers find it to be a freeing experience, particularly to get them through a tough period.
What Would You Add?
I have literally scratched the surface with this post on how to keep fresh content flowing on your blog. I’m certain that among the readership of ProBlogger that there are a lot more ideas – if you’ve got one, please add it to the comments below. Together we can break though this ‘bloggers block’!
Further Reading: Battling Bloggers Block – a compilation of a series of 25 strategies that are designed to help you get through bloggers block.
This came at the perfect time. I was sitting here the other night just staring at the screen, stumped. It was as if my mind had completely shut down. The ‘mind-mapping’ turned on a light for me. I guess I’ve got more ideas floating around that I realized.
Thanks for the tips.
It is not motivation that keeps you writing. It is writing that keeps you motivated.
Despite my limited blogging experience in the fitness niche, I’ve found readers comments to be the most helpful when trying to decide what to write next. Reading other blogs in your niche can also be helpful. Finding an interesting article, but then adding your own unique twist to the material.
This may seem too obvious to add, and you’ve kind of covered it in each point, but conversation with people who share your interests is often the greatest source of content for me. Especially when we disagree – so find some people you disagree with.
I was just about to update my blog. It had been a while since I hit that publish button.
As you had mentioned, I used to sit and think ahead on my upcoming posts. This helped. Lack of other ways of keeping ideas flowing really affected me.
Thanks for the other options listed here. Yet another option of helping in idealess phase is to indulge in one activity and taking your readers along with you during this experimental phase like testing a new blog’s launch…
I have heard that asking readers for advise is a good way to do it. First, it involves the readers and makes them feel like they are a part of it. And second, it makes it really easy for you to know what your readers are interested in.
Thank you for this series. It is SO helpful since I am at the 6 mo point. I appreciate especially the ‘calendar’ by day concept in this post as it relates well to my industry.
I love your blog!
Damn… now we can never say we have a shortage of content, lol
I know Darren you’re not here to read this comment because you’re on vacation. This article is cool and informative, I figured out the ways of getting new ideas coming for blog. I call it my blogging test lab where I develop ideas. Thanks for this wonderful post!
Ooh, I love mind mapping! Another thing I do is pick up a PEN AND PAPER and (gasp!) write by hand. It’s amazing how this seems to fire different synapses in my brain. New ideas come to light and the block is lifted. Great tips!
Thanks for the great tips. I have blogs that died because I can’t add fresh contents. This will definitely help me.
One way to keep writing is to keep writing. If you keep the juices flowing, they flow more easily.
Many writers accomplish this with a journal. This allows you to try different writer’s voices, explore topics (they don’t all have to be personal!), and let go. It also gives you a resource to go back and find ideas for blog posts.
being as I’ve only just started I’ve got too many ideas if anything! But I’m sure they will dry up over time….
I’ll put this one in the bookmarks for later reading and inspiration
thanks copyblogger for another good series
Excellent ideas. I keep a Blog This list. When I run across something I’d like to blog about later, I add to the list. I also ask myself “What did I talk about today?” and “What did I learn today?”
One of the problems I’ve had keeping content flowing is trying to write long posts about a complicated topic. Complicated topics need a lot of thinking, which sometimes dries up my blog from fresh content.
To overcome this, I now categorize my posts into long/complicated posts and short/simple posts, so that the short posts can keep my readers regularly engaged in my blog while I write the longer posts.
Another way to approach this is to split the longer posts into a series of posts, so I can have fresh content flowing all the time. I can then combine the posts into a single page, or even a report!
You must also keep some time aside for reading. Reading is quite stimulating and it often fills your mind up with new ideas. Of course visiting quality blogs (like this one) too provides you with lots of fodder.
Darren awesome post as usual. You hit on most of the points I would consider and have added some new ones.
Question: I’m having problems finding good photos for my blog posts. Any suggestions?
Darren, great post! It reflects some of my current issues with my magazine.
How do you pay people on post basis? Is it a flat payment or do you pay them for a certain post size?
I would suggest that if you write about more general topic, you will never run short of topics to write unless you are bored of blogging. But if you start blogging with a current buzzing trend, you can not be sure whether the topic will have anything new to write after a period of time
Thanks for doing this, you are a great example so many can learn from.
Along with point #2 in your post…
One thing I’ve been trying out, for those who “join” my site (I have a special report), I’ve been asking them a question on the email confirmation page, regarding their #1 frustration when it comes to marketing online. I’ve had a ton of my own challenges, but the blog isn’t mine, it is the readers, and I believe for it to be successful they should drive the content.
I review those responses to get a feel for what people need, and then respond in a future post. I’m surprised with many of the ideas that have come from this process.
Thanks again for a great post.
excellent article & darren, this series completely rocks…
Two things Darren:
Firstly, what software do you use for MindMapping? I love MM too, but have found so many different tools that is gets confusing. There are web-based editors and client editors. I’m very interested to know which you use. Thanks.
Secondly, I carry a pocket sized moleskin journal with me at all times an write down ideas. If I didn’t do this, I remember maybe 10% of my original ideas. Carrying the moleskin (which I just started a few weeks ago) has enabled me to build a wealth of ideas in just a short amount of time.
Thanks for your post!
Look thru your RSS feeds and find a topic that is interesting…and then write your take on it. Works every time.
Data points, Barbara
* Tag RSS feeds with items that you think you want to respond to, so you’ve got a constant flow of blog post ideas
* Use the Delicious ‘auto-post’ feature to create a post of your day’s bookmarks so you get two things done for the price of one
* Keep your posts short and sweet so you don’t take ages every time
* Download an offline editor such as the Live Writer that means you can get an idea for a post wherever you are (providing you have your laptop handy), which you can then embroider with beautiful filigree images later, then hit publish.
Funny, the other day I was having “Bloggers Block” and I didn’t know what to do. Out of the blue, one of my readers said, “You can post a few tips I have on your site.” I read it and then I had a few things to add on his tips. It was a great post because I was collaborating with a new person for my site, something I have not done.
I plan on hiring writers and guest blogging and I think it will help me increase my traffic, great post anyway. Thank you
I run a variety of blogs and find that there are different influences that come into the content production of each one.
For my animal blog I tend to pull from questions I get from clients or topics I have discussed with other professionals. Most often I find news related to both wild and domestic animals that I can write about.
For my community blog I tend to just post about what is going on. The most interest comes from the “dirt” in my community or tidbits related to the local challenges (high altitude cooking, etc) but the most traffic comes from posts that deal with problems faced by visitors…such as tire chains for the snow.
My other blogs I update infrequently but when there is breaking news. Over at Guerrero Ink I post about once a month and discuss clients or review software or a discovery that might be of use to local mountain businesses and some of the Internet savvy in our area (<30% of the community).
Thanks for the ideas they will be good to have for the future. I am in the process of working on an editorial calendar but it has proved to hard to pull that together.
One of my favourite tips is:
Speak to friends that aren’t in IT, it’s amazing what can be thrown up this way – things you may take for granted.
I agree. There are some times that I tend to look at other’s topics and use them to create my own article.
Readers’ comments inspire me. but you really hit the nail right on the head. I am hitting the ground running.
I generally find the best topics to write about when I ask my circle of colleagues and friends what they’re currently struggling with in certain areas.
I also have learned that note-taking is integral. I am constantly clipping notes and links from the internet for reference or writing inspiration.
One of my favorite bloggers does a theme with a part one, part two, etc. It is a great idea to take a post and divide it up in parts.
I love the mind mapping technique.
I take a break for a few weeks. Think of more ideas, then come back to blogging again. Burnout can happen if you keep doing it with no rest.
Thank you for #7! I was managing editor of a print magazine for a while and was pretty intense about managing our calendar. I had a “duh” moment just now and will be creating a calendar for my blog(s).
I’d also add to work with blog ideas of other bloggers. I have been able to take blog topics about social media, Twitter, etc and apply them to my niche in the marine industry.
I’ve taken a week or two off and tried to stay away from the computer when the well has dried up in the past. I mean, I’ve only been blogging for a little over a year, and in all that time, I’ve dried up once, taken a couple weeks off and now I’m hitting the ground running again.
Time off is important!
Mind- mapping is excellent too. I’m currently mind-mapping an entire series I’ll write this year on creating a blog from concept to promotion. It will take an entire year, but the thing is, I’ll have my topics laid out for me, with plenty of flexibility to account for change and excursions into offbeat areas.
Speaking of which, posting a completely off-beat and random post sometimes garners a number of comments that can be helpful in getting things back in gear.
Sometimes you have to grind em to find em I guess.
I like your ideas about building momentum around your articles. I think that this idea can work well to getting others to keep coming back to your blog. Great post.
Wow, honestly I think this is the most useful post I’ve seen on this blog yet. Not to disregard your previous posts, I think you have the most useful blog for bloggers out there, it’s just amazing that after all these years that you can write such amazing posts still. I had to bookmark it and give it another few reads in the future when I come upon the problem of needing fresh content. Thanks a lot mate. Keep ’em coming!
I think hiring writers is the best one. I don’t think content spinners will work, especially if you are trying to entice your readers with up to date and valuable information. These are good tips. I think you have to write on something that you like and aspires you.
I love Alltop.com for ideas when I get stuck. Just put in your industry and/or subject area. The aggregator takes you dozens of stories on the subjects. And I always find something I can spin my own take on.
Thanks for more great ideas. I tried the “reader question” concept about a month ago, and it was a lot of fun. My original idea was to have my readers ask me 25 questions, as a play off the popular Facebook meme “25 random things about me.” I ended up loosely dividing the questions readers asked me into three categories, and created three posts with my responses. Some of the questions were really challenging, others were just plain fun.
Twitter has been another great way to pull together post ideas or even actual posts. Sometimes I quote a tweet as a intro/hook for a post, and build on it from there. A few times I’ve pulled together a series of tweets around a topic (like a home improvement project), or within a 24 hour period (like 24 hours in Chicago), and the tweets become the framework for my post.
I will certainly use all these suggestions to take my blog to the next level.
Thank you so much
As I was reading the comments,I saw Kevin Boom you are having trouble in finding good fotos to add on your Blog,There is this website called Picapp.com its a great site where you can find tons of FREE fotos,including celebrities,politicians etc..its a great site i would recommend you give it a short!
Nice list, luckily I’ve already got a pretty similar system worked out.
One good idea is to pump out as much content as you can when you’re in the zone. Just write an article, save it as a draft, and move onto the next one. Then, in a few days go back to each article and fix them up.
By doing this I wrote 20,000+ words (about 15 articles) before I even launched. And at one post per week that lasts nearly 4 months.
I certainly know the feeling of “blogger’s block” and anything that can be done to help it is great. I especially like the idea of assigning posts to different days, might have to look into that further!
Over the years, I’ve advised only a couple of your points above on the same subject (Hire writers & switch up writing style)… however, this article opened up my mind to a different approaches for writer’s block that I’ll begin to implement myself. Thanks for the advice, valuable.
Very nice post. As a new blogger, I’m still trying to find my niche and find good content to write about. Often times, I find myself stuck and lost and just empty-headed.
These are very effective ways to break out of the blogger’s block and provide fresh content for our readers. Thank you.
BAM! I like #7 the best! While I tend to write towards a pretty focused niche, I still manage to wander all over the place. That is a great idea and should give me enough structure to keep on track.
Thanks for the ideas. I like the calender idea, it gives you a formula to follow. Therefore no blank outs. Great idea with a lot of room to expand.
thanks Darren .. but I hope u talk about blogging under fear that we feel in our countries .. that makes us finishing our ideas quickly then we really don’t find ideas to write about ..
Awesome post, I always wonder how you come up with great and lengthy posts day in and day out. Good job.