- 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog
- #31WBGB: Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog
- #31WBGB: My Elevator Pitch
- #31WBGB: Make List Posts Work for Your Genealogy Blog
- #31WBGB: Promote a Blog Post
- #31WBGB: Analyze a Top Genealogy Blog
- #31WBGB: Contact a Reader
- #31WBGB: 27 Must-Read Tips for Genealogy Bloggers
- #31WBGB: Write a Link Post
- #31WBGB: Interlink Your Old Blog Posts
- #31WBGB: Participate in an Online Genealogy Group
- #31WBGB: Set Up Monitoring Alerts
- #31WBGB: Come Up With 10 Post Ideas
- #31WBGB: Develop an Editorial Calendar
- #31WBGB: Update a Key Page
- #31WBGB: Find a Blog Buddy
- #31WBGB: Solve a Problem
Have you ever run out of things to write about?
Coming up with ideas for fresh content is a challenge that faces most bloggers on a regular basis. We’re going to do an exercise this week to help us identify a variety of post topics to “have in our back pockets” when we are stuck for ideas in the future.
We’re not going to try to come up with completely new and “out-of-the-blue” ideas; instead, we’ll use mind-mapping to tap into what we’ve written recently. The advantage of this method is the ideas we come up with build on or relate to previous posts, creating a sense of continuity and momentum on the blog.
Grab something to write on – a piece of paper, notebook, whiteboard, tablet PC, etc. You may want some different colored pens or pencils, too. If you are a real geek, you might want to try some mind-mapping software or use a Word doc with shapes.
Start by drawing five circles across the middle of the page. Write the titles of your last five posts in the circles (one post title per circle).
Extend Your Previous Posts
Now spend a few minutes on each post, brainstorming way that it could be extended. Most posts could be continued in any number of directions. Here are a few samples:
- Pick up a question or idea from the comments
- Explore the opposite point of view from the post
- If you do news posts or press releases, then write an opinion piece
- Take a theoretical post and write a “how-to” on the same subject
- Expand on ideas you may have glossed over in the first post
You get the idea; this is all about finding ways to take prior topics and brainstorming from there.
For each idea you come up, draw a line out from the appropriate circle and draw another shape or use a different color and write the new idea inside.
Standard brainstorming rules apply at this point. Allow yourself to be creative. Don’t judge yourself. Any idea is okay at this point.
Here’s a sample, based on my recent post “99 Genealogy Things.”
If you do this for each of your last five posts, you’ll have quite a list of potential topics.
Extend Further and Also Cull the Chaff
You can take this idea as far as you have the time and inclination, building off additional posts or off the ideas you brainstormed in this session. Once you are finished brainstorming, it’s time to cull the ideas that will not add to your blog. Not everything you brainstorm will (or should) make it onto the blog.
- This is only one method of coming up with new post ideas.
- Even if you never have problems thinking of topics, try mind-mapping at least once and see where it takes you.
- Spend some time about once a month brainstorming topics.
- Use some kind of “ideas” document to keep track. I use a spreadsheet, but a word-processing doc, text file, or piece of paper will also work.
- Come up with at least 10 future topics to write about.
- Share a few of your ideas in the comments.
If you are just joining us, then “welcome.” You can read the kick-off post about 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog here. Feel free to start with this week’s reading and action items – you are not behind!
I’m very excited about this week’s giveaway! It’s a copy of Getting the Most Out of RootsMagic. If you are a RootsMagic user, then you need this book.
To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below with a few of the post ideas you generated this week. One winner will be selected randomly. Since I was late posting this topic, the giveaway deadline has been extended as well. Comments must be received by 11:59 Eastern time on Monday, September 19, 2011 in order to be eligible for the drawing.