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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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • JT

    That was a great exercise. Yes, I tried to do it and it’s great. Definitely valuable in helping us plan our future blog posts. Read your lessons just when I am about to put up some blogs for my web 2.0 marketing strategy. Surely it helped me a lot.

    Thanks for that
    [email protected]/

  • I’m going to use Visual Mind for this exercise. That way, I won’t run out of space on whatever size piece of paper I choose, AND I’ll have an electronic record.

    Interesting activity.

  • I think this exercise is totally awesome, although I tend to have way too many things to write about already and have a bunch of posts in draft at any given moment – but this is great and if I ever run out I will try this.

  • I am replying to the post by Anne (the Antique Blog) , Your post gave me a jolt. It seems to me that the best brainstorming technique based on this exercise is to narrow the focus to one simple element and then, as if delving closer into the geometry of a fractal, see what other topics can come out of that narrow focus. That’s what your examples as an answer to the vintage jewelry person’s dilemma said to me. And I think that’s the answer to my opposite problem of having too much to say.

    Thanks!

    :)

  • I want to thank the members for making some suggestions to me about what I can do on my photography blog. I greatly appreciate it.

    I have a lot of work to do and I need some quiet, alone time with a piece of paper to get it done!

    Bridget

  • This post really got me thinking. Love the graphics of the way to think about this. Helped a lot. Keep em coming!

  • This has been a wonderfully valuable exercise! I have generated 18 ideas, starting with the 6 posts I’d written so far. (I’m one of the people with a new blog.) I did extend the original 6 by 2, so now have 8 branches to work with.

    And, I had been “dry” for a few days.

    This is something that I can keep up, and use for planning, on an ongoing basis.

    Visual Mind works beautifully for this activity! I now intend to use it for my other blog – once the current series of 10 posts is completed.

    Many thanks, Darren.

  • I like the idea of mind mapping for posts. I have a general guideline and then take off from there.

    Over the last year what I have done is written different slants on a hot topic for a full five days. What I have found is that it helps me take advantage of the interest in the topic and gives me better SEO.

    Sometimes this results in a temporary spike but I find that over time the topic comes up again and my ranking is better for the term so that I get new visitors.

    Wondering what your thoughts are on that versus spreading the topic out over weeks.

  • Wow!

    Sir:

    Your so smart, you give me not just and idea but you also given me a great help about this.

    From now on I will always read your blog for more infos.

    Thanks.

  • What a simple, but powerful idea about generation of topics for blogging! Just yesterday I woke up thinking I don´t have a proper idea for writing a new post. Your exercise, Darren, helped me to find out very quickly 12 ideas or topics for posting. Five of them are worth being worked out immediately. They are as follows:
    – I often recommend students to use a thesaurus, to build and enrich their vocabulary, to employ good dictionaries etc. Sometimes students seem not to understand accurately the difference between all these concepts. I will write a post giving necessary explanation.
    – Since my students are studying electrical and electronic engineering they should cope with technical texts. You find on my blog posts with such texts. Some of these posts are written by students. Now I´d like to emphasize this activity by a slogan “Learn TechEnglish discussing real technical issues” and write about three posts on website design, energy sources and peaceful robots.
    – Writing skills and error free writing in English spelling are very important for every specialist I´ve already written posts about articles and prepositions. Now I will write a post with notes about punctuation.
    Thank you, Darren.

  • I basically write a fun blog where I talk about all the random things that I can put randomly. So some post ideas for myself and other bloggers like me would be:

    – Things to do when you have nothing to do
    – Random facts about yourself (sometimes you yourself will be amazed “dihttps://problogger.com/wp-content/themes/problogger2/images/post_comment.gifscovering” things about yourself)
    – 5 weird things around me
    – 7 politicians who would make great cartoon characters
    – The Funniest people ever
    – 10 most useful websites to me
    – People not to bump into when you are drunk
    – How would the daily activities of early man be?

    Though I haven’t been able to go up to 10, but each of the ideas above can spark off a bunch of other posts.

  • Good tips on what I refer to as writers or bloggers block. In a way it is very much like brainstorming a topic to its full extent to get many more related topics. Works well..

  • Honestly, this is getting harder everyday…I could only come up with one extended post for each one I’ve written.

    Maybe not from 5 recent posts, but one or two posts from couple months ago, I can do that,can I?

  • I like n love this idea…brilliant!!

  • One of the most interesting side benefits of this activity was it forced me to review old posts. As I looked back, I realized I have been writing about many topics of interest to my core audience, but nothing specifically about marketing!

    I am a marketing company, and the primary reason for the blog is to drive prospects. Thanks for hel;ing me discover how far off track I have been!

  • Based on my older post about American Idol (my most fav TV Show!), I just make an ‘extended post’ about Danny Gokey,one of the finalist on : http://www.beeamazing.com/the-power-of-letting-go-danny-gokeys-heart/ , and I have 4 more ideas based from this AI post.

    Honestly it’s a bit boring to see most of the blog are about : SEP,web 2.0,internet marketing,blogging technique,making money online,etc..etc..I just need to read something different out there

    Thanks, Darren!

  • OK, so I’ve fallen a bit behind, because I got overwhelmed by this whole project (http://meredithelaine.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/overwhelmed-already/). I think that some of this may not really apply to me, because my blog is personal, and not to make money.

    But this task was a fun idea. Since I’ve only just recently started this blog, I have now come up with a lot of fun ideas as “getting to know the author” type posts, and what I’m all about – regarding the industry I work in, hobbies, my writing history, various issues I have, causes I support.

    Thanks for a great tip!

  • Ugh. I hate almost all of my ideas today. I’m approaching my blog as if it was new even though I have posts that are several years old. The time interval between my most recent and the one before is over a year. Yes, I abandoned my blog. But that’s because it was majorly spammed.

    Now, it’s just silent. Which I guess is better, but still not good.

    So I have to start with my most recent post, “What Color Is Your Wednesday’.” It’s a post that discusses how I see things symbolically – for example, days of the week are often colors or, as with Wednesday, a collage. I then expanded to “favorite colors,” and from there to how I was disappointed by the fashion industry’s sway over what colors one can find for clothing and accessories at any given time. I tried to encourage readers to have conficence in their own tastes and preferences and to create their own style. Finally I asked what color the reader’s Wednesday is.

    So I sat down with pen and paper and thought about extending that topic. But first I had several other unrelated topics I had to put down.

    And then I discovered my problem. I can’t seem to pin myself down to being specific. I keep flying off to unrelated ideas. Not all of which I want to include in this blog.

    So I’m back to “Who is this blog for?” Can I blog to other artists about inspiration without losing the non-artist readership (that I still need to grow because I don’t actually have any readership just yet). Can I blog about caring for fine art jewelry without boring the artist readership? (Actually, that’s probably a definite yes).

    I don’t want to repeat stuff that’s already out there. That’s kind of boring to write (IMHO) unless I’ve something substantially new to add. It’s kind of like the gazillion intro to Astronomy textbooks I have occasionally reveiwed – there’s not always much difference between them besides writing style. Which is, now that I think of it, a fairly important consideration…

    Hm. Too much thinking!

    ?

  • I am reading your book and enjoying all the tips…just found your site and am now getting your feed. Just wanted to say Thank you! I am so new to all this blogging stuff ….. your book is such a great help…..and…..boy do I need help. Now…I am going over to read your 31 Days………
    Adios

  • Interesting idea to find inspiration from external world to associate to blogging. I usually follow similar tactic to improve my blogging experience.

    My friend used to ask, how do I manage to write atleast 1 article per day. It was similar to ideas suggested in today’s article. If I read a topic in news, I try to associate to my blogging niche and see how to create a new content based on that idea. I could be reading a news article that is completely not related to blogging niche, but it is very easy associate that idea from the news article and create a similar one. This goes more in line with creating different kind of posts.

  • Thank you Darren.

    I just did the task and came up with 38 new post titles. Woot woot! This 31DBBB ROCKS!

    Elizabeth

  • I’m enjoying this series. Thank you for your great advice.

    As a craft blogger, I recently refocused my blog to center around ways I’ve used my creativity on a daily basis. I was worried I would run out of material but it seems to be growing exponentially.

    I find it’s a cleaner post when I stay focused on the project so I keep a list of all the tangents my mind wants to go on. Many times they end up being new posts unto themselves. Also, significant projects get a few days’ worth of posting (and lots of interlinking!).

  • 10 post ideas….ha! That will be easy…I am totally all over it! Thanks for the motivation Darren..

  • One of the few problems i don’t have with my blog is new ideas for posts or things to write about. In fact i have almost too many story ideas and not enough time to write them. I write a blog about things to do and see in Paris and I go around taking photos all the time on the streets of Paris. I have amassed a big collection of usable photos with posts to go with them and sometimes don’t get to use all of them.

  • kk

    Great advice, I’ve read through the other articles on your site and really appreciate the info as a noob in the blog world this really helps…thx

    http://getfreefiles.blogspot.com

  • This is a great tip. As a new blogger, I’d fall into the group that would need to come up with potential topics and expand from there. I have to admit, deciding what to write about is my biggest challenge so this should be a great exercise for me.

  • Great idea! Thanks! I will do that exercice around the most popular posts that have already been published.

  • For this exercise we found a whiteboard a great tool for brainstorming. Small whiteboards are very reasonably priced these days. You can install it on a wall near your desk so it is always visible for quick reference.

    We shared some tips in the forum on how to work out what google thinks your categories probably should be. You will probably rank higher in google if you pick the categories that google thinks you are about.

  • this was really creative of you!! great post and you have mentioned a common problem that most bloggers have faced at least once in their blogging life time

  • I like the idea to use categories as the base mind mapping, thanks Darren.

  • Thanks Darren,

    This is a simple exercise that can save you all kind of time. The hard part about writing blog post daily is coming up with new ideas consistently.

  • This is an amazing tool!

    I started a series entitled “Designing a Program for Effective Living” a few weeks ago. There are so many sub topics to cover, that it’s been a bit frustrating. But after spending 30 minutes mapping it all out as suggested in this task, I can clearly see what I will be posting every Monday for the next few months.

    Thanks so much Darren!

  • Great post Darren!

    Lately I started feeling out of ideas on my personal blog. It is around 3 years old, I used to post around 3 times per week, now I barely do it once! This excersize would help me big time.

    Fortunatly, unlike my personal blog, our thoughpick blog still new, there is much to talk about in terms of social media. I wonder how this would turn out in few months :)

  • Hi Everyone,

    This exercise was beneficial and surprising because I noticed how easy it was to build off posts already written. Only 15-25 minutes of your time, and to come away with 10 plus posts ideas, not to shabby. Once you get going, you’ll end up with ideas you could have never put together on the fly. Isn’t that what most bloggers tend to do? Because we fail to plan ahead, it hurts our chance at being excellent, and prevents us from fully tapping into our creativity.

    It’s there, we just don’t see experience it because we don’t create room for it. :)

    -Mig

  • This is a great way to update older posts where you’ve gained insight and experienced growth or changed your perspective.

    Great exercise!

  • What I do when I run out of ideas is to spend time marketing/optimizing the best posts (most traffic) in my blog. Then I just browse through webmaster forums, and eventually I’ll find topics to discuss in my blog.

  • You can find my blog at http://artquiltmaker.com/blog. It is about quiltmaking, fabric, design and creativity.

    10 ideas for posts in no particular order:
    1. how to choose fabric
    2. several posts on basic design principles (also page on design books???)
    3. getting quilts finished
    4. value of finishing projects in the creative process
    5. what happens to a project when you don’t finish and go back to it later? How the changes in your personality can affect the project
    6. Working with others on the same project, working in a class setting with others on your own project, just working on your own project in the same room with others vs. working alone
    7. Creative blogs I like and why – blog reviews
    8. Review of articles in a recent magazine.
    9. Review of latest Thr3fold journal
    10. reintroduce old project

  • I like this idea. I usually post and move on but this would give more depth to everything. Done and DONE!

  • Yes, good idea, indeed! Thanks!

  • Can anyone recommend some of the mind mapping software that’s around, thanks.

  • A friend recommended your site to me. Glad he did, as it looks very worthwhile. Looking forward to learning lots here. Vance

  • Very neat Idea Darren, never thought about this :) Ahh… the power of commenting.

  • Hi this is a good article and very usefull.Keep doing the good job.
    Thanks again.

  • Interesting. But I have a question. I have been in to blogging for last six months now. I don’t think, I have written quality stuff. But I definitely want suggestions from you all readers. Can you just let me know about some of the improvements?

  • Hello people! This article was very usefull to me. I will come back frequently.

  • My favorite activity yet! I am a English/Writing teacher so I should know to use brainstorming as a technique, but I came up with TONS of ideas in just a few minutes using the suggestions here!! I have great ideas planned for the entire week.

  • My problem is less “having something to write about” and more “getting into the writing mode”. I keep a folder of bookmarked ideas to write about, and things are always happening that I can add. But one of two things happens:
    1. I get back to my computer later and just don’t feel like writing right then or
    2. I don’t have enough time to write (it takes me a good hour to write and polish a post) it, due to appointments or whatever

    Then half my ideas become irrelevant due to time.
    Any suggestions?

  • Wow thanks for that! I feel like I’m attending some writing class haha!

  • You can take this further and do it again with the latest 5 relevant posts from a related blog.

  • Great ideas here. Fortunately, I write a travel blog and never run out of adventures to talk about! I guess I could write related posts when I’m not on the road…