We’ve all been there. You want to create something, but somehow you just can’t think of anything to write. The more people read your blog, the more pressure you have to produce something good. You have a schedule. People expect a certain standard of you. The pressure mounts and mounts until you have a looming deadline and are totally incapable of putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard.
This happened to me last month. I’d got to the end of my pre-planned ideas for the year. They’d taken me as far as March, which is pretty good going. But I felt totally uninspired about what to write next. So, I unplugged myself from the computer and got back to basics with an A3 sheet of paper.
This is what I did to solve my creative block. I ended up with 40 post title ideas in a couple of hours. Hopefully it’ll help you too!
Who reads your blog?
To get back to basics, consider who you are writing for. Who actually reads your blog? Try to describe this person as specifically as possible. And I mean that: give them a name and draw a little picture of them. Think about who they are and why they come to your blog. What is it about it that interests them? Think also about what else they consume (podcasts, video, books, blogs, products etc).
You might find that your blog has several ideal readers with different, but related, interests. That’s completely fine. Make a character for each of them. They might be based off people who comment lots, engage with you over social media or from analytics insights. If you haven’t really started blogging yet, think about the ideal person you’d like to write for. Create with that person in mind and they will come to you.
Split your blog into sections
Next look at what you already blog about. If you don’t blog yet, imagine what you would want to write about. Readers get familiar with a certain style and approach to topics. This is why you’d be surprised if Alastair Humphreys wrote a technical gear review or Semi Rad did a serious guide to road biking. Sketch out what fits in your theme and what doesn’t. It doesn’t need to be stuck in stone, but it helps to give you a place to start.
For example, my blog has 4 main categories:
- Adventure Stories – honest, entertaining accounts of my own experiences
- Business/Careers/Marketing – informative posts with an adventure spin
- Practical Advice – “how to” posts or guides relating to adventures I’ve done or skills I have
- Discussion/Comment – my thoughts about things, usually with an adventure twist
What are your four main categories of post? If it’s not as obvious as that, don’t worry – mine weren’t to start with either. But once I’d split them up and narrowed it down, it made choosing what to write about much easier. They acted as starting points for ideas.
Your Unique Experience
Hope you’ve got that all down. Next write down a long list of things that relate to your life or experiences. I actually split this into two parts, what we’ll call “on topic” and “off topic”. In my case, “on topic” experiences are just adventures that I’ve been on. My list included adventures you’ll have heard of, because they happened since I started this blog (e.g. Tandem Tales, All the Tors, Irish 3 Peaks). But also others you probably haven’t, like the trip I did with friends to the Maritime Alps post-uni and when I cycled to the Adriatic Sea aged 18.
My “off topic” list included everything I could think of that was just kind of part of my life. It was who I am, things I do regularly or that I take for granted. Be as free as you can with this. There are no right answers and some of the list items will feel stupid.
It’s this section that adds that extra bit of creativity and – most importantly – your personality to the mix. Fed up of reading bland listicles formed from the top 3 search results on the topic? Me too. Add your perspective, that’s what people are here for as much as the facts.
Putting it All Together
Now you’ve got all these themes and ideas down on the page (and I’m talking a real paper page here), start mixing them together. For example, I took the Irish 3 Peaks challenge, writing routes for Trail magazine and got a post called A Guide to Walking in Ireland. There’s need for it because it was difficult to find information about access and routes on the internet. I took my attempts at getting into running and the category of Practical Advice to get How I Trick Myself into Going for a Run.
Write a long list of titles. Don’t obsess over getting the titles right, but sketch out the idea of what will be included in the post. Remember you’re not committing to writing all of these, just getting the creative juices flowing.
Finally, go down the list you’ve written and number them with which blog category they’ll fit into. Are you missing or low on a particular category? Go back through and create with that particular category in mind. And is your ideal reader satisfied? If not, consider re-spinning the angle of the post to get topics your readers will be interested in.
If none of that still takes your fancy, look back at your old posts and see what’s performed well. Do more of it. You can see which posts get most hits by installing Google Analytics. For example, one of my most popular posts is about women walking alone, a currently under-represented theme on my blog.
Or take something that’s been prominent in media and put your spin on it. Tell your readers what you think about it, within the context of your blog theme. Example of me doing this here.
Finally, my last thoughts for you: if it’s hard to write, it’s not what you’re meant to be writing. There is nothing worse than dragging a blog post out kicking and screaming. It doesn’t read well and you don’t enjoy yourself. Allow space to explore topics and styles until you find posts that fly off your fingers. That’s how to keep blogging fun 🙂