Last year around December time I had a mini freak out moment when I realized I hadn’t travelled overseas for two years. I’m a travel blogger who isn’t going to exotic destinations. This made me fall into the deep end of the comparison pool. I was drowning myself by comparing myself to wildly successful travel bloggers and sites such as the culture trip. In order to reassure myself that I wouldn’t run out of post ideas I wrote a list of blog post ideas. In one sitting I came up with over 400 post ideas. Calmer and less paranoid that my blog would shrivel up and die I wondered if other bloggers ever struggle with coming up with post ideas. A few minutes later I found buckets loads of Pinterest articles on how to come up with content ideas. I read a few still there was something missing and that was the doing aspect of creativity which if you bear with me you will read about at the end of this post. This post is geared at bloggers and anyone who writes basically and is feeling stuck. I hope this helps you out.
Take care of yourself
The first step to take is to eat well, exercise and sleep well. I don’t always nail all of these, no one’s perfect but if you run yourself down you won’t have the mental ability to be creative. If you hate the gym like me, then do something else you love doing. For me it’s dance and skipping. I skipped every morning before I injured my knee last December. Now I’m waiting on it to heal properly before starting again. I’m planning on doing Zumba and Hip hop abs because for me a gym is filled with torture devices. Taking care of yourself means doing things you would want to do.
Do what you love
Do things that are fun. Having fun makes me come up with ideas. You might not have a million ideas flow out of your head after doing your favourite activity. It will however, put you in a good mood. Feeling good helps reduce stress and the loop of constantly thinking about how you can’t seem to come up with blog post ideas. Having fun also makes space for you to have a flash of inspiration.
Inspiration can be found in different places. If you love reading read I’m not only reading travel blogs and travel themed novels. I finished reading 24 Hours in Ancient Egypt by Michael O’Mara. Then I read On Writing by Stephen King. And I also finished reading 100 Things every designer needs to know about people by Susan M. Weinschenk this month. I’m currently reading The subtle art of not giving a fuck byMark Manson. Evidently I’m a mega book fan. I read on my way to work on the bus everyday and on my trip back home.
At the moment my work is monotonous which bores me to tears. I’ve accepted this as I only started last November. I’m hoping that I will get to do more challenging tasks as time goes on. I listen to music, YouTube videos and podcasts to stop myself from falling asleep at my desk. The daily show by Trevor Noah, SABC news channel, Vice and Vox videos are the soundtrack to my work week. I also only discovered Maggie Roger’s music this week and the Guilty feminist podcast which is hilarious. Spontaneous chuckles at work aside it does make me deal with work in a much more positive way. Most of what I’m reading and listening to is not blog related. This gives me time to unplug my brain from over thinking about blogging. And once again it opens the doorway to that flash of inspiration.
Research and find your voice
Doing research about travel blogging during my lunch break has become a habit of mine. I have read up on newsletters, MailChimp and creating e-books. If you haven’t guessed it I’m planning on eventually creating a newsletter. I downloaded a video on Youtube on how to create Instagram highlight covers using Canva. I’m looking at how to create travel infographics. I’m going to use BIRME to resize my images for Pinterest as I haven’t been pinning regularly as my photo sizes need to fit Pinterest specs. I might eventually write about Pinterest sizes and using BIRME if I find that my new Pinterest strategy works for me. My need to pin better led me to seek out information and what I found has the potential to be a helpful article for other bloggers.
Read other blogs. You don’t have to stick to your niche. For me supporting other bloggers is a feel good experience. The added bonus is that it builds up my blog to without me even trying that hard. As a travel blogger there is lots of blog posts out there on travelling. Reading what’s out there can help you generate ideas. But for me personally the key takeaway is to try and give the post my own spin. I use my own photos most of the time in posts. I tell stories and try to provide helpful tips based on my own travels. When I write about my city, Cape Town I realize that many topics have already been covered.
Still my take on topics is different given that I am me. It sounds mushy. I’m certainly not implying that I’m a special magical unicorn whose writing is the best ever. Still my voice isn’t the same. Most travel writing on my city tends to cater to rich tourists and locals. Being a female solo, budget traveller who is an activist with a political studies background allows me to link social issues and travelling together. Once you’ve found your voice it will be easier to come up with blog post topics. If you love coffee and aren’t a tea drinker post about the top 5 coffee spots in your area. Or challenge yourself to drink tea for a month, no coffee allowed then write about how your tea experiment went.
Write down ideas
I have a excel spread sheet with all my blog ideas. I kind of got a bit paranoid that I’d run out of blog post ideas as I travelled mostly from 2015 to 2016. I travel around my city; I haven’t been able to go on an extended international trip since 2016. This led me to sit down and force myself to go through my travel photos. This sparked ideas as I haven’t written about many of the places I visited yet. Keeping track of ideas are important as you get to make a huge list when your creativity is at its peak. When you facing creativity block this master list is what you can fall back on.
Split up ideas
After I wrote me list I thought about how I could separate items. So I want to write about Cape Town and its key attractions. This then got me thinking what about “what to wear in Cape Town”, “The best beaches in Cape Town”, “Where to get tea” and “ A chocolate lovers guide to Cape Town”. My first post idea led to many other potential posts brainstorming.
Ask your readers
Have a section on your blog asking readers to give you blog post ideas. Run polls on Instagram , Facebook and Twitter. You can use Instagram stories to ask your readers questions. Use the results from polls to know what your followers like and would like to see on your blog. Admittedly I haven’t done this yet my idea cup is running over for now. Humble brag inserted here ha ha I have 402 blog articles in my master list. This excludes the posts which I will update. I may conducted a poll in the future for now I think I’m good on the ideas front.
All bloggers should read the comments sections of their blogs. Thanking commentator’s matters its good digital manners. The comments section of your own blog and that of other bloggers can also provide you wonderful ideas on what to post. If people are all asking about how you created a stunning slideshow then you can write a post on how you did it. You then fill a information gap which your readers are asking you to help them with. This ensures that you will have readers looking to and responding to your post.
Revisit old posts
Updating old posts is important. No one wants to read dated information. It is also good for your blog’s Search Engine Optimization to update your writing regularly. Look at your photos and change them if you can. Find relevant links add them. Create new Pins to add to your post and to Pinterest. Reviving your old post will allow you to see what you may have skipped the first time around whilst writing your older posts. For instance I wrote about Vienna but, found out later that I never read about the coffee culture of the city. I will write a separate post on the love of coffee in Austria someday.
Do things related to your blog
If you happen to be a travel blogger you have to travel. I visit spots in my city and I do lots of free things. This is how I got to write about free things to do in Cape Town. In order to create a dynamic blog you have to participate in the activity which you are writing about. If you are a film reviewer you have to watch films. If you are an art blogger you have to show readers your art, attend art events, go to galleries and everything else art related.
Stephen King writes about how the most successful writers of our time write about their experiences. Take John Gresham who was a trail lawyer, he now writes fiction novels set in the law field. His book, The Firm was wildly successful; it got made into a film starring Tom Cruise. King says if you are a plumber who loves science fiction books then write about a plumber on a spaceship. Writing what you know brings truth to your posts. Readers can connect with honesty and people love reading stories which are personal.
Just write until it’s right
All writers bloggers included need to sit down and force ourselves to write. Now you might be thinking thank you for stating the obvious Nikki. But Stephen King agrees with me. He has a set writing schedule he aims to write 2000 words daily. King says that “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work”. Mark Mason who’s book I’m reading sums it up perfectly he says Action leads to Inspiration which leads to Motivation. “Action comes first”. Elmore Leonard wrote “I don’t believe in writers block or waiting for inspiration. If you’re a writer, you sit down and write”. I don’t agree in a world without writers block like Leonard. But he has a point you have to write if you call yourself a writer.
Blogging isn’t my day job so I squeeze it in. I can’t produce a post daily. Neither do I want to. I do aim to write a post per week this is a fixed goal. I changed my mind about posting 3 times a week it only led to me publishing sub-par blog posts, which I now have to edit again. The lesson to my story is, do what is realistic for you. And do stick to it set up a writing schedule for yourself then write. Don’t care about the quality of your writing, free write away. The editing will come later. Be like a Nike slogan and just do it. Doing comes first the inspiration will follow once you’ve committed yourself to doing.
As usual thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to read my post. If you liked this please like it and feel free to comment. How do you come up with your blog post ideas? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Let me know and may you have happy weekend.
xxx Nikki xxx