It’s easy to write a single blog post, but not so easy to continue writing on a regular basis.
It’s much easier, however, when you create a blogging plan before you start.
If you already have a blog but are struggling to stay consistent, you can do this process at anytime, so read on for ideas.
1. Determine your purpose for blogging.
Blogging can be a lonely activity, and it takes time before you start getting the traffic and feedback you crave, so you need to have a purpose to keep you going in the meantime.
You may have already seen this talk by Simon Sinek, but I suggest you watch it now to get your mind focused on the WHY of your blog:
Here are a few reasons people start blogs. Do you resonate with any of them?
- To make money/drive more people to know about my business (Note: If you don’t have an additional business you’re blogging for, just blogging to make money is fine, but you should know that it will take quite awhile. So you need an additional purpose to keep you going.)
- To share my story with the world.
- To help other people in my niche.
- To explore a new topic and bring other people along on my journey.
- To have an outlet for my emotions and experiences.
- To be heard.
Take action: Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write “I want to blog because…” and finish the sentence. Then write it again. Then again. Until the timer dings, keep finishing the sentence over and over. The main rule for this to work is don’t let yourself stop writing. Don’t pause and think. Just keep going. That will help you find your “why.”
A fear that comes up in this part of the process:
You may worry,
My purpose isn’t important enough.
Yes it is. I give you permission to write for whatever purpose you choose. Now on to the next phase.
2. Figure out the overall topic you want to write about and/or the audience you want to write for.
This is kind of a big one, and there are lots and lots of ways to go about it. Here are a few:
- You can write on a specific topic, for a specific group of people – like organic cooking for moms, or how to use your DSLR camera for beginners.
- You can use your blog as a diary of sorts, chronicling your life adventures. Even if you do this, you should have some type of audience in mind. Are you writing about your experiences as an entrepreneur? As a mom? As a traveler?
- You can just write about a variety of topics you’re interested in. Instead of focusing on one topic, you can decide to just write about different things you care about. Once you’ve been blogging for awhile, you will naturally see what you enjoy writing about the most.
If you’re already blogging but struggling with it, take this opportunity to reassess your topic. Is it the reason you’re struggling? If so, you may want to narrow or broaden it.
Some links to help you out:
If you want a list of ideas to get you thinking, check out Fizzle’s 81 Topic Ideas for Starting a Blog that Matters. It’s a comprehensive list, ranging from “home brewing” to “learning the ukelele” (my mom would like the ukelele one).
Amy Lynn Andrews has a very helpful post describing what readers are looking for in a blog. The post then moves on to listing specific questions to ask yourself when choosing a topic, such as “Are readers in this niche willing to spend money?” and, “What kind of site do you wish you could find?”
Fears that come up in this part of the process:
As you’re doing this, you may start to doubt yourself. Here are some of the common fears:
What if no one cares what I have to say?
What if the topic I chose is too specific, and there aren’t enough people who will want to read about it?
What if the topic I chose is too broad?
So many other people are already writing about this. Maybe there’s no point in my doing so as well.
What if I get tired of writing about this?
Remember, these fears are mainly there because of the lizard brain that doesn’t want you to take risks. If you have any of these thoughts, take a deep breath, and realize that they really don’t matter. If you write with honesty and clarity, people will care what you have to say. And if your topic is too narrow or too broad, you’ll figure that out as you go.
Creating a successful blog is a journey, and no matter what you do, it won’t be perfect. So just let go of thinking it will be, and write anyway.
3. Create a blogging schedule.
How often will you blog? It’s really up to you.
I would say you should blog at least once a week. Beyond that, it depends how much posting you can handle.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How quickly do I want my blog to grow? (The more posts you write, the faster your blog will grow. Although it’s important that they all be high quality posts.)
- How much time per week do I want to devote to blogging? (Keep in mind, too, that blogging isn’t just writing a post. You may want to create an image to go with each post, and you’ll want to spend time promoting and sharing it as well.)
- How many posts will people want to read each week? (Here’s what Problogger and The Book Designer have to say about this question.)
Here’s something to keep in mind:
You can write everyday without posting everyday.
I read Chris Guillebeau’s 279 Days to Overnight Success (which you should read, by the way), and he said that he committed to writing everyday, but he only published a blog post 3 times a week.
I think this is really smart. Writing everyday means that you’re practicing blogging and getting better at it. And posting less times per week than you write will mean that you’ll have more than enough material to publish, but you won’t feel like you have to publish everything.
The other day I wrote a crappy blog post. Even as I hit publish, I knew it wasn’t my best work. But because I had committed to publishing everyday, I felt like I had to publish it. Then I rethought my schedule and realized that I’d rather publish fewer posts but make them all freaking awesome than publish one everyday and have some of them be crappy. So now I’m publishing 4 posts per week, but still writing everyday.
4. Write a bunch of ideas for posts. (20-30 is ideal)
It’s so important to be consistent in blogging, but it’s also really challenging. One of the best ways to prevent lapses is by having a lot of ideas to choose from. That way you won’t be sitting down day after day and thinking, Shit, what do I write about?
How do you find ideas for individual posts?
There are tons and tons of ways, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Create a mind map using your initial topic choices and just brainstorm as many ideas as possible.
- Go in Facebook groups and ask people what they struggle with that’s related to your topic.
- Skim over the forums in Quora to check out what people are talking about and interested in reading about.
- Read other blog articles in your niche, see which ones are popular, and then see if you can add your own spin to them.
- Poke around on Pinterest and see if anything sparks your interest.
- Read quotes on Goodreads for inspiration.
- Try out this idea generator.
For each post I write, I ask myself these 3 questions:
- Will this resonate with my audience?
- Do I have something new to contribute to this topic?
- Can I experiment and do something different with this?
Some links to help you out:
101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas by Molly Greene. I like this list because it’s not just specific ideas. Instead, she lists types of posts, and within each, ideas. For example a type she mentions is “Personal Essays” and within that topic, one of the ideas is “childhood memories.”
The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas by Digital Marketer is also extremely helpful in thinking of post ideas. It breaks the posts down by the tone and quality of the post, such as “be generous” and “be controversial,” and then provides ideas for each. It also includes a great infographic you can download and save for future reference.
Fears that come up in this part of the process:
In the idea generation process, you might be thinking,
This idea sucks. No one will want to read this.
What if I can’t come up with anything good for this topic?
Other people have done this better than I ever can.
To these fears, I say, you are just brainstorming. Don’t worry about individual ideas right now. If the idea sucks, or you can’t come up with anything good, you can discard it later. And if other people have done it better, why not write a link roundup sharing their knowledge?
To sum up…
In your blogging plan, you’ve:
- Figured out your purpose for blogging
- Decided on a topic for your blog
- Figured out a blogging schedule that works for you
- Brainstormed a 20-30 ideas to write about