It’s lonely out there sometimes, isn’t it? And boring. Staring at your screen. Wishing your blog posts would write themselves. Here are 6 ideas for beating blogger’s block that really work
People warned you blogging was hard – that the ability to keep writing on one topic over a long period of time could wear you down. But you never figured it would happen this fast…And a writing-for-the-search-engines approach, if you dare, can fall flat and lifeless faster than a bungee jumper on a broken cable.
Monetization vs. Passion
Maybe you pinpointed your niche for monetization reasons alone, but as a content marketer, you’ve got to dig your toes in much deeper to hold attention. Because you can bet that if you’re not excited about what you’re writing, your readers won’t be either.
Want Some Ideas for Constantly Coming Up With Gripping Blog Topics That You Love to Write and Your Readers Love to Read?
Here’s the worst thing you can do.
Compile a list of keyword strings and then write an article for each one, no matter how awkward and redundant. Maybe it’ll draw some traffic, but people know what you’re up to. And what you write becomes nothing but filler.
Like those foam peanut things they use in cardboard boxes.
Here’s how to really get those creative juices flowing.
1. Find a Way to Love the Work To Avoid Blogger’s Block
A lot of people create a blog or website because they want to make cash. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.
But use your imagination – the web is so vast and deep that you can build a content business around just about anything. Why not choose something that fascinates you?
That being said, sometimes you come across a juicy niche that’s just far too succulent to ignore.
But you better learn to love it if you’re aiming for a long-term income stream.
Fortunately, you’d be surprised what you can learn to love when you dig a little deeper. Just about every possible topic becomes a labyrinth of wonders to behold if you learn to change perspective.
For example, as I write this, there are five things sitting on the table in front of me.
- A bottle of water.
- A bag of dried fish strips (hey, I’m in Cambodia).
- A cell phone.
- A pair of sunglasses.
- And my laptop.
Dried Fish – Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/annikalidne/
None of this, aside from the fact that I’ve gone native enough to snack on dried fish, is really all that interesting at first glance. But let’s take a closer look at just one. For no apparent reason, we’ll go with the sunglasses.
What could I find interesting about them if I wanted to find them interesting?
Well, these are cheap, knock-off glasses I picked up in a stall in Vietnam (hell, that’s an entire blog worth of content in its own right). Is it possible the plastics used are seeping toxins in to my body? Is this perhaps a first-world problem too, given that so many domestic companies now source manufacturing to Asia?
What are the latest environmentally-friendly, safe eyewear alternatives rising to the surface?
What about Google glasses and the future of computerized eyewear? And what do instances like the woman attacked for wearing this type of device in a San Francisco bar say about the real future of privacy? (http://www.dezeen.com/2014/03/10/women-attacked-in-san-francisco-for-wearing-google-glass/)?
This history of sunglasses is fascinating too. Prehistoric Inuits used to wear glasses flattened and crafted out of ivory, and the famed Emperor Nero of Rome used to watch gladiators fight to the death through polished gems. Judges in Chinese courts wore crystal glasses to conceal their expression when grilling witnesses.
We could go on and on like this. And with this line of thinking, you quickly see that EVERYTHING can be interesting if you take it upon yourself to look harder.
2. Spark Your Blogging Mind With This Simple Physical Activity
If you spend all your time in front of a computer, no wonder you don’t have any ideas. You need a mix of experiences to draw from. You need new stimuli to beat blogger’s block.
(Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/)
Log out when you’re feeling stagnant and go for a walk. Yes, that’s all it takes. Masters across multiple fields throughout history report doing their best work during or after regular walks, and in fact, research shows that walking makes people more creative (http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/xlm-a0036577.pdf).
I take an hour-long walk every morning when I wake up. I mull over my business and its direction. Scribble down article ideas. Sometimes I go again in the middle of work or after dinner.
Bring along that pair of sunglasses while you’re at it. Set it down in the sand and meditate on it for a while. Compare it to the natural world around you, and consider what an accomplishment it was for the human mind to pull it out of nothing, all the blood sweat and tears that went into its invention.
Who knows what article ideas such a foray outside will unearth by the time you get back to the computer.
3. Prepare Yourself to Collect New Ideas Everywhere
My favorite system for this, as inspired by David Allen’s Getting Things Done, is the simple, low-tech notepad and pen. I never go anywhere without these tools in my back pocket, and if a pen runs out of ink or I forget my pad at home, I go into panic mode until I’ve got replacements in hand.
Write down any ideas that comes to mind concerning your blog, from content topics to new strategies. You can always throw out the lousy ideas later when you review.
But you’ll be amazed what comes pouring out when you have the means of collecting it in hand. I’ve often sat down in the middle of a walk or while running an errand and scribbled out an entire article to type up later.
These are always the ones that speak to my audience most.
Knowing that you’re always prepared to capitalize, your mind will seek new topic ideas in the strangest places, and you’ll draw connections that really make your stuff stand out. A piece on marketing lessons I learned from Southeast Asian tuk tuk drives is one I came up with recently.
Most importantly, you capitalize on your inspired mind at its best – instead of trying to force something out when your creativity is blocked. The end result is you always have a stockpile of possible material to draw from.
4. Immerse Yourself in Your Industry
Maybe you don’t think of it as your industry.
Many two-week experts and wannabe internet marketers have a horrible habit of researching topics only when they’re about to sit down and write.
Imagine an insurance salesman that never read a book on marketing. Or on insurance, for that matter. He MAY scratch by in the office using the directions on closing sales provided during initial training, and by following his co-workers’ lead, but you can bet he’ll never top his division.
Can you imagine a lawyer who isn’t current on the law? A pro basketball coach that ignores the changes in the league or new breakthroughs in training science? A stock broker who doesn’t read the financial news?
Of course not, and you can’t ignore your industry and still expect to be a success either.
Not if your main marketing strategy is blogging – otherwise known as giving advice and information about your niche.
In your spare time, read about what’s going on in your industry – how things are changing and where it’s all headed. Keep your finger on the pulse through relevant books, mainstream blogs, current news, and more.
If you only have a layman’s knowledge of your topic, no wonder you run out of things to say. A master of his industry can’t shut up about it. And his audience loves him for that.
Note: don’t worry if you aren’t starting out as an expert. You can build your expertise and unique opinions over time. As long as you are willing to immerse yourself.
5. Draw Relevance from the Irrelevant
It’s inevitable that the more you immerse yourself in one subject, the more you’ll see connections with other seemingly-irrelevant topics. Consider, for instance, the oft-noted tendency to keep seeing your car everywhere after the initial purchase. Or how a conversation with someone that is passionate about something always finds its way back to their fixation.
Your mind excels at building connections; that’s how it wraps itself around something new.
No one has quite the same understanding on a subject. Because no field of knowledge is static. It’s all connected to everything else, constantly shifting and evolving. It’s all tied together through your own unique paradigms and experiences.
Until you know your subject well enough for it to naturally permeate everything your attention falls on, you can get your creative juices flowing and perhaps speed up your learning by purposely seeking these connections.
Top news stories. Something you overhead at the bank. A side hobby you’re working on. A quote from a movie. Almost every blogger does this on the most basic level for the holidays. But you’ve got to get more creative about it to really grab your audience’s attention.
Remember, if your readers are as enthralled with your subject as you are, and the best readers are, it’s connected to everything for them as well.
6. Plan Fieldtrips for Yourself
With all the talk of the blogosphere killing print journalism, I still find magazine articles far more satiating and gripping. One thing that always strikes me when I read magazines is how much more hands-on the writers are.
Unlike most bloggers, they’re neck-deep in the industry. Chasing stories not through Google but through real life experience. Going to manufacturing plants to see how things are made – talking with the blue collar workers who make it happen. Heading down into mines or other dangerous, gritty environments.
Of course, if you’re a freelance blogger, the budget may not be realistic for you to do this. But if you’re running a content business based on blogging, it can be the edge that throws you out ahead of the competition.
Dig your fingers into your subject matter. Bring it alive, inhale it into all your senses, and you’ll have exponentially more to say about it.
Your Reaction to Boredom Is Your Own Fault
In bestselling author Robert Greene’s Mastery, he writes, “”We generally experience boredom as something painful and to be avoided at all costs. From childhood on, we develop the habit of immediately looking for some activity to kill the feeling. But this activity, if repeated often enough, becomes boring as well. And so for our entire lives we must search and search for novel amusements – new friends, new trends to latch on to, new religions or new causes to believe in. This search might lead us to change our careers and set us on a path of meandering here and there, in search of something to dull the sensation. But in all of these cases, the root of our problem is not in boredom itself but our relationship to it.”
There is no perfect niche.
There is no perfect business.
And when you lose your sense of wonder about a topic, it isn’t time to jump into another project. Nor to grit your teeth and bear through it, hunting through a list of keywords for an easy topic to “get it over with.”
When you get bored, it’s time to rethink your approach to your subject.
To dig a little deeper or wander into a side tangent.
Doing so not only makes it much more likely your blog will find success but can radically enrich your experience of life itself.
And that’s when things get really interesting.