How to decide what to blog about is something I sometimes get stuck on, but I get stuck much less these days than I used to because I figured something out about me: If I know what my plan is in advance for the topics I am going to write about, I can ease into writing so much easier than when I sit down to a blank document with no plan.
The way I began a content plan for my blog:
I sit down to write for my blog almost every day now. I’ve been doing this since August 21, 2016, and have been more regular in my blogging than I have been since the summer of 2013. My planning then and my planning now is a key part of my consistent blogging success.
In the summer of 2013, I decided to do a survey of website builders since there were so many and I didn’t know which ones I liked and didn’t like and I also didn’t know how I felt about recommending them to my clients. To plan for this, in one afternoon, I found about 40 website builders to review. This means that in one afternoon I had a plan that consisted of 40 blog posts and the benefit of having that plan was those blog posts were able to be written rather quickly, within a couple of months. This was the most I’d ever blogged and the quickest I’d ever produced articles.
About seven weeks ago I decided I needed to return to my blog which had gone mostly neglected since the website builder reviews. I thought I would write about the things I talk about with my clients to supplement what I tell them in our meetings. I also thought I would look at my website stats to see why people have been coming to my blog and the rest of my website and build more articles off of that.
When I started writing this time around, I started with three articles in mind. That’s it. Three. The good news about just having three articles to start with was the list was very doable. The bad news, of course, was that the list was going to be completed rather quickly.
However, a funny thing happened as I started to write. More ideas came to mind during the time I was writing. I would write down my ideas as I was writing so the ideas would be captured and I could revisit them later. When I did revisit my ideas, a plan started to form. Now, just seven weeks into writing and 20 articles later (Yay! This is my 20th article since I started writing again!), I have a plan that will keep me going for months and this is something you can do as well, so let me show you how.
How to decide what to blog about:
Starting a content plan from scratch.
A lot of the articles I have been writing recently talk about using your website statistics as a jumping off point to figure out what to blog about. If you’ve already been writing for awhile and you have installed Google Analytics in your site, there’s a bunch of great ideas I have for you about how to decide what to blog about and you can find them all by clicking here.
But what if you don’t have any website stats or previous content to go off of? Try jotting down ideas about what you know around a topic, no matter what they are. Here’s a big clue: nothing you have to say is too repetitive or boring because your perspective and the reasons for sharing your ideas are unique to you. Do you have any memories of going to school and really liking one math teacher or another or one art teacher or another? They both taught the same subject, but there was something about one over the other that resonated with you. It’s the same with online writing; sometimes the way one blogger talks about something won’t make any sense and the next article you find from someone else about the very same thing totally makes all the sense in the world.
Let’s say you are a yoga teacher and you want to blog about yoga for busy moms. Start by writing down all the things you already know about your students that are moms. This might mean you go to your next five or ten yoga classes with a notepad and write down your thoughts, observations, and ideas based off of what your students ask you. And, as loose and simple as this process sounds, you now have your first content plan. You’ll probably want to formalize your ideas into themes and make it easily accessible. This brings us to our next portion of creating a content plan: where you create it.
Where does your content plan live?
I’m going to share with you where my content plan has lived in the past and where it currently lives. You may or may not like any of these ideas, but hopefully, you will get inspiration from what I’m about to share and figure out the best system to use for your sensibilities.
Most importantly, your content plan needs to be easily accessible and easy to read and modify.
This is why your handwritten notes need to go digital. It’s great if you get your initial ideas by writing them in a notebook. I love writing with a pen rather than a keyboard; I feel more connected to the content. But notebooks get lost and damaged. Also, the information in a notebook isn’t easily moved around as you start to develop themes. So give yourself permission to freely flow with your ideas in a manual, written form if that’s what works best for inspiration purposes and is easy for you when you are on the move throughout your day, but then move your content ideas into digital form as the next step in fleshing out your content plan.
In the past, I have used a simple spreadsheet. You’ll hear me say this again and again, actually, “So I created a spreadsheet to help me track this or organize that.” My name is Brenda Newhouse and I have a spreadsheet addiction. My 2013 website builder review series lived in spreadsheets. I captured the names of the website builders and their URLs and initial thoughts all in a spreadsheet. Then I would color the cells of the spreadsheet as I wrote each website builder review. This was a super simple way to go. I used a Google Sheet so I could access the spreadsheet anywhere. Moving things around in the spreadsheet wasn’t as easy as what I use now, but back then it totally did the trick.
Now I use Asana. Um, my name is Brenda Newhouse and I totally have an Asana addiction. Asana is a free tool for someone who doesn’t need their advanced features (I don’t). If they wrote me today and said I would now have to pay for the tool, I would happily do so because I use it that much. I don’t want to add to my expenses, but I never want to go without this tool. Ever. In Asana, you can create projects and within those projects you can create lists of tasks to do, create lists within lists, add comments, attach documents, and add images. Then, when you’re finished with a task or subtask, you can just click a check mark to mark it as completed. One of the most magical parts of Asana is that I can drag around items within a list; this is something I do every day and love, especially for my blog’s content plan, which brings me to my next concept: adding more content.
A tool like Asana will allow you to go quickly put your initial ideas into a list, your content plan, very quickly. As you start to put your plans into Asana, you will probably want to move them around to reflect the flow that makes sense to you. With a tool like Asana, this is super easy by just dragging each idea to a new location; it’s so easy that I find I stay in the creative flow as I work with the tool rather than getting in a fight with the tool.
Adding to your content plan as you go.
Something funny happens as I write and I’m guessing it will happen to you, too. As I write, I get more ideas. Sometimes those ideas come from the things I am writing and sometimes those ideas come from the research I do as I write. Sometimes those ideas come when I look at my website stats and see something that surprises me, like a search term someone used.
Allow these ideas to bubble up and capture them in writing. Allow yourself to write them while you are in the process of writing today’s article so you have ideas for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Most of the time, the ideas that come to mind as I am writing directly relate to what I am writing. If I add the new ideas into Asana, I might go ahead and drag the new ideas so they are next in line after the idea I am working on at the moment. This allows me to flesh out a topic more and create a series, like a mini course, of related concepts.
How to decide what to blog about when you have a bunch of ideas.
Did you end up with thirty ideas and you aren’t confident they make sense together? Don’t worry about that now. When you’re just starting out blogging, the best thing you can do is to have a variety of themes that you allow yourself to write about. Why? Because you don’t know what will resonate the most with you and your readers as you get into the writing process. Allow yourself to write a few articles about many different themes and see how it feels to go deeper into each concept. Some ideas might lead to a dead end. Or, if you are watching your website stats, you might see that some ideas might not get any readership and others do; give the more popular topics more attention now and come back to the other ideas again later down the road after you have momentum and more eyes on your content.
Let your content planning process be a natural part of what you do while writing and while working in your business using the techniques and tools mentioned above and you’ll have an outstanding list of blog ideas in no time.