How to keep writing amazing blog posts
I am still early in my blogging journey, but one thing I know for sure is that I will need lots of ideas to keep writing blog posts. This blog has not been started to tackle any specific issue or to provide information on anything in particular, and so for all intents and purposes, I have a blank canvas to start from. Now, this felt challenging and a little daunting at first but in a wave of my own genius I thought, why not use this as one of my first learning experiences and document it?
So here we are then - How do we keep writing amazing blog posts?
To me, a blog post is fundamentally based on an idea. Now, whether that idea comes in the form of a tutorial, an opinion, a point of view, a diagram, an interview or all of the above, they all started with a single or group of ideas, followed by putting pen to paper, fingers to keys or mouths to mics. Ideas then, are what I need and hopefully, the better the ideas, the better the blog post... For me, I believe this to be a numbers game. I would not call myself an experienced writer or a blogger (just yet) and I can’t rely on my natural talent to consistently churn out world-dominating blog posts, but what I am hoping is that I can write a good blog post every now and then. I just need to find them. So, the more ideas I have, the more world-dominating posts I will find.
Generating ideas out of the blue is hard. It is like a blank canvas or an empty void and we don’t want to be starting from scratch every time. You don’t see artists, writers or designers sitting alone in darkened rooms do you? They sit in brightly lit studios with mood boards, colours and vibrant atmospheres. Why all of this paraphernalia? For inspiration, blue-sky thinking and idea generation. We can and should learn from this and try to replicate that when we’re writing our blog posts.
How do we achieve this starting point?
The first step of wonderful blog creation is to have a wonderful bank of blog ideas. Keeping track of your ideas is important and so you should have a system in place to do so. Since starting this site I have put every idea for a blog post I have had into a list. Whether I think it is a brilliant idea or a s**t idea, it goes into the list. It doesn’t matter how you keep this archive of ideas - you could use a pen and paper, a Word Document or your note-taking app, just like I do (For any that are interested I use Notion) - You’ll soon find that this list grows rapidly and is much better than your brain when it comes to remembering those ideas. As far as I can tell, my system hasn’t forgotten a single one so far.
Having this list is a great resource, as when the time comes to start a new post, I have a wealth of ideas already there. It is just a case of picking one that is resonating with me at that moment in time. In Notion, I also can add extra information to the items in my list. I use this in lots of different ways but one thing I do is mark the date of when I had the idea, then, If that idea is still lingering around after a set number of days or weeks it can automatically be moved into a separate archive list. In my eyes, if an idea has been left dormant for so long, it is most likely never going to be used.
The list of ideas is great, it means we are never starting from zero and if you keep it up, the list is forever growing. Believe me when I say, if you do keep up with adding ideas as-and-when you think of them, the list will grow faster than you can type them. The next problem is where do we get these ideas from? Hopefully, in this section, I can give a few examples of how I like to obtain ideas.
Bird Song Technique
This is a technique I learnt from Ali Abdaal who I am sure, if you’re reading this blog, you know who he is. The idea behind this technique is that when you start engaging in an activity, you start to view the world around you from a different perspective. As an example, if you were walking down a street, next to a row of houses, you probably wouldn’t notice all of the brickwork and how it may differ from house to house but if laying bricks was your profession or a skill you recently acquired, you will more than likely notice and be able to pick up on the details. Like the brick type, bonding or whether or not the job had been done well. This different perspective allows that individual to see things that most can’t or are just blind to.
So how does this help when writing a blog post? Ideally, your blog and its posts are of interest to you, and you no doubt already consume content that is of the same ilk as the content you write about. So when consuming this content you should be positioning your mind as a content creator and thinking of how the information you are absorbing, could be turned into content of your own. You have the advantage of knowing about the subject you are consuming and therefore should be able to pick out details that maybe others would miss. This is absolute gold when it comes to content as you can get some original ideas without having to work too hard. You just have to remain vigilant in your day-to-day life and always have blogging in the back of your mind.
This is probably the most obvious of the lot. It is simply sitting down and coming up with your own ideas for a topic. Normally stemming from your interest you sit down and start thinking of blog post ideas. Go through your hobbies, career, quirks and kinks to find that next topic to write about. For me, this is the hardest one to engage with. I need an idea to come to me naturally, as I find the ideas that do come naturally, often seem to carry the most engagement and excitement, whereas the ones I have actively thought about and worked to obtain, often feel forced and I lack the enthusiasm to put them into practice. They end up in the list of ideas and never seem to make it out.
Unfortunately, as I don’t practice this technique very often I am not in the best position to offer any meaningful advice. Everyone is different though and I am sure some of you out there will benefit from this active research technique.
Original source vs Derivative
This here is an interesting one - Original content vs Derived content. This is the idea that some posts will be completely original and some will be derived or reimagined from other sources, for example, a blog, youtube video or newspaper article etc. The completely original ideas come from you and you alone. You have thought of an original topic and you have gone and collected research and information surrounding that topic to write about. Maybe this comes from research papers, interviewing people or your knowledge on a subject. Content of this type is often harder work but more rewarding for your audience as you are more than likely bringing new information to the table which they have not come across before.
On the other hand, we have derived content. I think most newcomers will have the mindset that everything you create has to be new and original, whereas I don’t think it does have to be that way. I don’t see anything wrong in adapting something you have seen and putting your own spin on it. As long as you are not copying and pasting entire blocks of text and passing someone else's work off as your own, but you are re-writing and telling your own version of the same topic, I believe that is all good. Everyone is different and I believe we all have something to add when retelling these stories. You see it in conversation all the time. So don’t be afraid to retell someone else's story but make sure you are adding to it and providing your insight into the topic. You can also link to the source so that your audience can see your journey.
So the above then is my approach to keeping this blog fuelled. Will it continue to work? I don’t know. Only time will tell. For me now though, I am still in the numbers mindset. I have a lot to learn about blogging and whereabouts this blog fits within the ecosphere. Will it be about me, productivity, hacks or technology? I am still unsure, but I do believe it will find its place.