10 Guaranteed Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas (#4)

Missed the first posts in this series? Check them out here.

#4 Capture Thoughts Immediately

If you’re anything like me, if you don’t write down your great ideas right away, you won’t remember them a few hours later. Because of this, I believe one of the biggest keys to never running out of blog post ideas is to capture those ideas immediately.

In order to do this, you need to have some systems in place to make this happen. Here are a few ideas that work well for me:

Keep a Pen & Paper Handy

Where do you typically get the most inspiration? For me, it’s often when I’m washing dishes, cleaning, or getting ready in the morning. Because of this, I try to always have a pen and paper handy to log those ideas as soon as they come.

Often, I’ll use the time blocks when my hands are busy but my brain is free to purposefully think about whatever writing project I’m currently working on or the next post I hope to write. I’ll mull it over and then write down whatever thoughts come, as they.

It’s not uncommon at all for me to stop washing dishes or cleaning (or whatever it is that my hands are busy with!) three or four times in order to “brain dump” whatever came to my mind. I find this to be a really efficient method for blogging, too — even if it’s a little tedious to have to keep drying my hands to write down ideas!

Why? Because when I outline my blog post on paper ahead of time, it saves me so much time when I actually sit down to write. Instead of having to stare at a blank screen, I already have a bunch of ideas scribbled down to springboard from.

Email Yourself

If I’m out and about and don’t have a pen & paper handy, I’ll often email myself a few sentences that are swirling around in my head for a potential post. This way, I have captured the essence of the post idea and the next time I’m on the computer, I can either copy and paste the sentences into a post draft to prompt me whenever I’m ready to write the post or I can add the post idea to my blogging Google calendar and put those sentences in the details box.

Use Google Calendar

I use Google calendar to schedule out what posts I plan to write/run (along with just basically organizing and planning my entire life — see this video where I talk about about how I organize my days in more detail). What I love about Google calendar is that it’s so easy to drag and drop things to later dates — something I do very regularly.

When a post idea strikes, I’ll usually add the idea to my calendar on whatever day I think it works best and then I jot down whatever ideas come to my mind right then and there for the post. That way I’ve captured the idea and put it on my calendar — and when the week that it’s scheduled for arrives, I can start working on the post (usually by jotting down additional ideas on a pen and paper as I talked about above).

Many weeks, I end up with more post ideas scheduled than time, so I’ll just move some of the posts planned for that week to another day or week. It’s so simple and it pretty much guarantees that I rarely am at a lack for post ideas or inspiration.

Have an Ongoing Blog Ideas Notebook

One last idea: always keep a list of running ideas. This list can either be on your computer or in an actual notebook.

I keep a list of series ideas, post ideas, challenge ideas, and just anything else that comes to mind that I think I might want to blog about someday. Every once in awhile, I will “brain dump” onto this list. While I often don’t end up using all of these ideas, it serves as an inspiration for upcoming series and challenges — and I consult it every few months as I’m planning my upcoming blog themes.

What are your favorite ways to capture ideas for blog posts? I’d love to hear!

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Comments

  1. says

    Ideas usually come to me when I am doing mindless actions like driving or doing laundry. I just use pen and paper and write down my ideas as they come. If I don’t write the idea down as soon as I get it then I won’t remember them.

  2. Susan says

    Another idea is to talk your notes into your phone. I’m not a blogger, but have ideas all the time about job related projects, so I tend to make notes into my phone since it is always with me. I do the same when my daughter says or does something that I want to capture for her scrapbook.

  3. says

    How funny… I actually just wrote a post last night for this Thursday about some similar thoughts. I agree about writing down your ideas immediately. Those flashes of inspiration can go as quickly as they come, if we don’t value them enough to write them down. Even tiny snippets of an idea can grow into something bigger if you will write it down as soon as you get the first part.

    I use the Evernote app when my phone is handy (so I can access the ideas online too), and I keep a tiny notepad and a pen in my purse, and I use voice memos on my phone when I’m getting an idea that I can’t write fast enough.

    Almost all my blog posts, and now my podcasts, are ideas that have come out of nowhere. Often at inconvenient times. (My husband complains when I go to bed, then keep jumping up and turning on the lamp to write down ideas.) But those inconvenient ideas are usually the best ones.

    • says

      My husband loves the Evernote app and uses it for many different things!

      Picturing you jumping up out of bed multiple times brought a smile to my face this morning… I’ve definitely done that before. Otherwise, I’ll lie there and won’t be able to sleep because I’ll be worried I’ll forget the idea/inspiration. :)

      • says

        I guess that does sound funny. I’m laughing at the mental picture myself. The other night I was actually in church and had an awesome idea, and I didn’t want to look disrespectful sitting there typing into my phone, so I had to plow my way through a jumping, dancing crowd to get out into the hallway to record my voice memo. :) But you know, you gotta do what you gotta do. It was a good word. :)

  4. says

    Ugh…this series is all kinds of wollops upside the head…I’m awful about writing ideas down, because part of me is just certain I’ll remember them.

    One thing that has worked for me is to start a blog post draft and come back to it later, even if all I have is a title.

    • says

      Yes, I so agree about starting the blog post draft — if *something* is there, I’m much more likely to actually write the post then if it’s just an idea in my brain. Plus, I’m all about getting things out of my brain and into a safe place as my brain space is rather limited these days, it seems. :)

  5. says

    Another helpful app is Drafts. I have it on my iPod and can type in ideas when they strike. The coolest thing about Drafts is that you can email the notes to yourself. You also have the option to Facebook or tweet the notes, which is a pretty cool feature. (I believe you can send notes to Dropbox and Evernote, too.)

    I’m so intrigued by how you use Google calender. When you put a blog post idea, do you type it in as an event at a certain time of day?

    (You could probably write a whole series on how to use Google calender!)

    • says

      Oh, thanks so much for sharing about that app!

      And when I put something on Google calendar I just make it an all day event versus an actual time slot in the day. {Thanks for asking so I could clarify that!}

  6. says

    Thanks for the tips Crystal! I watched the video you mentioned in Google Calendar (I just started using my Google Calendar for blogging and love it!), but I’ve *got* to get better about making a list each day. Started today with my list ~ we’ll see if I can stick to it all week long!

  7. says

    My iPod goes almost everywhere with me and I can type faster than I write so when ideas come I put them in the note section. A lot of my ideas come from something I see in the environment around me that triggers a thought (very visual person) so I will snap a picture and often that is enough for me to remember the thought.

  8. says

    I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought of a great post idea, didn’t write it down, and couldn’t remember it 20 minutes later. So. Frustrating. Great post, as usual!

  9. says

    I’m always writing down ideas. I try to have next week’s ideas lined up by Friday. A tip I’d add is to be reachable — and then readers will start sending you ideas! I probably get at least one idea a week that way

  10. says

    I just wrote down an idea for a series this morning when it hit me. I know I would have forgotten it if I didn’t write it down. I just need a way to jot notes in the shower that’s when most of my inspiration hits. :)

  11. says

    Using Google Calendar has really helped keep my blogging consistent. I’m like you and find myself dragging and dropping posts around if something comes up.

    I also use the task list in the sidebar for any related ideas that might come up. Say I’m adding a post for 10 favorite quick breakfast ideas and the idea to have a similar post with lunch/lunchbox recipes pops into my head I can add it to the tasks list so I don’t forget.

    I do have a notebook filled with ideas and at last count I have enough for the rest of the year not including any special recipes or posts for the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  12. says

    I need to be better at writing stuff down! I recently started a blog and I HAD all kinds of ideas, but I didn’t write them down. When I sat down to write, I couldn’t remember any of them. I know I had lots and some were bound to be good posts. I’m also starting to make draft posts with my notes/ideas in it.

  13. says

    I have found two things that help me greatly. One is to go somewhere to have a brainstorming session. I like Chick-fil-A. On the drive over I keep the radio off and often thoughts will start to swirl in my mind during the drive.

    The second part of the equation is my life line to writing. I have an 8.5 x 11 sketch pad and a set of 12 Flair markers. I use mind mapping to help me brainstorm. Though at home I like complete quiet when I write at CFA I’m able to block out all of the surrounding sounds. I guess that is because at home my mommy radar is constantly going off, but at CFA I can turn it off. ;-) Some days I mind map ideas for future use, and others I mind map complete posts. My book right now has over a hundred post ideas, and at least 30 pretty fleshed out. One day I was going shopping near my regular CFA hangout and all these ideas started popping. So, I detoured to CFA and grabbed a notebook I had in the van. I came out with 6 completed posts.

    By the time I’m done with the mind map my posts are virtually done. I just fill in the blanks. It really doesn’t take that long to write from there.

  14. says

    A while back I started stashing dry erase markers around the house, near wipeable surfaces like windows and mirrors. When ideas hit, I grab a marker and scribble them down on whatever surface is available. Later I transfer them to the appropriate binder (I run several sites) and erase the window/mirror/whatever. Usually I get it erased before someone stops by, but I missed a window one Saturday before my nieces & nephews arrived, so I had to explain myself. :D