As bloggers, we all face the challenge of creating unique content that will keep readers coming back for more. The first step to writing a blog post is coming up with an idea, but many times this part of the process is taken for granted and sufficient time is not spend on idea development.
Original thoughts, or the lack thereof, can make or break a blog, especially in saturated markets. One of the best ways to help yourself to find interesting and new ideas is to brainstorm before the writing process begins.
By brainstorming you can find topics that will engage your readers, and you’ll also be able to approach common topics from a new perspective that doesn’t just repeat what everyone else is writing.
Brainstorming Techniques for Bloggers
Here are a few different methods of brainstorming that you can use to identify potential article topics for your blog:
1. Problem Solving
A proven way to find loyal readers is to help them solve problems that they are facing. If you’re looking for some ideas for new posts, start with a problem or question that is common for your readers. Now, write down all of the possible answers or solutions that you can think of. See if you can find relationships between some of the different solutions so that they can be tied together into a new blog post. Once you find a solution, or a combination of solutions, that you think is appropriate you can dig deeper into it. This process can be repeated for different problems and questions until you find a suitable topic for a post.
Freewriting is letting your thoughts flow onto paper (or computer) without judgment. Don’t focus on actually writing a blog post, just start writing about anything that affects your readers. With freewriting you don’t want to worry about format, punctuation or spelling. You’re simply writing to get your mind moving and generating ideas. Set a specific length of time that you want to freewrite and don’t stop until the time has elapsed. Hopefully when you are done and you look over what you have written a few potential topics will have arisen.
3. Think Like Your Readers
Your readers are the ultimate judges of the quality of your blog posts. The most effective bloggers are able to understand what will interest their readers, and then deliver a quality post. If you’re trying to come up with ideas from your own perspective, take a step back and try to put yourself in your readers shoes. What would you want to read? What information could help you? What haven’t you read about on every other blog you subscribe to?
With clustering your goal is to find different pieces of information that you can cluster together to create new ideas. Start with a blank piece of paper and a general subject. On that piece of paper you want to write down words or short phrases that apply to that particular subject. Write as many as you can think of. Once the paper is full you’ll try to find relationships and connections between the different words and phrases. Circle related terms and connect them with lines. When yo’re finished you’ll have a lot of related ideas on a particular topic, and probably a few topics for quality posts.
Start with the specific topic of your blog and create a list of anything that you can think of that is related to the topic or to your readers. As you create the list, create sub-lists under items to take it one step further. For example, to use this method for my blog I might list website design, internet marketing, blogging, and SEO (a longer list is preferable, this is just a short example). Under blogging I might have a sub-list that includes promotion, writing, increasing subscribers, getting comments, and RSS feeds. The idea “writing” might lead me to the topic of brainstorming to come up with ideas for writing blog posts, and now I have an idea for an article – brainstorming.
Putting It Into Practice
Ideally, you’ll use a few of these methods at different times to come up with new ideas. Regardless of which method you choose, here are a few tips for your brainstorming:
- Set aside time each week or month for brainstorming. If you make idea generation a priority, you will have a unique blog that readers will watch closely.
- Set a time limit. Although brainstorming is necessary, it is more effective when a time limit exists. Force yourself to open your mind for 15 or 30 minutes and then look at what you’ve done. Creating the content is still important and you need to leave time for writing.
- Don’t judge yourself or your ideas. The point of brainstorming is added creativity. If you’re judging your ideas as you think of them you may be overlooking potentially good ideas. Keep an open mind.
- Aim for quantity and quality. Don’t be afraid to write down and idea because it’s not quite complete. If you have a lot of ideas you may be able to mold them together to create even better ideas.
- Write everything down. Brainstorm helps you to come up with a lot of ideas in a short period of time. Write everything down or you may forget some of your best ideas.
- Keep what you write. The thoughts and ideas you write down are valuable not just for today, but for the future as well. Your efforts may have given you some great new ideas for your next several blog posts, but don’t throw away the rest of your ideas that aren’t used right away. You may be in the same situation in a few days or weeks with nothing new to write about. If you keep your ideas you can revisit them and try to build on them.
Try some of these methods and see if they help you to come up with some new, original ideas for blog posts.