Do you ever find it difficult to come up with ideas? Are there ever times when you want to write a blog post, but you don’t know where to start? We’ve all been there. Publishing original content on a regular basis is challenging. But it’s something that goes a long way with readers. As a blogger, I pride myself on creating original content for my readers to enjoy. But I also know how difficult the process can be, and I’m sure you do too. Your reason for having your blog is unique. But whatever it is, why not do it right? Today, I’m breaking down some really useful tips for creating original content.
1. Look For Ideas
It’s difficult to just sit down in front of a blank screen and write with no ideas. Personally, I’ve found research to be a crucial part of my creative process. Inspiration comes from many places. For me, it comes from two sources. Reading great content and finding questions that people want answering. Reading and learning will always help you grow.
You know at college and university when you’d make notes in all of your classes? This is what I do for my blog and my day job, which I would also recommend you doing. You can always create new ideas. That leads me onto my next point.
We all know how much we dislike trolls and copycats. This post from Lauren over at Elle & Company sums it up perfectly. What helps you grow even more is having the drive and creativity to think of something new.
How many times have you seen a blog post and thought, “man, I wish I’d written that”? Well there’s something you can do. Read it and ask yourself:
“How can I change this to fit me, my blog and my audience?”
Sometimes, you might find ideas come to you easily. The other morning before my mum left for work we had this conversation:
M: “Hol, I need to sort out my routine. I’m just not getting anything done. This weekend, could you look for some to-do list apps and we can go through them so I can find the best one? I’m rubbish at finding them and you know what to look for.”
H: “Sure mum, no problem.”
PING! What a great blog post idea!
So straight after that conversation, I added “Top 5 To-Do List Apps” to my list of content ideas.
There are also plenty of tools for coming up with ideas. For reading, Bloglovin’ is my go-to. It’s got all my favourite blog posts in once place for me to go back to and share whenever I want.
This allows you to pick categories and see questions that people are searching for. So for our industry, keeping an eye on the blogging and marketing categories is great. I also keep an eye on the career category due to the Career Series I run. The screen shot below is from the “Working Out” category.
Why Not Try This?
- Next time you read something, take notes of your favourite parts. See if you can transform one into a piece of content.
- When you have conversations with people about something, think about a key thing that you can take away from it. How could you turn that into a blog post?
- Bookmark tools such as Quora and Google Trends.
- Take advantage of creating categories for your favourite blog posts in Bloglovin’.
2. Plan, Plan, Plan
Originality and freshness needs to be constant. So the plan you create needs to deliver a continuous stream of original content. I know some bloggers prefer to post spontaneously. But without my editorial calendar, I’d have no idea what I’d be doing. It’s a game changer. Having an editorial calendar gives a bird’s eye view look at the freshness of your content. You can see at a glance what sort of posts you’re creating too much of, or not enough of.
I use a paper calendar and Google calendar too. I like being able to see both versions. Mine is a simple calendar and I actually think they work better that way. Days of the week, categories and post ideas are all you need.
As of this month, I’ve started introducing themes to A Branch of Holly. This means that all my content revolves around one idea each month.
Next month – you’ll have to wait and see. But for creating ideas and writing my editorial calendar, it’s been really beneficial.
Why Not Try This?
- Even if you’ve never planned properly before, try it out for a fortnight. See how you go. You might be surprised.
- If you feel your editorial calendar needs refreshing, try looking at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Use the tips from the ideas section and see what you can come up with.
Once you’ve got your idea and a plan, it’s time to start writing. When it comes down to this, everyone’s process is different. Once someone has an idea, they could write and blast the blog post out in 45 minutes. For others it can be a longer process.
Original content is all about making it informative and valuable to the reader. You want your audience to gain something from what you write. You want them to take things away that they can work on. You want them to comment and give you good feedback. All this can be achieved with just one simple idea.
One of the most important aspects of any piece of content is your headline. This has been drummed into me throughout my writing career. And there’s good reason for it.
According to stats from Copyblogger, 20% of people will read the rest of your content. A massive 80% of people will read your headlines. Think about when you go on Bloglovin’. What’s the first thing you read? The headline.
Writing headlines don’t have to be as hard as you think. I use a great tool that CoSchedule has made called a headline analyser. You type in your headline and it gives you a score. That way you can amend it until you create a headline you’re happy with.
I won’t go much into SEO here, but keywords are also good to remember when writing content. Say you’re writing a post about a pancake recipe. What’s something that people would search for when looking for a pancake recipe? How about – “How to make pancakes” ? Using the phrase and other variations would be great to scatter throughout your content. But there’ll be more on that in a later post.
Original content is also all about accessibility. This is where the editing side of blogging comes in. When we read articles on the web, we tend to scan and hunt for key points. so it’s really useful to have easily digestible paragraphs. I look at it this way – when I make a new point, I start a new paragraph.
Your posts could also include things such as:
- Bullet points
- Pull quotes
Why Not Try This?
- Next time it comes to creating your headline, try using the headline analyser. See what you can come up with.
- Always remember in your mind that you’re writing as you.
4. Interact With Your Readers
We blog for ourselves. But we also blog for our readers. I’ve gained so much from my readers during my blogging journey. I’ve even made friendships.
Take note of their feedback in the comments section. Maybe they’ve said something that sparks an idea for a follow up post. If someone leaves a detailed comment, blog about it! You want your community to be engaged.
Something else that is at your disposal to be taken advantage of is Twitter. This is such a useful tool for bloggers and creatives. Twitter is the perfect place to interact with your community. It provides such a huge opportunity for you to distribute your content to your audience. Getting the most value out of Twitter is something I strive to do on a daily basis.
Why Not Try This?
- Try and interact with between 1 – 3 new people every day on Twitter. Maybe it’s someone you’ve followed for a while but never tweeted. Or it could be a new blogger you’ve found.
- Take time to reply to all your comments. They’re one of the most valuable things in this industry.
4. Have An Archive On Your Blog
Having an archive might not seem like the most important task to complete for your blog. But say for example, you’ve had a re-brand. Not having an archive could affect your site in a very negative way.
An archive lets you look at your whole book of content. Like with an editorial calendar, you can see what posts you’ve created too much of or not enough of. You can also put your posts into categories based on a certain keyword. Having an archive, as Cat says, “increases your blog’s credibility by showcasing its history.” You can show off your creativeness and individuality through your backlog of content.
Why Not Try This?
- Dedicate time to sorting out all your old blog posts in terms of format and design for your archive. It’ll take time, but it’s worth it.
5. Try adding New Content
By this, I don’t just mean new ideas. I mean adding features other than the written word. Is there a blog post you can turn into a video? Maybe there’s a piece of research you want to do that you could put into an infographic. Or maybe you have a series of posts that you could modify into an e-book. There are so many possibilities. Even breaking up your post by adding screenshots and more images is the perfect way to diversify your content. It takes more time, but in terms of creating original content it’s a winning formula.
Why Not Try This?
- For one post you write per week or per month, think of what you could include that’s different than the written word. Pick from the list and see what you can fit in.
I'd love to know, what are your ways for creating original content?
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