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Every time I meet new people in a professional setting they ask me, “how do you always come up with new stuff to write about?!”  It seems that a blogger’s biggest fear- whether beginner or seasoned pro- is that someday they’ll wake up and run out of things to write about.

I know how you feel and I’ve felt that way too.  After almost 4 years as a blogger, I’ve learned a few tricks that will make you a high quality content-producing machine!

First let me ask,  do you really want to drive traffic and readers?  If so, there are 3 things you should commit to before you even worry about what to write:

  • Publish Content on a Consistent Basis.  Whether it’s once a day or once a week, pick your publishing frequency and try your best to stick to it.  Afterall, the New York Times doesn’t just get printed when the editor “feels like it.”
  • Work off an Editorial Calendar.  Great bloggers don’t shoot from the hip. Editorial calendars will help you come up with great blog posts in advance and then all you have to do is execute!  On those creative days be sure to have your editorial calendar close by so you can think of great ideas and write them down. It will make the creatively cloudy days much easier to deal with.
  • Figure out when you are most creative and regularly write during that time.  Like brushing your teeth, if you blog at the same time every day (or week) it will become part of your routine and something you WANT to do.

Now, if you’re feeling stuck, here are 10 ways you can come up with great blog posts!

1. Voice An Opinion

My highest traffic blog posts in history are those in which I decided to voice an opinion that not everyone would like.  The first few times I did it, I was scared when I clicked the “publish” button.  Moments after publishing, I even considered taking the posts down.  Today I’m comfortable with voicing my opinion online because it is often one one the best ways to bring new people to your blog.  When you voice an opinion, you’re often saying something out loud that many people have been thinking but were too afraid to say.  Engagement, comments and sharing are often highest on opinion pieces.

Beware though: This method is best for the blogger with thick skin.  If you’re going to voice your opinion in a post, there will be several people who don’t agree with you.   You will undoubtedly get a few snarky comments and tweets – take them as a compliment. Also, it’s fine to say whatever you like about your opinion, but I am definitely NOT a fan of bashing OTHERS’ opinions.

Sample Post: Penelope Trunk’s Interesting Personal Branding Strategy

2. Curate

Who said you have to come up with your own content 100% of the time?!  Why not be a digital curator who takes other great information and shares it in a blog post?  Come up with a great theme and find articles, pictures and/or videos on other sites that you think your audience will enjoy.  For example you could do “Must Read Monday’s,” “Fashion Fridays” or “Top Story Tuesdays” and share what’s hot.  The other huge perk about this blogging method?  Your post will be easy to share and very valuable as it’s packed with credible (or in the example below- ENTERTAINING!) information.

Sample Post: 10 Hottest Celebrities without Makeup On

3. Read the News and Take a New Angle

Yes, the news can be boring and dry, but it’s important AND it’s been a mainstay in the media for decades.  Why not take a new spin on it that relates to your audience?  Remember, millions of people are Googling news headlines every day so you might as well have a shot of bringing them to your site. One of my favorite site’s that takes a new (and often hilarious angle) on the news is BuzzFeed.  For example, take their interesting spin on Politics and sports.  Whatever the theme of your blog is, you can take something as dry as the election or the new iPad3 and explain why it’s relevant to YOUR audience.

Sample Post: Welcome to the Twitter Election

4. Interview Someone

Who doesn’t love reading a great interview?!  Pick your favorite blogger, author, career idol or local pseudo-celeb and ask if they’d like to be featured on your blog.  In many cases you can get all the info needed for a great interview on one quick phone call or even in an email.  Write out 5 or 6 questions that the person can respond to and you can always write an intro, conclusion or your interpretation of the interview.  Don’t be shy about reaching out to people you don’t know, they’ll likely take it as a compliment.  At the same time, don’t be offended if someone doesn’t have time to get back to you or isn’t interested in being featured.

Sample Post: An Interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt 

5. Keep a Notebook in Your Bathroom

I don’t know about you, but I get SO many fantastic ideas in the shower.  What is it about that 5-10 minutes of warm water and boredom that leads to such creativity?!  And, for the ladies, after showering comes blow drying your hair: another really boring and tedious task that makes an influx of creative blog ideas.  For a long time I’d have these awesome ideas and then go on with my day and forget about them.  Be efficient and take advantage of your whole day- even the most mundane parts. Keep a notebook in your bathroom so you can write these ideas down and USE them in the future!

Are you creative while driving in the car?  While walking to work? On the treadmill?  Be aware of where YOU are most likely to get ideas and make sure you have a notebook handy there to capture them.

6. Feature Others

I’m a big believer in good Karma which is why I love when bloggers feature others.  Then again, I’m also a big fan of SEO which this method covers as well.

Let’s say you’re a career blogger like me and you choose to make a blog post about the “10 most influential career bloggers of 2012.”  Or, perhaps you make a post about “5 Career Books Everyone Must Read.”  When you feature your fellow bloggers and authors, not only will your content be shared among your audience, but it will likely be shared by those who were featured as well.  If you are featuring big time bloggers and authors who have way more of a following than you do, you’ve just put yourself in front of several new audiences all by promoting others!

Sample Post: 10 Top Notch Gen Y Blogs of 2011

7. Make a List

Yes, list posts are very common, but that’s because they work.  Remember, Google gets over one BILLION searches per day for people who are looking for answers to their questions.  “List posts” answer peoples’ questions and solve problems quickly.  They are also easy to read and can be quickly scanned.  Here are some examples of lists you could write:

  • X Reasons I Love ___
  • X Ways to ___
  • X Ways to tell if ____
  • X Indicators that it’s time to ____
  • My X Favorite ____
  • X Ways to Improve Your ____
  • X Things I Learned from ____
  • X Things I wish I knew before I ____
  • X Myths About ____
  • X Steps to Creating a____
  • X Reasons You Should Never ____
  • Best ___ of 2012

Sample Post: 15 Things I didn’t Know When I Started Dating an Entrepreneur

8. Teach Someone How to Do Something

This strategy goes well with #7 as it has some of the same reasoning behind it.  People are often doing Google searches that start with “How to…”  If you’re a blogger, you undoubtedly know more than you think about your topic of choice. Whether it’s How to Decorate a Cupcake, How to Upload a Picture to your blog, How to Deal with Difficult Inlaws, or How to Crack the Atom you’d be surprised at how grateful people are for occasional How to Posts.  In addition, this type of content is considered “Evergreen Content” which means it survives the test of time and is one that will continue bringing people back to your site over and over again.

Sample Post: How to Monetize Your Blog

9. Guest Post

Guest posting is twofold: 1) you can guest post on other blogs, or 2) you can have guest posters write on YOUR blog.  Both are great strategies if you are having a period of total writer’s blog (or just a lack of time).

I’d say Guest Posting on other sites is one of the quickest ways to gain traction, respect and inbound traffic as a blogger.  All you have to do is contact the people who runs your favorite blogs and ask if you can submit a guest post.  Keep your email brief and make sure you really know something about them and their blog before you email them!  Also, make sure you check their About and Contact pagse for any guest post instructions before emailing and asking questions that are already answered for you.  Some blogs have a very specific process, schedule and/or editorial guideline that must be adhered to.  If you get through, guest posting gives you a quality inbound links and introduces you to new RELEVANT audiences. Another win/win for all!

Allowing guest posters to be featured on your site is often a compliment to them and a day off for you.  I would advise you to be very careful about who you allow to guest blog though:  not all writers are created equal.  Make sure you are ore-screening guest posts before publishing and don’t be afraid to say it isn’t a good fit for your site.  Guest posters are representing your blog, so make sure the quality you require is there.

Sample Post: Time Management: How an MIT postdoc writes 3 books, a PhD defense, and 6+ peer-reviewed papers – and finishes by 5:30pm

10. Get Personal

I purposely started and ended this blog post with my two favorite strategies, both of which revolve around honesty.  Yes, the cheesy saying is SO true in the world of blogging: honesty is the best policy (as long a s it’s done with Grace).  Everyone has struggles, weaknesses, insecurities and failures.  In a world full of stick thin models, unattainably wealthy celebrities and “perfect people” all around us, most people are dying for some honesty.

Why are we glued to reality TV, celeb gossip magazines and even Facebook?  It’s often becasue we want a peek into others’ lives in hopes that they can relate to us or that we feel more normal.  When I shared stories about my terrible breakup, how I left corporate America and did videos the day after I lost my job people applauded me.  And guess what?  It helped me get through the tough times too.  Don’t be afraid to be honest.

Disclaimer: Make sure you consider if what you are writing will affect your current or future employment. Being honest is great, but not if it’s going to leave you poor and hungry!  Check your company’s social media policy and if there’s any doubt, consider writing your honesty posts under a pen name.

I hope this blog post helped you come up with great new content for YOUR blog.

What other strategies do you use when you can’t think of new content? Let us know in the comments!

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