The first few posts of this blog having covered the technical points of good writing, it’s time to move to the uses of good writing. What better place to start than with—blogs?
Blogging and social networking have succeeded Web sites as the business trend of the future. Unfortunately for lazy self-marketers, the new approach requires even more frequent updating. It takes maybe two weeks without new posts before readers quit checking.
As a professional writer, I encourage outsourcing the actual writing of this valuable marketing tool—but that doesn’t mean you should be personally lacking in ideas for post topics. You know best what your perfect customers want to read about…. usually. Every long-term blogger has “what’s left to talk about???” days.
Far more is left than you might think. Here’s a top-ten list of ways to keep your idea bank full (adapted from a summer 2009 posting at linkedin.com):
1. Spend some time every day reading (or viewing) media related to your blog’s main theme. This will provide topic ideas, suggest new reference sources, and allow you to absorb what “works” in terms of style.
2. If you’ve been relying on television and radio for daily news, find a written source as well. Written media covers topics in more detail and explores more angles.
3. Along with blogs and other articles, read full-length books on your topic. It only takes ten minutes a day to finish a book a month, and you’ll gain a lot of insight into how much can be said on a theme.
4. Read reviews and comments for books and blogs on related topics. It provides great insight on what the public likes in a writer.
5. Read an occasional article or novel (or watch an occasional documentary or movie) just for fun. Relaxing keeps your mind fresh, and you may be surprised at the ideas you get from diverse sources.
6. Don’t be afraid that reading other people’s work will stifle your originality. This is rarely a danger except for those who try to “copy” popular writers in the vain hope that success is directly transferable.
7. Read books and articles on the art of writing itself (my favorite databases are www.writingfordollars.com and www.writing-world.com). Learn how successful writers of all kinds come up with their ideas.
8. Don’t neglect the real world! You can collect dozens of blog ideas (not to mention descriptive details and true stories to make things more interesting) just by spending an afternoon in the park watching the world go by, or by sharing lunch with a friend.
9. Do keep a journal or “idea notebook” for those days when your mind does go temporarily blank.
10. Think positive! Guard your mind against any “the world has nothing new to show me” attitude, and you’ll experience new insights every day.
My next post will talk about one obvious idea better not used in blogs—or any other written communication.