Writing Content for Your Blog
I write. A lot. From emails, to blog posts, to personal work, to reports at work, I feel like I spend a lot of time writing. And I love it! There are two things I’m asked about often as far as blogging goes: my writing process and taking pictures. The latter I will cover in another post but today I want to talk about writing content for a blog.
For me, it’s about getting creative and coming up with ideas for blog posts as well as just documenting my life. Like I said in the last post about my blogging philosophy, I don’t write specific content meaning I don’t write specifically about interior design, or politics, or sports, etc. So I would consider myself a “lifestyle blogger” or a “personal blogger.” That means I write about a broad range of topics, all having to do with my life.
Below are a few tips and a peek into my writing process for my blog.
DO YOU EVER RUN OUT OF IDEAS? Truthfully, not really. That’s not to sound boastful but here is my secret to why I rarely lack in blog post ideas:
I CARRY A SMALL NOTEBOOK AT ALL TIMES. I developed this trick a while back when I was going through a creative dry spell. I rarely run out of ideas because I keep a catalogue of ideas in a small notebook I carry around in my purse, AKA, my Mary Poppins bag. It’s so much better than jotting stuff down on a post it note because those always get lost.
Whenever an idea pops in my head I jot it down before I forget. Then I go through my ideas and let them mull around for a while, adding onto them. Some ideas I’m more excited about than others and those will get published more quickly. So if I’m ever running short on ideas, I can just look in my arsenal and go from there. But because I have a running list of topics, I rarely have a time where I have absolutely nothing to write about. Now, whether or not I’m in the mood to write about it is a completely different story.
From this notebook I take it to this…
I PLAN. I take a handful of these ideas (usually the ones I’m most excited about) and I write them on tiny post-it notes. I put those post it-notes to the right side of the calendar and then I gradually fill in the entire month. This means I usually know what I’m going to write about for an entire month. That doesn’t mean the post date is set in stone, it just means I have a visual that it has potential to get published. The post-its really help for me to be able to move ideas around. Things definitely change and this is a general way to stay organized.
I like having the big calendar (that project post is here) but this could definitely work with a planner or organizer too!
Once I choose a date to publish a post I always, 99% of the time, have the post written and ready to publish by the night before, scheduled to be published between 7-8am. This is a Bibilical-like standard for me. It cuts down on my stress in soooo many ways. Plus, you’re conditioning your readers to expect a new post within a certain time frame and they’re likely to come back because of consistency. Plus, planning ahead has really helped me stress less about what I’m putting out there for the world to read.
FIND IDEAS FROM READING OTHER BLOGS. Going through an idea dry spell? Even though I say I don’t run out of ideas, I do go through idea dry spells where I just want to be inspired by an idea and run with that. It’s perfectly okay to browse through blogs to gain inspiration. Maybe looking through a ton of DIY posts on a blog will inspire an idea in you. You never know!
But be careful. If you go to other sites looking for ideas and find one you’d like to try and write about that’s perfectly fine. If you’re copying it just make sure you cite your source in your post letting your readers know where you got the idea.
IF YOU’RE FEELING UNINSPIRED YOU NEED TO STEP AWAY. I can’t preach this enough. We blog about life. If I’m stuck in a writing rut, uninspired I need to do what? Get out. Live life! This gives you a time to get refreshed so you can come back and conquer the world! It’s amazing what a little break will do for inspiring your creative juices.
MIX IT UP. I always try to mix up my material to maintain a balance. One day will be Wating for Grace, the next a craft, the next a photo post, the next a funny, quippy post. Not only does that give your content variety, it makes it easier to stay focused because you’re not bogged down by one specific niche.
DON’T WRITE ANYTHING YOU WOULDN’T WANT YOUR BOSS TO READ. Hi Janet! *waving erratically* See, my boss reads my blog and I’m completely comfortable with it. It also helps that she’s cool and knows I’m “quirky.” Never, ever write anything you wouldn’t want to be read. Plain and simple. If it’s here, it will get read. So that means never talk about your work, anyone, or anything in a negative light unless you’re looking for drama or a pink slip.
That also goes for incredibly personal details about your life. Some stuff shouldn’t always be shared because it’s important to keep a part of your life private. Deciding to start talking about our infertility was a huge decision because once it was out there, it was gone. That’s also why I had such a hard time deciding about whether or not I should write this post. If you’re debating about whether you should write about an incredibly personal issue, weigh the pros and cons and discuss it with a handful of people you trust to get their feedback.
DON’T BE NEGATIVE. Stay away from negativity. I’m not talking about a post every once in a blue moon talking about how rough life has been. We all go through those and it’s okay to share our struggles every once in a while in order to reach out for encouragement. I’m talking about every. single. post. If your blog reeks a negative vibe you might as well have been sprayed by a skunk. No one will want to be around your blog.
I had to really check my attitude and my heart when I started writing Waiting for Grace. I still do. So I can completely understand diving into a subject that takes you to a painful place where it’s only natural to be negative. Challenge yourself to look beyond the negativity to find that point in your situation that could gleam anything positive and focus on that. It will help to make a difference not only in your life but in the lives of others who take the time to read what you have to say.
BE REAL. One of the most appealing things in reading a blog is when you get the sense that the author is completely real and isn’t afraid to be herself. If you are completely real, people will come.
As I typed that last sentence I literally said out loud, “Build it. And they will come.” Oh how I love randomly quoting movies to myself.
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED. On every blog that I read the author has at one point confessed that she feels inadequate because she is constantly comparing herself to other bloggers. If you dig deep into my archives you’ll probably find a post along that same topic. It’s a common issue we go through as bloggers. Please don’t compare yourself to another blogger because you think she has a prettier design, or better photos, or writes better, or has sponsors, or gets more comments, yada yada yada. Please, please, please don’t compare yourself with other bloggers. Focus only on yours. Everyone’s journey and style is different. Just because you aren’t getting as many comments as you would like, or subscribers, or hits doesn’t mean anything. It just takes time to build your blog. Just keep posting faithfully and interact with other bloggers and you’re on your way to a great readership.
HAVE FUN. I don’t know how else to say this except, go for it! Have fun with your blog! Write away.
I wanted to add a footnote: Let me just say, I’m am very passionate about blogging and hannahbunker.com. I’m a little OCD with my ideas notebook and scheduling. Please don’t think of my writing routines as a must-do for blogging. Those are the ways I’ve found it’s easiest for me and just wanted to share those habits with you in case you think they sound like something you might like to give a try.
Do you have any tips for writing content on a blog? Please share! I’d love to hear!