Chefs around the world know that cooking dinner is the easy step.
The hard job? Figuring out what to cook.
The same principle applies to blog writing: It’s not so hard to write a blog. The challenging part is determining the topic. If this difficulty plagues you, here are some suggestions.
First, never try to determine your topic and write your post on the same day. Heartache (not to mention exhaustion) lies that way. Coming up with a topic is enough work for a single day.
I do content generation on Mondays or Tuesdays—eight or nine days before my weekly post reaches readers’ eyeballs. Then, when I go downtown each Wednesday, I walk part of the way there, giving myself time to think about the post. When I start writing Thursday morning, I’m ready to go.
How do I perform my content generation magic? I have a storage system.
Ideas for blog posts pop into my head at all sorts of times, many of them inconvenient. To capture them, I use Evernote. The basic service is free, but for storage beyond 60 MB, you’ll need a “plus” or “premium” plan. There’s also an Evernote app.
Evernote also lets you capture web pages with a single click—useful for storing PDFs. When you save anything in Evernote, you attach it to at least one “tag,” building an index on the go.
One of my Evernote “notebooks” has the title “Power Writing Ideas”; here are my categories:
- Ideas from readers. After a post on how to leave reading stress behind, a reader asked me to describe my daily shutdown ritual, which gave birth to another recent blog post.
- Ideas from social media. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can give you insights into what people are talking about and what they want to know.
- Ideas from Amazon. Find the top three to six books on Amazon that cover your topic, looking for well-written reviews. You’ll discover what people are most interested in learning about, and you can spin those questions into your own blog post.
- Ideas from Reddit. With sections dedicated to an array of interests, Reddit helps you track what people are sharing and asking about.
- Ideas related to products. Readers appreciate honest assessments of products they might buy. My post “Is it worth paying for Grammarly?” has drawn 246 comments, making it the most-commented-upon post on my website.
- Ideas from other bloggers. Whenever a blog post gets my brain humming, I “clip” it and file it. Of course, I don’t want to copy these posts, but I am happy to have them inspire me.
Effective blogging isn’t about what captivates you; it focuses on what interests your readers. With an easy system to capture ideas, you’ll never be left scratching your head saying, “What ever am I going to write about today?”
A version of this post first appeared on The Publication Coach blog.