Many of us have sat staring miserably at a blank screen, cursor winking mockingly, trying desperately to pull our thoughts together to form a sentence.
And then (hopefully) another.
It’s rarely easy, and even on good days when your Muse is with you, there’s still that niggling self-doubt to contend with.
I have nothing to say.
And even if I did, who’s going to listen?
But if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you also need to consistently craft mind-blowing blog content to grow your audience – while you write your book.
So, the big question is this:
“What’s the most effective, most efficient way to regularly conceive and produce high-quality posts that attract more readers?”
Because you do have something to say. Your ideas are worth sharing. And people will listen.
You just need a little guidance on how to focus your creative super powers to get the job done.
How to Decide What to Blog About
Ready to solve the “What do I blog about?” puzzle, once and for all?
To do so, we need to lay a little groundwork.
Before we can think about creating amazing content, we need to know three things first:
- Who is your audience or the intended consumer of your content?
- How do your passions, interests and talents intersect with the wants and needs of this specific group of people?
- And finally, what are your goals or the results you wish to achieve?
Your answers to each of these questions will direct the quality and the focus of the content you create for your blog going forward.
Not only will you consistently be able to craft compelling, entertaining or educational content that speaks directly to your audience, but you’ll actually find it easy to do so.
Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these areas below.
1. Who Are You Trying to Reach?
One of the biggest roadblocks writers encounter with their author blogs (and sometimes with their writing in general), is identifying exactly who it is that they are trying to reach.
It’s nearly impossible to create consistently epic content that resonates with readers, when you have no idea who you are writing for.
Consider this: How awkward and difficult are conversations with complete strangers?
But what happens to that same conversation when you inadvertently touch on a subject you both feel passionately about?
If their interests, experience and ideas echo yours on a subject – or perhaps they challenge some of your beliefs, but get you thinking more deeply on the topic – the conversation may go from uncomfortable to: “I had this fascinating conversation with a complete stranger the other day…”.
Your blog can be the vehicle that facilitates these somewhat random but captivating conversations with complete strangers. 😉
And once the connection has been made, relationships develop from consistently reinforcing that initial bond through what you share on your blog, on social media and through your work.
But, unlike awkward social situations that drag on forEVER, casual blog conversations may start – and end – in under 3 seconds. Therefore, you’ve got about three heart beats to catch your potential reader’s attention before they wander off to the next casual blog encounter.
It must be crystal clear to your readers what your blog and your writing is about and why they – your target audience – should stick around.
- Who exactly are you trying to reach? Identify your target audience and create one or more personas for your ideal reader(s). Gain an intimate understanding of their wants and needs – what drives them? What are they searching for? (Note: the content created by an author to attract an audience for his Sci-Fi or Thriller novels will be vastly different than the content he might create to educate his peers or to help novice Sci-Fi writers.)
- Do you have a tagline? Whether you use one for your site or not, the process of honing your message down to it’s simplest form is super beneficial. What can you share about the meaning, emotion and experience of your work in just a few words that will capture the “right” people’s attention?
- What are your blog categories? Blog categories provide structure for your blog and easier navigation for your readers. They also help you maintain your focus on content that meets the needs and expectations of the people you are trying to build relationships with.
2. What Are Your Interests and Passions?
Writers are often multi-passionate creatures.
Often, writers find themselves blogging about everything they’re interested in or exploring every avenue of curiosity.
Unfortunately, this tends to confuse readers and visitors to your site.
Many people will connect with you on a particular interest or passion, but few will connect with you on every interest and passion. [Click to Tweet this idea]
Therefore, it’s important to niche-down and get selective about the message and content you wish to share.
This doesn’t mean that once you pick an area to blog about, you can never change. But you will be knee-deep in this or related topics for years, so make sure you can happily do so. (Hint: If you can’t shut up about it in real life, it’s probably a good topic for you to blog about.)
If you choose subject matter that you are genuinely passionate about, you will still have plenty of blog topics to explore, but by narrowing your topic, it will be much easier to research, read about and find people with similar interests.
One super important caveat: You must think beyond your own interests.
Yes your blog topics should be well within your wheelhouse, but if readers can’t see what they get out of it, you’re creating a diary, not a blog.
- Find common ground. Find that intersection between your passions and your readers’. Where is the overlap between what you have to offer and what your reader finds compelling? How can you meet your readers’ needs with the type of topics and content you’ll enjoy providing?
- Determine your point of view. From what perspective will you be sharing information? As a reporter, where you report on what you see others doing? As a student, where your content has a more experimental tone and you’re asking your readers to come on the journey with you? Or are you sharing content as an expert in your field or genre, where you share your knowledge and insights as well as other expert opinions?
- Create something worth sharing. If you want to stand out, you have to do something different. How you deliver the content is as important as what you deliver. Your voice, your style and your world view are essential. Be you, it’s much easier and there’s never any competition!
3. What Are Your Goals and Objectives?
Your blog post strategy must be more than just a task to check off on your book marketing to-do list.
If you resent the idea of having to blog, or find the process painful at best – stop. Neither you, nor your potential readership will benefit from the experience.
And if you think you might be able to “get by” with a minimum of effort, forget about it.
If you don’t care enough to put effort and attention into your articles, why should readers?
The content you share must go deeper and be more useful than “filler”, fluff or covert marketing messages for readers to buy your book.
It has to matter.
Which means that the goals and objectives you outline for your content strategy must also be meaningful.
Choose your objectives. Solve a problem, ease their fears, teach something new, entertain or inspire. Clear objectives for your post content will provide a simple plan to propel you toward action.
Use yourself as a guide. What kind of posts do you wish you could find online? What do you wish your favourite authors were sharing – about their work, their genre or the industry? How would you like them to share this information? Are there any groups that are getting ignored or questions that aren’t being answered? What’s missing on other blogs? Find a hole and fill it.
What does success look like? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish (sell more books, start a movement, spread your message, build your authority and influence)? How will your post content strategy help move you toward these goals?
Where to Get Consistently Awesome Post Ideas
Now that you’ve hammered out who’s attention you’re trying to get, how their interests align with yours, and the results you hope to achieve, it’s much easier to find blog post ideas that will dazzle your readers.
Here are several techniques for generating great blog post topics:
- Look to books, trade publications, movies, comics, tv, top trends, celebrities (musicians, writers, speakers) for inspiration. What issues might affect your readers?
- Ask your readers what they want more of, check competitor comment sections, check your comment section, pull reader questions from your emails or interview a fan of your work. Listen.
- Take a walk, exercise, play. Get out from behind your computer – experiencing life makes it easier to write about it!
- Be ready whenever inspiration strikes by creating a swipe file for post ideas or jot them down in a journal (I use the “notes” section on my phone to capture post ideas, since I always have it with me.)
- Search Amazon (look at not only top books in your niche, but their table of contents as well). Research Google and YouTube for articles and video ideas that you can expand on, challenge or take in a whole new direction.
- Learn from others in your niche or genre. What are your favourite sites publishing? What’s working for them? What post types get the most interaction or sharing and what subjects do they explore? How do they use images and graphics, and how does their branding or style “fit” with their content? (Take the concept, not the content.)
- Set up Google Alerts for topics and issues related to your book. What can you add to the story?
- Check to see if the content you’re creating universally resonates with people: Here is a fantastic infographic outlining the 21 types of content we all crave.
- Creating a content editorial calendar will help you generate post ideas, maintain a consistent publishing schedule and allow you to visualize your content marketing strategy. (Remember, the sum of your content should equal readers wanting more from you – more books, courses, speaking, etc.)
- Expand on content that already resonated with your readers. One easy way to find out what’s working is to use your Google Analytics history:
- Set your time frame: for example, Jan 1, 2014 to Dec 31, 2014.
- To view your top pages: click on the Behavior tab. Then Site Content. Then click on All Pages. This generates a report that shows you the total amount of page views your content has received.
- Then assess your content. Which posts were your top performers.? Do you see any patterns in the type, quality or format of the top posts? Use this info to determine what post styles and content you should focus more on going forward.
54 Types of Blog Posts That Magnetically Attract Your Reader’s Attention
Leveraging some popular post archetypes and customizing them with the info that you’ve gathered above, can help you deliver high-quality posts – in less time.
Plus, varying the types of blog posts not only keeps thing interesting (for both you and your readers), but gives you the opportunity to see what post types your target audience prefers.
1. Pillar Post – In-depth posts that define your blog and brand.
2. List Post
3. Tutorial or How-To Post – DIY posts, walkthroughs or step-by-step instructions.
4. Inspirational or Motivational Post
5. Review or Critique Post – Review books, writing tools or platforms that are of interest to your audience.
6. Behind-the-Scenes Post – Let your readers have a peek behind the curtain.
7. Manifesto Post – Describe what you believe, your vision of the world, share undeniable truths, and a few tips and advice.
8. Progress Post – Updates, milestones or progress you’ve made on a particular task.
9. Top Resources/Link list Post
10. Top Posts Compilation Post – The Best of _____.
11. FAQ’s Post – Answers to reader’s frequently asked questions (there’s a good chance they’re typing these same questions into Google search).
12. SAQ’s Post – Questions your readers should be asking, but aren’t.
13. Diary Entry Post
14. Live-Blogging Post – Keep your readers in the loop by providing rolling coverage of an ongoing event or conference.
15. Case Study Post – People learn best with examples.
16. Predictions Post – How changes in the industry, in technology or in the tools (social media, blogging, etc.) will affect your ability to earn a living or make your mark as a writer.
17. Link Roundup/Curation Post – Have a weekly or monthly roundup of the “best on the web”.
18. Project Showcase Post – Highlight what you’re working on right now.
19. Events/Announcements/Updates Post – Controversial topics, industry news, parallels between events and your writing, topic or genre.
20. Crowdsourced Post – Expert insights, bring multiple influencers together to answer a single question.
21. Profile Post – Write about a person or organization related to your topic.
22. Quiz Post
23. “What If” Post
24. People to Follow Post – curate a list of people that may be helpful or impactful to your readers; make it easy for your readers to connect with them through their website, social media channels, books, etc.
25. Vlog Post – A journalistic video documentation of your life, thoughts, opinions or interests.
26. Giveaway or Competition Post
27. Interview Post
28. An Open Letter Post – The intimate, yet public nature of an open letter post draws readers in.
29. Personal Experience Post – Let your guard down. Form a connection with your readers by sharing a deeply personal experience.
30. Webinar or Live Broadcast Post
31. Serialized Story Post – Publish a story in episodic chunks to keep readers coming back for more.
32. Commentary Post – Expand upon or add your own explanation of an event or another’s work.
33. Reaction Post – Your response to content created by someone else.
34. News Post – Report or comment on events as they are happening. Must be relevant to your readers (add your perspective).
35. Comparison Post
36. Story/Anecdote Post – Parable, life lessons or emotional re-telling of events.
37. Research Post – Share what you’re learning about a given topic that relates to your next book, or curate research from other sources and pull it all together into an article.
38. Opinion Post – Yours or others’ opinions on a particular topic or issue.
39. Post Series – String related posts together to build momentum or for a more comprehensive approach to a topic.
40. Cheat Sheet Post
41. Reader Showcase Post – Acknowledge and highlight your avid fans.
42. Checklist Post
43. Challenge Post – Often a series, where you get readers to participate in a challenge and provide updates of progress made.
44. Survey Post/Statistics Post – Collect some data or do a bit of research and share the results. Highlight key takeaways, important findings, or ways to implement the new information.
45. Carnival Post – Host a blog carnival on a specific topic and allow other writers to submit their post links.
46. Quote Post – Pull together multiple quotes from influential people (other writers, publishers, industry experts).
47. Guest Post – Host another writer on your site.
48. Infographic Post
49. Image/Graphics/Visual Post – Include a collection of images around a central topic or idea.
50. Presentation/Slideshare Post
51. Video Post – Upload and embed video into your blog post.
52. Feedback Post – Ask for feedback on possible book covers for your new release, characters, etc.
53. Problem/Solution Post – Define a problem that your readers have and present the solution.
54. Cause Post – Call your readers to action regarding something that is important to you or close to your heart.
Even More Post Ideas!
For more specific blog post ideas to spark your creativity and inspire your writing, check out some of these amazing lists of post suggestions developed by fellow writers:
Some of my favourites:
#9 “Writers in your life and how they’ve inspired you.”
#17 “The most interesting piece of research you came across.”
#34 “An interview of your significant other about your writing habits.”
#76 “Infusing sensory details into writing.”
#85 “The most difficult scene or piece you’ve ever written.”
#101 “How writing has changed your life.”
365 Days of Blog Post Ideas for Authors and Writers by Darla G. Denton
Darla conveniently breaks down topics into three sections: “For The Fans/Readers”, “For the Writing Community”, and “For All Your Followers”.
Some of my favourites:
For the Fans/Readers
#14 “Post teasers of upcoming books and WIP’s.”
#21 “Talk about if someone gave you a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why.”
#28 “Create a dream cast of actors for your books.”
#34 “Post background info on your most popular characters or stories.”
For the Writing Community
#141 “Talk about how to get local newspapers, tv programs and radio shows to interview you.”
#171 “Talk about how to create your own online writing class.”
For All Your Followers
#5 “Talk about when, how and why you decided to write stories to be published.”
#27 “Write a short story/flash fiction piece for your blog followers (Break it up into two blog posts).”
101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas by Molly Greene
Molly includes six basic post types with blog post ideas and prompts for each.
Some of my favourites:
#28 “A song playlist for your novel, or tunes that correspond to the seasons of your life. You can share links to purchase the songs, or not.”
#40 “How to kill (fictional) people. Hahaha.”
#58 “A list of your favorite books of all time and why they made the list.”
#72 “Pose a question, comment, or scenario designed to inspire debate.”
One Final Tip: Reuse & Recycle
There is no doubt that creating content for your blog can be a lot of work.
But the trick to maximizing your return on time invested, is to learn how to repurpose the fabulous content you’ve already created.
One amazing blog post idea can turn into many, just by changing the medium by which you deliver the content.
Written posts can be repurposed and developed into a short video for your YouTube channel or a fantastic Slideshare presentation.
Video interviews can be transcribed and shared on your blog, or a post of inspirational quotes can be turned into a video slideshow with music and other imagery.
Keep in mind, too, that text may not always be the best medium for the info you wish to share.
Video, images and graphics, audio podcasts or even presentations (Powerpoint/Keynote), may be a better way to share certain ideas or info with your audience.
So mix it up, get creative and keep your eye out for more ways to create content that is worthy of being shared or linked to.
If you follow the tips above, you’ll never have to wonder what to blog about again!
Share in the comments some of your most successful blog post ideas. What has resonated with your audience and why? Were you ever surprised by a post that really hit it big with your readers?
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