#31WBGB: Come Up With 10 Post Ideas

#31WGBGWelcome back to another week of 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog!  I apologize for the late posting, but I’m really excited about this topic and hope you will be, too.

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.

Mind-Mapping Setup

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.”

Click to enlarge

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.

Final Thoughts

  • 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.

Action Items

  1. Come up with at least 10 future topics to write about.
  2. 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!

Giveaway

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.

Series Navigation<< #31WBGB: Set Up Monitoring Alerts#31WBGB: Develop an Editorial Calendar >>

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Comments

  1. says

    A most intriguing topic. Although I’m new at blogging, one of my initial decisions was to always have a list of at least 20 specific topics for future posts. I am using several series, which allow me to publish long articles in reasonably-size chunks. My blogging platform also allows me to actually compose posts and schedule their publication in the future, so I can actually write an entire series and schedule the individual posting dates.

    I have long used the idea of mind-mapping, although I usually thought of it as random ideas that I loosely tied together. I’ve used spreadsheets for this exercise in the past, but I believe I’ll download one of the programs you referrred to and give it a try.

    Finally, my use of the series concept has led to my organizing my ideas in larger groups of topics: ethnic groups, historical periods, etc. Which I guess is simply another mind-mapping technique.

  2. says

    Hi, Tonia – as usual a great idea to get us thinking. I fully expected to run out of topics for my blog by now (into my 13th month), but this has not been the case thanks to Geneabloggers prompts and such series as Fearless Females and 52 Weeks of Personal History. I regularly have 8-10 posts in my drafts folder to work on. I recently posted an item for Labor Day on Occupations of our Ancestors, focusing on my Danson relations. That got me thinking of related topics such as my Donaldson family of mariners and miners and my own childhood confusion on what my father actually did. I could easily have added these into the initial posting, but remembered a previous tip from your blog – don’t try to do too much in one posting – so instead I will get at least 3 posts out of the topic.
    Susan D.´s last blog post ..Death on the Somme – Sentimental Sunday

  3. says

    Tonia, another good challenge.
    I am impressed with those who already have a number of topics chosen for future posts. I have gone from post to post, writing when the spirit strikes or when I’ve decided that it has been long enough without a post. Maybe this will jump-start a new pattern for me (but, I’ll not hold my breath on that one!) Any way, this was a good exercise and it did give me some good ideas to choose from. My post can be found at:
    http://geneapoppop.blogspot.com/2011/09/31wbgb-coming-up-with-10-post-ideas.html
    GeneaPopPop (Bart Brenner)´s last blog post ..#31WBGB: Coming Up with 10 Post Ideas

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      Hey Dana, I really enjoyed this one, too!

      You will love RootsMagic. I started using about 18 months ago, and while, in general, it’s really intuitive, there are some things I never would have figured out without the book.

  4. says

    Twitter: senseoffamily
    Tonia, I thought this was a great challenge! I used 5 sheets of graph paper, drew a circle with a recent post in the center of each one, then brainstormed ideas. I even used colored pens to make it more fun. I came up with way more than 10 ideas this way, and used one of them immediately to write a new post. Since I often I feel “stuck” for post ideas, this was a really helpful exercise. I think I should mark my calendar to do this once a month.
    Shelley Bishop´s last blog post ..A New Look for OGS

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