HOW TO: Never Run Out Of Topics For Blogging

Blogs these days are more than just an online journal. It’s become part of the mainstream media that some bloggers have become known as figures of authority. Keeping a blog isn’t easy. Thinking of topics to write about isn’t always a walk in the park either. What happens when your well of ideas starts to run dry?

Back when blogging was first starting out, it wasn’t hard to think of topics. Competition wasn’t fierce, and many blogged for themselves only. After all, not everyone had a blog and not everyone knew how to capitalize on the various opportunities there were in blogging. However, in this day and age, keeping your blog interesting and fresh is one of the keys to making sure your readers come back.

Keep Your Audience’s Attention

Content is king, as they say, and it is the key to keeping your audience hooked. Keep in mind that there are several factors that will make people come back to your blog.

First, write regularly. While it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write every day, it does mean that you have to have a new post every so often. This keeps you audience captivated. If your blog has no new material, people’s interest will wane.

Blog Topics

Second, keep your topics interesting. Does your blog have a theme or a niche that you cater to? Is your topic relevant to your blog? Is it relevant to your readers? Blogging nowadays isn’t just for the writer. You, as the writer, will have to take into consideration what your readers want to see and read about.

Third, interact with your readers. Reply to their comments, answer their email or Tweets. Readers will appreciate it that you do take time to read and understand what they said and will help you gain more followers.

Ideas, Ideas, and Ideas

Thinking of topics to write about is both easy and hard. Most of the time, we use our experiences for ideas, but sometimes, that can dry up. Here are some suggestions you can take that will ensure you’ll always have a topic to write about.

Read. Don’t stop reading. Read newspapers, books, magazines, blogs, text books, encyclopedias… whatever you can get your hands on. You’ll be surprised at the ideas that will come flowing. You won’t be copying, nor will you be stealing other people’s ideas. Rather, you can use what you read as a jumping point for things you can write about.

Present another point of view. So you’ve read something that you’d like to write about, but you’re worried that it may sound like the same thing. Writing about the same topic in your own point of view gives it a fresh perspective. Say your opinion, present facts or data that are relevant but weren’t given before. Much like the stories you read, topics can be rehashed often. It’s how it’s presented that makes the different.

Be observant. Wherever you go, keep your eye open for interesting things. Visit your favorite hangouts and see if there’s anything new you can write about.

Explore. Going to new places is always a fodder for something to write about. Say it’s your first time to visit Asia and you know your blog readers will be interested. Talk about the place. Talk about the people and culture. Talk about the food. That one visit will definitely give you plenty of things to talk about.

Take notes. Many writers bring along logo pens and some papers so they can jot their thoughts down while on the go. These days, people have smartphones and apps that can act as a digital notepad. Take advantage of these and take time to write down even the most random thought. Who knows? It just might end up being the next thing you write about.

Ask a question. Sometimes, you don’t have to write long posts in order to engage your audience. By asking a question, you entice them to participate in the discussion. You can start by posting a question, giving a bit of explanation and let them answer. Don’t forget to reply!

Take a break from your daily routine. Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t come because your mind’s in auto pilot mode. Try doing something new to spark your imagination. Stop going to the same cafe for lunch. Take a different route on the way home from work. Strike up a conversation with a stranger.

While it’s not an easy task to keep your blog continuously going, there are always ways to help you come up with topics to write about. Bottomline, don’t forget to have fun when your write. It helps keep the tone of your blog positive, lively and engaging. Happy blogging!

This article is written by Cathy Reyes. She is a part of the team that manages Personal Loan Finder, a complimentary loan comparison service.

Your Great Content Will Go Viral If It Passes These Tests

Viral Post ChecklistWell you have a great blog post idea, I assume. Can you just write it and hit publish? No, you can’t, because you just cannot let your best content out there without properly equipping it. You have to optimize your best blog post in some ways so that it gets people’s attention and recognition. I hope your post deserves such recognition.

Now let me tell you 7 things you must do before you hit that “Publish” button.

#1 – Keywords

This one is for you to do before you start writing the actual post (if not the draft). Do some keyword research. I am not going to tell you all the possible ways to do it. Of course there are lots of free and paid ways in which you can research for keywords.

Whatever service you use, make sure you embrace the long tail keywords the most because 80% of organic traffic comes from those keywords as opposed to the short ones. Make sure you have identified the right keywords before writing the post. Spread the keywords evenly throughout the post and make sure you use the potential ones near the beginning.


#2 – SEO

On page SEO, that is. Make sure your post is neatly optimized for search engine bots. Again, there are thousands of things one can do to optimize a blog post; and I am not going to list them all.

The point is, SEO should be in your checklist. Write those meta tags and keywords for every post, choose to write manual excerpts, put potential keywords in your heading, use less stop words in your post heading. Of course you may choose to get the help of paid plugins to assist you in this matter.

Useful Resources :

  • 10 SEO Techniques That Can Be Used In the Real World
  • HOW TO: Get Your Free SEO Report Within Minutes

#3 – Interlinking

Never publish a blog post without interlinking to any of your older posts. I assume interlinking should not be a problem. After all we are all blogging in some particular niche. So we will have other blog posts that are related and hence can be referenced to.

Interlinking helps you to increase your internal back links. And by leaving them as do follow links (I am sure you will), you increase the authority of every blog post.

A quick and hot tip is to link to your old post near the beginning of the post.


#4 – Linking to others

Don’t keep everything to yourself. Depending upon what you are writing, always try to find out relevant links from other blogs in your niche. You will make good friends in the first place, and you will also support your writing with relevant thoughts.

Apart from linking in your daily posts, you can also write exclusive posts that are round ups of thoughts from various other posts. An example of such a post can be seen here- 5 Key Elements for Bloggers: A Round Up.

Interlinking is always good in the blogosphere.

Tip: For interlinking your own blog posts and to others you have a handy plugin. It is called Insights. You can search within your own blog, or on the web and other blogs to link.

illustration of the insights plugin at wordpress dashboard


#5 – Image

This is an optional thing. But personally I would go for it. Images are good for the eyes. Even if you are writing a very serious blog and teaching people some concrete stuff, a funny and thoughtful image at the top is an excellent hook.

Find relevant, funny, thought provoking images to your post. Add appropriate alt tags and give credits to the owners. This will not only spice up your post, but will make it compelling to read, and you can also get found by the bots through image searches.

Useful Resource :

  • 40+ Websites For Copyright And Royalty Free Photos

#6 – Call to action

Finish your post with a call to action. It can be asking for readers’ suggestions/comments, it may be a promotion or it can be an invitation for subscription. Whatever it may be!

If you finish the post bluntly, it is like “I talk; I have talked and that’s it”. But your blog is not a place where you do monologues. You should encourage discussions. In order to encourage people to engage in discussions, you have to let them know that you are open and love to hear what they would say.


#7 – Read out loud

This may sound lame, but trust me it helps you to improve your post. This step is really a must. Don’t think that you will look like a lunatic if you read your own blog post out loud.

When you read out loud, you will come across some incorrect sentence formations which may otherwise look fine with eye reading. You may also check if you have any obvious grammatical mistakes that you miss with your tired eyes.

Not only with grammatical errors, you may also find if your post is worth reading by doing this. I have trashed many drafts which have not passed this test 😉


Takeaway

Do not be in a hurry to hit that Publish button. The more you do just before publishing, the more your post will enjoy after getting published. Have these tips as a checklist and always publish posts after ticking all of them.

Is your content great? Has it passed all these tests? OK then you can now hit Publish 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have anything more to add to the checklist? Feel free to do so.

Photo by phunkstarr

5 General Tips To Create A Good Blog Post

Good Blog PostOk, let’s admit it. We all want our blogs to be read, be it for marketing purposes, the generation of advertising revenue or simply to be heard (or rather, read) in the World Wide Web!

If we had intended to keep our knowledge to ourselves or our thoughts private, we would not have even started blogging in the first place, right? We would have written all our tips and thoughts in a diary instead.

So how do we write a great blog post that captures a reader’s attention, and make him or her wants to come back for more? Here are 5 tips that you could apply:

#1 – Have A Catchy & Interesting Title

  • Think of a title that is captivating enough to induce the curiosity of the reader, making him/her want to read further to find out more. Which post would you prefer to read: “Nail that job in 5 ways!” or “Preparation tips for an interview”?
  • Include search terms in your blog title so that anyone Googling for information would be able to find your post.

#2 – Provide Links & Tag Your Posts

  • Readers want information in an easy way, so they’d be grateful if they can get more information from your posts without having to look far. Do this by linking keywords to sites where they can read up more on the topic. You can also link your posts back to any of your older ones if they are related.
  • Tag your posts according to their respective categories. This allows the readers to find them easily especially if they would like to read more on the same theme or genre.

#3 – Write Short Sentences In Point Form

  • You don’t want your readers to get cock-eyed! It is definitely much easier on the eye reading text written in point form compared to paragraphs and paragraphs of words. Most people do not spend a long time on each site and once they are bored or tired, they’d move on to another site. Besides, there are probably various other sites offering similar information. I myself would skip to another site if you’ve given me lines and lines of information to read!
  • KISS, by keeping it short and simple. Go straight to the point delivering what you want to say. There is no need to impress the reader with bombastic jargon for the average reader out there is most likely to be an average Joe who is a layman in the field.

#4 – Talk To Your Audience

  • Write as though you are talking to your readers. Don’t write in a too formal way. Not only it can get boring, we don’t want to feel as though we are reading some notes that our lecturer gave.
  • Give your post a personal touch by often referring to yourself and giving personal opinions and experiences. They want to hear you, be it your reviews of a product, your disagreements on a topic or how you think your tips can help them. Blogs are, after all, supposed to be a personal log. The readers would want to feel as though they can connect with you.

#5. Check For Grammatical & Spelling Errors

  • If the post I’m reading contains grammatical and spelling errors, I’d start wondering if the writer is reliable in providing me information. It would seem dodgy. It doesn’t leave a good impression on the blogger and readers might start to doubt his credibility, as well as be potentially confused with the message that is being tried to convey.
  • If you are using WordPress, use the built-in spell checker or use a reliable spell checker plugin. This way, grammatical and spelling errors are highlighted. Make an effort on this. After all, would you date a person who couldn’t be bothered about his/her appearance and left the house in a shoddy manner?

Of course, the core of a post would still be its contents but if the little things were not paid attention to, all the great contents in the world wouldn’t entice your reader to even read, and definitely not come back for more.