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10 Guaranteed Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas (#1)

“How do you come up with post ideas?”

A few weeks ago, I was with one of my dear blogging friends and she asked me this question. She went on to explain how she wants to blog more often, but she struggles to come with inspiration for what she should post.

Honestly, I’ve never really thought about the how behind coming up with ideas. In fact, I usually have many more ideas than I have space and time to write.

But her question really got me to thinking about what fuels my blogging inspiration. And as I’ve mulled over it the past few weeks, I came up with a number of things that I find help me to always have post ideas and inspiration.

Since this is a question I’ve been asked before, I thought I’d share my list with you all in hopes that it might spark some ideas for those of you who are feeling like you’re in a blogging slump. I had initially planned to share this as one post, but it got so long that I decided to break it up and just share one idea per week day for the next two weeks so that it was easier to read — and not some massively long and impossible-to-read-in-one-sitting post!

#1 Live Vibrantly {Offline}

A vibrant offline life will fuel your online creativity. Make sure you have a healthy balance of face-to-face interaction with friends, family fun {that you don’t blog or tweet about}, and media-free time blocks in your day.

I can’t tell you any hard and fast rules on this, because what is healthy for one person might be unhealthy for another. I can say, however, that if your brain is constantly trying to conjure up a blog post from every experience or if the only reason you ever plan a party or do an activity with your kids or bake anything is only so you can blog about it, you probably need to step back and re-evaluate.

One of the best decisions we made when I first started blogging was that I would take Sundays off from blogging/social media. I’ve found that I often have to unplug in order to recharge. Stepping away from the online noise once a week clears my head and helps me to remember what matters.

Real-Life Example #1: The Circus Post

Some of my best posts come as the result of getting offline and just living life. I’ll be in the middle of real-life and a post just comes and smacks me right between the eyes.

Such was the case with the post I wrote after we went to the circus. As soon as the whole episode happened, the analogy came to me.

I told Jesse about it as we were walking to the car and he thought it was a great idea for a blog post. So I emailed myself a few random sentences on my phone in the car on the way home and then wrote the post, Whining For a Shiny Plastic Toy, when I had time a few days later.

To be continued tomorrow…

How do you maintain a healthy balance between your online life & your offline life? I’d love to hear!

If you are struggling to find a healthy balance between your online and offline life, I highly recommend Sarah Mae’s new ebook, The Unwired Mom.

I read it recently and found that it was packed with great suggestions, practical tips, and a lot of motivation and inspiration to not become too consumed with online activities and miss the life to be lived and blessings to be had right in our own homes and communities.

10 Guaranteed Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas (#2)

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

#2 Read Voraciously

If you want to be a good writer, the best thing you can do is to immerse yourself in good writing. Surround yourself with well-written books by authors that inspire you to think, dream, and do.

Writers and bloggers are constantly pouring out words to the world. If you don’t replenish your creativity supply, your well will soon run dry.

Yes, You Have Time To Read

You might be saying, “But I don’t have time to read!” Can I encourage you to evaluate if that statement is really true? I believe everyone, no matter how full their life, can make reading a priority — even if it’s just a few pages from a book every day.

You usually always have time for what you want to have time for. As has well been said, “If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it. If it’s not, you’ll make an excuse.” So in most cases, it’s not a matter of not having time; it’s a matter of choosing to use your time differently.

Could you cut out some of your Pinterest-hopping, Facebook-viewing, or TV-watching? Or, what about finding ways to add reading to things you’re already doing?

A few examples:

  • Listen to audiobooks while you’re driving or cleaning.
  • Read the classics aloud to your children at the dinner table (even just 5 minutes every night).
  • Always carry a book with you in case some free minutes open up in your day.
  • Be a little crazy like me and read on your iPad while walking & running on the treadmill. 🙂
  • Find many additional ideas and ways to fit more reading into your day here.

Read From a Wide Variety of Perspectives

In addition, I think it’s important to be challenging your mind from different perspectives. I try to always be reading a few well-written blogs and books from a broad spectrum of genres. This allows me to continually be exposing my mind to new ideas and inspiration.

I usually have 3-4 books going at one time — each from a different genre. For instance, right now I’m reading a novel by Lynn Austen, a spiritually challenging book, a biography, a homeschooling book, and I’m getting ready to start a new business book.

I do something similar with my blog-reading. I follow about 20 blogs total: a few deal blogs, a few blogs on simple living, a few blogs on leadership/business, a few blogs on parenting & homeschooling, and a few book review blogs. Since each of these blogs approach things from different perspectives, I’m challenged and inspired in unique ways each day.

Evaluate Everything You Read

One very effective way to grow as a writer is to always evaluate what you’re reading. Analyze how the blogger or author is communicating their points.

If I’m really enjoying a post or book, I’ll often ask myself, “What is the author doing to effectively draw me in and keep me reading?” This simple question can teach you so much about how to write well.

By making reading a priority, exposing myself to new ideas, challenging my mind, and analyzing what I read, it not only is helping to hone my writing craft, but it also sparks many, many new blog ideas!

Real-Life Example #2

When I was reading One Question by Ken Coleman, this quote stuck out to me: “Good questions inform. Great questions transform.”

As I mulled over it in my brain for a few days, he not only inspired me to ask more questions of people, but also to encourage you all to ask more questions, too. And that’s where part of my answer to How Do You Develop Goals That Are At the Same Time Stretching But Also Realistic? came from.

What are some of your favorite well-written books, blogs, and authors to follow/read? I’d love to get some new ideas & inspiration!

10 Guaranteed Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas (#3)

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

#3 Write Daily

With the exception of Sundays and the very occasional day off, I blog every single day. This might seem exhausting to some people, but honestly, I’ve found that I’m much more inspired and creative when I’m regularly exercising my writing muscles.

In fact, it seems the more I write, the more inspiration I have to write. When I was in the middle of writing my book, I felt like my brain was going to explode with all the post ideas coming to me everywhere I turned.. There wasn’t time enough to write half of them, so I just had to tuck them away for later.

Truly, creativity breeds creativity. If you want to blog regularly, don’t wait until you’re feeling inspired to write… just write!

Schedule a Daily Writing Time

Set a daily scheduled writing time, put it on your calendar, and train yourself to keep that commitment like your life depends upon it. Soon, it may become such a habit that you would be able to imagine going through your day!

Eliminate Distractions

When you sit down to write, you’ve got to focus on the task at hand. This is not the time to be checking social media, answering emails, or surfing the internet.

I’ve found that I work best when I shut down email and all other online distractions, set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes, and just dive in and write until it goes off. I’m amazed at how much I can get done when I just shut everything down and work in concentrated chunks. {Since I usually write in the early mornings, I can usually accomplish this without worrying little people walking in and needing their mama right then. :)}

Create Conducive Conditions

What are your ideal writing conditions? If you don’t know, now’s the best time to find out — especially because you’ll want to schedule your writing time when you’re going to be at peak performance.

Some questions to ask yourself/things to experiment with:

  • Where do you do your best writing? Try writing in different rooms in your home and in different work spaces. I don’t write well sitting at a desk, so I have a big comfy writing chair in my office that most all of my posts are composed from.
  • When do you do your best writing? I am usually freshest first thing in the morning,
  • Do you write best with a pen and paper or do your ideas flow best when you’re typing on your computer? I do some of both — I usually outline my posts with pen & paper (more on that in a later post) and then type up the complete post on my laptop.
  • Does music enhance or detract from your creativity? For me, most of the time it detracts. But I know that certain kinds of music really gets some people’s creative juices flowing.
  • Do certain actions fuel your inspiration? I find that washing dishes, showering, and exercising are often times when I get great writing inspiration and ideas. I often exercise right before my writing time — it seems that getting my heart rate up really gets my brain cells firing, too!

You can’t always hit our ideal conditions every day, but put forth effort to do everything you can to make your environment as conducive for great writing can go a long way in making your writing time more productive.

Do you write daily? Why or why not? What are your ideal writing conditions?

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!

10 Guaranteed Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas (#5)

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

#5 Listen Intently

One the best ways to challenge your brain and have an never-ending stream of ideas and inspiration is to become a student of life. All of life can be a classroom — if we’re a willing learner.

Everyone — no matter who they are — can teach you something. And most people can teach you amazing things, if you’ll only but listen.

I’m not one who is usually short on words (I’m pretty sure my family would readily attest to that, too!), but when I am intentional about listening and asking good questions, I’m always amazed at how much I learn.

Focus on the Other Person

Most people really like to talk about themselves and their interests. The trick is to fully focus on whomever you are talking to, be genuinely interested, and to find out what gets them fired up and excited.

If I meet someone for the first time and I don’t have any background or context for that person, I’ll often say, “Tell me about yourself.” This is one of my favorite ways to open up a conversation with someone I don’t know — and you never know where it will lead!

I’ve learned about tragedies, triumphs, health issues, a person’s dreams and hopes, and so many other fascinating things as a result of this simple question. It’s extremely open-ended but it rarely fails to produce an interesting discussion with just about everyone.

Put Away Your Phone

If you want to have a meaningful conversation, you’ve got to stop multi-tasking. Don’t be texting another friend, checking Facebook or Twitter, or searching for something on the internet.

I love the efficiency that smartphones have brought into my life. But, on the flipside, I despise how we’re unable to disconnect from the noise so we can really listen to what someone else is saying.

If you need to be on your phone when in the middle of a conversation, explain why and take care of whatever it is you need to do. Then, turn it off and turn your attention fully to the person in front of you.

Ask Followup Questions

As another person is talking, listen carefully for interesting tidbits that you want to probe deeper into. I’m always amazed at how many things I learn just by asking questions that springboard from a statement someone makes.

Don’t be shy — even if you don’t really know much at all about what a person is interested in, you can still learn so much. In fact, sometimes it’s more fun to talk to someone who has little knowledge of a subject but immense interest.

Reiterate Their Statements

I’m constantly asking why and forever prodding to get to the root of why a person responds a certain way, feels a certain way, or believes a certain way. One of the things I find is really helpful is to reiterate what I just heard someone say to me to make sure I understood and then to ask a followup question. “So you’re saying such and such, do you think that’s because of so and so?”

You might be completely off-base or maybe you misunderstood, so reiterating someone’s statements and then asking a followup question is a great way to make sure you’re both on the same page, to engage in a good conversation, and to never run out of interesting things to talk about!

By putting forth effort to listen and discuss things in-depth with others, not only is my brain expanded, but I also often come away with new ideas for blog posts or series as a result of these conversations!

What are your best suggestions for becoming a better listener? I’d love to hear!

10 Guaranteed Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas (#6)

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 FacebookTwitter, 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.