The Blogging Ideas Myth You Should Ditch
There’s an assumption I think a lot of newbie bloggers make about coming up with blogging ideas that I think it’s important to dispel.
When I started this little blog 13 years ago, I had a few post ideas in mind before I wrote my first one. After I wrote the second or third post, a question dawned on me: What if I run out of ideas?
Immediately, I laughed off the concern.
For one thing, it was a new blog, so I was just beginning to skim the surface of the countless number of blog posts that awaited my readers. Coming up with new ideas wouldn’t be a problem.
Secondly, I told myself that little concern was a direct result of my inexperience at blogging: once I found my voice and rhythm at this, the Ideas would follow right along, right on pace, without fail.
That’s the same myth a lot of bloggers fall victim to at some point in the process.
The myth tells us that once you’re an established blogger, coming up with blogging ideas shouldn’t ever be a problem.
A lot of newbie bloggers genuinely believe this, I’m convinced. And all that belief does is hurt their drive to keep going on days when they can’t come up with an idea. It’s a sign, to them, that their blog is in serious trouble and their talent as a blogger should be in serious question.
If that myth sounds right to you — or at least sounds as though it ought to be right, then please allow me to reassure you: it isn’t.
It’s a big lie.
I fell for it, too. I allowed myself to believe, many times over the years, that I must be some no-talent hack because there were days I just couldn’t come up with an idea I could flesh-out well enough to post.
I’ve worked in an industry in which writing has played a major part for more than 25 years now. So I have to believe I have some talent when it comes to writing; otherwise, multiple employers over a quarter century must have been out of their minds for keeping me on their various payrolls over the years.
When it comes to this blog, year after year, the number of visitors and the number of pages they view while they’re here has continued to rise.
So if I’m a no-talent hack, the bar for society must be really, really low.
You can overcome that fear.
I no longer believe that idea generation is an “automatic” talent of a seasoned blogger. There are days when the well seems dry.
It happens to everyone. Anyone who argues otherwise either is lying or must secretly be of a different breed: you should check their DNA before allowing them to influence your thinking too much.
You have to accept the fact that there will be nights when you go to bed without an idea to write about the next day, and that you’ll convince yourself a good night’s sleep will ensure you’ll wake up with a super post idea. But then you’ll wake up rested, sit down in front of the computer and that terrifying blank screen and you’ll realize you still don’t have an idea.
It’s going to happen.
It’ll happen to bloggers who’ve been at it for a few weeks.
It’ll happen to bloggers who make it a full year and are still posting.
It’ll happen to bloggers 10 years after they’ve published their first post.
This post, in case you hadn’t guessed, resulted from my going through a week of really struggling to come up with an idea.
If your blog hasn’t reached its 13th birthday, I’m your living proof that it happens to us all.
If your blog is older than that and you never struggle to find something to say, please tell me what date past year 13 that the ideas suddenly come every single day.
I know I’d be interested to know when that happens. Wouldn’t we all?
The best defense for a lack of blogging ideas is a good plan.
I’ve talked many times over the years about an editorial calendar. In short, it’s just a calendar you use to plan what you’re going to post when.
But it’s much more than that. It’s also the reason those days in which you can’t come up with good blogging ideas don’t matter at all and won’t stress you out.
Why? Because that editorial calendar allows you to plan ahead and schedule posts in advance. Get a few posts ahead and that morning you can’t come up with anything to say suddenly isn’t a problem: you already have something scheduled for that day. The idea you weren’t able to come up with wasn’t going to go up on the blog that day, anyway. That idea was for a post three days, five days, or even a week or more later.
I wrote this post because the topic was already on my mind. I had a different post planned for the next blogging slot. So I had two choices: post this one there and move the other one to a week later, or let that one run as planned and schedule this one a week ahead.
Which did I choose? Well, honestly, it doesn’t really matter: what does matter is that you, the reader, didn’t miss a post on the topic of blogging for the next two weeks after I started writing this one. If it took me a dozen days to come up with my next blogging-related post, I’d still have two more days to find something and complete it before a hole ever became visible in my posting schedule.
The only time a dry spell when it comes to blogging ideas is a real problem is when I haven’t kept up my editorial calendar and planned ahead well. But as long as I plan ahead, a dry spell isn’t that much of a concern: I’m still ahead of the game even if I fall a little behind schedule!