If you’re anything like me, when you set out to write a new blog post, the creativity flows from your fingertips like a geyser/power washer/waterfall combo. Coming from the ether, your ideas are precious jewels of which the world is lucky to bear witness.
…wait. Is that…just me? Oh. Well, this is awkward.
Of course, as a blogger and copywriter, I know full well that the above is complete fantasy. Putting aside the rare occasion in which you’re hit with a lightning bolt of inspiration, the early steps of crafting a blog post worth reading often involves a whole lot of brain-wracking thought and research. Many blogs can be front-loaded time investments that can leave you wondering if they’re worth the effort.
The good news? If done correctly, blogs are an effective form of creative content your brand needs to position itself as a trusted thought leader and share its insights with the world. But again, that first step (coming up with a killer idea) is a doozy.
As the author of hundreds (gasp) of blog posts, learning how to brainstorm for blogs in a more effective fashion has been crucial for not only my efficiency but also the quality of my writing–and it could be for you, too.
Top Tips on How to Brainstorm for Better Blogs
Brainstorming is more than just sitting in silence and waiting for the good ideas to come. Brains often don’t work that way. Though everyone has different needs–some prefer silence while others prefer the clamor of a coffee shop, for example–I have some tips that may help jumpstart your brainstorming session and yield new blog post ideas that pop.
- Google Alerts: As much as you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, you can’t expect to know everything at all times. Luckily, Google Alerts is here to help. This tool allows you to track any subject under the sun by simply choosing keywords you’d like to keep an eye on. For instance, if I want to be kept up to date on kittens, I can easily input “kittens” into Google Alerts and then tweak the alert to my liking by selecting the “Show options” drop-down. This allows you to choose the sources you’d like Google to pull from (news articles, blog posts, videos, etc.), what region of the country or world you’d like these stories to be pulled from and how often you’d like to be alerted about such stories.
- Know Your Audience and Listen to Them: Before putting pen to pad or finger to keyboard, it’s vital to know your audience. Identifying exactly who your intended reader is will inform everything from tone to the actual content of your post. If I’m writing a blog on kittens, it will read dramatically different depending on if my audience is made up of lifelong cat owners versus people sans-cat.
Once you have an audience in mind, open your ears to them and take a moment to do a bit of mental roleplay. Using my example, what would a longtime cat owner find interesting, engaging or helpful? Are any of my clients longtime cat owners? What have I heard them ask about in the past? What are their pressure points and worries? Many of the most helpful blog posts were spawned by addressing frequently asked questions from our clients, colleagues and community.
- Talk it Out: We get by with a little help from our friends. If you’re feeling an idea drought coming on, I’d highly recommend getting into a room with two or three creative thinkers who may have some insight on the subject you’re trying to tackle. I can’t tell you how many great ideas were developed just by collecting coworkers in a small office with a big whiteboard.
- Come Back Fresh: Take a break. Yes, it may feel like I’m giving you permission to procrastinate but that’s not what this is. Frustration and fatigue go hand in hand, and if you’ve been hitting your head against the brick wall of writer’s block trying to come up with your next big blog idea, you’re going to need a break. According to research cited in an article from Inc., “…the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time.” As it turns out, variety is also the spice of creativity. So, take five minutes, grab a cup of coffee, have a snack, go on a walk or just daydream for a bit. If you can, move on to another task and come back to your blog brainstorm fresh. Though stubbornly trying to fight through the frustration of writer’s block can seem like the “right” thing to do, you may do more harm than good, taking more time and yielding weaker ideas.
- Get Out of Your Cave: Though your desk, cubicle or office may be your comfort zone in the office, sometimes it can lead to a bit of stagnated thinking. Go to a coffee shop, sit on a park bench or even simply relocate to another space in your office that is out of your norm. It may sound a little silly, but your environment can play a big part in inspiring new, fresh ideas.
Asking how to brainstorm for blogs is a little like asking how to make the perfect pizza: there are plenty of methods that people swear by, but a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Also like pizza, in the end, as long as it yields something people want to consume, you’re probably doing it right. So, don’t be afraid if the muses aren’t pulling their weight as soon as you sit down to take on your next big blog post. Prime your creativity pump with Google Alerts, think about your audience, make it a group effort, take a break and get out of your comfort zone. Your blogs will be the better for it.