Blogging can feel a bit overwhelming when you’re just getting started. You may wonder what to write about, how you’re going to find the time, and how you’re going to keep it up. I’ve been there myself! Early on, I went through a period of “blogger’s block” where I just didn’t have any ideas that I felt worked for the blog. I took an extended break and regrouped before returning and finding my groove.
As for how often you should update your blog, that depends on your goals. In the world according to Google, the more content the better. I usually recommend a minimum of two to three times per week. If that scares you, start with one! Hopefully, you’ll find that you actually enjoy blogging and it won’t feel like work.
Following are some tips that have helped me keep it going through the years.
1. Keep a notepad with you at all times. I find that the best blog ideas come to me in the car, while on a walk, standing in line at Starbucks, or while cleaning out a closet. I also know that I can forget an idea as quickly as it came to me, so I’ve developed the habit of writing them down immediately.
2. Develop a system. Take those ideas on scrap paper and sticky notes and keep an “idea journal” on your desk. You may not want to write about each idea immediately. Some should simmer for a bit. Keep a list so you can always find an idea to cover in a pinch, or so you can revisit ideas later on.
3. Read online daily. Reading other blogs and news sites can spark endless ideas. You might want to expand on a topic another blogger covers and link back to that blog as a point of reference. You might want to voice a contrary opinion. You may come across a new industry report or statistic that begs to be written about. To develop great content, not to mention learn something new, read daily.
4. Keep it short and sweet. Blog posts don’t need to be full-length articles. A single paragraph with a quick tip or a link to a favorite resource can do just fine. Mix it up by writing shorter and longer posts. If a post becomes really long, break it up into a series and mark them “Part 1,” Part 2,” etc.
5. Step away from your desk. These days I rarely get writer’s block, but when I’m struggling to write something and it isn’t flowing easily, then I know I need to get away from it for awhile. Take a walk, focus on another task, or grab some coffee. Don’t force it. Come back to it when you’re ready.
6. Don’t be afraid to move on. Sometimes a blog post just doesn’t flow. Instead of agonizing over it, save your work and start something else. I can’t tell you how often I start to write a post and then decide to save it and write something else. Usually, a week or even a month later I decide I’m ready to tackle it again and cross the finish line.
7. Develop lists. Readers love numbered lists, which is why you see headlines on most magazines that read “8 Ways to Save Money” or “7 Signs Your Marriage Needs a Boost.” I write a lot of lists (like this one!) and not just because they are popular with readers; I find them easier to write. But lists don’t need to consist of full paragraphs. You can also list resources, book recommendations, technology tips, favorite tweeters, and much more.
8. Flex your muscle. Writing involves a muscle in your brain that must be exercised regularly. Just like workouts at the gym, the more you do it, the easier it gets.
9. Don’t edit while you write. This is the secret that most writers live by. Instead of re-reading over sentences you just wrote and critiquing every line, write first and edit later. Let the ideas flow.
10. Post excerpts from your books and products. If you’ve authored a book or written a special report or ebook, share occasional excerpts on your blog. As a bonus, these can spark product sales.
11. Invite guest bloggers. Ask your peers, clients, and website visitors to contribute articles for your blog. Create some basic guidelines and periodically remind them about the opportunity.
12. Peruse your bookshelf. Some writers find casual reading loosens things up (like fiber for the mind!). Read a chapter in an unrelated book or flip through a magazine. Once you’ve cleared the cobwebs, try again.
13. Write in Word first. Sometimes when I start writing a post directly in my WordPress control panel, I freeze. I feel pressured by some non-existent time limit. Writing first in Microsoft Word releases some of that pressure, not to mention the help of the good old spell-check feature.
14. Silence your inner perfectionist. I’m a perfectionist at heart and can be my own worst enemy. I’ve learned to let it go when it comes to blogging. I find the occasional misspelling or typo in my work. Oh well, life goes on.
15. Mix it up. Your blog doesn’t have to consist solely of articles and stories. Mix it up by adding videos, podcasts, interviews, photos, or even a funny cartoon (provided you get permission if it’s someone else’s work).
16. Write ahead. When the mood strikes or you can plan some extra time in your schedule, write as many blog posts as you can at once. Then you can schedule them to publish at different intervals during the coming week.
17. Find your groove. I used to be a night owl before I was a mom, but these days I find my most productive hours are early in the morning. Most days, I try to write a blog post or two before I even open email. I also find that the world does not come to an end as a result of checking email later in the day.
18. Designate brainstorming time. Once in awhile, usually when I’m traveling or sitting in a coffee shop, I challenge myself to brainstorm blog topics and let them fly. On a good day, I can wrangle 20 or 30 ideas on a page in just 15 minutes. Some topics ultimately end up getting combined, some thrown out, and some become some of my best content.
19. Write when it hits you. Sometimes you may just get inspired to write something in the middle of the day. This happens to me all the time and often results in some of my best work. If the mood strikes and you can make the time, go with it!
20. Make it a habit. You’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. What if you challenged yourself to blog every day for three weeks? Do you think the sky would fall? Do you think you’d end up in the fetal position? Or do you think it might get easier and maybe even feel like an accomplishment? I bet you’ll be surprised by the results.
21. Never forget your target audience. Your content should be all about appealing to the people you most want to reach. What is interesting to you may not be interesting to your audience, so be very clear about their interests and needs.
22. Have fun with it. With any luck you will find that blogging can be a fun creative outlet. I see a lot of resistance from people when I tell them to blog, often because it sounds like a lot of work, requires time, and puts you in the spotlight. But if you can overcome these mental hurdles, develop your content with authenticity, and serve your audience, you might actually find that it becomes something you enjoy. Updating my blog has become one of my favorite things I do each week.
If you find that you simply hate it, then by all means hire someone to help make it happen.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit covering websites, blogging and social media for authors. Check it out!