Alright, so you have your blog all created, the theme is perfectly set up, you’ve crafted and cultivated your images, your social media accounts are locked down, your fonts are downloaded… but, you have an empty website. At the end of the day, all the optimizing and prep-work is for nothing if you don’t have the content to back it all up. So, how do you consistently create new posts throughout the week? Sometimes the well of inspiration can run dry and you’re left staring at your most recent post at a loss of what to write next, not sure what will help your page views rise. I’ve worked in digital content marketing for over four years, and in that time, I learned a lot and came up with some tricks and tools that I used when I hit that ultimate blogger’s writers block.
1. Write What You’re Interested In
This is kind of a no-brainer and a non-tip, but hear me out. What are you up to in your time spent NOT blogging? Are you at the gym or are you watching movies? Volunteering or doing crafts? Okay, so take that concept and roll with it. DON’T write a post called “The Movie I Watched Last Night and Why I Liked It.” Unfortunately, if you’re in the market to monetize your blog and gain a ton of followers, a diary-style blog isn’t quite what you want to be doing. You need to appeal to a large audience and turn the topic around to get people interested in clicking your perfectly-crafted pin.
Ok, going back to your movie.. why exactly did you like it? It made you laugh or think or cry? DO write a post called “Top 9 Movies That Will Make You Cry” or “The Best 11 Movies Starring Tokyo, Japan” or “7 Movies That Are Scarier Than Hereditary” and then add a personal anecdote about the movie you just watched within this post.
See how those are a little more compelling than “Maddy’s Review of Silence of the Lambs”? One day when you’re rich and famous and Chrissy Teigen, you can just post your opinions and see the traffic roll in, but at this point, we all gotta make these posts beneficial for the reader.
“But, MaDonna.. aren’t you in the middle of a 30-post long series that’s basically a diary of what yoga you do every day?” Well, YEAH, I am, but you see here… after I’m all done with my thirty blogs, my plan is to create some sort of retrospective post that could act as a guide for people who would like to do the same, or offer tips on finding yoga videos, include info on what I learned about scoliosis, etc… so my journals turn into a “How To Commit to 30 Days of Yoga” or a “The Ultimate 30 Day Yoga Challenge Calendar” type of article, offering a benefit to a reader who knows zero about me. Those thirty posts before is what gives me the blogging authority to write such a final article.
2. Use Pinterest’s Trending Ideas Feature
Thank you Pinterest! We all know that Pinterest is one of THE top social media platforms to use if you want your blog’s traffic to rise and rise and rise (and earn and earn and earn.) So, while you’re joining group boards and SEOing the heck out of your captions, take a look at what people are searching for. If you click into the search bar, a few little lists will pop up. The first will be your previous searches, underneath is an “Ideas for you” list, featuring search terms that relate to common themes in stuff you’ve personally looked up, and lastly is the “Trending ideas” list, which is where Pinterest shares what the hot searches are at this point in time.
These are ideas that people are thirsty for content on, so you’re basically all but guaranteed traffic if you post about them as soon as possible. No, not all apply to you, so don’t force it if it doesn’t interest you or fit into your blog’s niche naturally. But you can definitely take these phrases and use them for inspiration. “Wallpaper iPhone” pops out to me – because, OH YEAH, I might be upgrading my phone soon and it kind of got me excited to think of what image I should put as my wallpaper image because the screen will be bigger and higher-quality. So when I’m out there looking for free backgrounds, I’ll remember to bookmark a few high-quality sites I find to eventually put together a round up post full of resources.
This is a great tool to start building your media calendar, too. I looked today – in the middle of June – and the 4th of July is already trending. A month in advance is not too crazy, but it would be nice to predict that search ahead of time, so you can have your own Independence Day post ready to go right NOW during the height of the trending topic. That way you’ll learn how to get ahead of the trends. I bet you Halloween and Christmas have way longer of a lead time than the 4th of July..
OKAY, one last thing — this also helps you to think of what keywords to put in your pin captions and blog post titles. Again, as with the above example, people were searching for “Fourth of July Nails” … not 4th of July, not Independence Day, not July 4th.. of course, as you post more pins, you can use variations, but that specific search term should be prominently used in your titles.
3. Use Google Analytics to Learn From Your Readers
Read those stats! If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your blog yet, do that, like. immediately. Here’s an article with a video about how to set up Google Analytics for WordPress and a rundown of everything you can learn from it. GA might be intimidating, but once you figure out how to find the couple pieces of info that you’re interested in, it’s not that bad at all.
Now, I’m NO expert at GA. (My co-workers in my old marketing department can vouch for that.) However, I did manage to cobble together a few things that helped me figure things out when I felt stuck or helped me to measure the success of posts that I’ve tried.
Here are the things I look at & how I find them:
- Most Viewed Pages: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. This is a report that lets you know the number of unique pageviews you’ve had on each post you’ve published. It also shows you the average time spent on the page, which is key to noticing what articles are actually being read vs. which are just being skimmed.
- This is a great tool to use to see what people actually really LIKED on your blog. You’ll eventually see a theme of what types of posts do the best; follow that theme. If your readers love love love every time you post recipes for Mexican food, but that bounce rate flies whenever you post your newest clothes haul, there’s a hint there. Give the people what they want!
- Organic Search Queries: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search. This report tells you what people are plugging into Google and eventually ending up on your page after browsing the results. Another key to realizing what people actually want to see. You can also use this for inspiration in case the search term is not something you’ve written about – fulfill that person’s search request!
- What if it says (not provided)? That is definitely a bummer. This is because Google is protecting people’s privacy (yeah, yeah), but you can go a step further into this report to make an educated guess. From this same page on GA, click “Landing Page” as your Primary Dimension. (See picture below.) This is the blog post that the searcher landed on after searching for their query. That’ll give you a hint on the general TOPIC of what people are Googling, so you can start brainstorming more ideas that relate to that post.
4. Fill The Gaps of What’s Missing Out There
While you’re out there on the internet looking for your own fun things and recipes and project inspiration, what round-up type posts or DIY instructional articles do you NOT see? Well, great news, you can write that post. Capitalize on trending ideas on Pinterest to create your own curated posts or step-by-step articles. Maybe you saw a million pins about cute pom pom crafts, but no post explaining just how to make the pom poms? WRITE THAT! Maybe you’re searching for the cutest crochet patterns that fit into the boho style, but don’t see any articles rounding up the best ones in one place? WRITE THAT!
This doesn’t mean just slapping something together — you actually have to make this worthwhile for the reader. Don’t just pull the first ten pins you see, link ’em in a post, and think you’re good to go. Your authority will drop, your bounce rate will rise, your ad revenue will suffer… Google hates a faker, and primo LEGITIMATELY helpful content is the way to go. SO, for example in my post about summer crochet patterns, I went to every single site that the pin linked to. Was it broken? I didn’t include it. Was it a link to a link to a link to a link? I found the original author’s post and included that as my source. Write an article that you’d be happy to read. Pretty simple.
5. Write Down Every Single Idea No Matter What
I use Trello as sort of a notepad as far as blog topics go. I touched on this in my post about using Trello to organize my blog, but it bears repeating. You can use a notebook, you can use an Excel sheet, you can text yourself or use your notes app — any time you have even the INKLING of a blog post idea, save that. Jot it down, and go about your day. When you’re ready to write, revisit that list to see what jumps out at you.
Before you delete any of the “bad” ideas from the list, take another look at them. No, maybe your food blog doesn’t need a personal finance article, but what could it use that has some sort of connection to your original post idea? Maybe an article about how to budget groceries? Or one about breaking down price per meal in a big meal prep plan? Any topic can be revised to find your brand. You just might have to think a little extra hard, but that’s okay. You wanna make money off this thing, you gotta earn it!
Another way to use these ideas is to keep digging through the details. Make your post more specific, and you could even make it a series! Don’t just write “Top Crochet Patterns,” add a modifier to help you think of multiple posts. Summer patterns, Tunisian stitch patterns, chunky yarn patterns, vintage patterns, etc. Never ending!
Lastly, apply the previous tips to these brainstormed ideas. ONE MORE TIME, to talk about a crochet post: You love free patterns and feel passionate about the topic, your readers are loving your posts (as learned from Google Analytics), and, what is this? Fourth of July is trending on Pinterest? I bet you can guess what type of post you could write that hits all of these checkpoints.
So hopefully these tips can help YOU never feel at a loss about what to write and how to ensure it’s success. The main thing is to always put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Don’t force something that no one wants or that doesn’t offer any benefit or entertainment. You’re writing a public blog for people to read it. Make sure they like what they see.