Blog writing can be fun and a rewarding hobby or business. Unlike traditional publishing, blogs give you the benefit of having immediate response and feedback from your community and an endorsement in the form of social bookmarks and Twitter or Facebook following.
These benefits, however, come at a price. You must pay the community back with frequent good quality content.
The point of having good quality articles is widely understood and agreed upon by the blogging community. The problem most bloggers have is to deliver good quality material frequently and consistently.
If you are a blogger who is nodding his head in approval right now, be prepared for some good news. There are ways of getting very efficient in finding new ideas for future articles and organizing those ideas in a way that will make them easy to pick up and write about whenever you want.
How to get new ideas:
- Use social bookmarking sites such as Digg or Delicious to leverage on others research. This is how I see it: instead of spending plenty of online hours trying to hop on from one site to another in search for something interesting, there are millions of people who like busy ants have done the job for you already! This is what social bookmarking is about. Say I want to find some ideas about fishing. I search for fishing in Digg and articles, video and images about fishing will come up sorted out by their number of Diggs. In other words by the number of times people voted them as interesting. In this way the chances are that you’d come across interesting ideas hundred times faster than if you had to crawl the web yourself. You also get a good feel of what people are interested in reading about! Priceless.
- Carry a pen and notebook wherever you go. This sounds low tech I know but still works miracles. The reason behind it is that often a lot of ideas spark when we aren’t really expecting them at our desks. You could be on a bus stop or in a café or anywhere when the idea bolts in. This is common because when we are trying to solve a problem or search for an idea, the answer may take some time to incubate then resurface when we are leisurely not thinking about it.
- Keep note of interesting discussions with friends. Remember the pen and notebook? Here it comes in handy. Very often I find really cool or interesting subjects to write about when discussing something with friends. An engaging conversation can have the equivalent effect on the brain as a 30 minute solid exercise on the body. It massages out ideas like no other thing. Use it to your advantage. Jot down those a-ha thoughts before they disappear in nothingness.
- Look for old popular posts in your blog or anyone’s blog. Who told you that you have to look into undiscovered territory to come up with something interesting? Ideas are there to be re-shaped and re-invented. Trust me, this has worked for millennia. Say you found an old post that had gathered quite some interest. Pick up the important points and redirect them and combine them with fresher and more updated perspectives on the subject. This is not recycling but building on momentum.
How to organize the ideas:
- Use applications such as Evernote to track and organize your note fragments and ideas. Evernote is fantastic. You can jot down ideas or clip text, images and videos from the web and it will store them in a digital notebook. You can tag the notes and any word in the notes is searchable even text within images!! Let’s say you saw an interesting advert at an airport. You take a picture on you mobile device and store it in Evernote. You can then search for a word you remember in the image and the image comes up in a second. It is also web based or installable in a pen drive to follow you wherever you go. Brilliant stuff!
- Jot down keywords and sentences that come to mind without stopping as soon as you have found a theme or subject to write about. Don’t worry about writing stupid or irrelevant stuff. Clean later. Don’t bother about sequence or order. It’s important not to stop the flow. You can use any text editor. I use pen and paper.
- Read through the keywords and phrases once or twice, delete the odd stuff and sort out the rest into structured concepts and sentences. Put them in sequence and tag them if needed. The latter means adding a short foot note to the concept that will later remind you what was the big idea behind it. Sometimes an idea seems perfectly ingenious in its birth but when we look at it a week later we cant remember what it was all about.
- Copy the result in a text file and save under a folder which bears the name of the theme/subject.
- You are ready! You have the core structure for an article ready in the drawer. All that remains is picking it up and weaving those ideas into an article.
Create Killer Posts
These steps can be performed in a relatively small amount of time. The great advantage of this method is that you can run these steps quickly and frequently. Hence you can store a number of these files beforehand and use them for future killer posts.