Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Get Good Blogging Ideas

I’ve been noticing a distinct trend in my blogs of late.

The funny thing is, this revelation is nothing new. I’ve known it factually for a long long time. But over the last six months I’ve seen it in action.

The more you post, the more people read. Or, in essence, “If you build it, they will come.”

Here’s what happened. At my main blog (, this summer, I got really slack in my postings. Sometimes, I’d go for two weeks without writing something new. I was just too busy. My traffic was pretty steady. Not as much as I’d like, but steady. It had plateau-ed, as they say. Fluctuations were minor, and there was no growth.

Then, I dived in and committed to writing at least twice a week. There was an almost immediate jump in the traffic, which sustained for several weeks. Then it settled into a new plateau, almost double the original traffic levels. That was very exciting news!

Also, as a result, I was noticing a significant jump in the traffic clicking over to my website, at

As I thought about what had happened last summer, I struggled to understand what had slowed me down. What was it that made the difference? One common thread stood out. What to write about?

It’s easy to get stuck without ideas. Or at least to think you have no ideas. In reality there are lots of them, blooming all around us, just waiting for us to reach over and pick them up. Here’s some suggestions on how to see them.

  1. Stop And Smell Them

I saw a cartoon the other day that really tickled me. Appropriate for the upcoming season, the drawing was of shepherds on a hillside, staring up into the heavens with brightly lit faces and awe in their expressions. As I looked at the picture I could almost hear the chorus of angels. One shepherd says to another, “I am SO blogging this!”

The point is that there are blog ideas all around us. From the most mundane to the most miraculous of events can be blogged. All it takes is a moment to recognize that something just happened, and that you can comment on it and record it for everyone, forever.

  1. Jot Them Down

The problem with the “smelling the flowers” idea is that you can’t always sit down in the moment and whip out your laptop and blog about it. And by the time you’re at your computer next, you’ve lost the idea.

Here’s a trick I learned as a songwriter: get a notebook, a small one, or some other method of writing, so you can jot down your idea. In the era of technology, there are lots of ways you could do this. I have a PDA in my pocket, so when I think of an idea, I grab it, and make a quick note about it. I don’t write the whole article. Sometimes I don’t even write more than a phrase or a word. But that’s enough to remind me what I wanted to write about and what I wanted to say. Got a cell phone? Send yourself a text message or leave yourself a voice mail. Find a system that works for you.

Then, when it’s time to blog, just open up your notes, and pick the one that strikes you at the moment to blog about. And away you go.

  1. Read A Lot Of Other Blogs

Sometimes, even when I look over my ideas list, I’m not struck. When that happens, I go out onto the ‘net and look at other people’s blogs. I have a big long list of blogs that I follow. Sometimes I’ll read the whole postings, and sometimes I just skim, but nonetheless, I’m an avid follower of blogs as well as a reader. Why? Because they give me great ideas!

No, I’m not talking about stealing someone else’s ideas, or worse, stealing their words. I’m talking about inspiration. Something someone else says will spark something in my mind, and before you know it, I’m writing.

And then, I cite them. With a link. And then I go back to their site and tell them. “Hey, I liked your idea so much that I blogged about it.” Most of the time, they link back to me, too.

  1. Read The News

Pay attention. There’s a whole world out there full of stuff that’s happening. Get aware of it. Some of it is hard-hitting, important news, like who’s getting elected, or how they’re going to fix health care in this country. Other is fluffy pop-culture stuff like who’s divorcing who and what the newest movies are.

Both of these can be good sources of ideas for your blog.

  1. Get mad

Let yourself get a bit passionate about what you’re writing. Don’t be afraid to tell it as you see it. Now, there’s a line between being upset and deliberately being provocative, controversial and outright offensive. But even that can be effective in drawing traffic.

Once you’ve got an idea, then it’s easier to just sit down and write about it. Remember: Twice a week!

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