This post is Day 26 of the 28 Day Blogging Breakthrough Challenge. You can chat about the challenge on social media using the hashtag #BloggingBreakthrough. Click here to view all of the challenge prompts.
One of my favourite parts of blogging has got to be coming up with new ideas and planning my content. Your content is one of, if not the major player when it comes to your blog. It helps you get across your message, make an impact with your readers and leads to growth too. Our blogs can’t function without content.
But if there’s one question I'm asked really frequently, it’s this:
How do you come up with so many ideas?
You want to be purposeful with your blog, right? You want to only share content that means something to you and that your readers are going to enjoy. Intentionally planning that content is one of your biggest challenges as a blogger. And that’s where Day 26 of the Blogging Breakthrough challenge comes in. Creating consistent and focused content will do a lot for your blog over time. So let’s talk about how you can have a great content inspiration session.
Where Do I Start?
The first thing you need to do is plan when your content inspiration session is going to happen. I’d say you need a full morning or afternoon. Pick a day, put it in your diary and stick to it. That way, you won’t be worrying about it and you’ll be ready for when the day arrives.
#1 Get Your Space Set Up
The word “inspiration” is a key part of this post for a reason. Your space needs to inspire you in order for your ideas to happen. You want to have a lot a room. You want to make sure you’ve got all your equipment. You want to make sure you’ve got no interruptions. Whether it’s at your desk, on your bed or on the floor – make sure that it’s a space that’s going to be best for your content ideas session.
#2 Get Something to Write On
Spoiler alert – you’re not going to be working from a screen right now. Step away from the tech! Sitting in front of a blank screen with the cursor blinking in your face will not help you come up with an idea for a post. It’ll just cause frustration. In your space, you want to get something big to write on. Here are a few options for you:
- A3 paper
- Sticky notes
As for me, I like the A3 paper route. But I'm definitely going to buy my own whiteboard, because I think this will make the whole process so much easier! Plus, using paper means you get to use ALL the pretty pens.
#3 List Your Content Categories
This is where you’ll need your editorial calendar template that you created in Day 4 of the Blogging Breakthrough Challenge!
You want to list your categories out so you can see exactly what you’re working with. If you’re on a whiteboard or A3 paper, you can put each category in a horizontal line at the top. Or, you can put each one in the middle of each piece of paper and do a spider diagram.
It doesn't work when you just try and come up with content ideas without thinking about your categories first. Plus, doing this helps to focus your mind – you’ll only be working on one category at a time.
Hopefully you’ve got your categories nailed now. But if you haven’t, go back to Day 4 and try to come up with some. The categories that you choose aren’t final, and you might find that as you go through creating content from the ideas you’re about to come up with, you’ll feel a lot clearer about them.
#4 Set Your Timer
Before I look at anything to give me some inspiration, I always recommend starting off with this method first. I also know quite a few bloggers who do this too!
What you’re going to do is set your timer for each category for about 10 or 15 minutes. So you’ll take your first category and write down as many ideas as you can think of in 10 minutes. Then when your time is up, you’ll do the same thing again with a different category until you’ve been through all your categories.
It can be daunting at first to start from scratch. But you’ll be surprised how much your ideas will start to flow.
Here are a few things to think about:
- What you love about this category
- What you’ve always wanted to write about this category
- What were some of the things you wanted to know about this topic?
- Think about what you’ve learnt
- Is there anything you can write about from your own experiences?
And remember – this isn't just for a month’s worth of content. These ideas are supposed to last for however long you want them to, so don’t be afraid of writing down loads!
They don’t have to be fully formed ideas either. They can just be one keyword or a vague idea. Right now you’re just writing as you think.
#5 Go Back Through Your Ideas
Once you’ve done this for every category, you want to go back through each category and have a tidy up. Cross out all your duplicates, ones you don’t like and ones you don’t think you’d be able to write a lot about.
This should leave you with a concrete list of ideas that you can refine a bit more!
#5 Get Some Inspiration
Now it’s time to look through all your resources to get some more ideas. Go through your saved posts on Bloglovin’, Pinterest, your web clippings on Evernote, your notebook – anywhere that you’ve saved ideas. Take your time, read through your inspiration and ask yourself – how can I write this from my own perspective?
I love doing this. Usually, after you’ve done the first part of your content inspiration session with your timer, it makes this part even easier. Your mind is already focussed on generating ideas and you’ll pick a lot more out than you would've thought.
I get ideas from reading a sentence in a blog post, from changing a title to something based on my categories and always from comments sections and social media. If you pay attention, people ask more questions than you realise.
#6 Create Your Editorial Calendar
Good job you created that template in the first week of the challenge, right? ;)
By this point, you should have great lists of ideas for each of your categories. All that’s left to do now is two things:
- First, you want to put all your ideas somewhere safe. This is where you can use your computer. I use Evernote, where I've got a notebook for my content ideas and then separate notes for each category, with ideas listed underneath. Keeping all your ideas in one place will make it really easy for you when it comes to planning what you’re going to post in each month.
- Then it’s all about filling in your editorial calendar. If there are some ideas that you want to get out as a priority then put those at the start of your calendar for the month ahead. If you usually have a theme for each month, you can choose your ideas based on this theme. Otherwise, just go ahead and pick your favourites to slot in, as well as any regular features that you’ve got.
A Few More Tips
- Read a lot – a lot of bloggers say you should create more than you consume. But I disagree. Creating is important – but if you read every single day, you’ll never run out of things to write about. Reading is how I come up with a lot of my ideas. It can be from a tweet, the title of an article, a sentence, the chapter of a book – anything at all. I truly believe that reading is the single best source of inspiration for new content ideas.
- Take more notes – one of the best things to do is to have somewhere where you can “dump” ideas. Hear about people that keep a notebook by the side of their bed? This is why. Take notes on what you see, hear and read. That way, you can go back to these once a month and turn them into blog post ideas. You might forget about these as days pass by – but it just goes to show that you can have more ideas than you realise.
- Listen to your readers – you give you readers a reason to keep them coming back to your blog. You answer a question for them. You solve their problems. Ultimately, you’re writing for them. So listen to them! Honestly, it’s so valuable. Mindlessly scroll through Twitter and you won’t pick up on anything. Scroll through with purpose and you’ll get so many ideas. Your readers are always guaranteed to be a big source of inspiration for you.
- Search for ideas – luckily for us, many bloggers have written lists of prompt ideas to get our brains working. All you need to do is search “blog post ideas” in Google and Pinterest, look through the results and away you go!
All that’s left to do is to create your amazing content. And remember – stick with a schedule that’s right for you. Don’t post 5 days a week if you don’t want to. Don’t write less than 1000 words if you don’t want to. Believe in the content you create, whether it be videos, podcasts or text. Be OK with how your blogging life is going. It’s always changing anyway.
But a content inspiration session is one of the best things that can help you get that breakthrough.
Go through each of the steps to have your own amazing content inspiration session!
- Plan a day in your diary when this is going to happen.
- On the actual day, get your space set up.
- Make sure you've got all your equipment and something to write on.
- List out your content categories.
- Do the first exercise with your timer for each of your categories.
- Go back through your ideas and refine them.
- Get more ideas from your sources of inspiration.
- Create your editorial calendar.
Remember, if you’ve got any questions, reach out to me on Twitter at @abranchofholly or leave a comment. And if you take any pictures of your progress be sure to use the#BloggingBreakthrough hashtag!
TO GETTING A BREAKTHROUGH WITH YOUR BLOG
Remember - there's something exciting coming for the #BloggingBreakthrough challenge. It'll be launching in the second week of February & I can't wait to show you. Watch this space for more info!
Let's chat in the comments - how do you come up with content ideas? Do you think you'll give this method a try? If you've got any tips of your own, feel free to share them!