Facebook Pixel
Join our Facebook Community

Don’t Just Have a Blog – Learn to Think Like a Blogger

Last week I was chatting to a new blogger and he asked me

“how do you manage to keep coming up with post ideas for my blogs?”

It’s a question I get a fair bit – and one I’ve struggled to answer… until recently.

It sounds odd that I don’t know how I keep ideas coming – but I’ve never really understood how I’m able to do it – it just seems to happen quite naturally.

What clicked for me was a conversation with my personal trainer who said something that switched a light on for me.

Learning to Think Like a Fit Person

He told me that what we’re trying to do in this early stage of my new training routine (I’ve been at it a month now) is really to establish new patterns in the way that I think.

I’d been thinking about my training as exercising my body – but what he’s helped me to see is that we’re actually working upon my mind as much as anything.

It’s a process of retraining my mind and how it thinks about numerous aspects of my life including what I eat and the activity that I do each day.

In the early stages of this process I’m being quite intentional about it (keeping a food diary, recording the amount of exercise that I do, having a weekly plan of exercise, learning about food portion sizes etc).

To be perfectly honest, a few weeks, the process doesn’t feel at all natural. My body feels sore and I feel like I’m thinking of nothing other than food and exercise and how they fit into my day.

It doesn’t feel natural at all – but what’s gradually happening is that I’m having a mind-shift.

Danny (my trainer) explained to me that in time the food diary will become less important because I’ll just start to ‘get it’. The exercise plan will be less central because I’ll be thinking like an active person and incorporating activity into my day in a more natural way.

Learning to Think Like a Blogger

Today blogging is a very natural part of my life. On most days I can sit down at the keyboard and start typing – a post appears. Sure I need to ‘work’ at it – but more often than not it’s relatively easy.

However it wasn’t always like this.
In my early days of blogging the process was far less natural. I sometimes forget how challenging it was – but when I force myself to think back:

  • I remember a period where I had to set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to post
  • I remember times where I’d sit down to write an nothing would come
  • I remember times where I’d write and rewrite posts and then hit delete – not publishing anything at all
  • I remember at times being quite structured in setting myself goals (posting targets, the number of comments I wanted to write on other people’s blogs etc
  • I remember times where it would take me hours to come up with a satisfactory opening line to a post or where I’d write 20 or so titles before finding one I liked
  • I remember struggling to find my ‘voice’ – wondering if I should be more professional, more personal, use humor, write as an expert etc

This process wasn’t always easy and as I think about it I realize that what I was doing in these early days was as much working on my mindset as I was working on my writing skills.

In a sense I was teaching myself to think like a blogger.

In time things began to change – in a similar way to the way Danny explained the process that I’m going through with my diet and exercise. The blogging process became more natural, it began to flow, the ideas came, I found my voice and I began to see some progress.

So what helped me to not only have a blog but to think like a blogger?

1. Goals and Planning – one of the main things that helped me in the early days was to sit down and think strategically about my blogging. As I mentioned above I had specific goals in the early days – particularly around how many posts I wanted to write per day. In a sense this was my exercise plan but instead of how many pushups I needed to do or what weight I needed to bench press the goal was XX posts per day.

This planning and objective setting went beyond the number of posts – but got as detailed as the days that I’d post, the types of posts that I’d write and even down to the time that I’d hit publish (I found giving myself specific deadlines helpful).

2. Structure and Routine – out of this objective setting I could then structure a routine for my blogging. You can see some of this routine in my posts A day in the life of a ProBlogger and Another Day in the Life of a ProBlogger (note, these posts are now 2 and 3 years old, my routine’s changed quite a bit – I’ll do another one in the new year). While you’ll see in those posts that my routine did change from day to day – there were specific tasks that I needed to achieve each day and I did develop a rhythm that repeated itself over time.

These routines changed over time and at some stages I didn’t feel the need for them at all – but in times where I hit a slump I’d revert to them to get myself back on track.

3. Spending time with other Bloggers – one of the reasons that I’ve started seeing a personal trainer to help me get fit lately is that I recognized that I’d be more effective in achieving my goals of fitness if I spend time each week with other people who already are (and think) the way that I want to be. Danny is (and thinks) like a fit and healthy person and spending time with him means some of this rubs off on me as we talk, and as he models what he asks me to do.

In my early days of blogging I gravitated towards other bloggers who’d been doing it longer than me. I particularly spent quite a bit of time interacting with Rachel from cre8d design. Rachel taught me so much about blogging – sometimes quite intentionally and sometimes just by me watching what she did.

4. Education – in my early days of blogging i was quite intentional about being a person who was constantly learning. I bought books about html (you wouldn’t know it), I asked other bloggers to teach me how to do things, I bought books on blogging (there was only one or two back then) as well as books on other online ventures and even did some online training courses. Some of what I learned I didn’t really use – but in time I grew in my knowledge of online activities. While I know not everyone has the budget for self education – I would highly recommend bloggers who are serious about learning more about their craft consider investing in themselves in this way.

5. Experimenting – over the last 5 years I’ve written many thousands of posts (on this blog alone it’s now over 4000). In that time I’ve tried so many types of posts, experimented with different voices, tried so many ways of promoting my posts and used hundreds of different types of blogging tools. The result of this is that much of the blogging process has become natural to the point where I sometimes forget what I’ve learned and find myself making decisions quickly that I used to have to think carefully about (for example knowing when a good time to post a particular post is – something I used to agonize over).

6. Making Mistakes – perhaps the best way to learn how to think like a blogger is to make mistakes. There’s nothing like falling flat on your face, making a fool of yourself, or doing something stupid that can’t be reversed to teach you how something should be done. I’ve made more mistakes than I can remember – each one has shaped me.

In time as I did these things (and mainly as I just practiced blogging) my thinking changed. As it did so did my blogging itself.

Image by minifig

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. Great tips.

    One of the things I’ve always found most useful is to keep notes on post ideas. I carry a notebook and pen in my purse for sudden inspiration, and keep a notes file for each of my blogs on my computer.

    I have small children underfoot, so sometimes a fairly simple post takes 2 hours to complete, but that’s not writing time. It’s the interruptions and dealing with my priorities.

  2. It sucks that you have more incomplete posts in your draft folder, than complete posts in your entire blog. I am guilty of that. I usually start to write, and then decide against it. Before, I would just delete it from the draft folder, however, now I just leave it there, and at times that inspires me and gives me ideas on my new posts.

  3. Fantastic post! As someone who is entering the world of blogging at the end of this month, this advice is priceless. As i am writing posts for the launch i am finding developing my own voice to be difficult, so its great to see that Darren you had the same problem when you started out!

    Over the last few months i have spent a lot of time building relationships with other bloggers and writers and i have learnt so much from them. I am constantly learning and educating myself and thats what i am going to enjoy even more once i am up and running!

  4. Wow how many times I have typed a entire article then just delete it afterwards. i though I was the only one doing it.

  5. Excellent, excellent post. I think getting past the planning part is the hardest part, but after that is a breeze. I can normally sit down and in a half an hour have about 50 different topics ready. Making it natural hasn’t come complete though. I think you need time, lots of time and freedom from other constraints to do that.

    This is exactly the kind of meat my blog needs.

    Justin Dupre

  6. Let this be the new normal

  7. Recently, I have made blogging a DAILY habit.

    Another important step that I took was to make a conscious decision that my BLOG is going to be a business and be used to help me attract freelance clients :)

  8. Really good down to earth post Darren and a great inspiration for those of us who have been blogging for less than a year. I keep a notebook like Stephanie as my memory has more holes than a colander!

    Thinking like a blogger – think that is a good way to fcous and move towards and I suppose meeting up with fellow bloggers re-enforces your thinking and action.

    I hate hitting the delete button on some of my posts, but I need it sometimes to generate the inspiration and thoughts to produce some great content.

  9. Great post, exactly what I’ve been looking for, I sometimes struggle for ideas and this has certainly gave me an insight on how I can keep my mind pumping out the content.

    Thank you

  10. Of the six points you mentioned, I find that point 3 (Spending time with other Bloggers) to be the most difficult. The other points are fairly solitary actions. I find that building relationships with other bloggers is somewhat ephemeral as it is done thru electronic means such as email.

    With hindsight it may not have been the right time, but I tried to get local bloggers together for a networking session “down the pub” over the xmas but no interest was shown. I will try again in a couple of weeks.

    What would you suggest?

  11. Another useful post :) This is the stuff that keeps me coming Darren

    I don’t have an actual.. method yet. I often scribble down random thoughts in a little notebook. Sometimes a picture, or a title would be enough to trip into another post that I’m satisfied with.

    In fact, every single posting I publish – I am completely satisfied with. If not, it hangs out with the other unfinished posts.

    Reading this, I realize that as time goes on, I am thinking more and more like a blogger. This article helps me to be more conscious of my process so

    Thank you :)

  12. Great analogy. It really is a matter of changing perspective. Like Stephanie, I keep notes, either written or mental, and prepare ideas for posts about a week at a time.

    I also think it’s important just to write and keep writing. Like in basketball – shoot if your hot, and if not keep shooting until you are hot.

  13. It’s interesting to see how we change in our method and approach to things in life, and how we can adapt, change and incorporate new things.

  14. I never seem to stress about it…I just have a idea, but i always make sure to write them down or take action immediately. I have made plenty of mistakes but I have learned buy them and improved. I have also experimented a lot…had to be brave.

  15. If you’re looking to socialise with other bloggers, I’d suggest using forums either in your niche or blogging forums.

    It would take a lot for me to meet up with “someone I’ve met over the internet”, but I’d happily meet in person with many of the people I hang out with in personal finance blog forums. Networking with other bloggers has been the biggest positive action I’ve taken to improve my blogging so far.

  16. I think I always seem to stress myself about blogging… what to blog, when to do it. This could be due to the fact that I have an unreliable connection to the internet at home. This will change when I move, but another thing I think would help is a nice big whiteboard so I can jot down all my ideas, and stats on my blogs.

  17. Great Post! Especially with newer bloggers out there, it just like you said its all about conditioning and training yourself. Rather then having blogging be a hobby, its better for you to have it be a way of life. Even when most of the bloggers shouldn’t just quit their jobs and go full time on blogging it doesn’t hurt to understand the blogsphere and interact with it.

  18. You present an interesting idea – think like a blogger. I suppose when you are a new blogger that is difficult. I’ve written articles for others over the years on a broad range of subjects, and I find it difficult to narrow my thinking to being a “Personal Finance” blogger, or whatever mode I’m in when updating a particular site.

  19. I think I’ve got number 6 covered..

    Now for the other 5

  20. Before there were blogs, there were FORUMS and MESSAGE BOARDS and NEWS GROUPS.

    So, they could be read for seeing trends and getting new ideas – as well as discovering interesting posting styles.

  21. And you thought “us” personal trainers were just a bunch of knuckle-heads.


  22. Really cool post Darren. Well, now I feel like I’m doing something right. I’ve only been blogging for a little over 2 weeks and I just started setting goals for myself, such as meeting 10 new bloggers a day and leaving comments, etc. I though I was being a geek about this, but now i see that this is a good thing. Coolness. :)

  23. Very good post. It doesn’t matter whether it’s blogging or anything else, to succeed you must develop the mindset for it. To develop the mindset takes dedication, time and persistent effort.

  24. Wow, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my early days of blogging. I am currently going through some of the same challenges you had. Posts like this one keep me inspired and motivated to keep going. I know at some point I will make enough mistakes to learn how to do things right. I will also hopefully find my “voice” and a loyal following.

    Thanks for the motivation,


  25. I make video podcasts of short puppet sketches. In the beginning, I have to try hard to brainstorm ideas. I was releasing one episode per week so I always had a few things buffered up to make sure I don’t run out of materials. However, after constantly writing for a while, now ideas just come to me really easily. Though I am no longer posting one video per week, I just naturally thought up random ideas all the time. I guess that’s a similar lesson there.

  26. nice post.
    analogy posts are very popular looks like.
    I have this problem currently and its difficult to come with posts on regular basis. I m glad to hear that you faced the same challenges in u r initial days and persistence is the formula you re prescribing here.
    Don t let go. Thats a good point.

    Another thought I am struggling with is when to realize that it was a bad idea to start with and stop wasting your time on it. I don t mean quit blogging but I am thinking more on the lines of the blogging topic.


  27. If you were to point someone to the best place to get an all-around education on blogging where would you point them?

    I’m working on my writing through writing courses, but I’d like to learn more about how to build an audience for my blog–and how to get ads.

    My goal is to build a portfolio of writing to get freelance jobs.

    It’s funny reading about the delete button. I edited and rewrote yesterday’s blog several times. The job that pays my rent is teaching English as a Second Language to middle school kids, so it really cracked me up that I had to work so hard to get my post to be something publishable.

  28. Darren, you remind me of what Tony Robbins says in one of his books. It was about how he got started speaking, taking up 3 or 4 engagements a DAY (even in small groups, with fewer than 10 attendees) while other pro-speakers were doing one a week.

    With the result, within a year, Tony had the experience that usually takes a professional speaker in training several years to gain.

    That became a differentiating point, and he became more ‘in demand’ because he was so much better.

    The best way to actually get to become a better blogger is to blog – often, consistently and for long enough.

    Nice post.

    All success

  29. A problem I face now, which becomes more pronounced as time goes on and I develop more of a network and become involved in more online activities peripheral to blogging, is disciplining myself to stay on track. To spend time on writing rather than researching, commenting, following links to links to links that can take up so much time. I end up with copious notes and ideas, and a few more readers but not enough posts.

  30. I just found that once I started blogging the ideas just kept flowing but if I don’t make note of the idea I loose the initial enthusiasm for the topic.

  31. I agree with Stephanie’s post above about carrying a small notepad and pen. I just started blogging recently and am working on getting my blog discovered.

  32. After five years (and now with five blogs), I remain convinced that the single best way to find something to blog about is to think less and blog more. Yes, I know you’ve suggested that blogging less often increases reader involvement. However, for those who tend to freeze up because they feel they need to write a spectacular, Problogger-quality entry, the solution is often to just loosen up and let the fingers fly.

  33. It’s great to see that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. A balance of work, family and blog time is tough.

    The only item from the list was about being around other bloggers. I’m doubting there are other bloggers (especially probloggers) in my area. Any tips to find some?

    I wrote about how I plan to put these suggestions into action on my blog .

    Thans for the great post

  34. I think that when starting a blog – there should be a plan of what one is going to write about. One should sit before and jot down ideas

  35. Hey Darren. I agree. I also just come up with the post, I don’t ever really run out of ideas.

  36. Great post Darren. And it is these types of posts that really motivate new bloggers to keep going.

  37. My problem is second guessing the quality of my posts and worrying that my audience won’t “get it” or won’t understand what I’m trying to say. How many jokes turn out to be duds because they don’t read the same way you heard them in your head as you typed?

  38. Thanks for an interesting site Darren. I’ll be keeping your blog in mind for future reference. I’m definitely a Blogger through in through only when my kids are asleep. Not much time when they are around your feet.

  39. Great post!

    As a brand new blogger I found this quite inspiring – based on my experiences with other projects I’m pleased that i’ve got through one personal hurdle (getting started), but was starting to worry about the next (keeping going after a few weeks).

    This post gives me the inspiration that it will get easier and more natural and I know that thought will keep me going once the novelty has worn off.

    Doubly cool as I’m restarting an exercise plan too for the new year :-)

  40. looks like the lovely Rachel at cre8d-design is having a bit of a problem with spam couldn’t someone help her out DARREN :)

  41. As usual Darren, I swear your ESP is working!

    I sit here this morning, knowing that a new post and poll are needed on my blog, … and hitting The Wall so to speak. (I don’t think the cold medicine has helped any with that task either…LOL)

    I will dig through that overly full draft folder in my word program, and see what I can find in there.

    Learning a new thinking habit is always a challenge, and I plan on applying your valuable tips to the process. Also, as Stephanie way above mentioned, I will dig out a note book and utilize that as well, as I am dodging two small boys and a large dog.

    Happy Posting, and thank you again for your amazing timing!
    Mrs Mom

  42. Blooging, like writing or other educational functions, can be addictive, a good addiction.

    I learned the other day just how much of a relatinship I had developed with the internet when my ISP went down for a day an half. I felt as though I had “internet withdrawals.” Sad plight, eh?

    Keep up the good work my fellow bloggers.


  43. I can see myself going through these processes, I do try to plan and structure my days so I can achieve more for my blogs.

    I have to say it is a challenge – but that’s not a bad thing!

    It is an ongoing process and keeping the momentum up can be difficult. But I have found it easier when I am working on my new blog (in name above), because that is more of a passion for me and I have more plans for what I want to achieve.

    I’m going to be patient and keep going with my daily tasks and like you said in your video post – watch the grass grow!

  44. Hi – I’ve just started blogging too and last night when I was posting I thought “This is so awkward! I can’t figure out if my ‘voice’ sounds at all natural or engaging and if I write this long post are people going to read it” and so on and so on. I’m glad to know that starting off awkwardly is maybe not the end of the world!

    Obviously it wasn’t for you!

  45. This is a really great example of a mindset change, Darren. As you hint at, it took you a lot longer to change your mindset than to change your behavior (this is also the case with your new diet and exercise regiment).

    The good news is that mindset and behavior reinforce each other. The more you act like a blogger (by blogging) the more you will start to think like a blogger – and vice versa.

  46. I am new to blogging and was running out of post ideas for my Golf blog. I played a round this morning and managed to think of 8 post ideas whilst playing; some of which I think could be expanded into multiple posts. I am running a couple of other blogs and realise the best way of coming up with ideas is to “do” whatever your blog is about; much better that sat at the keyboard thinking “what shall I type?”

  47. Sherri says: 01/10/2008 at 6:23 am

    Wow!! That is some good information, Darren! That is not only applicable for bloggers, but, teachers, students, entreprenuers, etc. Thank you for sharing your journey with us so that we can learn from your mistakes.

  48. Very thoughtful post. I have only been blogging for about six months so I found this post quite useful.

  49. you are what you believe you are! great post… thanks, brad

  50. Awesome post Darren, great tips. Its was aluded too, but not directly, I think a great tip is already just reading. I find I get most of my ideas while reading things, whether that is books, devotionals (great inspiration for ideas) or other blogs, that is where most of my ideas come from.

    I prefer to use a mindmap to keep all my ideas and even though I am fairly new to blogging, my mind map of ideas is already HUGE from reading. I like to keep about a month of cached articles and I only fill in instant posts to respond to news items or other posts from my blog (which is rare anyway).

    Just make sure you have a way to always capture your ideas. Notepad, email to yourself from other locations, private website comments, drafts, mindmaps, etc.

    The other tip is to find ideas by surfing, sometimes categories or stumbleupon categories or some related source, but then knowing when to quite surfing and start writing.

A Practical Podcast… to Help You Build a Better Blog

The ProBlogger Podcast

A Practical Podcast…