Man, this blogging stuff ain’t no joke. Have you ever felt uber proud of yourself for getting your exercise in that day only to wake up and realize you have to do it all over again? Good god, life just won’t quit.
Blogging’s like that. For crying out loud, just when I think I’ve got a good topic to cover for the week, Wednesday rolls around all over again and my brain says, “What the hell happened? You want another idea?! We just gave you one!” And I say “I know, I’m sorry, but you know that blogging is essential for the advancement of my career, and if I don’t keep this thing up week after week, my ass is grass.”
So this week my brain answered my “what should I blog about this week” plea with somewhat of a smart-ass response. It said, “I don’t know, why don’t you figure it out.” And first I said a few things like, “Well I never,” and, “Deary me,” and, “How dare you,” and then I realized that even a cheat-sheet on what to blog about can in fact be a helpful blog post. My brain is one sneaky devil.
So I wrote this post for all of you who know that if we don’t keep up with our regular blogging schedule, our asses are grasses. (It rhymes, just roll with it.) Alright–mostly I wrote it for me and my future self’s sanity. But you’re gonna find it useful too, I just know it.
Quick note: while the ideas on this list are more geared towards people who write about writing and blogging and whatnot, they can be easily adapted to fit the needs of any other type of writer. So let’s get to it.
1. Write about a past mistake.
Of yours, not one of your clients. No pointing fingers here–it’s about shining the critical spotlight on yourself for this post. You know, a post of the cautionary “don’t do the stupid shit I’ve done!” flavor.
If you’ve made a mistake in your professional journey, it’s pretty likely someone else on a similar career path might make it too if they’re not warned about it by an experienced professional like you. You’ve come so far, you’ve had to have made at least a few mistakes along the way. Put up a few warning signs in these areas for your readers and they’ll love you for it.
I’ll write a post like this as soon as I’ve made a mistake, but so far I’ve been quite perfect. Just kidding, I’ve got plenty of material to work with. Let’s talk about it later.
It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to. It’s all about you, partner, so you’re allowed to bear your grievings on the world every once in a while. Do it too much and your readers will probably suggest you seek professional help, but keep it infrequent and add a dash of humor and you might even leave your readers thinking, “Yes! I feel you! I hate that too!”
3. Write a personal essay.
Similar to #2, but with a bit less anger, hopefully. A personal essay is a bit different from a regular old blog post in that the focus isn’t so much on your business or your offerings but on your personal life. Take a look at these personal essay ideas to help get those creative juices flowing again.
4. Write about your childhood.
In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about writing on your childhood as a way to combat writer’s block. She quotes Flannery O’Connor, who says it best: “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” Bonus points if you can somehow tie it into the present by using it to teach a lesson or showing how a certain event in your childhood contributed to your decision to take on the career you’ve chosen.
5. Make a list.
A list of what? Books you’ve read, quotes you love–anything your heart desires, really. Matter of fact, I’m going to put a mental star next to this one and revisit it very soon, because doesn’t that just sound like a ton of fun? Lists are exhilarating, and it’s not hard to craft an interesting list that’s relevant to your area of expertise. Look–I’m even doing it right now.
6. Review a book you’ve read.
Or a movie you’ve watched. A work of art pertaining to your craft and your industry, preferably. If you learned something from it–perhaps even that it was a waste of your time–let us in on it.
7. Answer your own questions.
If you ever had a question about how things in your industry work, it’s very likely that lots of other people are wondering the same thing. For instance, I wanted to know what kind of money full-time novelists make, and a few very helpful blog posts used a combination of research and personal experience to clue me in on just that. If it’s within the limits of your abilities and resources, use your own questions to fuel the creation of your more informative posts.
8. Talk about the gadgets and gizmos that make life and work a bit easier.
Ah, another list, potentially. A list of your favorite products, services, and software programs, to be precise. Others in your line of work are dying to know about this stuff. I mean, what would we do without Scrivener?! I can’t even bear to think of it.
9. Gather helpful industry info like the latest scoop on conferences, contests, retreats, and news relevant to your very own niche.
The Write Life is the queen of collecting stuff like this for writers, so head over there to get a good grasp on this type of post. If you ever feel like it’s all out there already, remember that with every passing day a jillion things are growing and changing in your particular industry, so keep tabs on them by writing about it.
10. Shine the spotlight on the ones who’ve inspired you.
Oooh, I’m gonna do this one soon. It feels good to give credit where credit is due. A lot of the success I enjoy today was set into motion by the brilliant ideas of people like Karen Marston at Untamed Writing and Ash Ambirge at The Middle Finger Project. If you’ve got people like this in your life or around the web, or perhaps even a high-profile figure in your industry, tell us about it so we can be inspired by them too.
11. Tell us where you’ve struggled and how you’ve dealt with it.
So we can know how to deal with it, too. I’ve been stuck plenty a time in the post-honeymoon phase of learning a foreign language where you get bored and wonder whether or not you should even continue studying, even though you know you really want to. So I wrote a blog post on what to do when you feel burnt out while studying a foreign language.
Sometimes your readers might not even recognize that their problem is a real problem worth addressing (i.e. how many language learners knew that this phase of dispassion is a common thing?), so calling attention to the problems you’ve had and how you’ve solved them can open their eyes and do them a world of good.
12. Ask us what we want.
What do your readers really want? It’s your blog and you should do what you want to do, but I’m willing to bet that one of the things you want to do is offer valuable information to your readers. You’ve probably done this one already, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit the idea every couple months or so. You might just strike gold with the help of your reader’s feedback. Who knows how many new blog post ideas could come from this.
13. Give us the kick in the ass we needed.
Inspire us. Amp us up. Give us permission. Sometimes all we need is a pep talk, so write a post that encourages us to get out there and do that one thing we’re determined to do. Pretend you’re the coach from Remember the Titans. Pretend like you’re Steve Jobs giving a commencement speech. Just pour your heart out into one long ranty post–which is a positive thing, in this case, because it’ll inspire us to be the best we can be.
14. Tell us a funny story.
My college roommate were like an old married couple in a sense that at the end of each day we always asked each other, “What did you eat today?” Only instead of “What did you eat today?” it was, “What embarrassing things did you do today?” We thrived on the stories about me running into a table in front of a cute dude, her getting caught in the line of fire of the elevator doors (twice in one go), and me accidentally laughing like a donkey and drawing attention to myself in a quiet library. We live on stories like this. They fuel us.
If you’ve made an ass of yourself lately or have another type of funny story to tell, let’s hear about it.
15. Tell us about your goals.
That way we can hold you accountable. There’s no escaping your responsibilities once you’ve put ‘em in a blog post for the world to see. You can write about your goals for the future and talk about whether or not you’ve accomplished the goals you’ve set in the past.
16. Feature a guest writer.
Make them do it so you don’t have to. Well, you’ll have to pay them of course, unless exposure to your blog’s high level of traffic is sufficient payment in itself. Get someone else to hold the fort for the week and you’ll both benefit from the sharing of social circles. It definitely helps to create a page with guest post guidelines for your site so people know you’re open to featuring posts from other writers.
17. Approach old posts with new angles.
Round up the best content you’ve got and come up with a good reason for showing it to your readers again. Have you changed your mind or method? Have you learned more on a topic since writing about it? If you’ve got a new spin on some of your old ideas, you’ve got all you need to create an original blog post.
18. Write an expert roundup post.
An expert roundup post is a list of insights, tips, and advice from important people in your field. There actually isn’t much writing on your part for this one–it’s all about collecting ideas from people across the industry, so most of your time will be spent in correspondence with whatever experts you can get your hands on. (Please don’t touch the experts. Unless they ask you to.)
19. Write on whatever your heart desires.
Even if you think no one will want to read it. If you want to talk about the crazy dream you had last night, do it. If you simply want to practice your creative writing skills, have at it, sis. Or bro.
Writing a post just for you every once in a while isn’t going to scare people away. And if it does, it’s probably a good thing, because they probably weren’t the right people. The reader who cares about your blog and its offerings will understand that not every single post will be packed with value. Sometimes a post will provide value only for you. And the loyal readers will be cool with that.
20. Don’t write at all.
Sometimes you really do need a break. Look, I know most of us are twitching, borderline-psychotic workaholics. But sometimes what you need to do is step away from the keyboard and put your hands in the air. Wave ‘em like you just don’t care. Wave ‘em like you’re not crying about not having anything to write about this week. Or wave and cry and laugh maniacally all at once, even though you’ll look like a damn fool doing it. It’s all good, friend. Inspiration will sink her tallons into your heart again soon, but she needs you to live a little first.
Whew! Now I have no excuse, and neither do you. Write on, my friends.