Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Charlotte Frost, arts writer and writer of blog: PhD2Published.
If you’re just setting out, the thought of writing a regular blog can be daunting. Even the most prolific of minds run dry from time to time. But the key thing about blogging is that you don’t have to think as big as you think – you see?! No?!
OK, I’ll explain.
Successful blogging is all in the planning and not so much the writing (but don’t tell anyone I said that!). And the best thing to do is build up a reserve of content. But you have to start somewhere, right? So this post looks at five really easy ways of getting blog content together – fast!
1. Borrow from other blogs
Look around at what other blogs are featuring. The blogs you consult don’t necessarily need to focus directly on your topic area, but just by looking at some of the ideas floating around, you’ll trigger your own thoughts.
This isn’t as random as it sounds. For example, if I looked at a very broadly popular blog like Zen Habits and saw something on productivity, I could use this as the basis of a post for my own blog on ‘book pitching productivity’.
Quite quickly I could come up with something short and pithy on how to repurpose book pitches for different publishers; how to minimise distractions when writing; or even how to fit writing book proposals around a day job. In a nutshell, just use other blogs as a hook – it’s what everyone else does!
2. Repurpose something you’ve already written
If you’re an expert on something – and everybody’s an expert on something – it’s very likely you already have a text which can be quickly converted into a blog post.
If, like me, you’re a writer, this could be an article, you’ve already written or perhaps a paper or a talk you gave somewhere. But it might even come from something like an email or tweet you’ve sent that wouldn’t take five minutes to flesh-out.
Don’t start from scratch, again, look around you, what have you already got?
3. Brainstorm the area you specialise in
Write a random but full list of ideas about what you do. I guarantee there’ll be something on that list that to you might seem inconsequential, but for new-comers or outsiders is probably fascinating.
Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees and getting it all down on a scrap of paper (or whatever) makes it instantly clear which idea – hidden under a pile of others – will be valuable to readers.
I also like mind-mapping techniques to help you branch out into other areas of thought, but that’s an idea for another post – see once you start blogging you can’t stop!
4. Collaborate with someone
An additional option for the idea-starved is to ask an existing friend or colleague, or someone from a blog you know and like, to work on a post or two with you. Brainstorm some ideas (as above) and then email back and forth a few times until you have something that feels right.
If it’s truly co-authored, you can each feature it on your own blog which might even cross-pollinate your audiences. And if you’re really savvy, you’ll collaborate with several people at once and store up lots of good content in advance of dry spell.
5. Ask an expert
This can mean two things. One, if you are out of ideas on what to blog about, find out what blogging pros like Darren Rowse of ProBlogger would recommend for ‘bloggers block’. Two, set up an easy way for experts in your field to contribute to your site. For example, for PhD2Published, I’m interested in content that advises early-career academics on how to get their first book published.
To help me canvas opinions on this, I regularly email publishing houses and published academics and ask them for their top five tips on book pitching. By asking someone outright, and keeping the amount you need them to contribute to a minimum, you can speedily gather relevant, quality material.
It’s that simple!
Blogging doesn’t have to mean embarking on a mammoth writing spree – you’re not writing a thesis or a book! And you don’t need to be boiling over with angst about political wrongs, or ever-distracted by complex philosophical thoughts. You really don’t need to think big at all. Just think – even a little – and it’ll come together!