Don’t Know What to Write About? Here’s the Real Reason Why…

This morning I found myself staring at a blank screen.

I needed to write a blog post but couldn’t think of any ideas to write about.

After about 30 minutes of reading to stimulate my brain, I started wondering: why is it easy to come up with blog topic ideas sometimes, while other times a good idea can’t be found to save your life?

I started thinking about the most successful things I’ve written over the past few years. I realized the most popular and engaging things I’ve written were also some of the easiest topics to come up with.

Interesting.

In many cases I didn’t even sit down to think about the topics that have inspired my best work. They just came out of nowhere.

Those ideas always seem to come from some magic fountain of inspiration that comes and goes. The elusive “muse” perhaps.

And on the other hand, I don’t recall producing any really great content that started out as a struggle to identify a topic.

If you’ve noticed something similar about your own writing, I’d love to hear your theories about why this is in the comments below.

Here’s my theory.

When you don’t know what to write about, it’s a huge red flag.

When you don’t know what to write about, it’s a sign that you’re disconnected from your audience.

Your focus isn’t on the people who really matter. If it was, finding a topic wouldn’t be an issue. When you’re well connected to your audience and their needs and interests, topic ideas abound.

As I thought about my own work, I realized that the best or most important posts and projects I’ve produced over the past few years usually started as one of the following:

The best ideas come from writing to solve a problem or inspire a particular reader or group of readers.

When you struggle to find ideas to write about, you’re not looking in the right place. Your focus isn’t on the right things.

Take Action: Find Your Next Great Idea

I’d love you to do two things today.

First, think about some of your best content. Where did the ideas for that come from? Leave a comment below and let me know what you notice about your own work.

Second, I’d love you to write your next blog post by looking to your existing or potential readers for topic ideas.

Look in blog comments (on your own or other sites), forums, email from readers and on Twitter or Facebook for problems, needs and desires that your readers or perspective readers are talking about.

Or, try talking with other bloggers/entrepreneurs, taking a survey, working with a client or having a conversation with a reader.

Write your next blog post or record your next video or podcast with the intention of solving a problem for a someone or a group of people. Choose something that you read or heard about directly using one of the methods above.

Give this a shot and come back and let me know if you make a breakthrough.

I think you will.

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  • http://evenminds.com Jason Anthony

    I don’t think your post could’ve come at a better time as I just finished outlining a new post that was inspired directly by a reader comment.

    I think keeping an ear to the ground is crucial when it comes to delivering information to your audience. Odds are (as a writer/blogger) you keep up and visit many sites within your niche (and if you don’t you certainly should).

    It’s at that point where you are going to hear those common and (very often) repeated questions, which will make for great post topics. No matter what industry or line of business you are in there are always going to be those concerns and issues that readers want to face, discuss, or work towards learning about and resolving.

    Excellent stuff here, Corbett!

    • Corbett Barr

      Great timing! Can you let me know how that post works out for you Jason? I’d love to hear.

  • http://www.womenswaytowealth.com cassie | womenswaytowealth

    Great post, I hadn’t thought that a blank page/mind was a red flag but that’s a good point. I keep a swipe file of ideas every time I come across something I feel motivated to write about so have yet to run out of ideas but can see how it can happen. Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing, and getting into the minds and motivation of your audience is key to getting back on track.

    Love the idea to look at blog comments and posts for inspiration, it’s so true you get loads of ideas from the incisive comments often left by other bloggers (which in many cases add real value to the post). Thanks.

    • Corbett Barr

      You bring up another good point Cassie. Bloggers are much more likely to leave comments than regular non-blogging readers. When we use comments for post ideas, we also need to keep in mind that those comments only represent 1% or so of our overall audience. I find that non-bloggers are more likely to give interesting feedback and remarks in email.

      • http://pepperscraps.com Pepper

        I never thought of it that way, Corbett, that the ones who are commenting make up a small portion of your actual readers. This may be another motivating force for me to start doing short surveys or polls on my blog to learn more about my silent readers. I bet they would be more likely to click a multiple choice question than leave a comment.

  • http://www.greatlifeblog.wordpress.com Amanda

    Corbett, excellent ideas. It’s amazingly simple to come up with ideas once you know where to go for them. Forums are good as well, just go to any popular forum in your niche and see what big questions are popping up. As well as inspiration, it can be a source of traffic too – reply their comment with some tips then link back to your post.

    I actually keep a folder of posts I write when I do have the inspiration. Sort of like my ‘back-up posts’. I keep a posting schedule (twice a week) and if I don’t have anything worthy to write even when I rack my brains or use those sources of ideas (or I simply have no time) I pull up an article from the folder and make sure it’s still good. I edit it and then schedule it for publishing. This folder is pretty helpful and I’ve used it about thrice so far, but it’s a life-saver.

    Thanks! -Amanda

    • Corbett Barr

      I like the “backup” post idea a lot. For some reason I’ve never been able to get into that habit. I tend to write posts no more than a few days before they’re to be published.

    • http://www.marketingyourfarm.com/new-here/ Iain

      I’d like to second that idea.

      It makes a whole lot of sense. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t write something terrible, use something that you were inspired to write in the past.

      I think that is a pretty boss idea. I have done that in the past as well. I keep one the in bank for times when I am hard pressed for time.

  • http://onlineartistpromo.com Tom Siegel

    I just did exactly that. I wrote a post asking my readers to post their successful or unsuccessful experiences with music videos on YouTube. This was in preparation to post a pillar article on how to effectively use YouTube as a musician. This has worked really well to give me A LOT of material to write about. Thanks Corbett!

    • Corbett Barr

      Congrats Tom, thanks for sharing your experience.

  • http://SuccessNexus.com/blog/ Ankesh Kothari

    Thanks Corbett.

    You’re on to something. When you have a conversation with someone (whether on a forum or in comments or on twitter) you don’t tend to edit yourself. And because you leave the edit button away, you don’t ever feel the dreaded writers block. Interesting thoughts evolve from smart conversations.

    For me personally, some of my best posts have come up because of my habit of keeping a swipe file of stories. Whenever I come across a good story, I save it. When I have to sit down to write, I go through the story archive and try to see patterns and connect a couple of them together.

    • Corbett Barr

      I use a swipe file as well, although usually for design and copywriting ideas, not for post ideas. That’s an interesting way to do it Ankesh, thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.twiggal.com Megan Heaney

    Hi Corbett, your theory definitely rings true for me. My best content has always come from direct conversations with clients. Sometimes I’ll find myself solving the same problem for multiple clients in a short period of time – that’s when I know it’s something I should write about!

    • Corbett Barr

      Exactly. Those problems are the perfect candidates for a blog post. I’ve noticed the same thing.

  • http://www.inspiredcamping.com Inspired Camping

    I had an idea which came from your post… to write a simple step by step guide for myself to help decide what to blog about. Failing that I might just write about 3 ways camping has helped me become a better blogger. I’m very happy to share if you’re interested.

    Thanks for the inspiring post. Sunny smiles.

  • http://www.stefannilsson.com Stefan Nilsson

    I would say the most important part is to actually know something about the niche. If you’ve to look everything up before you’re able to write a post it takes forever. If you spend every day with it (through work or hobby) you’ll come up with a bunch of topics each and every day just by reflecting on what you’ve actually done during the day.

    • http://www.penduluminaction.com/blog Kirsten Nelson

      Totally agree. One of the things I do to keep fresh on topics is listening to podcasts when I’m doing tasks like washing dishes or running errands. It’s been a great way for me to gather info I can draw from later in blog posts.

  • http://invite.wproadie.com Stephen Jeske

    Creating quality content is an activity that many people struggle with. Planning out your posts ahead can help deal with the content problem since it forces you to address the issue ahead of time instead of panicking at the last minute. Depending on your topic, you may want to assign a theme to each week so you can effectively focus your attention on what needs to be done. I find that using a tool like evernote or instapaper is handy because I can easily file every bit of interesting information I come across and reference it later when it’s time to write.

  • http://www.thehalpers.com Ben Halper

    If you read biographies about popular authors the one thing that always comes out is: “write everyday.” It’s a habit thing. Even if you reject what you’ve written it will spark off other ideas.

    Another habit is to carry a notebook around and jot down anything that comes to mind. This is my favorite method. I have a notebook for a new website I’m creating and came up with a list of 70 articles that I want to write.

    • Corbett Barr

      Great tips, thanks Ben!

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com Kari Scare

      When I taught English classes, I had my students write in their journals every week, and they thought that was painful. I was trying to stress the importance of just writing – anything – as a way to train their minds to write. Some got it, but some did not. As you stated, it’s what all the successful authors recommend.

      I do the notebook idea too. Call it my “idea book.” I have tons of ideas to refer to whenever I need them.

    • http://pepperscraps.com Pepper

      I do something similar but I use my android tablet. I also have written about how to come up with ideas when you are at the doctors office and browsing a magazine. You can find inspiration in places you would never think. And I think have a notebook is a great way to catch these ideas.

    • http://dragnrags.blogspot.com Jen M.

      Oh, yes. I swear by my paper journal, and it goes everywhere with me!

      A notebook is a great, underappreciated tool. I keep all of my journals, so when I need ideas, I can go back through my old ones and harvest topics from there.

    • http://www.penduluminaction.com/blog Kirsten Nelson

      I do the same thing. I have a list that I keep on my iPhone so I can jot down ideas when they come to me. I usually include a link to the article that inspired me so it’s handy when I sit down to pick from my list of topics. So helpful!

  • Kari Scare

    When I struggle to decide on a post topic, it’s usually because I have too much going on in my head. Either too many ideas for writing or too much life stuff distracting me. For me, it’s a lack of focus, both in my thoughts and for my topic. When I can finally focus, the writing tends to come much more easily. Sometimes, I need some classical music, a hot shower or a run or bike to get my mind to focus. Sometimes, it’s writing down everything until I can focus on one thing. I like your challenge about writing to solve a problem. I will work on that.

  • http://www.eclaire9design.com.au/blog Claire Sowden

    Corbett, what a great observation to come from a blank mind!

    As a fledgling blogger, I’ve been banging an empty head on my keyboard until recently.

    I’ve been through months of fogginess on my target audience, trying to be too many things to too many people, and trying to cover too much at once.

    The “breakthough” came once I narrowed my audience right down (ie back to my client list), focused on creating additional value for those guys and stopped trying to come up with a million dollar idea I could sell in a $200 package.

    It sounds so simple when I type it now, but it was one epic win when I got that!

    Plus, I also pulled my head out of the noise and subscribed to some great blogs (like yours). I find that once my feed reader began to reflect the core values I’m really interested in, it was natural to reply to those muses and ideas.

    Great to be part of your conversation (:

    • Corbett Barr

      Sometimes the solutions are right in front of us :) Congrats on the breakthrough Claire.

  • http://www.ignitechange.net Craig | Personal Change Life Coach

    Hi Corbett–That lack of not knowing what to write is like an awkward pause in a conversation: the connection is lost. Just like you write, if you don’t know what to write about, it’s because you’ve lost touch.
    Thanks

  • http://www.adventuresauce.com Benjamin

    Just used Derek Halpern’s advice (from your recent interview) to ask my readers, What they were struggling with? and I got LOADS of post ideas, even product ideas.
    I’m looking for similar threads within these struggles and coming up with a series of posts and then a product to meet their needs.

    • Corbett Barr

      I’ve done the exact same thing. Finding out what people need help with is a perfect source of content ideas. Let us know how it goes for you Benjamin.

  • http://www.bootstrapmylife.com Ryan Ferrier

    Awesome post! This one hit me square on the forehead. It sent me reading through emails with subscribers. My next post is going to be a direct response to a reader inquiry on building wealth.

    Honestly, it seems like a “No duh!” type of thing, but I forget to keep my readers first. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Corbett Barr

      It seems obvious, but I get off track all the time as well. I think it’s natural. But I believe the most successful bloggers are the ones who stay most connected with their audience.

  • http://pepperscraps.com Pepper

    I think staring at the computer and coming up blank is also a sign that you may need to take a computer break. I think sometimes we glue ourselves to the computer so much that we forget to walk away and give our brains a break. And what is surprising is when we walk away and start doing something else is when we will be inspired and want to go running back to the computer. I’m writing about this in a book currently, how to conquer blog burnout.

    I do love how you instantly encourage bloggers to start listening to their readers! Because they truly are the ones who should inspire us and keep us going. We should look at our blogs as community not as a place for us to talk.

    • Corbett Barr

      Hey Pepper, thanks for writing. In this particular case, staring at the blank screen was how I started the day. Not sure I was burned out that day, but perhaps I was for the week or month already.

  • http://www.ipnostudio.com Andrea Hypno

    Usually I write either inspired by something I read or hear or by a question raised by one of my readers or looking at what people searched when arriving at my blog. But thanks for the remind and I’ll be back after writing my next post on solving a problem.

  • http://www.probloggingsuccess.com/blog-content-ideas/ Radu

    Hey Corbett,
    This is a classic one for many bloggers. The biggest issues with finding ideas occur when I’m in the frame of “I need to write something today”..Right after I let go this need and go with “How can I help today” a space shows up and something clicks. Luv the “red flag” observation..it’s not the end of the world when you run out of ideas(even if it seems like it is) but just a signal that you have to re-connect again with what truly matters-your people.

    Many ideas just pop-up when commenting on other blogs or reading some discussions on a certain topic..like it happened now while scrolling through your comments section :)

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoy coming here everytime!
    All the best,
    Radu

    • Corbett Barr

      Thanks Radu, glad this was helpful. I like the “how can I help you today” approach.

  • http://www.glynisj.com/ Glynis

    I agree that one of the reasons I struggle to write sometimes is because I’m disconnected to my audience. Some other factors I have found are a dip down in confidence, outside distractions that can’t be put on hold, and physical tiredness.

    With this said though, I also think I use these as excuses sometimes. All that needs is a kick in the virtual a–.

    • Corbett Barr

      Right, there are definitely other reasons you can struggle to find ideas. But I agree, sometimes they’re just excuses.

  • http://www.kfm24.com Kenny Fabre

    Corbett

    this topic is such a huge problem in the blogosphere, but I personally think bloggers should always have something to write about, because there is always something to teach to our readers

  • James H.

    Thanks for the bullet-point reminder, Corbett. Having such an actionable list makes a huge difference.

    I just went over my catalog of pending blog topics (all well-tracked in Springpad) and, compared to the few exceptions, I could see a tangible increase in the desire to write up those that touched on solving problems.

    Looking forward to internalizing that list of energizing blog topic qualifiers.

    Thanks again,
    James

  • Marc

    I just finished writing a 1200 word post on a topic that I have strong emotions about. It just flowed so effortlessly. Finding a good photo took longer than the writing did.

    I am wondering about one thing though. The search engines do bring in traffic but writing posts around keywords is hellish. How do you please your visitors and the search engines at the same time?

    • Corbett Barr

      I always work to please visitors first, and I find that search engine traffic comes naturally when I do that.

    • http://moneyandrisk.com Kim @Moneyandrisk

      Marc,

      I don’t bother to write for SEO. Have you seen what those posts look like? Repeats of the same words over and over. I threw out the list of things I was supposed to integrate for SEO.

      Go more for long tail searches especially if you’re writing as a problem solver. For example, use phrases like “should I convert to a Roth IRA” or “how to save money on health care”. Think of a natural question that your readers would ask themselves during search for your topic. Work that into your post.

  • http://www.nichesense.com Anshul

    I have to say that this month has been pretty good for me as I have plenty of posts ready to go, now i just to make sure that I publish them all:)

  • http://www.urbanwellness.com Danielle

    Thanks so much for this post! I often find myself blanking out, or with so many ideas that I can’t get them all down fast enough. This made me realize that I have conversations, thoughts, experiences and relevant insights every single day that would make great things to write about.

  • http://www.thebravemanblog.com/ Rodrigo @ The Brave Man Blog

    Awesome, I’m re-launching my blog now and I will truly have this in mind when I get writers block, now that you mention it, it’s pretty basic, I think if for one moment I would disconnect from everything and think of something that can bring value to people many ideas come right away, as always epic post :)

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      It is all about value Rodrigo. Good luck on the re-launch.

  • http://build-a-blog-site.com/ Joe Elliott

    Hi Corbett,
    I think if you are having problems writing it can sometimes be a lack of knowlege on the subject as well :)

    I think being active on forums and blogs helps keep you in the know about what people are looking for :)

    Thanks
    Joe

    • Corbett Barr

      Great point Joe, definitely another red flag to watch for.

  • http://moneyandrisk.com Kim @Moneyandrisk

    Corbett,

    The viewpoint of “how to solve a problem” or “helping someone” is the exact advice to help with writer’s block.

    I’ve been fortunate to not run out of things to write about because my regular business is about solving financial problems every day. I’ve got entire posts coming out of my ears and in my sleep. I’ve got a backlog of over 500 posts in WordPress and an unknown number of posts that I verbally dictated into Dragon Dictation or Evernote that sits idle I was sidelined from the blog.

    Every time, I see something that’s useful for people, I note it down verbally if I can’t type it. Speaking your post/idea out loud into your phone makes it super easy and fast to record that fleeting thought no matter where you are.

    What I struggle more with is finishing up posts because it needs to be fact checked, readable, engaging, easy to understand, and reflect my voice while suffering through the series of edits and audits that’s required by regulations.

    I would add the extra factor of perfection. Don’t try to be perfect. It’s better to have an imperfect post than to never leave the starting gate. If the heart and intent is there, it will get through.

    It doesn’t mean that you post crappy stuff just to meet deadlines. I believe in not speaking if you don’t have something good to say.

  • http://www.teamaguilar.com/ca_real_estate/poway.html Alex Aguilar

    Whenever I suffer from writer’s (blogger’s?) block I like to step away from the computer and do something, anything else. I’ll go take a shower, walk the dog, make myself a sandwich, bother my wife, take a nap, etc.

    Ideas randomly pop into my head when I’m busy with a non-blog related task. At this point I’ll go back to my computer and develop that idea into a blog post. Your mileage may vary, but this has always worked for me!

  • http://dailypureprofit.com Sornie Samante

    I have been into internet marketing for quite a long time now, and sometimes, I do really find myself at the point where I don’t know what to write and talk about into my post. In most cases, I usually take time to read other people’s post and end up re-rewriting contents which I do really hate at times. Thanks for this post! I know I’ve learned something. All the best!

  • http://www.mkronline.com/ Michael Robinson

    You’re right. I took a look at all my most successful posts, and every single post with more than a few hits addresses one (or more) of my audience’s needs. This is some of the best advice I’ve seen here. :)

  • http://www.allegro-design.com Jane Pellicciotto

    I found that once I started really paying attention to what small business people struggle with, it was easier to write. I also changed my writing style (shorter, more conversational, more inspirational, more bullet lists with tips). Each time I had a conversation or interaction with someone, I knew there was a blog post there.

    But the same issues come up over and over for people. So the challenge is not sounding like a broken record. Then again, you might catch one person on one day and another on another day. And the most important things bear repeating so to mix it up, I try to use metaphors that people can relate to.

    I get few comments on my blog but I’m most encouraged to keep going when I get one person (in person!) who tells me they were inspired by something they read.

  • http://www.chadmillerblog.com Chad Miller

    Corbett, you have to stop making me feel like crap. As I read this, I began to question my intentions. Am I writing for myself? Am I my own audience?
    Then, I looked back at the endless list of ideas that I keep in Evernote. It’s long… super long. As I dove into why I had the idea in the first place, I realized they came from Twitter, forums, comments, etc. Why haven’t I acted on them?
    No time? Excuse! No one wants to hear what I have to say? Excuse!
    Time to add value to the conversation. Thanks for the post!

  • http://Jacksonholewebdesigners.com Matthew Lee

    Great post. Definitely some good ideas here. My most successful, and easiest to write, blog posts have been in response to meeting with clients and the questions they ask. In fact that is what got me blogging again in the first place. I am a marketing consultant and web developer, and I kept meeting with the same client, he kept complaining about his lack of traffic to his website and his lack of funds to pay me to help him. I kept telling him the best way to improve his search engine rankings, get traffic and get more business would be by blogging and promoting his blog via email, forums, social media, etc. After telling him this for the fourth or fifth time, I realized I should really practice what I preach.

    Honestly, this is really a bit of a conundrum for me. While I teach people to promote their business online as a cost effective way to grow, I myself get almost all of my business from word of mouth. You see, I live in a very small but very popular tourist area, Jackson Hole. So almost all b2b business is done word of mouth while almost all b2c business is done via marketing and advertising. So my online presence is really immaterial to the success of my business. In fact for the longest time I didn’t even have a website, just a mockup site I could send clients to. But getting back into blogging has taught me that, even though it does not bring me much business, it definitely helps me to do my job better. It is one thing to brainstorm strategies, tactics and topics that best fit a client’s business, it is quite another to stare at a blank screen wondering how to be helpful, amusing and timely yet again for my own business. Anyway thanks again for the post!

  • http://www.elitemarketingsecrets.com Niveen Salem

    Corbett, this post came just in the right time as I’m a new blogger and yes, I’m sometime struggeling with ideas. My blog is in the pre-launch state now so I guess I’m not sure what my readers would exactly like to read about until I start receiving comments. However, I’m now writing from experience in my industry and things that I wished I would have known when I first started. Daily readings of blogs like yours is also a great inspiration!

    By the way, I can’t find your categories and previous posts on different subjects. Where do I need to go?

    Thanks,
    Niveen

  • http://focusdriven.org Amy

    My best blog posts come from watching the media. I work with an advocacy group and monitoring the news, watching for trends and most important LISTENING – to families, to other advocates, to those in opposition of what we are trying to accomplish, etc.

  • Pingback: Writer's block? Reflections on a blank paper – :: Future of Journalism | journalismwriter.com

  • http://www.mymidyearresolution.com Kathie Holmes

    Wow – I’ve just read this article and it is perfect for where I am right now. I’ve just combined a couple of my blogs under the banner of Lickrish – a blog about all sorts of stuff – but getting into writing has been harder than I thought – until I read this article.

    “When you don’t know what to write about, it’s a sign that you’re disconnected from your audience.

    Your focus isn’t on the people who really matter. If it was, finding a topic wouldn’t be an issue. When you’re well connected to your audience and their needs and interests, topic ideas abound.” – this is exactly the problem and the solution for me – thank you so much!

  • http://www.frederickrealestateonline.com Karen

    I’ve enjoyed this post, as well as all of the comments following. Lots of great ideas. I’ve found that I never run out of ideas as long as I stay immersed in reading, learning and listening about my topic (real estate). I think writing an informational blog is somewhat easier than other types of blogs because there is always new information to share, or new takes on old information. Thanks all, I’ve got some new ideas here.

  • http://vision-advertising.com Laura Briere

    Wonderful article. It’s so true- if you’re truly connected to your readers, you can start to think like them if you try. Whether you get the ideas from social sites or just by talking to a client over the phone, ideas blossom this way. It happens to us all the time! If it didn’t, we’d be banging our heads against the wall month after month. ;)

  • http://vidyasury.com Vidya Sury

    I find that almost always my post ideas are triggered through interaction with other bloggers and real life discussions. I also maintain an idea book to keep jotting down points and am never at a loss for words.

    I loved the list you’ve mentioned here – have read most of them.

    The power of interaction, engagement and collaboration can never be underestimated.

    Thanks for a stellar post!

    Love, Vidya

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    As someone who weekly coaches hundreds of writers and regularly hears back from them, I can tell you: the most common reason people don’t write is fear. Sure, there may be other factors at play that prevent you from filling the blank page.

    But more often than not, it’s fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of actually doing the work.

    And for some reason, once you name something, it tends to lose its power.

  • http://www.johnfranco.org John Franco

    Thanks a lot for the reminder! I started doing this some time ago but later I started making it complicated. The trap I usually get into is trying to imagine whats the best post they want but these days is so easy to connect to our audience hearts and needs. Its all out there as you say: blog comments, popular topics on blogs (most popular posts), etc.

    Writing for audience is really easy, is just about fulfilling their current needs and problems.

    Its about being relevant not fancy.

  • http://roleplayingtips.com Johnn

    If you are blessed with having your topic represented at stackexchange.com, your blog posts can practically write themselves.

  • http://thewpchick.com Kim Doyal – The WordPress Chick

    This was perfect timing Corbett!
    (btw- love the email on Sunday).

    I made a conscious choice at the beginning of this year to step things up, really engage & focus on building a community and since doing that I haven’t had any challenges coming up with content for posts! On more than one occasion I’ve simply asked my readers what they want and I’m amazed at the amount of responses I receive.

    I’ve had a couple of clients lately who are new to blogging and are having a hard time coming up with posts (because they don’t have an audience yet). My suggestion to them is always to share their journey (struggles and all) in starting/growing their business. Those tend to be some of my most commented posts. The more transparent I am the more people relate.

  • http://www.thinkgrowlive.com Joan Harrison

    Great post Corbett. I work intensely with the subconscious mind and what you are saying mostly is that if you open yourself up to what is going on around you then you will glean hundreds of ideas. The subconscious is a tricky character to deal with, for instance if you cannot remember something and you demand the answer by agitating the subconscious, with “what was her name?” (or whatever the query is) and repeat the question over and over the subconscious will never come up with the answer. Once you relax and let the SC do its work, the answer pops up like magic. Try it! Basically, the subconscious mind is our creative and spiritual powerhouse and once we understand how to use this power and make it work for us rather than against us then life will become a good deal easier. You are clearly more in tune with your subconscious and spiritual side, the messages flow quite readily. Taking it one stage further we are all connected via our subconscious and that opens up a whole new avenue of thinking!

  • http://www.tinanphan.com Tina N. Phan

    Got an email that lead me to this post, and I’ve got to say that it couldn’t have come at a greater time.

    I struggle on and off with coming up with what to write about so I will do as you suggest and look to my post popular posts and remember how the idea for them came about. Thanks for writing this.

  • http://www.ideasinbusiness.com.au/ Alice Cornelios

    Thanks Corbet for sharing a piece of your ideas with us. I am a blogger and experiences the same way. I do believe in magic fountain of ideas because it happens, but, when things are not happening the way it is supposed to be, I get active and look for sources to find more ideas. Well, I do not jump right at it but I do a little preparation to rejuvenate and refresh my thinking. I do go outside the house and breathe some fresh air. This is me and it seems to be effective.

  • http://rickzullo.com Rick

    Great suggestions. It’s a tricky balance sometimes because the posts that I enjoy writing the most aren’t often the ones that produce the most traffic. When I write about my experiences or my opinions or share an anecdote, I get some good comments from my regular readers. But it’s the “helpful” or “problem-solving” posts that gain the most traffic AND show up the most often in the search engines.

  • joanne Moniz

    I was just sitting down to write an article for my new website and think it is necessary to put something really good on the home page. My first thought was… what are the MOST important things people need to know about? (I am in in fitness and nutrition), what are the MOST things people have questions about? I came up with it! Then I read this blog. You are absolutely right. I think I can write it well. We shall see….

  • http://www.stirringthesoul.com siobhan mcauley

    I totally agree with you on this one Corbett. I find that the best posts I write are a direct result of questions and concerns that my readers share with me. Each time I write a post in response to readers specific question, inevitably I have a new reader ask another question that leads to my next post. I love that my relationship to my audience is engaged enough to provide me with exactly what they want to know.
    Thanks for the great reminder of what those red flags really mean.
    Siobhan

  • http://www.shoestring101.com Kurt Frankenberg

    Corbett,

    Looking back at my own, most effective work was as simple as looking at what got the most hits. Not only what got the most hits over time, but also that which produced the most comments.

    BINGO! Seems that:

    1) Each GREAT post began as a conversation, like yours listed above

    2) ZERO of those posts were about topics that I felt were particularly ‘trending’, but WERE about something I could solve just ONE reader’s problems with, and

    3) The posts best responded to were all posts I didn’t particularly think were special, but my readers did.

    Another big surprise is that my tips for OFFline biz is doing better than any ‘hot’ content marketing, social media or other online tips I’ve been writing. The stuff I learned about in the late 80′s, while founding a series of small businesses based on my hobbies and interests… is being better received than all the cool marketing tricks I’m learning today.

    Go figure. I guess a significant amount of my readers must be pre-internet babies like me ;-)

    Corbett, I’ma gonna take this post of yours to heart and only write “old-school” marketing tips and stories for a month. See if my readership grows in participation and in viral sharing. Maybe that’s what needs to stand out – what’s old is new sometimes.

    Thanks for the inspiration! In case you track such things (I’m sure you do), I was led to your site by an email with the title, “Don’t Know What to Write About? Here’s the Real Reason Why”. It was the ‘real reason’ part that hooked me because I had been running low on inspiration. Now I’m all fueled back up, thank you very much ;-)

    Keep Stepping,

    Kurt

  • http://nicheblogexpert.com Naren P

    Keyword research can easily become an essential part of your writing process. Keyword research help you find the right keywords to focus the content you write about. Thanks for the informative article friend :)

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