If you’re reading this, it means you blog.
You’re a blogger. You’re a content marketer considering blogging as part of your marketing strategy. You’re a fiction writer considering blogging as a good way to communicate with readers or promote your book.
Whoever you are, if you create online content you constantly need ideas and plans to answer these eternal questions:
What to blog?
What content to share with readers?
What to write?
It’s a big problem for many bloggers, especially those believing the more often they write and publish, the better. As a result, they experience writer’s block, they procrastinate or sacrifice quality for quantity, and they eventually become sick and tired of blogging.
If so, don’t panic!
This article will reveal all secrets of coming out with great ideas for your blog, and it will tell you what to do when you are stuck and don’t know what to write.
Let’s get started…
#1. Practice Free Writing
Never heard of it?
It’s a technique, perfectly described by Mark Levy in his book, Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content, that awakens your creativity and helps you organize the huddle of ideas you keep in the head.
So, what is it all about? What is “free writing”?
Well, according to Urban Dictionary:
A term used to express the idea of just picking up a pen and writing the streamline of thoughts you’re thinking down on a piece of paper and attempting to have some type of flow.
Don’t worry, it’s easy:
Take a laptop and write several pages of text, expressing your subconscious ideas without estimating and thinking whether they work for your blog or not.
Just sit. Start. And write.
Don’t try too hard
Your only limit is the time you have available – don’t worry about purpose or topic. Just write. The process is what matters here, so relax and don’t think about results.
Let your thoughts and words flow.
Free writing is a popular technique used by many people, no matter if they are bloggers, writers, or those wishing to organize thoughts and reveal their hidden talents.
So, it comes as no surprise that many tools and resources have appeared to help us write with comfort.
Try the buzzword ones:
Tool 1: 750 Words
Accept the challenge of writing no less than 750 words daily. Sign up for free, and get a clean sheet of paper every day to write down your thoughts, ideas, stories, and whatever comes to your mind.
After reading your flurry of words, you might be surprised by how many ideas for future blog posts you’ll discover.
Tool 2: Written? Kitten!
Practice free writing with the online tool for cat lovers.
After you complete the challenge of writing 100 words (you can set the limit, by the way), a picture of cute kittens will appear to inspire you and motivate to continue writing.
Have you ever thought of kittens as a source of inspiration to blog?
Now you can try it.
Tool 3: Write or Die
Write or Die is an application to eliminate writer’s blocks. You get rewards for accomplishments, or you see the consequences of your procrastination.
Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users, this app has many features for you to choose.
The idea of Write or Die is motivating you to express thoughts quickly and without worry.
When free writing, forget about stops. If you can’t find words to continue a sentence, write about what you see or feel at this very moment:
“Dang, I don’t know what to write. I try to finish this paragraph and express my thought, making it clear for readers, but words don’t come. Please, please, stop talking, you silly neighbor! Hmmmm. This jazz song sounds so nice… Well, okay, what was I writing about? Maybe I should write about my dog now? He is so funny!”
You’ve just read an abstract of this post author’s free writing session.
P.S. It seems that my next blog post will be about how listening to jazz can influence content writing.
Set time frames
Decide on time limits for your free writing sessions. For example, promise to write 1,000 words for 30 minutes.
When you know you have only 30 minutes to complete writing, you won’t stop and think about better words to use, better arguments or facts to give, etc.
Don’t pause. When you do, you lose a moment of subconscious ideas emerging.
Write the way you think
Just let your thoughts flow. Don’t think about the words to say, the grammar construction to use, or writing style to apply – write as you think.
No one will read your free writings except you, after all.
#2. Change Perspective
Are you Bill who manages a blog about books?
Well, every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do it today. And they do, actually; that is why you don’t know what to blog, and that’s why you read this post and try to find out how to solve the problem.
But what if you were not Bill?
What if it was Winston Churchill who blogged about books? What would he write? Or, more importantly, how would he write?
When you experience writer’s block and don’t know what to blog about, imagine yourself as someone (or something) else: a pilot, a millionaire, a dog, an opossum (why not?), or even a pencil.
How do they see the world? What would they write?
Yeah, it sounds weird. But such an approach can help you see the problem from a different angle, come up with new ideas, and find out-of-the-box solutions.
Change perspective, and you may just defeat your writer’s block.
#3. Steal Content
With content being king and content marketing being the best way to grow traffic, bloggers face one more problem:
They need excellent content to sparkle.
No wonder you’re struggling for ideas – you can’t just write blog posts, you have to write blog posts that sparkle.
And it’s not like you have all the time in the world to write them. Once you come up with a brilliant idea, someone named Neil Patel or Bryan Hutchinson will beat you to the punch and publish it!
Or, even worse, someone who doesn’t seem to know anything about “compelling content” takes your brilliant idea and blog about it!
Yes, their content sucks, but they were first. And you are late.
The more ideas sink this way, the more you get lost, procrastinate, experience writer’s burnout, and don’t know what to do.
You throw in the towel!
But what if I told you it doesn’t matter if someone has already written about a topic?
What if the already-published idea is awesome, but the individual who wrote about it failed to represent it the way it deserves? Or, what if the individual did do a good job, but you know it could be better?
If that’s the case, you need to do The Skyscraper Technique:
- Take content that is worth stealing
- Improve it and make it sparkle
Your task is to find potential-worthy content or the content that has done well already.
How can you do that?
- Search Google and check the top results on the topic.
- Try resources like BuzzSumo, Facebook Trending, or Quora to see the popular content and “steal” the idea.
- Check Open Site Explorer to get an insight into top blogs and see their most linked articles. It will help you understand what’s hot today.
Once you’ve found good (or even great!) piece of content, it’s time to improve upon it and publish it on your blog.
But how can you improve the content?
Make it longer…
Display it differently…
In each example above, people took the already-good (or even great) content and made it 5% better – or more.
The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. – Albert Einstein
Thank you, Einstein, but we don’t want to be thieves and get Google penalty for dishonesty!
That’s why we’ll do the following:
- We won’t infringe copyright
- We’ll cite all sources, even non-copyrighted ones
- We’ll improve the content
In short, if you are repurposing any part of the original post, be sure to link to it. Always give credit when credit is due.
#4. Consider All Variants
You write content, generate, and distribute it.
You want it to be compelling and shareable, and you do everything for it to become interesting and entertaining (as well as useful).
It’s so difficult to brainstorm every day, seeking an answer to the #1 question on every blogger’s mind:
“What to blog about?”
It’s the wrong question to ask!
Instead, try answering this one:
“Did you consider all content variants?”
The point is, more than 100 types of content are available for you to write and publish at your blog. Make sure you’ve considered them all and chosen the best ones to share with your readers.
Top ten most popular content types include:
Still not enough for you? What about 50 more blog post ideas to consider?
Never set limits!
#5. Update Old Content
As a blogger, you have old content in your archives.
Oh, those old but lovely posts you wrote months or even years ago…
They’ve been so popular and shareable. Even more, they continue to drive results! You wish you could write content that would bring the same results from traffic and leads, don’t you?
It’s a pity those posts have been buried deep inside your blog, right?
‘Cause they are not buried!
When you don’t know what to blog but still want your content to rock, why not to update and republish your old blog posts?
Why bother? Well…
- You extend the life of your best content
- You continue getting results from it
- You minimize the effects of writer’s block
Plus, just because a post is old doesn’t mean it isn’t bringing traffic to your site.
According to Margot da Cunha, a former content marketing specialist at WordStream, 76% of a blog’s monthly page views comes from its old posts.
Old content update. What can be easier?
Still, you should remember some small but significant details to do it right:
How to update old blog posts?
First of all, choose the post to update.
- Check your analytics to see which posts still generate traffic
- Check social shares to see which posts users loved most
- Check keyword ranking opportunities: if some blog posts ranked well for a particular keyword, check whether you can improve this result
- Make sure the content is still relevant
Once you’ve chosen the blog post for updating and republishing, consider the following details:
Keep URL the same
There is no point publishing a new article and getting a Google penalty for duplicate content. You can always modify the original post.
Keep keywords the same
Even if you decide to change the title of your post, make sure you keep the keywords that have been working so well for you. You chose to update this post for a reason, after all. Don’t do anything that will hurt your Google rankings.
Update the content
Read your post and determine what needs to be changed. You might need to remove non-relevant content, replace outdated data or screenshots, add new practices, replace internal links, or update CTA.
Yes, updating old content when every other blogger is writing brand-new content sounds crazy.
But it’s an effective method for maximizing your most-trafficked blog posts. Plus, it helps you combat writer’s block.
What’s not to like?
Final Thoughts on Writer’s Block
It’s hard out there for bloggers.
So many blogs, so much good content, so many things to remember… it can be quite confusing when you’re trying to decide what to write!
Thankfully, you now have the know-how and tools to help you during those struggles.
Been staring at your keyboard? No clue what to write about?
Change your perspective!
Consider all options!
Steal content! (Not literally, of course.)
Breathe new life into your old content!
Writer’s block scares a lot of bloggers, but you don’t have to be afraid – not any more. You got this.