What to Blog About: Ideas and Inspiration for Wanna-Be Bloggers
Learn How to Blog by Reading Blogs
A lot of people regularly make comments to me like "I don't understand the point of a blog." I answer this question with a question: "Do you read blogs?" Almost always, the answer is either "no" or "rarely."
If you're hearing a lot of talk about blogs and think that you might be interested in writing one, the first step is to start reading blogs. Start looking for other blogs in your field, industry, or area of expertise. A good place to start: look for a list of top blogs. For example, if gardening is your passion, search on Google for "best gardening blogs" and see if you can find a list of the top 20 or top 50.
Here's a list of the top 50 gardening blogs that I just found on page one of Google.
You can find a similar list on just about any subject. Take an hour or so to peruse this list and find the blogs that stand out to you. Which ones did you like? Which ones caught your attention?
Here are a few lists of blogs:
- Blogs.com Top 10 List
- Time Magazine's Top Blogs of 2010
- The New York Times Top Blogs list
- BlogHer (blogs by women)
Use the Google RSS Reader
Google Reader is a tool that will help you stay on top of the blogs that you like without having to remember them all. Google Reader displays the current posts from all of your favorite blogs on one screen so that you don't have to go out and visit their web sites individually. In order to make effective use of this, you'll need to understand RSS feeds and how they work.
When you make a regular habit of reading blogs, you'll soon find that coming up with ideas for things to write is a lot easier than you thought it was.
Blog a Book!
If you've got an idea for a book in your head, but you're not sure how to write it, why not start by putting together a blog? You might find a 350-word blog post less intimidating than a 30,000+ word book. Who could blame you? Also, the discipline of sitting down to write regularly will help you to develop your skills as a writer - which, if you're going to write a book, you'll need anyway.
If you write one blog post per week for 90 days, you're nearly certain to get some new ideas for your book. Give it a shot.
Blog about the News
A simple thing you can always do if you're running short on ideas and need something to blog about: grab a link to a news story and add your own two cents. This will ensure that the topic is timely and relevant, and it gives you an easy way to put your own spin on things. Doing this regularly will help build up your personal brand and help people to get a sense of your values. You can be as risky or safe as you want with this....it depends on your choice of news topic.
You can also create a conversation this way if you're looking to drive traffic to your web page. If you pick a hot topic that you're passionate about, you might find that you have plenty to say (and other people do, too). Since you control your own blog, you can delete the posts of people who misbehave. Control freaks should find this appealing.
You can e-mail a few friends in your circle about your blog post and ask them to comment if they agree or disagree. This doesn't just have to relate to politics or other controversial topics. It can be used with anything that people are talking about.
You can use your blog as a soapbox if you'd rather do that, but the internet is becoming increasingly social and seems to reward those who create conversations.
Book reviews are an easy way to generate topics. You can pick a book that you just read, or review an "Oldie but Goodie." Remember to focus as much as possible on your individual experience of the book and the reasons why you liked it. Don't just summarize a book, as this is likely to sound generic and will be hard to distinguish from other summaries. Stick with angles that no one else could duplicate. For example, let's say that you build model trains every Saturday and you just read A Tale of Two Cities. You could subtitle your review "What do Model Trains Have in Common with the French Revolution?"
Respond to Other Bloggers
Another way to create content when you're fresh out of ideas: find another blogger who's talking about a subject that ignites your passion. Write a post directly addressing what the other blogger says. You might add your own expertise or re-examine the subject from a different angle. You can then post a comment on the other blogger's blog post with a link back to your post. Even if no one follows your link, you'll still help your search engine rankings a wee bit (as long as the link is relevant).