August 26, 2013 |
Ever have a day when you want to blog something, but you just feel like you have nothing to say or no energy to come up with a creative idea? Well, here are 11 tried and true ideas for you:
1. Ask a question
People love to share their opinions and thoughts. A lot of the questions that readers submit to me via email are ones that I post as reader questions. I learn so much from the input that you all post!
Example: Ask the Readers Questions
2. Share a quick tip
As you’re going about your day, look for simple things you do that others might find helpful. Maybe a time-saving tip, a kitchen tip, an organization tip… anything you do that makes your life easier and might be helpful to someone else, too.
Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that are people’s favorite posts!
Example: Shop With a Calculator
3. Comment on an article or quote from a book
When you are reading articles or books, write down quotes you love or thought-provoking ideas you come across. A simple quote or idea from a book can be a great springboard for an insightful post.
I keep a running log of these ideas/quotes and they are instant blog fodder on days when I need a quick post idea.
Example: The Multitasking Myth
4. Tell a story
Did something funny or interesting happen to you that day or week? Share it as a post — especially if there’s a great example or lesson you learned from the story.
Example: A Shiny New Car is Not Always All It’s Cracked Up to Be
5. Write about a product you love
Have a kitchen gadget, app, or other sort of tool that is a life-saver? What about a product you just love? Write a quick post about it.
Example: Our Craigslist Table
6. Share a picture post
Sometimes, few words are needed.
Example: Freezer Cooking Posts
7. Answer a comment or email from a reader as a post
If you get an email from a reader that asks a question you think others would be interested in hearing the answer to, turn it into a post. (Be sure to remove details that the emailer might not want publicly shared or get their permission to post the question on your blog first.)
In addition, if you’re answering a comment and your answer begins to get lengthy, consider turning it into a blog post instead.
Example: Is it Possible to Survive on a $30/Week Grocery Budget?
8. Request help and input
Are you trying to decide which paint color to use, craft project to try, or book to read next? Why not ask your readers? I bet they’d love to give their input — and these types of posts always bring out lots of responses and fun engagement.
Example: What Should I Do With All These Canned Biscuits?
9. Write a book review
If you read a great book, don’t keep it to yourself. Write a quick post sharing your thoughts on the book and why you’d recommend it to your readers.
Example: Platform by Michael Hyatt
10. Share 10 links you love
Top 10 posts are always a hit — and they are usually pretty simple to put together, too. Best of all, the possibilities for Top 10 lists are just about endless. Can’t come up with 10 ideas, share 9 and ask your readers to supply #10.
Example: Top 10 Apps That Will Save & Make You Money
11. Give something away
Readers love giveaways. And they love them even more when you give away something of your own — even if it’s something small. Put together a fun little package of goodies and write about why you chose each item and then give the package away to one commentor.
Example: Reader Giveaway Extravaganza
What are your ideas for quick & easy posts you can write when you feel like your brain is fried? I’d love to hear.
August 23, 2013 |
Missed the first posts in this series? Check them out here.
10. Give Generously
I’m going to let you in on a little secret here: Want to know one of the best ways I’ve grown my blog? By promoting other people.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s not. When you live your life with outstretched arms, you are richly blessed in return. You shouldn’t give so that you’ll get blessings — because otherwise it’s not true giving at all! — but I guarantee that you will lead a much more fulfilled and joyful life if you spend your life pouring it out for others.
Don’t keep a good thing to yourself!
If you find another great blog post, pass on the link. If you read a great ebook written by another blogger, share it. Not only is this a great way to have endless blog fodder, but your readers will appreciate the great finds you pass along.
Go out of your way to look for ways to build up and encourage other bloggers. You’ll be blessed and inspired in return!
Share Your Knowledge
If you’ve learned a great tip or trick, freely share it with your fellow bloggers. I can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve gleaned from people who were willing to share their knowledge. And I find so much joy in being able to share ideas and tricks I’ve learned along way with others, too.
You know what I’ve found? Not only is it a lot of fun to freely share ideas, but it also tends to fuel new inspiration for future blog posts and strategies. The more that I pour out to others, the more I seem to be inspired myself.
Blog For Something Bigger Than Yourself
What is your purpose for blogging? Can I challenge you to make it something that is bigger than yourself? Blogging for income or fame won’t give you the lasting satisfaction and fulfillment that blogging for a bigger purpose will.
Maybe you want to encourage people, share practical ideas, inspire others to be givers, motivate people to rethink their positions on something… or a host of other things. There is so much amazing good that can be done through blogging.
At the end of your life, the money you made won’t matter. The house you lived in won’t matter. The car you drove won’t matter. The clothes you wore won’t matter. What will matter is the lives you impacted and the people you invested in.
Be a generous blogger. Catch a vision for what your unique gifts are to bring to the world and then go invest your life into things that matter! I promise that this will give you more amazing motivation, momentum, and fulfillment than you may have ever dreamed was possible.
August 12, 2013 |
Missed the first posts in this series? Check them out here.
#9 Breathe Deeply
If you’re constantly giving, giving, giving out and never taking time to breathe and replenish your supply, you’ll soon run out of oxygen. This is why it’s so important to have white space in your life — and as a blogger.
What is White Space?
Picture a book that had no margins — the words completely filled each and every page of the entire book. There was no white space at all — just words on every square centimeter of each page.
Would that book be an easy read? No, it would feel chaotic and busy, probably even overwhelming.
So it is with our lives. If we don’t allow white space to breathe and refresh, but instead pack every moment of every day full to the brim with to-do’s and projects, our lives will feel chaotic, disorderly, and likely exhausting.
How to Cultivate Margin & Breathing Room
If you have a full schedule, you won’t probably naturally find a lot of margin or breathing room in your life. Instead, you have to be intentional about cultivating it. Here are some ideas:
1. Allow Two Extra Hours Each Day
As I mentioned last week, instead of packing every hour of the day with an activity or project, schedule in at least two hours of margin time. This is buffer time to allow for the interruptions that are bound to happen. And if you don’t have two hours’ worth of interruptions in a day, you can use the extra time to do something relaxing and/or refreshing.
2. Schedule Time for Refreshment
We’re all wired differently, but one thing is true for everyone: we need to make time for refreshment. What this will be and how this will look will be unique to each person.
For instance, some people are refreshed by doing something like sky-diving or rock-climbing. Me? I’d prefer to have a heart-to-heart talk with a friend or to cozy up in a quiet and clean house with a hot cup of tea or coffee and a good book.
Ask yourself what truly refreshes you. Make a list of the things that come to mind and then think through how you can incorporate some of these things into your everyday life.
Maybe it’s taking time to call a friend to catch up for 15 or 30 minutes a few times per week. Maybe it’s hiring a babysitter so you can go out to coffee with friends for a few hours every other week. Or maybe it’s just shutting down the electronics early, making yourself a cup of tea and spending 15 to 30 minutes with a good book before bed.
3. Foster Beauty & Creativity in Your Life
You need to make time for beauty, art, and creativity in your life. Once again, what constitutes “beauty” for one person will look different for someone else. But we all need to take more time to soak up the beautiful things in our life instead of rushing through our days at breakneck speed.
One of the reasons I aim to always have some kind of handwork project going — be it knitting, embroidery, or something else — is because it gives me a sense of fulfillment to create with my hands. And this creativity often breeds creativity and energy in other areas of my life.
I also love to drink tea or coffee out of cute mugs, listen to music music with rich depth, try yummy new recipes, watch movies and read books with really great story lines, and burn delicious-smelling candles. Each of these are little ways that I seek to cultivate beauty, art, and creativity in my life — and in our home. They are such simple things, but they inspire and enrich my life.
4. Count Your Blessings
If I’m too busy to count my blessings, I’m just plain too busy. Life is full of blessings — even on the really difficult days.
Reading One Thousand Gifts really inspired me anew in this area. My mom gave me a blessing journal at the beginning of this year — I can’t find it available anywhere online, but it’s basically just a little journal with one line for each day of the year for you to write a blessing down.
I’ve loved this because it’s so simple: it only takes 30 seconds each morning to write down a blessing or two, but it helps me to start out the day reminded of the wonderful blessings in my life. You could do something similar with a notebook or journal.
Take time each day — either when you get up or when you go to bed (or anytime in between!) to recount the many things you have to be grateful for. This will change your whole outlook on life!
When you take time to breathe deeply and have margin in your life, you’ll not only be in a much healthier and happier place, you’ll also be more inspired as a blogger. Not to mention, you’ll just plain enjoy life a whole lot more!
What are your best tips for carving out margin and breathing room in your life?
photo credit; photo credit
August 7, 2013 |
Missed the first posts in this series? Check them out here.
#8 Sleep Restfully
Burning the candle at both ends might seem like it’s allowing you to be more productive, but usually it’s a very ineffective way to live. When you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not able to be at the top of your game. As a result, you’re often not as inspired or creative — especially when it comes to blogging.
Case in point, not too long ago, I went for almost a week with zero inspiration to blog. I’d sit down to write and I felt like I had nothing to say. I had a lot of things I wanted to write and many different post ideas, but no desire to actually write the posts.
This is very out of character and I began to wonder what was wrong with me. Was I depressed? Was I just plain out of inspiration? Did I need to get my levels checked at doctor? I ran through just about every possible issue in my brain for a few days trying to figure out what could be wrong with me — and I kept coming up dry.
Finally, one night I got a really good night’s rest. And guess what? The next morning I was all inspired to write again!
I wasn’t depressed nor was there anything medically wrong with me; I was just tired. Without really even realizing it, I’d fallen behind on sleep — and it had caught up with me and sucked all the inspiration from me.
Yes, sleep really does make a difference when it comes to blogging (and many other areas in life, too!)
Go to Bed Earlier
The best way to guarantee that you get more sleep is to get to bed earlier. I know that night owls often despise this sort of advice, but whether you are a night owl or a morning person, you need to consider whether or not you’re getting enough sleep.
- Feeling exhausted when you wake up in the morning?
- Struggling to keep your eyes open after lunch?
- Hitting a productivity wall in the middle of the afternoon because you are feeling tired?
If any of these things are routinely happening to you, there’s a very good chance that you’re not getting enough sleep at night.
Training yourself to get to bed earlier so you can get a better night’s sleep can be hard. Find an accountability partner who will commit to earlier bedtimes with you (if you’re married, it’s fantastic if that accountability partner can be your spouse!) and then challenge yourself to stick with a realistic earlier bedtime for at least three weeks.
Gradually Teach Your Body to Adapt
Notice I said “realistic”? That’s really important.
If you usually go to bed at 1 a.m., don’t try to all of a sudden change to a 9 p.m. bedtime. Try slowly moving your bedtime by 30 minutes (or even 15 minutes) every few weeks until you hit on a time that works best for your body and your family’s routine.
Plan Ahead for Great Sleep
Great sleep doesn’t always just happen naturally, so do your best to plan ahead and prepare your environment to get the best night’s sleep possible. Here are a few suggestions:
- Wind Down Early – Start getting ready for bed at least an hour before your bedtime. This way, you’re helping your body to start winding down well before you need to be dozing off.
- Drink Less Caffeine — If you have trouble getting to sleep or going to bed earlier, try reducing your caffeine intake. Also, don’t drink caffeine after 3 p.m. (unless you’re like my sister, who finds that she goes right to sleep after she drinks a cup of coffee!)
- Turn Off the Electronics — Seriously, stop checking your email or social media in bed. The world (and you!) will survive just fine. And I promise you won’t get sucked into 30 minutes or an hour of mindless internet-hopping.
- Follow an Evening Routine — Go to bed near the same time every night, if at all possible. The more you can get your body into a rhythm, the better you’ll likely sleep at night.
- Prep the Environment — You might find that drinking a cup of Sleepytime tea, using essential oils, listening to relaxing music, reading, and/or Sleep Balm can help to enhance your sleep. Also, be sure to have a dark room, a comfortable temperature, and maybe even white noise.
If you’re having trouble actually getting to sleep, force yourself to focus on something simple like counting all the blessings you can think of. Or going through the steps of some certain task. Don’t let your mind wander to things that will excite you or camp on things that might worry you.
For more ideas and suggestions, check out the book, Sleep: It Does a Family Good.
Give Yourself Grace
You aren’t going to be able to get a good night’s rest every night. If you have a lot on your plate right now and there’s not much you can delete or delegate, sometimes you just have to power through and do the best you can do.
If you have insomnia, a newborn, a child with sickness or special needs, or other circumstances that are preventing you from regularly getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night, don’t let yourself feel frustrated. Sometimes the best lessons in life are learned from those really stretching, hard, difficult seasons.
As C.S. Lewis so aptly said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” So if you’re in one of those trying seasons, don’t give up. Get as much sleep as you can and press on — knowing that this difficult time won’t last for forever!
What tips & tricks help you get a great night’s sleep? I’d love to hear!
July 31, 2013 |
Missed the first posts in this series? Check them out here.
#7 Experiment Regularly
When was the last time you did something new? Creativity breeds creativity, so if you’ve allowed yourself to become stuck in a rut that could be one of reasons you’re struggling with coming up with blogging ideas and inspiration.
Try Something New
If new things scare you, I completely get it. I’m the type of person who would always eat the same things and wear the same types of clothes, but I’m learning that variety is the spice of life. It’s good to force yourself out of your little safe, comfortable zone and experience new things — new tastes, sounds, smells, books, recipes, projects, and so on.
As a blogger, never get completely comfortable with doing things the way you’ve always done them. Occasionally challenge yourself to try new types of posts (short and long, funny and deep), new types of writing styles, or new & different approaches to where, how, and when you write.
This doesn’t mean that you always have to be experimenting and can never get into a rhythm, but don’t allow yourself to become so stuck in one way of doing things that you’re not willing to expand your horizons a little to help fuel more inspiration.
Face Your Fears
Earlier this year, I played my violin in front of a crowd for the first time in years. That might not seem like a big deal, but for me it was pretty colossal because it meant facing some very deep-seated fears and punching them in the face.
It’s been the same with public speaking — and even with traveling and meeting new people. I’m an introvert by nature and being in new situations, speaking in front of people, and being around large crowds used to absolutely scare me to the point of nausea. I love home and quiet and the “safety” that it brings.
But my husband and I both clearly felt the tugging in our hearts two and half years ago that I was supposed to start accepting a few speaking opportunities. I cannot begin to describe the sickening fear I had for the first year over every single speaking engagement (some of you witnessed this firsthand if you were in the audience for some of those talks!).
I knew it was the path I was supposed to follow and my husband was confident it was God’s leading, as well. So I faced those fears over and over again. Each time, I got a little bit more confident.
The funny thing is, over time, I’ve discovered is that I love speaking engagements. Sure, there are still some of the nerves to deal with, but the opportunity to get to meet you all face-to-face, hug you, look into your eyes and hear your stories, and glean from your wisdom and real-life examples has been worth all those moments when I wanted to run away and never speak in public or meet a new person again.
Facing my fears in this has enriched my life more than I could have ever imagined. Plus, it’s given me confidence to face other fears head-on, too.
Never Stop Learning
Constantly be challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone and/or be improving in at least one area. If you’re up to it, choose one area in each facet of life (personal, family, business, etc.) to be working on at once so that you’re being stretched in a few different directions.
Take a class, learn a new skill, try a new recipe, experiment with a new do-it-yourself project, develop a new friendship, read a new kind of book, try a new fitness routine… the possibilities are endless. Whatever it is you choose, though, make sure that it’s ultimately blessing your life — not serving as a burden of guilt or making you feel like a failure.
Challenging yourself to always be learning will not only inspire your creativity and motivate you to think outside the box, but it will also give you renewed zest and passion for life. New experiences will provide new stories to write about, new questions to ponder, and new viewpoints to consider. All of these things will enhance your writing — and give you an almost limitless supply of blogging inspiration.
What is one new thing you’re learning or area you’re working on improving in right now?
July 30, 2013 |
Missed the first posts in this series? Check them out here.
#6 Build Community
If you want to build a successful blog, can I encourage you to stop focusing so much on building a platform and instead throw your efforts into creating a community?
Listen to Your Readers
A community is where people feel welcomed, heard, accepted, and a part of something. You have a voice. You have worth. You have influence.
The worst thing you can do as a blogger is to write a post and then disappear and never come back to interact in the comments. Blogging is a two-way street.
I’m not saying you have to respond to every single comment, but do take time to engage with your audience. Let them know that you appreciate them, that you care about them, and that you’re reading what they have to say.
This blog has changed a lot since its early days. I’m no longer a one-woman show. In fact, I have some of the best and brightest people working for me. I’ve delegated a lot of tasks so that I can have a healthy balance in my own life and have margin to invest in my own health, marriage, and children.
But one thing I’ve chosen not to delegate is reading and responding to comments and managing my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts. Yes, it takes time to keep up with all the comments on the blog and on my social media channels (and I don’t always get to respond to every one like I’d like to!), but it’s so very worth it because you all are my community. (Please note: I’m not saying that everyone should make the decisions I’ve made here, but I know that this is one decision I have yet to regret in the least.)
This might sound a little weird, but it’s true: I love you all. I care about you all. And I want to know what you all are saying — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If dozens of you don’t like a post, I want to know that so I can step back and ask myself, “What did I do wrong?” and “What can I learn from my mistakes?” If a number of you found a post really helpful, I want to know that to so I can keep it in mind as I contemplate future post ideas and series ideas.
Ask for Your Readers’ Input
Reading what you have to say has taught me so much. I’ve grown as a person, my mind has been expanded, my understanding of the world has been broadened, and I’ve picked up more frugal tips and suggestions than I could ever count.
Truly, you all are so brilliant and amazing. I learn something new from you each and every day.
And that’s why I love asking for your input. I want to know your ideas and suggestions — because they are often a hundred times better than I could ever come up with on my own.
Best of all, your comments and emails provide me with a never-ending stream of blog post ideas. If you ever run low on blog post ideas, try asking your readers for suggestions — either for post ideas or just asking for their input on a decision you’re trying to make, even if it’s something rather small (like what to do with all my canned biscuits). This makes your readers feel like they are more a part of your life and it helps to provide you with blog fodder, too. 🙂
Value Your Readers’ Suggestions
Don’t just ask for your readers’ input; really listen to what they have to say. Learn from them. Engage them in discussions. Ask for their advice and input.
If your readers know they are valued, they are much more likely to interact in the comments, send you emails, and stick with you for the long haul. And this will guarantee that you’ll have an endless string of new blogging ideas coming your way for years to come!
Just a Little Thank You
It’s only fit that I end this post with a thank you note to each and every one of you who read here regularly. You have no idea how much your comments and emails mean to me. I don’t always get to respond to each of them, but I read and appreciate every one.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of this community. As always, if you have suggestions or ideas for how we can make this an even better community, I’d love to hear and consider them.
I’m blessed by you every day. You’ve enriched my life more than you’ll ever know. Just thank you.