All great blogposts start with a great idea
When you have a great idea for a blogpost – it almost writes itself. You can sit down (with a Shakespearean-esque flourish) and opinions, examples and anecdotes will just come to you, as if from nowhere.
What do I mean by ‘a great idea’?
- Something you’re passionate about – otherwise you’ll run out of steam in the second sentence
- Something quite specific. Too broad and your readers will have too much too take in.
- It gets across your expertise – however subtly or bombastically
- Is relevant for your audience’s interests
- Either gives practical steps for people to follow or explores an idea in a thought-provoking way
I wouldn’t suggest using this list to generate ideas. It’d be like someone with very little respect for personal space demanding to know what you’re passionate about. Not conducive to creative thinking.
Rather, once you’ve got a couple of ideas, just run them past the above list to make sure they’re great.
Where do great ideas hide?
Not in your head.
Sorry, I don’t mean ‘Well, obviously not in YOUR head’. I mean looking in your head for a great idea is like trying to remember a word that’s right on the tip of your tongue. The more you think about it, the more elusive it is. But a day or two later, you’ll be wondering whether to keep ignoring the ‘check engine’ light in your car and it’ll pop into your head.
Instead, ready your mind for great ideas. Create the right environment for great ideas to happen.
How to prepare your mind for great ideas
Watch a TED Talk. Any TED Talk. Hell, watch 30.
TED Talks are short talks (usually between 3 minutes and 20 minutes) by scientists, business leaders, artists, sociologists, activists – anyone in fact with ‘an idea worth sharing’. TED talks are designed to be inspirational, but I find them inspirational in a different way. I always think ‘if I had to do a TED talk, what would it be about?’, ‘would it be funny or serious?’, ‘which speaker would I emulate?’ and, of course, ‘what would I wear?’
Try it yourself.
Use your emotions
It’s hard to answer the question ‘what are you passionate about?’ without giving overly general answers like ‘helping people become better leaders’. It is not, however, hard to have emotions.
Whenever you get angry, frustrated, joyful or excited – whether at work or at home – make a note of why. Either the reason for your emotion will be a great blog idea (someone talking too much in a meeting or someone thanking you for your help) or it’ll create a great metaphor.
If you haven’t had any strong emotions for a while, spend an hour in IKEA.
Read other blogs in your field
Reading other blogs similar to yours will help you understand what else your audience is being exposed to. Make sure you’re giving your readers something new. You might find something you strongly disagree with too, great, write an impassioned blog about it!
It’s all well and good for me to say ‘read three blog posts a day’ but in reality you probably don’t have time. So sign-up for a newsletter from your favourite blog, news site – or even client/customer – and you won’t have to go out searching for the best articles.
Train your brain
Train yourself to constantly ask ‘is there a blog in that?’ – in meetings, reading to your child at bedtime, buying a coffee. This is similar to using your emotions, but isn’t quite as exhausting.
When you’re planning your month, look at your calendar and identify things that could generate great blog ideas. Conferences, business dinners, going to the doctor… you can find ideas anywhere.
Here are some examples:
- Reading to your child, there’s a sad frog. He’s sad because he doesn’t think the other frogs like him. It turns out, when he’s not around, all they do is say how great he is.
Blog idea! Great leaders recognise their employees and encourage peers to do the same.
- Reading the news online at lunchtime, there’s a political election.
Blog idea! What would happen if the employees and shareholders of a company got to vote on who sat in the C-suite?
- Walking around IKEA, I was reminded how much I hate fake plants. Real plants are wonderful. Plastic is not, it’s depressing.
Blog idea! People know when you’re being fake – and it’s depressing, demotivating and disrespectful. To be a trusted leader it is so important to be genuine.