Tips For Generating Blog Post Ideas

Recently, Chris Lema published a blog post titled Have You Run Out of Blog Post Ideas? And if you haven’t read it, then I highly recommend it. (In fact, if you’re involved in WordPress, I highly recommend you subscribe to his blog.)

Running Out of Blog Post Ideas?
Running Out of Blog Post Ideas?

In the post, he shares some practical tips for how he comes up with ideas for blog posts. If you’re someone who’s looking to blog more regularly but aren’t sure how to do it, then the post gives you some great advice for how to help capture ideas and turn them into posts.

Since I try to blog daily and I try to make sure what I have to say isn’t something that’s meant to fill some type of weekly quota, I thought I’d follow suit and share how I go about coming up with ideas for posts and then turning them into actual posts.

Generating Blog Post Ideas

Generally speaking, I’m assuming that anyone who reads this post is someone who’s already got a blog set up, is someone that blogs with some type of regularity, and is someone who is looking to take it a step further with blog post ideas.

1. Finding Inspiration

One of the things that other writers often get hung up on is how to actually find ideas about which to write. There are all kinds of excuses for why certain things haven’t been published, but this post isn’t bent on refuting those excuses.

Whatever it is you have to write about is going to be unique because it’s contextualized within your own experience. In short:

Experience helps generate inspiration.

With that said, how do we go about finding inspiration? Personally, I aim to use something I’ve experienced. This could be anything from…

  • a project,
  • a movie,
  • something I’ve read,
  • a song I’ve heard,
  • a tweet I liked (or didn’t like),
  • a comment on this blog or another blog,
  • something I heard someone say,
  • and so on.

And that’s the most general advice I can give as it relates to generating ideas: Draw on inspiration from things that you’ve done and that you do often.

But how is it possible to quickly capture ideas and then turn them into several hundred word posts?

2. A Few Words on Length

Posts don’t have to be that long. Truth is, many of my posts are often longer than I’d like and this is something that I’m looking to tweak over the course of this year (though you wouldn’t know it from this particular post, would you?).

One question that I’ve received via email more often than not is

How many words should I aim for when writing a blog post?

And unless it’s for a professional site that has a quota, I generally say, “however many you want.”

I don’t know how long it will take you to set up the idea, communicate the idea, and then ask readers to go a step further.

Whatever the case, don’t get caught up in your head about it. Share whatever it is you have to share in the way you want to share it best and go with that.

You’ll get better over time.

3. Don’t Look For Ideas (Let Them Come To You)

I don’t set out looking for ideas for blog posts. That is, I don’t sit down to watch a movie or sit to listen to music and think “How can I turn this into a blog post?”

That’s silly.

Ideas for posts usually come after the fact whenever I’m working on something else and an idea crosses my mind as to how what I’ve seen (or, more generally, experienced) is related to what I write about.

There’s an implied point here, though:

Because I generally work with WordPress day in and day out and because I tend to write about the things that I do or have done, it’s almost always sitting on my mind in some way.

Honestly, I dunno if that’s good or bad, but I digress on that for now. Regardless I’ll often end up making some type of connection between something I’ve done to what I do each day. That normally fuels enough inspiration for a post.

Recommended Tools

You know that bit above where I talk about posts getting too long? This is where a post starts to do exactly that.

In order to keep this thing from going on for too long, I’m going to split it into two parts and cover various tools that I recommend in a follow-up post. For those who are curious, I will say that I don’t necessarily think tools are going to help generate inspiration. I think they help with organizing ideas and information, but that’s it.

Until Then…

For now, I’m curious as to what you do to find inspiration for your posts, though. I’ve shared how I do it (and linked to how others do it).

But what about you?

 

9 Replies to “Tips For Generating Blog Post Ideas”

  1. As for your last statement I believe inspiration is all around us because every day we are creating new experiences which generate new thoughts. Even in a very repetitive routine there are opportunities for new thoughts but the hardest part, especially in today’s busy — fill up every second culture, is capturing the inspiration.

    Great minds throughout history have admitted to some form of reflection being a big reason for their greatness. Through reflection they unlock details observed in their subconscious that provide the spark of a new idea.

    Personally this belief has put a passion in me to some day build a tool to help restore the lost art form of journaling; something that can keep up with the pace of our culture, like twitter did for blogging with its “micro-blogging” concept perhaps a way to “micro-journal”

    That said, I am busy and unfortunately have not built said tool yet :( but the closest thing I’ve found, which I do use and appreciate and recommend, is called Diaro. It’s a cloud based so check out the website or download the app for Android and iPhone.

    1. As for your last statement I believe inspiration is all around us because every day we are creating new experiences which generate new thoughts. Even in a very repetitive routine there are opportunities for new thoughts but the hardest part, especially in today’s busy — fill up every second culture, is capturing the inspiration.

      Definitely.

      This is why I think it’s important to always hvae something to capture your notes with – I don’t care if it’s digital or analog (I use both FWIW), but I’m with you in that inspiration’s basically wherever.

      When you start looking around, it’s neat to see the connections you can make between what your senses experience to something you may want to write about. Things that are seemingly unrelated may end up seemingly related in some what you wouldn’t expect.

      Great minds throughout history have admitted to some form of reflection being a big reason for their greatness. Through reflection they unlock details observed in their subconscious that provide the spark of a new idea.

      One of my favorite things is to see the workspaces people had a long time ago – it was so simple. Paper, a desk, an a lamp. Though we’re technologically advanced, I still try to keep my desk as lean, clean, and distraction-free as possible.

      That said, I am busy and unfortunately have not built said tool yet :( but the closest thing I’ve found, which I do use and appreciate and recommend, is called Diaro. It’s a cloud based so check out the website or download the app for Android and iPhone.

      Ah, that’s cool! I use Day One for this kind of stuff, TBH.

  2. My entire writing philosophy right now comes down to teaching everything I know. I feel you always have plenty to teach your peers if you think about it. So far, that’s fueled all my writing.

    I fear at some point I might run out of things to teach. That said, I find it hard to imagine. I’m always learning so there’s always something to give back.

    That said, I don’t know if I could publish something every day (maybe I should try one day). I write every day, but, like you said, it’s harder to put something out every day and making it useful.

    1. My entire writing philosophy right now comes down to teaching everything I know. I feel you always have plenty to teach your peers if you think about it. So far, that’s fueled all my writing.

      Exactly — that’s generally how I take things, though I do write some opinionated stuff, too. Ultimately I try to balanace.

      I fear at some point I might run out of things to teach. That said, I find it hard to imagine. I’m always learning so there’s always something to give back.

      I agree. As long as you’re working and learning, there’s plenty to give back.

      That said, I don’t know if I could publish something every day (maybe I should try one day). I write every day, but, like you said, it’s harder to put something out every day and making it useful.

      For some, it’s hard to write every day. I don’t recommend it unless it’s something you really want it to do. For some,it works. For others, not so much.

      Quality over quantity in my opinion.

      1. Yeah, I don’t think I could do anything but “Quality over quantity”. I’m going to assume here that, by “write every day”, you mean publishing something every day. I think writing (without publishing) every day is a good habit to build if you want to write on a regular basis.

        The biggest change I did in the last year is to say, “Every day, I will write 100 words.” It’s small enough to not be intimidating, but large enough that you have 700 words at the end of the week. Sometimes, you might even get in the zone and write more!

        You can also increase it as you get better at it. I’m up to 200 words/day now.

        1. Yeah, I don’t think I could do anything but “Quality over quantity”. I’m going to assume here that, by “write every day”, you mean publishing something every day. I think writing (without publishing) every day is a good habit to build if you want to write on a regular basis.

          Spot on. I happen to write every day, though I also publish something every day. That’s an important distinction to make, for sure.

          Even though I publish something here daily-ish, there’s more that’s captured elsewhere that doesn’t necessarily get shared. Not everyone has to be shared despite what our current social networking tendencies tell us ;P.

          The biggest change I did in the last year is to say, “Every day, I will write 100 words.” It’s small enough to not be intimidating, but large enough that you have 700 words at the end of the week. Sometimes, you might even get in the zone and write more!

          I love this idea. I might adopt it for myself and for daily journaling. Write at least 100 words. That’s it.

          You can also increase it as you get better at it. I’m up to 200 words/day now.

          Nice! I’ve found that writing begets writing. The better you get at it, the more you end up writing. I’m actually at a point now where I’m trying to reign it back in a little bit so that my posts aren’t quite as long (coincidentally, I have some posts coming out about that later).

  3. When it comes to writing a new post every day it is normal to become acquainted with the dreaded writer’s block. I personally think the worst thing you can do in such cases is to sit down and try to force yourself to come up with something- not only do you get over stressed but if you do come up with an idea the end result isn’t that gratifying at all.

    Taking a break and chatting with friends and family usually leads to an interesting conversation topic you can write about. I find that taking walks or doing sport also helps clear my mind and promote the flow of ideas.

    However, sometimes I don’t feel like going outside and prefer the comfort of my room. In these cases I go on StumbleUpon and hopefully come across something that can lead to a great blog post. I also like TED Talks a lot for inspiration or as a way to lighten up my mood and spring my creativity.

    That being said, I don’t find your posts to be too long Tom, they are very easy to read too so I wouldn’t think of the length as a problem at all. I look forward to part 2 of this post ;)

    1. When it comes to writing a new post every day it is normal to become acquainted with the dreaded writer’s block. I personally think the worst thing you can do in such cases is to sit down and try to force yourself to come up with something- not only do you get over stressed but if you do come up with an idea the end result isn’t that gratifying at all.

      Agreed. Sometimes it’s just not worth fighting it and forcing something out. When you do, the audience will know. That’s why I’m such a fan of trying to build up a big backlog of content so that on days when you can’t think of anything to write, you’ve still got something to publish.

      Taking a break and chatting with friends and family usually leads to an interesting conversation topic you can write about. I find that taking walks or doing sport also helps clear my mind and promote the flow of ideas.

      Yep — getting totally disconnected from the thing you’re trying to use to publish something helps. It gets other parts of your brain working and you’re able to hopefully make a few neural connections (or whatever) and get the creative juices flowing.

      That being said, I don’t find your posts to be too long Tom, they are very easy to read too so I wouldn’t think of the length as a problem at all. I look forward to part 2 of this post ;)

      Thank you very much :).

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