Writer’s block isn’t a new thing when it comes to business blogging. It’s been around since the first caveman got frustrated, trying to figure out which new animal he should paint on the wall.
To ease your content creation woes when you’re blocked, here’s twelve ways I’ve found to jump-start your blog content creation machinery when it starts to stall. The next time you’re having trouble creating content, think about these techniques for coming up with a meaningful blog post for your readers. They work for me.
1. Index existing articles or Web sites that have value to your readers. Create a resource for your readers to find associated content. On my blog, I’ve tried to do this with IBM i community posts that present category links that I created just for their reference. And surprisingly enough, these are some of the most referenced areas of the site.
2. Update or expand on an old article – Rework old material to make it fresh. I recently reworked an older article on hiding LinkedIn connection status updates by adding more information on how to unhide status updates for connections you want to follow again. Technical material is constantly changing and you can usually find room to add more info on almost any topic. I definitely plan on reworking this article in the future to put in new ideas and techniques.
3. Create a part two – What happened after you posted a popular piece? Update your readers on a situation you’ve previously talked about. One example is when I followed up a post on LinkedIn removing user activity feeds for individual profiles with another post on how you can get around that removal. Find the sequels that are hidden in your most popular content.
4. Link to someone else’s great work and tell your reader why it’s important. What are other people in your subject matter expertise talking about and what can you add to it? Sometimes people make great points but don’t mention what it means to the people who follow your blog. Tell them why you think it’s important and add something to the conversation that others hadn’t thought of. Expand the dialogue.
5. Write up a case study based on your experience or techniques – Tell your audience a story based on what you’ve learned or tried in your subject area. Two examples from my world are when I discussed how automated IBM i system monitoring changed one of my client’s shops and how another client used a glove display strategy from the Heath Brothers to effect change in their IT shops. Tell your readers a relevant story about your experiences.
6. Post news – What’s happening today that your readers need to know. Did WordPress put out a new maintenance version? Did IBM post disappointing numbers in their Power systems division? Help bring your readers up to date and point them to breaking news around the Web. Better yet, post a news story of your own and show them you’re on top of your area. If you link to someone else’s news, tell the reader why it’s important and add your own viewpoint.
7. Make an announcement that has value to your readers – Did you just release a new version of your software? Are you providing a new service to your users? Are you offering a discount, a give-away, or a chance to do something unusual? Let the reader know what new exciting things you’re doing and how it can help them.
8. Put out a simple how-to in your targeted area – Did you run across a small piece of information that surprised you, such as a direct URL to get to the IBM i Digital Content Manager or a simple way to view your LinkedIn activity feed? Blog posts don’t always have to be a thousand words long. Sometimes they can be a paragraph or two. Writing a blog is like preparing a good stew: sometimes you put in a big piece of steak; sometimes you just add a carrot. They all have their place.
9. Put out an in-depth how-to on your subject matter expertise – Did you learn something new you want to share, maybe how to embed Twitter search strings in your URL or how to share content on LinkedIn? Write about the knowledge you have and how it can help your readers.
10. Let the readers get to know you – Tell a story from your past that helped guide you to the person you are today, such as when you ran a paper route in Parma, Ohio. Break the business persona every once in a while with a relevant entertaining story. Don’t be afraid to be human.
11. Put out a top ten list – This is different from a resource guide such as I mentioned in point one. Find the best (or the worst) items in an area your readers follow and show your opinion. These can provoke a lot of discussion.
12. Have some fun – Get a little goofy and make fun of something, such as the serious, serious conversations IBM i professionals get into when something calls their beloved box an AS/400. Don’t be afraid to be funny, controversial, of funnily controversial. Well written humor is always well received. But be warned. Writing funny can be a little bit like handling dynamite. You never know when it’s going to go off. But done right, it’s an incredible read. If nothing else, stick goofy pictures of Batman, Bruce Lee, and Bruce Willis in your articles, just because you can.
Originally posted January, 2014. Reposted on March 27, 2014.