Building a Better Blog: Keep Something In Reserve

Quite often, I’ll find myself having more ideas than I know what to do with. I’ll come up with twenty five post ideas in a day and write most of them out in a gigantic frenzy of typing, and then I’ll repeat the next day.

Unfortunately, there are also times where no ideas are forthcoming at all. The words are there – you have no problem sending emails or posting on messageboards or leaving comments – but the ideas for new posts are just gone.

This is a dangerous place to be, and while it’s good to be a little bit ahead, every day you sit there on empty, wanting to blog but unable to, is another day that your readers are being left behind and your dreams of success are slipping away.

The best technique to avoid this problem is to plan for it as best you can by leaving inspiration for yourself to find at those times. Here are some techniques that will help you keep a little bit in the gas tank for those times when you’re running on fumes.

Keep an idea diary. I keep a small diary with me wherever I go. In it, I jot down any potential post ideas as they occur to me, and later I cross them off when I use them. Even better: when I see an idea that’s good, but not time sensitive, and I currently have lots of other ideas around, I mark it with a few stars and literally save it for later.

Bookmark Wikipedia entries. Whenever you are thinking about something that might be worth writing about, just bookmark a reference on that topic in a “For later” folder. Then, when you’re scratching about for ideas, take a peek in that folder. If you can get your interest going on a new topic, posts almost always follow.

Read a book. Go to your local library, find a book within your topic, yank it off the shelf, and head to a chair. If nothing else, you can write a summary of the book; if it really pays off, it will open the floodgates for you with many new ideas. You can do the same thing with a magazine, or do it in the comfort of the cafe at your local bookstore instead of at the library.

Continue a series. It’s good to have an open-ended irregular series of posts on your site that always point straight to future topics; you can hit these up at any time when you’re devoid of posting ideas.

Highlight things. I spent a weekend recently just highlighting personal finance blogs that I read. It didn’t really take any creativity, I just looked at the personal finance sites I visit each day and made a list of things I like about them. In the future, I plan on doing a similar series on blogs that inspire me in various ways. Not only will posts like this enable you to get through a drought, but your readers will love the passion and the people you link to will appreciate the nod.

The most important thing to remember is that the juices will start flowing again – these are merely ways to help your blog survive until it happens.

Building a Better Blog is a month-long series at The Simple Dollar, outlining steps you can take to build a long-term healthy blog that will attract readers. Jump ahead to the next essay, Reach Out, or back to the previous one, Don’t Be Insular.

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