This guest post is by Stephen Pepper of Youth Workin’ It.
There are so many articles out there on how you can come up with new blog post ideas, but do any of the suggestions actually work?
We started our youth work blog in September 2011 and have posted six days a week ever since, so we’ve had to come up with over 200 posts related to youth work so far. Needless to say, it’s been tricky coming up with this many ideas.
I’ve read all kinds of different suggestions on how to overcome blogger’s block, but each person’s experience is different. Here are 20 techniques we’ve used to help counter blogger’s block.
- Embarrassing stories: Think back to moments of your life when you were really embarrassed. Use that situation to craft a post relating to your niche—there’s a good chance it’ll entertain readers (as did our post on how being asked to rate the first time with your wife out of 10 on a BBC gameshow watched by millions can relate to youth work).
- Choose subjects for each day of the week: This has probably been my single most helpful way of deciding what to write. Each day from Monday to Saturday has its own category—Mondays are for posts on youth work activities, Tuesdays are youth work Q&A, Wednesdays are program administration, and so on. This means our focus can be more defined each day, rather than having to come up with a random topic every time we write. You can do this even if you only blog once a week—the first week of the month could always be based on one subject, the second week on another, and so on.
- Use special days as inspiration: Use special days and public holidays as post idea prompts. For example, we have a Spotlight on Youth series where we focus on a certain young person based on certain public holidays. For example, we wrote about the former child soldier Ishmael Beah on Veteran’s Day. On National Pirate Day, write your post in Pirate language. National Pancake Day? Work your post around that.
- Cell posts: Can you divide your posts into two, like a cell divides? You might start writing a post and realize that you’re starting to talk about two different things. For example, we recently started wrote a series about parents’ involvement in your youth work. When working on a post about unsupportive parents, we realized there were actually two types of unsupportive parents—one who’s unsupportive of their child, and one who’s unsupportive of the work you’re doing with their child. These are completely different issues, so we were able to get two days’ worth of posts out of one original idea.
- Change of scenery: Changing your location can have a big impact on your creativity. We’d started getting stale with our idea creation recently, so we went and sat on Virginia Beach for an hour to come up with future topics. After an hour, we had over 100 new blog posts ideas.
- Write for sub-niches: Youth work has a number of specialized areas—urban, rural, faith-based, LGBT, gangs, foster care, mental health, sexual health, young offenders, etc. There’s a good chance that whatever niche you’re in has many similar sub-niches. Make a list and use it to inspire further ideas.
- Use Google Analytics: Take a look at the keyword searches that are bringing people to your site, as this will give you a great idea of what information people are looking for. You may think that the fact that they’ve arrived at your site means you’ve already written about what they’re searching for, but that’s not always the case. We did a series on preparing young people for job interviews (including what they should wear), but we’ve had many people arrive at that post having searched for what youth workers should wear to job interviews. It’s a completely different topic, but we can now create a number of posts about youth worker interviews.
- Likes: What do you love in your niche? Why are you blogging about it? What was your favorite moment relating to your niche? These questions can all be turned into posts for your blog.
- Dislikes: Similarly, what do you hate about your niche? What practices wind you up? Let these frustrations become passionate posts.
- Consider opposites: By looking at an issue from opposite directions, you can get two new blog post ideas. For example, we recently gave advice on how to come up with good youth group names, but also wrote a subsequent post on how to avoid a lame youth group name.
- Be inspired by social media: On Twitter, are there any hashtags specific to your niche? Keep an eye on these as they’ll give you a good idea of questions people may want answered. On Facebook, are people leaving comments on your page that you could address in a blog post?
- Solicit guest posts: Try to build up a bank of guest post submissions from other bloggers. These can then be used when you’re feeling dry of ideas.
- Search research: Use Google’s keyword tool to discover what people are looking for, as opposed to what you think they’re looking for. This is also where your sub-niches can also come into play. For us, instead of searching for “youth work,” researching a sub-niche like “youth retreat” uncovered a number of keyword searches like “youth retreat themes,” “youth retreat ideas,” “youth retreat games,” etc.
- Compilations of your own posts: Introduce your readers to some of your most popular posts by making a compilation list. If you’ve covered a number of sub-niches, you could even have a series of compilations based on each of those sub-niches.
- Compilations of other bloggers’ posts: If you want to become an authority in your niche, you’ll need to read other blogs relating to the same niche. Show them some love by creating a compilation of the best posts you’ve read recently and linking to them.
- Take training … and share it: Have you had specific training relating to your niche? My wife (the better half of Youth Workin’ It) has an MA in youth work and community development. She’s therefore able to share her learning from her Master’s to youth workers who don’t have that qualification.
- Consider current affairs: Are there any popular news stories not directly related to your niche that you could write about by giving your niche’s take? For example, after watching the Stop Kony video, we provided a youth work session plan idea based on the Stop Kony campaign, as well as an opinion piece on whether youth groups should support the campaign.
- Use other people’s ideas: Don’t plagiarize other people’s blog posts. Yet there’s nothing wrong with taking their idea and improving on it, or offering a different opinion.
- Explain jargon: Are there phrases in your niche that wouldn’t make sense to an outsider—or even an insider? Write a series of posts explaining words or phrases that would be jargon for most of the population.
- Run competitions: Are you selling ebooks or any other resources? Hold a competition where readers get the opportunity to win a copy of one of your books. This is not only an easy post idea, but also provides another opportunity to promote your resources.
There are 20 items in this list. What tips can you add to build on these? We’d love to hear them in the comments!
Stephen Pepper is insurance administrator by day, youth worker & blogger by night. He and his wife run Youth Workin’ It, which includes a youth work blog and have started producing their own youth work resources to help youth workers worldwide.
Wonderful collection, Stephen. I’ve got this bookmarked now. I’ve tried 2, 10 and 20 already. I’m going to give the others a shot too. This compilation should help a lot of people in coming up with fresh content for their blogs. :)
Thanks Abdul – I hope it helps for the future
I love that in point 2 you don’t exclude those that only blog once a week which is what I do, as I run 3 blogs, there should be 4 but that one is on fitness and I am hardly a role model in that area, I attempt to update each blog once a week.
The idea of looking into the future and placing post ideas on a calendar next to important events events related to your core topics is a great idea and one I am definitely going to explore further.
To be honest, I only added in the bit about blogging less frequently than every day at the last minute. I’m so used to us posting daily that I hadn’t thought about it initially – glad I didn’t exclude the majority who don’t post as frequently!
Ask your readers! I recently asked on Twitter what people wanted to read about, and took a suggestion. The next post had 5x my normal views. To be honest, that’s not saying much, but it was good for my little site.
Agreed – if one person’s asked the question, chances are that many more people will be thinking the same thing.
We did a similar thing this last week – we’d had someone ask us on Twitter whether experience or qualifications are more important when getting a youth work job. We replied on Twitter as best we could in 140 characters, but wrote a more lengthy reply on our blog.
I write about evidence based nutrition and exercise – so I have an almost infinite amount to write about. My issue comes with keeping posts and reasonable length, and being thorough but not too sciencey!
That being said, I LOVE # 18. I feel like almost everything creative is derivative of other work and that’s okay. There is no need to be 100% original all the time – it can’t be done!
Yep, there’s nothing new under the sun! No matter what our niche is, we were all taught what we know by somebody, so it’s pretty hard to come up with something that’s 100% original and never been conceived of before.
Loved the ideas for figuring out topics. It can be daunting trying to figure out what to post about, but with a little guidance even the worst bloggers block can be avoided.
I particularly resonated with the comment: “If you want to become an authority in your niche, you’ll need to read other blogs relating to the same niche.”
I’ve found that the more reading I do in my niche, the more insights I have to offer my readers. I’ve also found that the more reading I’ve done about blogging the better my blog posts have become as well.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Each of these ideas are great, and this post has come at just the right time for me. :) I’ve tried number 2 but can’t seem to stick with writing the same topics on the same days. For some reason that just doesn’t work well for me. I do plan on implementing 15,17, and 19 in the coming weeks. Thanks again for the ideas.
Great advice Stephen, I like no 1. I think it is a great way to share our genuine experience rather making up stories to attract traffic.
This is far better than my list. My list is pretty much “Write a blog post – make sure it doesn’t suck”.
That’s my unwritten rule!
Spending plenty of time in stillness works for me. We create and dissolve writer’s block.
Being still dissolves the blocks. I leave meditation sessions with multiple inspirational ideas, record the ideas and get to work.
Thanks for sharing!
Good point – I agree. Most of my more creative ideas have been precisely when I’ve been doing other things and not thinking about blogging
Wow – thank you so much for this! We always need new inspiration and this will be very helpful!
I’ll go 10 straight days and have no problem coming up with new ideas. And then all of the sudden I’ll hit a brick wall. These are great ideas…thanks.
Hi Stephen! First of all, I love what you and your wife are doing. Much, much luck to you and I hope God sends both of you so many blessings you aren’t sure what to do with them all!
I’m wild about your second suggestion and have a few blogs of my own that I could implement something similar on. Thanks for the inspiration.
On my dream interpretation website, I have a form where readers can submit dreams they’d like interpreted – this provides me with more posts than I could ever possibly get to.. after all, everybody dreams and everybody wants to know, “What’s up with that?!?!”
On another blog, I have a form set up which simply asks the reader, “What do you want to read more about?” I let them know that I’m much more interested in what they want to hear than I am in what I want to say.
As your post beautifully illustrates, reading other people’s blogs and posts also provides a lot of inspiration. You just never know where the next great idea will come from, so be sure to cast your nets wide!
This is an awesome post! I’m working on starting a site right now and I can already see where these tips & trics will accelerate my launch.
Excellent – good luck with your blog
This is excellent. I stumbled on this while trying to brainstorm some topics. Perfect timing.
Are you kidding me? 6 posts per week? C’mon that’s awesome.
I started my blog few weeks before yours and now your blog has gained more fame than mine… lol
I’ve never written a blog in my life and I know that I should be blogging regularly but haven’t really known where to start. This article has given me some good ideas. I like no.19, I work in financial services like you and of course there’s plenty of jargon there to un-tangle! Thanks Steve.
I am glad you blogged about this. For me point number 13 works perfect for me especially given i deal with travelers on my website blog. I think I will try having a topic each day. This is great! Thanks.
Great list here Stephen. I can add something to the Google Analytics technique which works pretty well with sites that receive a decent amount of traffic (1000+ visitors/month). When looking at keywords under organic search traffic, create a filter to show only the keywords that include either of the following words: who, what, where, how and why. You may find some questions that more than one person is asking about so it may be an idea for a blog post!
Excellent point. I’ve just taken a look at the stats for the last 6 months and it’s crazy how many of these searches there have been – there must be at least a couple of hundred.
Now it’s just a case of working out if we’ve already answered their question!
Fantastic! I hope you find some new ideas for blog posts :)
Great list Stephen. Nice to see new suggestions on there. I like Point #2, about using certain days for certain subjects. You’ve already got a head start on a draft if you know what the subject is. Thanks!
Excellent tips… It’s easy to forget to look at other sources and get stuck on one note in our blogging life. I find that even after all these years blogging, it still helps to step back and learn from what else is going on in the world and on other blogs…
Excellent suggestions for new and veteran bloggers! A question for you: my blog is pushing 50,000 visits; am I creating reader confusion if I implement new ideas now? Thanks for these very helpful ideas!
Great ideas. Another potential tip. How about a Top Ten list?
Best of success in everything.
Thanks! I bookmarked it. Still need more ideas for my blog…
Brilliant list Stephen !!!
I like your right approach on finding and writing something new everyday.. :)
I have not implemented most of your points.. !!!!
Sometimes, I feel really helpless.. But I think from now, I will never be feeling like that..
Really great list !!! :)
Love it :)