These days, if you’re an author then that also means you’re an entrepreneur. Your days may be spent pitching to magazines, revising articles for publication, researching, and maintaining an online presence through blog posts, YouTube videos and social media. You may even have a podcast! In terms of social media, the pressure to produce daily content is immense. Of course, you don’t HAVE to spend hours producing this content, no one is expecting you to solve all of the world’s problems in 280 characters. You can post photographs of you and your dog walking in the park or an image of your workstation followed by the hashtag #amwriting.
In terms of articles, videos, and blog posts, again the content doesn’t have to be revolutionary, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be hollow. If you notice that your content has started to become repetitive or if you’re starting to see it as a chore, then your readers are going to start dropping off. The pressure to consistently produce content can be a little overwhelming and there will be days when you struggle to produce. On those cold days, I hope you will find some inspiration, or at least direction, in the following suggestions.
As always, you can find the video version of this week’s blog here.
Read Other Blogs
This may seem obvious, but we don’t always do what is obvious, do we? If you’re struggling to come up with an idea for a blog, have a look at some of the recent (or not so recent) topics covered by the blogs you follow. By taking a little time to peruse other blogs, you will like come up with a broader range of ideas then if you’d tried to generate content from an uninspired mindset. Alternatively, you can simply take the title or topic of a post that you find interesting and write your own version. For example, you may come across an article about how to pitch to online magazines. You may have never covered that topic before, but you know quite a bit about it, maybe you could write an advice piece covering the dos and don’ts of pitching. Alternatively, you may come across a fresh or innovative article that inspires you to write a response piece. For instance, you might read Mark Mason’s blog about shit sandwiches* and realise that you have your own “Coming to Jesus” moment about life, responsibilities, happiness and the various pros and cons that come along with adulting.
Muse about something that has been bothering you
This is the avenue I personally tend to wander down. Writers tend to be ponderers. We like to reflect not only on our own opinions of world affairs, politics, social, environmental and cultural happenings but also about our own lives, behaviours, beliefs and the human condition. It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario. Do people with a critical and reflective mind naturally gravitate towards writing as a way to express (and rationalise the copious amount of reading and research) the ideas, connections, and ponderings that keep them awake at night? Or does one develop the necessary skills of observation and deep thinking after they have awoken one morning and announced, “I’m going to be a writer! How do I do that?” The muse, snickering from her position on a chaise lounge in the corner, answers, “In my ethereal opinion, I recommend that you pay close attention to everyone and everything. Take the time to notice the nuances and details of life. Then spend a disturbing amount of time thinking about all that you have seen and ask yourself, ‘what does this really mean?’”
Hmmm wow. Sorry. Went off on a bit of a tangent there, didn’t I?
Anyway, I think you get the point. If you’re a writer, chances are you have a lot of opinions, observations, interests or reflections, waiting to be shared. Of course, if you’ve established a particular brand online, say a writing blog….then that platform may not be the best place to publish your political, environmental, mindful, cake-loving pieces…Fortunately, there are many other places where you can publish that content.
Start a Blog Series
This is another one I personally use. I started The Standard Writers Interrogation List a few years ago after noticing that writers are always asked the same types of questions. These questions range from the basic “are you a panster or a plotter?” to the meaningful “why do you write?” Series are great for a couple of reasons. If you’ve been blogging for a while, then you will have noticed that all your website traffic goes to the most recent posts. By starting a series, you can include the links to earlier posts within that series and redirect your readers to other content on your site. Incidentally, if you’d like to check out the posts in The Standard Writers Interrogation List series, I’ve included all the links at the bottom of this blog. See what I did there. 😉
If you are going to start a series, I recommend picking something that has a broad scope. For example, “How to” post and listicles are great as they provide a set structure while also giving plenty of wiggle room in terms of content. Of course, you can be more specific by focussing on umbrella topics like editing, publishing or craft. Though topics like book titles and copyright are interesting, the scope is too narrow for a series. These types of topics work better as one-off posts.
Interviews are a great way to quickly broaden the content of your blog without jeopardising your brand or online voice. Of course, you want to interview someone who is in alignment with your brand. If you have a writing blog, for example, you may consider interviewing authors or professionals from the publishing industry. Ideally, an interview should be both educational and inspirational.
When interviewing someone, there are a few things you should be aiming for. Firstly, you need to establish why the interviewee is an authority on that topic. You can do this by asking questions about their current role, their experience in the industry/education, or by asking for their backstory. Secondly, you need to ask open-ended questions. That is questions that do not have a yes or no response. The aim here is to get your interviewee talking. Think of your questions as prompts. It’s not THAT important that your specific question gets answered, but what is important is that you get the interviewee talking about their experiences while also sharing their insider knowledge.
If you don’t have any experience with interviewing, then the simplest way to become familiar with the art form is to listen to podcasts! I highly recommend The Creative Penn (writing, publishing, book marketing) and The Rich Roll Podcast (entrepreneur, health, fitness, non-fiction writing, inspiration).
In terms of finding someone to interview, I recommend starting with your existing network. Do you have any writer friends that would be interested/open to being interviewed? Have you met any industry professionals through either mentorships or conferences with whom you have a rapport? Look towards the connections and relationships that you already have before you start flicking out cold emails to strangers which FYI I don’t recommend unless you have a VERY established online presence, in which case….Hi, how you doing? Welcome to my blog!
There you have it guys, those are my four strategies for producing online content regularly.
If you enjoyed this blog or if you have any tips of your own you’d like to add, please leave a comment below! If you’re into social media, you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where I post daily pictures walking the dog, eating cake and musing about the craft.
*The idea that everything comes with a shit sandwich and you got to decide which ones you can put up with and which ones you can’t.
The Standard Writers Interrogation List