In my last blog post I talked about how understanding your niche can help you plan great content that your readers will love, and in this post I’m going to share some practical ways to keep track of your ideas, how to make your blog content stretch further and how to avoid writers block, the bane of bloggers everywhere!
My number one tool for organising creative ideas is my notebook. I believe that every blogger needs a dedicated notebook, just for ideas.
I use mine for brainstorming, good old-fashioned spider diagrams and writing down absolutely every idea that springs to mind, no matter how silly. I have a big notebook which I carry with me whenever I have a bag big enough and a smaller one that fits in my handbag, and I try to carry at least one of them everywhere I go. The advantage of carrying a notebook is that you can jot down ideas as they pop into your head, and it’s great for banishing boredom too – I’ll often pull my notebook out for a quick brainstorm session when I’m stuck waiting for something or while the kids are enjoying themselves at our local soft play centre!
It’s not always practical to carry a notebook with you though, but I never go anywhere without my phone, so I also use Evernote to make notes and keep track of my ideas. If you’ve never used it, Evernote is a great app which you can use to make notes, build basic spreadsheets and generally organise yourself, and it syncs between devices so you can add to and work on the same set of notes from your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
The key to keeping your ideas organised is to keep them in as few places as possible, so that you can always find them again. I used to have multiple notebooks and write ideas down on scraps of paper here, there and everywhere, but it was a complete nightmare, I couldn’t keep track and of course I ended up losing or forgetting half of the ideas I wrote down.
To avoid this happening, have a master file or spreadsheet to keep track of all of your ideas for future posts. It can be in Excel, Evernote, Word, Google Docs or in a physical notebook – whatever works for you, but the important thing is to keep it all in one place. If you regularly pull all your ideas together into this one master list, you’ll soon build up a bank of ideas so that you can always overcome writers block.
Make your Content Stretch Further
When I started blogging, I always tried to get multiple ideas in one post. I tried to appeal to everyone and cover all bases in each and every post and quite frankly it was exhausting!
Thankfully I’ve learnt over the years that it’s OK (and often actually much better for SEO) to split things up, one key idea per post. This gives you much more content to play with and it’s more user friendly too – your reader can find exactly what they are looking for without having to wade through all the other ideas you’re trying to share in the same post.
If you have multiple ideas or posts along a similar theme, sharing them in separate posts gives you the basis for a great round-up post too, where you can pull them all together without overwhelming your readers with all the information at once.
Planning your content in this way is a great long-term strategy. It can really help inspire content if you plan a theme or series of posts, and it can help make your blog more memorable too. Interlinking similar blog posts is great for SEO as well – if you post multiple times on the same subject and link them together, it helps Google to understand that you are an authority on the topic.
One of my favourite examples of this kind of content planning is the 365 Penguins series from Adventures and Play. Emma did a year long project with her kids based on the book 365 penguins which involved a new paper cup penguin arriving every day of the year (all 365!!) This inspired crafts and play ideas based on penguins as well as a monthly update post on the project. Whenever I think of penguins I think of that blog!
Even if you have only a few posts that would work together nicely together, don’t be afraid to create a round-up using similar posts from other bloggers too, so if you have just two or three similar ideas, write them up individually then write a separate round-up post including them among other people’s ideas. That way you’ll end up with three or four blog posts instead of just the one. Linking to your own posts and to other bloggers in this way helps everyone with SEO, and they might well return the favour in the future too!
When you’re planning your blog posts, think about whether you can split your content into more than one post. As an example, last year I tried my hand at writing a gift guide. To fit in with my niche, my original post as going to be ‘Foodie gifts for kids’, but as it started to come together I realised it was getting far too long and would be better divided up, so my one gift guide became three – ‘Food themed toys and games for kids’, ‘Cooking & baking present ideas for kids’ and a more general ‘Present ideas for foodie kids’. This was much more user friendly for my readers, gave me more content to share and the brands were happy that their individual products got more of the limelight.
Another example is a garden cupcakes recipe I shared earlier this year – the post included step by step photos of the decorations I made for them and it was getting ridiculously long, so I split it into two – the cupcake recipe in one and icing decoration tutorials in another, linking the two within each post. It was much more reader friendly and gave me two separate posts to share on social media – win win!
It’s important to note though – don’t cut posts into bits for the sake of it though, this will just annoy your readers, it has to feel natural!
Evergreen Content vs Seasonal Content
Evergreen content is content that is relevant all the year around. Good evergreen content can bring you a steady stream of blog traffic – the bread and butter of your blog traffic.
Seasonal content has a peak, it might last a month or two but once the season is over any traffic it brings can vanish away to nothing. BUT, good seasonal content can come again, year after year, and seasonal content can give you a massive traffic boost whilst it is current.
Some of my top performing posts of all time are seasonal and even when page hits are calculated over the whole year, they still hold their own against some of my most popular evergreen posts, such is the seasonal boost they can bring. As you can probably guess, I’m a big fan of seasonal content!
It’s a good idea to aim for a good mixture of both evergreen and seasonal content to help you keep a steady flow of traffic throughout the year.
When I talk about seasonal traffic, I don’t just mean the big holidays like Christmas, Easter and Halloween – if you think about it we’re always in a season of some kind so you can incorporate seasonal themes into your blog all the year around.
To provide some seasonal inspiration, I’ve created a quick list of seasonal topics to help you brainstorm new blog posts all the year around. Click here to download and print out your own list.
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This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, just a starting point for some seasonal blog content inspiration.
For the bigger seasonal events, like Halloween, Christmas and Easter, make time for a brainstorming session as the season approaches and keep a separate master-list of ideas for each specific season. At the end of the season, write a new list of everything you didn’t get around to doing, as this will give you a great starting point for next year!
Where to Go When You Need Inspiration
I’ve talked a lot about brainstorming in this post, but when sitting down with a pen in hand and determination to get some ideas down, we’ve probably all been faced with a blank piece of paper and a distinct lack of ideas at some point! So where can you go for some fresh inspiration?
My first port of call is almost always Pinterest. Start at the home feed, and if that doesn’t inspire you, pop over and have a look at the trending section. The best place to find inspiration on Pinterest though is by using the search bar. Pinterest search is a fantastic resource for helping you create blog content that people will want to read. If you type just one word in the Pinterest search bar, it will come up with a list of keyword suggestions below the search bar. These keywords are generated by searches made by real users, so you can see exactly what kind of content people are looking for in your niche! You can click on the suggested words to narrow down your search too, and this will help you find keywords to use in your blog posts too.
Other blogs can also be a great source of inspiration, especially those in other niches. It can really help spark inspiration to take a step back from your usual content.
Magazines are another great place to turn – they tend to be a month or two ahead with their seasonal content too, which can inspire you at just the right time.
Take a wander around the shops – I find that hunting down new photography props can help inspire new ideas and recipes for me. Charity shops are a great source of inspiration too, you never know what you might find there!
Have a look at new products in the shops and online – whether it be food, clothes or toys, can you perhaps make your own? Can you make a cheaper, nicer or more unique version?
Keep an eye on what is trending. Big trends like loom bands and fidget spinners can inspire endless blog content. I’ve seen articles about fidget spinners (why they’re great, why they’re terrible), games to play with your fidget spinners, science experiments with fidget spinners, homemade fidget spinners made from Lego, card, clay, even pizza (yes really!), fidget spinner cookies, fidget spinner cakes… it’s amazing what a trend can inspire and if you can jump on the bandwagon the potential is there for some fantastic blog traffic!
When to Plan and Post Blog Content
Timing is everything when it comes to blog content, especially if you’re planning seasonal content. As I mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have a brainstorming session as each season approaches, so you can be ready to catch the boat when it arrives! I find that spider diagrams are a great tool for brainstorming content – here’s a quick one one I did for Christmas last year.
For seasonal blog posts – I usually aim to start posting a month before, maybe a little earlier for Christmas. If you get in there too early your readers will be sick of the seasonal content by the time the big day arrives, so do keep your readers in mind when you start posting.
If you’re fired up with enthusiasm well in advance, there’s nothing to stop you preparing your content, drafting it up and having it ready to post when the timing is right. If you can get your content planned and ready in advance, it leaves you free to grab last minute opportunities rather than be stressed and overwhelmed in the run-up to the season. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was still receiving PR press releases the week before Christmas last year!
Don’t be afraid to post right up to the end of a season – it might feel last minute but your posts will most likely be useful next year too. If you think in the long term, last minute posts are never wasted, because you can start to promote them again at the start of the season next year – all the seasonal holidays come around every year!
Pinterest seasons are longer than any other – seasonal content starts trending up to 3 months before each holiday so you can start pinning seasonal posts on Pinterest well in advance. As each season approaches, have a look at your content from previous years – can it be updated? Maybe you need to add better images and tall pin images to old posts? You can pin all your old content in the run up to the season until you have fresh content to share from this year.
On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as on the blog, I try to share seasonal content no more than a month before so my followers don’t get fed up of it.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful, do you have any top tips for planning content?