Deciding How Often to Post
In this first part, we discuss how to decide when you should post to your blog. Several times per day? Once a day? Once a week? Whenever you have something to post?
Once a month used to be the standard, but those days are long gone, if you want to build a solid readership following. There are just too many bloggers posting on this same schedule and one way to get ahead of the pack is to post more often.
In part, deciding when to post has a lot to do with the type of blog you have. If it is more of a social-type blog, you should post at least daily, and probably closer to several times per day. Each time can either be scheduled so they will be sent at specific time intervals during the day or you can post in real-time during the course of the day whenever “breaking news” in your niche happens.
If you are new to blogging, once a week is a good place to start, so you don’t get overwhelmed right away. Your readers will come to expect hearing from you once a week on a set day (and even a set time if you want) and for you, it doesn’t become too much of a burden to come up with blog content. The problem emerging with weekly posting is that many other bloggers are now doing the same. Because of this, it is easy for your posts to get lost in the mix. This is where quality trumps over quantity every time. It doesn’t take long for the chafe to sift out from the wheat and your blog posts rise to the top if you are writing quality posts.
As you get your feet more wet in the world of blogging, and if you have a wide enough niche to provide you with enough ideas, you may want to increase your post frequency to twice a week. If you have a narrow niche, then you may want to stick with weekly posting; just make what you do dynamic!
Batching Idea Generation to Get in the Zone and Save Time
In this part, we take that thought one step further by talking about generating posts in batches. For one, writing multiple blog posts in one sitting is a big-time saver – a problem most bloggers seem to have. Two, it allows you to take a large topic and break it down into several smaller blog posts. You can put the blog topic in the post followed by “Part 1 of 4” for example. If you post on a weekly basis, you have enough posts for a month all written and scheduled to post in one sitting. And your readers know they can expect three more blogs on that topic in the coming weeks.
A great tool to use for batching ideas is a mind mapping. Enter your main blog topic in the middle of a blank piece of paper and branch out with sub-ideas that each can be used as blog posts. From there, briefly outline the post and flesh out each item in the outline with specific information; now you have the basic content portion of your batch of posts done for quite a while. Write up the posts, add images, links and a call to action (as applicable), schedule to post and you are done!
We all have times when we are more productive than others. Use your “off” time to brainstorm ideas and outline, and your “on” time to flesh out and finish each post. Sometimes we are more productive out of our familiar environment. Maybe head down with your laptop in hand to your local coffee shop and brainstorm while enjoying a cup of joe. The point is finding what works for you and capitalizing on it. It could just be one time of day works better than another for you. As they say, “Go with the flow!” And
Getting Blog Post Inspiration from Books and Magazines
Before we talked about how to batch generate blog posts from one central idea. In this email, we are exploring one way to find ideas – both from online and offline sources. According to one survey, 41% of blog posters struggle to come up with post content. If you struggle and have been using only the Internet to find blogging ideas, try looking at offline books and magazines too.
Go to your local bookstore and thumb through printed material pertaining to your blog niche. In the case of books, look at the table of contents to see if there are things they might have missed or new developments on something, both ideas you can write about. The advantage of magazines is that the material is more current, so you can many times find ideas on new developments that your audience may not know about or ideas that you can expand on further.
If your blog is not based on a local area, national newspapers like USA Today, New York Times or the Wall Street Journal can provide a plethora of ideas. However, if your topic is local, then local publications (along with national ones too, just it the topics a local slant) can be more beneficial for your audience because the ideas, and resulting blog posts, are more valuable to your audience in the local area.
These same publications, along with magazines on almost all topics appear online too, making sleuthing for ideas easy and fast. In many cases, not only do you get the current issue, but most also have links to past issues. Scan the listings of articles in each issue and when something strikes a chord, dig into it deeper.
Getting Inspiration from Blog Traffic and Questions from Readers
Continuing on with this series of thoughts on how to come up with ideas for blog content, one source commonly overlooked is questions and comments you receive from your readers in reference to a blog post. Many bloggers just answer the question or comment back to the person asking it. Big mistake!
Many times, each of those questions or comments can be a blog post in itself. Why? Because if one person has that question, more of your readers probably do too. You are doing a disservice to your audience by just responding back to that one person instead of your whole audience.
And, it saves you time because you don’t have to search for content for that blog as you can usually write those posts off the top of your head.
Take this idea of getting inspiration from traffic and expand it out further. Spy on competing bloggers in your niche and see what comments and questions their readers are asking them. If their readers have those questions and comments, your readers are probably going to have the same ones too on that topic. That can keep you going for a long time just addressing questions and comments and fleshing them out into full-blown blog posts.
Another idea for blog posts is talking about the mistakes you have made along the way in learning about your blog niche. No use having your readers make the same mistakes if they can learn from you right way to do something. And besides, it shows a more vulnerable and transparent side of you showing you to be a person more like themselves.
Using Your Audience and Their Problems as a Source of Ideas
In this final email on the Blog Post Idea Series, we want to explore thinking like your audience to get ideas for blog posts. And how do you do that? By creating a reader avatar or reader profile.
In other words, who is your ideal reader? Think about these things from your reader’s viewpoint:
- If you are marketing a product or service, what do they need to know before they buy from you? Think along the lines of features and benefits.
- What do they need to know about it after they buy it from you? What safety issues or warnings should they know before they first use it.
- What follow-on products or services would complement their buy right now?
- What other types of related products or services would peak their interest in the future?
- What kinds of questions do they ask (or should ask) every time before purchasing? They may not know what they don’t know and you can be proactive by answering those questions even before they ask them.
- What kinds of problems /doubts /fears would prevent them from purchasing? Some of this can be answered in the features and benefits portion.
One thing that goes a long way to reducing the fear or doubt of purchasing is to add a money-back, no-questions asked guarantee of at least 30 or 60 days to the sales page of the product or service you are selling. That way they know ahead of time that if they make a mistake, they can get their money back.
Along these same lines is posting (real) testimonials on your sales page. That way they know other individuals have purchased the product or service and are happy with it.
Another great way is to flat-out ask them! Surveys are quick, easy to do and will give you a better idea of what your audience is thinking, what topics they would like to see (or see more of) and in general, problems they may have that you have experienced yourself and solved. These are the kinds of things that make your posts valuable to your readers and will keep them subscribed to your blog. One service many bloggers use to create and post surveys is Survey Monkey.
They have a free version that limits you to 10 questions per survey and 100 responses, along with three paid versions which are unlimited as far as number of questions asked per survey and vary from 1,000 responses to unlimited. There are other survey services out there too if you do a search for them.
If you don’t want to go the survey route, just ask your audience some thought provoking questions in one of your blog posts. Not only does asking create a blog post itself, but the answers you get can fuel several future blog posts if you expand on their responses.
That wraps up the email series on blog post ideas and I hope it has given you some ideas of your own as far as how to generate blog post ideas in order to come up with post content.