One of the most common feedback I get when I ask people “Why don’t you start a company blog” is this: “I don’t know what to write.”
Yes, I’d admit, I’m very comfortable with writing everyday. Writing doesn’t scare me. But I didn’t start like that. I started where many of you are. Not knowing what to write.
Today, after blogging for 2 years, I still have days which I wake up and I stare at my computer screen, not knowing what to write. That’s normal. Everybody has this.
But instead of thinking “Argh, I’m not good at this.”, I think “How can I get good at this?”
… and I came up with a plan and took action on that plan.
Well, plans do not work well all the time, but having a plan is better than not having one.
Here’s my plan – what I do for Blogopreneur.com
First Step – Get more information. Specifically, information that I can use.
Here is what I did.
#1. Read frequently updated blogs thru RSS
Today, I don’t even remember how many blogs there are in my Google reader subscriptions, but it is to a point where always see more than 50 unread items when I log in every day.
Reading other blogs in your industry give you insights in that industry, and keeps you updated about the news. It also gives you more content ideas.
Now don’t go now and add every single blog you come across to your RSS reader. Select. Cherry pick. Choose the good ones – the ones which you think give quality content.
Its also important that you regularly prune you subscription. If you wake up in the morning and you find over 1000+ unread items in your reader, you just might be setting yourself up for information overload.
Its easier to motivate yourself to clear 50 items, than 1000+ items. And 50 should be enough for you to come across one good idea.
#2. Subscribe to Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a great service by Google. Basically, you specify your search terms and create an alert. When Google finds new pages and blogs and news about that search term, it drops you an email… or you can subscribe to your alerts using RSS.
Again, 4 to 5 search terms will give you enough content to read. Don’t overload yourself.
I’ve been very reluctant to use my Twitter account as part of my online marketing strategy, but after I did, I think its a great addition.
Follow some people you think provide good content. You’ll be amazed at what people share on Twitter. Great stuff.
… and if you’ve not followed me yet, come join me in my Twittering adventure.
Second Step – Jot down my post ideas.
I don’t know if this relates to you, but for me, my ideas seem to come everytime I am on the train. So instead of just thinking about it, I jot them down on my PDA. (If you don’t have a PDA, use a notebook!)
What you want to jot down might include:
* The idea
* A headline that might attract your readers to read.
* Outline of how you are going to present the idea.
And of course, as you read good content on the web, bookmark the items you find useful. Del.icio.us is a great way to keep track of your bookmarks.
Not all that is jotted down needs to be used. So even if its just a thought which you don’t know how to expand on, jot it down anyway.
Third Step – Write.
When you write, look back at your ideas that you have jotted down. If you’ve been diligent enough to jot ideas everywhere you go, you’ll find a wealth of ideas which you can expand on.
How do you expand an idea into a blog post?
Here is one very useful way to do this. Just use the 1-2-3-4 approach.
Here’s how. Say you want to expand on the idea about “Travelling during the Christmas Holidays”
That’s your 1. With this, find 2 subtopics.
So for my example, I might think about “Where should I go this Christmas”, and “How to enjoy my trip”.
Then, for every subtopic, jot 3 points.
Again for my example, it’ll go like this. For “Where should I go this Christmas”, I might jot down “Hokkaido”, “Las Vegas”, and “Melbourne”. For “How to enjoy my trip.”, I will think of “Pack light”, “Be prepared for the environment”, “Plan your itinerary”.
Done. Now. You’ve got 6 points.
If that is enough for you to write about, stop here. But if you want to go further – work on every point and think of 3 to 4 subpoints.
So, my eventual writeup outline might go something like this:
“Travelling during the Christmas Holidays”
* Where should I go
o Japan, Hokkaido
+ Hokkaido regions
+ Go snowboarding
+ Eat nice sushi
+ Learn a bit of Japanese
o US, Las Vegas
+ Visit the casinos
+ Bring camera, take wonderful photos at night
+ Visit theme parks
o Australia, Melbourne
+ South, so it’ll be hot during Christmas
+ Go Phillip island see penguins
+ About Yarra river
+ Shopping – what to buy there
* How to enjoy my trip
o Pack light
+ Small bag, expandable
+ Must carry essentials
+ How to pack
+ Backpack or luggage bag?
o Prepare for environment
+ Check out temperature before going
+ Is food suitable
+ Christmas holidays – the different cultures
+ Where to get good travel clothes / winter wear
o Plan itinerary
+ How to plan your time well
+ What to look out for in Christmas
+ 3 websites to look for properly planned itinerary
+ Don’t pack attractions back to back if you want to relax
Well, this is just a quick brainstorm with my limited knowledge… and I’m sure if you are in the travel industry, you’d probably be able to think of a lot more.
But the point is – can you see how quickly one idea can be expanded into such a long outline using the 1-2-3-4 approach? If you’ve just written ONE sentence for each of the points, you would have come up with an outstanding article about travelling during Christmas.
Easy? Do it more often, it’ll get easier.
Action Items for this Issue
Step 1. Get yourself subscribed to at least 20 blogs in your industry, subscribe to 3 terms in Google Alerts, and start Twittering (and add me!)
Step 2. Prepare a piece of paper, PDA, notebook with you all the time, so you can jot down ideas as they come to mind.
Step 3. Think of one topic you might want to write today. Use the 1-2-3-4 approach and draft an outline now.
This list of things will probably take you just over an hour to do, but I’m sure after you have done this you will have a lot more confidence to write more and better!
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