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Come up with 10 Post Ideas [Day 11 – 31DBBB]

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of April 2009 Featured Posts, Writing Content 0 Comments

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Ever run out of things to write about on your blog?

If your answer is yes – you’re not alone.

One of the biggest challenges facing bloggers with blogs that have been around for longer than a few months is to come up with fresh content on a regular basis.

Today your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to do an exercise that will identify a range of post ideas that you can use when stuck for an idea in future.

The key with this process is not to put yourself under pressure to come up with completely new and out of the blue ideas for every post you write. Instead – this process taps into what you’ve recently written on your blog and helps you to identify ways to extend those ideas.

The beauty of this is that you actually end up building a sense of momentum on your blog where your posts build upon and relate to what you’ve previously written rather than just writing a collection of posts that don’t really build in any one direction.

Here’s the mind mapping method that I’ve used (note: I’ve talked about this previously so it could be familiar to some).

1. The Set Up

Get a whiteboard, piece of paper, note book, tablet pc or something else to write on (there are also various mind mapping tools and software options out there – but I find a pen and paper can work just fine) and draw five circles across the middle of the page. In each circle write the titles of the last five posts on your blog (if you want to do this more comprehensively go back further and do it with more posts).

mind mapping-1

2. Extend Your Previous Posts

Now take each post in turn and spend a few minutes brainstorming on ways that the post could be ‘extended’. Most posts that you write will be able to be ‘extended’ in any number of ways including:

  • picking up a question or idea that a reader asked in the comments on that post
  • exploring the opposite point of view from the post
  • taking a ‘news’ post and writing an ‘opinion’ piece about it
  • taking a ‘theoretical’ type posts and writing something that helps people to ‘DO’ it
  • expanding upon ideas glossed over in passing in the previous post

The list could go on – really it is about finding ways to take ideas in a previous post and expanding upon and extended them.

For each idea draw a line out from the circle, draw a square (or use a different color) and write the idea inside of it.

The key at this point is to let yourself be as creative and outside the box as you want. Any idea is allowed at this point.

Let me take an older post of mine (why you should use AdSense on Your Blog) and show you how it might work:

mind mapping-2

At this point I’ve got 7 potential new posts to write that extend upon my original one – coming up with them took me 2-3 minutes – if I were doing this seriously I’d give it more time and come up with 20 or so posts.

These ideas are logical next steps for readers wanting to explore this topic – some of them based upon actual questions by readers. Do this with the other four posts you’ve written and you’ll have plenty of ideas for new posts to cover in the coming week or two.

3. Extend Further

You might want to stop this exercise at this point if you feel you’ve got enough topics to keep you going – however while you’re in a brainstorming frame of mind – why not take it a step further and think about how you might extend the topics you’ve come up with. The beauty of thinking forward even further is that you could quickly come up with a further 10 or so posts and be able to map out the next few weeks of blogging.

Lets do it now with the post above – just for fun (click to enlarge).

mind mapping-3

You can see that I found some posts easier to extend than others. This is OK as not every post is in need of a follow up one – while others will have multiple next steps (some will even have a longer series of posts that you could run).

You can take this exercise as far as you’d like into the future (you get the idea I’m sure so I won’t keep going).

From the example above you can see that I’ve come up with 15 ideas (not bad for 5 minutes of brainstorming) – some of them for multiple posts (series and ongoing weekly columns). Do it with more than one post and you will find that you’ll often come up with more posts than you can actually use on your blog.

The key when you do it is to let your creativity run wild (because it can take you in some wonderful directions) but then to be ruthless in culling ideas that don’t actually add anything to your blog. Remember – everything that you post on your blog either adds to or takes away from your blog’s perceived value – so not everything that you come up with should make it through to the front page of your blog.

Your Task Today

Your Task Today is to come up with a list of at least 10 future topics to write about. At this point your list should be not much more than the topic or title of your post. If you’re feeling inspired you might like to choose one of them to begin to shape into an actual post – but don’t feel you need to do that yet. Tomorrow we’re going to take the list of topics and help you to take them to the next step by creating an editorial calendar for your next week of blogging.

PS: Another Approach to this Exercise for New Blogs

I know that some bloggers doing the 31 Day challenge have very new blogs and perhaps don’t have too many posts in their archives to base mind mapping upon. If this is you – you can take the same principle but instead of making your five starting circles previous posts – make them ‘categories’ that your blog might cover.

For example if your blog is about personal finance you could make your starting circles sub topics of that overarching topic. They might be ‘budgeting’, ‘saving’, ‘investing’, ‘credit’ and ‘Career’. Once you’ve got your categories or sub topics – you can then pick up the exercise at step #2 with extending those sub topics into post ideas or topics within the sub topic.

Update: Share your ideas and see how others are doing over at the forum post for the 31DBBB Day 11 Daily Task!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Edited to make URLs into links – sorry!

    I have two series posts, one is the first half of a DIY tutorial (http://mymeanbean.com/Blog/?p=2247 ), and one is on tips for using Twitter (http://mymeanbean.com/Blog/?p=1877 ). Expanding these ideas is very exciting and inspiring!

  2. Will you get mad cos I only came up with 8 ideas? I find post ideas come to me as I read new stuff so I know the other two will come all in good time.

    Confession – not always following your post suggestions. But posting almost every day. Just posted ‘4 free tools to help you create an uber cool blog’ http://cli.gs/R36bWt

    Have lined up interviews with some rocking folks too. Really looking forward to adding those to my blog. It’s another voice.

  3. Just wanted to echo what the majority of people have said already. This task was really easy to do. I generated lots of ideas for future posts from one single posting. I will now look take a look at other things I wrote about to get even more.

    Many thanks

  4. Isn’t it funny that so many of us bloggers end up writing posts to help out other newer bloggers? Reading through the comments here I see many of us trying to help others do what we do. I do it too.

  5. Great idea. I have often felt a few days go past with no inspiration, but this is a quick and simple exercise to get the creative juices flowing.


  6. Good force. my site is just one month old and i already have a list for two months ahead.

    As i am not a full time blogger yet, so i post 1-2 times a week. expecting to step in as pro five to six months from now.

    thanks darren for this ‘extended post’ ideas.

  7. Fantastic post! I struggle most with finding content for my blog, so this was extremely helpful for me. After about 20 minutes of mapping, I have WAY more than 10 new ideas, and I’m excited to see where they lead! Here are just a few I generated:

    1. A guest post from my law-school buddy on the legal ramifications of an industry boycott (in reference to recent #amazonfail kerfluffle)
    2. Creating a friendly culture at work with a big bowl and a bag of Jelly Bellies
    3. Advice for radio/podcast interviewees
    4. Top 10 lessons we can learn from romance novels
    5. 15 little gestures of love
    6. The unglamorous parts of being a novelist
    7. 5 great books on writing
    8. What not to post on your blog
    9. 5 lessons from 5 years of marriage
    10. Raleigh-Durham independent booksellers

  8. Mapping now, awesome post…

  9. I’ve always been a big fan of mind mapping as a way of recording information, I’m surprised and a little disappointed I didn’t think of this myself.

    Coherency between posts is my biggest weakness right now, and this solves that nicely.


  10. enjoygame says: 04/17/2009 at 11:27 am


    I like the idea of having ideas for blog posts out ahead. I also feel that by having an “editorial calendar” makes the blogger more professional.

    Thanks for getting so many bloggers “fired up” with this 31 day project!


  11. This is a really good idea! I have expanded on some previous posts, but never in an organized way, using mind mapping.

    Generally, having a blog focused on higher consciousness, I write out of inspiration, what really resonates with me at the moment. It’s never planned. I write only when I have something meaningful to say, and that I feel will inspire others.

    Sometimes I google keywords or sentences to get inspired.

    Your method is worth a try, especially because I would like to post on a daily basis. I really need to address this in an effective and productive way.

    Thank you!

  12. Another great piece of advice!

    I don’t have the mental energy to do this tonight, but I will tackle it first thing in the morning and I’m sure I’ll come up with a ton of ideas.

  13. I thought of a few ideas based on an earlier post, and wrote this one which came off of a comment.


  14. i’m not a big fan of paper myself but i love the mind mapping idea. does anyone have any recommendations for free mind mapping software for mac or online?

  15. Ten ideas for blog posts, Darren?

    Easy. I read many blogs and their comments. I read Tweets. I’ve long been following Alerts in my industry.

    I’ve got ten articles ready to go all the time and am working on dozens more!!

    Not only do I read dozens if not hundreds of blogs, I am fully IMMERSED in Social Media.

    I also LOVE to read books on advertising, marketing, blogging, webdev and social media.

    Trust me, I’ve got hundreds of ideas for articles. :)

  16. I’ve been learning a lot and I have documented my journey so far at http://www.kuzzuk.net/can-you-build-a-great-blog-in-31-days.html

    I would recomment using FreeMind for brainstorming blog post ideas. I’m already looking forward to the next post.

  17. My problem is a bit different. I have so many ideas for writing that I am overwhelmed. I think what I need to do is calibrate my posting ideas. Maybe list all of them, randomly choose one and play with that.

    I also need to decide which topic goes with which blog (and does that blog exist yet).

  18. Oh cool. I did this today without even knowing it! A reader commented about how miserable she is in her job. I posted a quick note this morning and got some reader responses throughout the day. I then posted my response tonight, and it actually turned out being a follow-up to a previous post I had written. Lots of interlinking happened as well!

  19. This is a brilliant way to come up with post ideas. I did this little exercise and in 5 minutes came up with 25 post ideas and I haven’t even extended those yet (except for 1 i did before I read that section).

    I’ve even come up with ideas for regular series that I can run on my blog like a themed day post eg. Friday Night Niche Giveaway.

    The thing I love about this is that when you say not every article you’d want to use, well you can use them as articles to promote your blog outside of your blog (article directories, forums etc.)

    My head is swimming with ideas.

  20. great tips but it is OK if we take a break for while…will be better not to push ourself so hard..writing need fresh mind and feeling.

  21. Great Post Darren.

    Thank you very much for such a great post. I usually run out of posts on my blog but I think it won’t happen anymore.

    Mohammad Afaq
    Free Website Traffic

  22. This is a great idea for keeping us focused and on track. There is nothing like grasping for a blog topic when you feel that you are over-due in publishing something…

    And even though I usually use the computer for everything, there is nothing quite like pen and paper for brainstorming and list making.


  23. Thank you very much Angela. You have given me some ideas to think about!

  24. Another great exercise! I used my last five posts and came up with 13 ideas. I’l probably go back to last 10 and see what else I come up with.

  25. Darren,

    The tricky aspect of this assignment for me are the audio (and now video) features that run regularly at Blog Harbor (along with my written posts). By their very nature, they are designed NOT to flow into one another. Rather, like a season at a repertory company, diversity is key.

    So, for example, one satirical feature – The Farmland Almanac with Harrison Beillor – is a send-up of Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. If I wrote similar material to be performed and produced every week, I’d actually lose readers/listeners.

    Might the better attack on this challenge, for my particular situation, be to spring topics from my last five written posts rather than the audio features?

    My thinking is…Yes.

  26. Another thing you could do is to take 5 good posts on other blogs that you read, and turn them around, and come up with a few more ideas.

  27. Hi Darren,

    I am happy to say that I still come up with inspiration for blog posts and with today’s task, I can see how this will grow exponentially. The best part: I get to use pen and paper, my favorite media. ;)

  28. I also have an other approach to the post ideas: I check my stats at Google Analytics and look at the keywords people used to land on my website. If the keyword is relevant to my interests, and I didn’t come up with an article about it yet, then I consider writing one. Why not letting googlers help you gather ideas? ;)

  29. Hi Darren,
    I struggled really hard to write. I just opened your post and found this wonderful advice. I really liked it.
    Another thing I found out today is: I wanted to write on branding as I blog on advertising, copywriting and branding.
    I wanted to start a series on branding. I would like to extend this thought into several posts: how branding can be viewed and done.
    Thanks for the post! I’d follow up with the other posts of yours daily.

  30. this is the first assignment I’ve really felt like doing and have actually blogged about it. I’ve asked my readers to help me come up with some ideas – not because I’m lazy but because my readers will give me some feedback about the kinds of things they’d like to see! I’ve made a contest out of it.

  31. I`m engaged in writing different texts and stories and I have this problem sometimes when I run out of the inspiration and just do not know how to develop the ideas. This post is really helpful. I have already tried to brainstorm addition posts! And made a brilliantly interesting story. Of course it will take some time to take it in constant practice and to get used to it but still thank you for the tips!

  32. Great idea, Darren

    Again you are making me exercise my brain. Just what I need. Thank you.

  33. Hi Darren,

    Finding topics to write on is something I will never be short of. Here’s how I approach topics which might be helpful to others.

    Firstly the brief for my blog is quite wide although I can sum it up as simply antiques.

    There is just so much to write about and I think some of thes could be transfered to blogs on other subjects. I was recently astounded when a vintage jewellery blogger told me she couldnt think about what to write. Try thinking about a few of these as they relate to your subject:

    History, Style, Materials, Makers, Trends, Techniques, A-Z, Events, Celebrity involvement, Shops, News, Book reviews, accessories , care. Valuation, how and where to buy and sell, how to learn more.

    The list really does seem endless

    Hoping this helps someone

  34. I didn’t want to do it! I really didn’t want to do it – lots of other things to do! But I did! And it worked – it really worked! I’m beginning to feel in control!

  35. Hey thanks Darren and other posters here, i have got really gud ideas… will share with you guys soon..


  36. Having the future post list really helps to think more beyond. It gives the confidence to write the current post since you have more ideas to write for up coming days. Having this as an practice improves the blogging habit. Also, mapping new post from existing post makes the blogger to give more value to the new post because already he has the similar idea. It will be good if we follow this on regular basis.

    I would say, this is something like, “Growing A Tree” ;-)

  37. I also try to re-read older posts that I have written and forgotten. It is crazy how many times we promise more information in an upcoming post, but fail to deliver.

  38. Stacy S. Jensen says: 04/17/2009 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for providing a road map for what to do with all those “blog” ideas, I have sitting on my desk.

  39. Great suggestion. I think the thing I am enjoying most about this program is the chance to look at tools I have used for other projects, and apply them to my blog.

    But the suggestions are coming so fast and so furious it is hard to keep up.

    I looked at the one post that consistently gets traffic. Posted almost a five months, it still gets daily traffic


    So I wrote a second post

    After reading your notes I know it is time to work on a few more:

    Balancing the Business Triangle:Innovation,Price and Customer Focus
    Four posts: One looking at each of the four elements: Strategy, Lead Generation, Lead Conversion, Customer Service.

    Looks like I have some writing to do this weekend.

  40. I will totally agree to that. There are so many questions that can be raised on a certain topic. By having numerous questions, it will give you more options on which article to write about.

    I am happy to read this post since I also made an article about how to have lots of ideas for blog posts.. :-)

  41. I sat down during a quiet moment last evening, and did this exercise. wow…Who can stop at 10 ideas? I have at least 20 to go on, and many are broad and will foster a significant series of posts!

    Thanks again! :)

  42. Good Post Darren,
    My current idea is to post the resources available on the internet in various topics like photoshop tutorials, illustrator tutorials, logo tutorials, business card designs and much more.
    I am taking this campaign under the heading The Ten’s.

    You can check my latest post here

  43. What a great way to get new post ideas!

    I’ve gone through a couple stalls in blog post writing since beginning my blog in January. This exercise was just what I needed! It’s amazingly simple, but totally affective!


  44. Bridget: what about a series of photos based on earlier ones? or write about the photo, it’s inspiration, historical perspective? photo from different time that applies to your pic?

  45. This is an amazing tip which I would definitely try in the time to come. While this tip usually does enrich you and keeps you on the track over what you are writing about and more than that, more post ideas from the old posts.

    That is amazing.

  46. While in grad school, my feature writing teacher started us keeping an idea journal. I’ve been doing that for 10 years now. The mind mapping takes it a step futher, and I really like that! It has helped me refine some of my ideas.

    1. List – What I know for sure (You sparked something in me!)

    2. Book review

    3. Forty-Tude: Profiling Women in their 40s

    4. My memory is running away, and I can’t catch it!

    5. DVR, The greatest in technology since pager, VCR

    6. Hormones, What I have to look forward to

    7. What’s for dinner – Repeats

    8. There are ? left of 40

    9. The eyes have it. (Revisiting the bifocal post).

    10. Spring Cleaning – Throwing in out the basket of socks
    (Revisiting the sock post)

  47. Great post Darren. Like many other people who already commented I also find mind mapping and developing an editorial calendar very useful. I would also like to add surveys to that list. Surveys are a great source to tap into the minds of the customer.

    Keep them coming…love your 31 Day series.


  48. I’ve got a number of ideas generated- a few serious ones.. In the spirit of humor that my blog is written in, I’m taking a new look at alcohol- after reference to packing gin for my beach trip.. Have a look, I’m pleased with part one in my gin series…..

  49. Another great tip!

    Keep ’em coming

  50. So I had a list from a previous post of possible future blog topics. I took a handful from that list and decided to create a poll. So far, my readers are voting for a future blog entry based on the time my sister and I were kicked out of ballet.
    I never would have written about that story otherwise. Guess I’ll have to start writing something now, though.
    I like having polls on my site. I need more reasons to put them up.

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