Like most careers, it’s so beneficial to have a process in place for your work to help make you more productive. I’ve seen many designers approach this subject, but not bloggers.
My method may not suit everyone out there, and that’s completely fine. Instead, I hope it inspires and encourages you to think about your own creative process.
Having a creative process is a way of being able to craft the best content possible. It contains various steps that you have to take to get to a finished product. (Want to know why it’s so important to have a creative process? Check out the first post of this series!)
I’m a blogger. I’m a writer. I’m a freelancer. These words sound so simple, but when you dig into them, you find they’re made up of so much more. People worry about telling others when they have one of these professions. This is mainly due to the complete shock on someone else’s face. You do this for a living? How is that possible? So we usually come up with some other explanation that has a bit more weight to it.
But the longer you’re a blogger for, the more you realise just how much is involved in that term. Writing isn’t just about publishing great content (although it’s definitely something I strive towards). It’s about discovering an idea that translates to solving a problem.
My readers have problems, even if they don’t realise it themselves. They can’t find the motivation to accomplish their goals. They’ve got social media channels, but they don’t know how to use them effectively. They struggle staying on top of everything or coming up with ideas, etc.
In order to help my readers, solve their problems and communicate with them on the same level, I have to be aware of what they want to know. That’s where step one of my creative process comes in.
To follow along with this step of the creative process, you're going to need this free Evernote tutorial. Just click the button below to download it right away!
DISCOVERING THE IDEA
It should be the easiest part, right? If only. I did a quick poll on Twitter for this post and 60% of you said you sometimes found coming up with new content ideas really difficult. But if you don’t nail this step down, the whole flow of your blog will be inconsistent. You could generate an idea that doesn't directly speak to your readers. But doing so could take you twice as long to write the post and mean less readers too.
I know I need to have a strong idea of what my readers want when they visit my blog. This is so I can deliver something that speaks to them directly and builds a level of trust.
How do I do this?
Like most bloggers, I have clearly defined categories for my blog. This makes it a lot easier to generate new ideas. I also have a consistent publishing schedule so I know how many ideas I need for each category per month.
Coming up with the actual ideas involves different things. I’ve written about this in more detail here. But for now I’ll show you some ways I create new ideas plus an example for each.
Look for inspiration on Pinterest and put my own spin on it. I saw an article called “75 blog post ideas for the lifestyle blogger”. So I created an idea called “25 of the best blog post ideas for beginner bloggers”.
Think about what I’m learning right now. At my day job, I’ve been creating a lot of Facebook and Twitter ads, so I’ve listed those as potential content ideas.
Share your journey. As I’m just starting out with building my freelance business, it’s a great idea to share my journey. A lot of others people will be in a similar situation.
Pay attention on social media. I always pay close attention to what people are tweeting and saying in Facebook groups, as many ask questions on how to do things. I saw a tweet one that said “I forget to schedule tweets again - I just don’t have time for it!” So I created a post called “How to be a pro at scheduling tweets."
Look at your old content. If you’ve got various points in a blog post, why not break them up into smaller pieces of content? As part of my “15 reasons why you’re not getting more followers on social media” piece, I talked about posting at optimal times. This led me to sharing my own specific schedule that I’ve used to get big results.
Outdo competitor’s content. You can definitely feel free to look at what other bloggers are doing. The key is to make it better. If someone has shared 5 ways to take better photos for your blog, why not list 10?
Once I have my list of ideas, I put them into my “blog post ideas” notebook on Evernote. Here, each category has its own note within the notebook where I can list all my ideas and check them off when I’ve used them.
You can read more about how I organise my blog post ideas in Evernote here.
Many bloggers then create an outline after they’ve define their idea to nail down the the goal of the blog post. This is usually a plan of how the post is going to look, what the different sections or points are going to be, and any other important information you want to include. It’s also a great way to make sure you’re covering every aspect when you go about solving the problem.
Using my own voice is fundamental in my creative blogging process and as a freelance writer too. In order to communicate an idea through words, I have to know how I’m going to solve the problem and who I’m solving it for.
How can you make this step work for you?
Whether you blog about beauty, fashion, travel, entrepreneurship - or whether you have a different profession altogether - it’s highly likely that you have to deal with solving problems and communicating. That’s why it’s so useful to look at how this first step could work for you. How do you make sure you fully communicate an idea to your readers?
The goal of this first step in my creative process is to help my get to know you as a reader, find out what you need from me and build up an element of trust. Next week, I’ll share more about the next stage of my process. Tune in to find out what it is!
P.S - remember your homework! Get set up with Evernote to keep all your content ideas in one place for this first part of the process.
I've shared the first step in my creative process - now it's your turn. What does your idea creation stage look like? Do you have any tips for this part? I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments.