Tuesday, 2 October 2012

But what do I blog about...?

But what to write about?
I've talked to a fair few people in the last few months about the benefits of blogging and how useful it can be as a tool for reflection, engagement and dissemination, but the question I get asked most of all is...

'But what do I blog about?'

Blogging regularly is important if you want to build an audience and make some connections and it's really not that tricky to blog frequently.  However, there are a few tricks you can use to get yourself blogging when you don't feel like you've anything coming easily to mind.

1. Do a top five list on a topic you know about
People really like tips and ideas - and a 'five things' post is a great way to get started.  It can be 'five things you didn't know', 'five top tips', 'five myths about...' but the fact that you've given yourself a structure to write to and an end in sight (with just five (or whatever number you want) points to come up with!), this can really kick start your next blog post.

2.  Think of a series of blog posts to write
For example, Pete Mella has been doing an 'A-Z of Free Online Stuff' on our Learning Technologies blog and I do a weekly round up of learning technology articles and resources.  If you can think of a series of posts to write then you can write a batch at once or know approximately what it is that you're going to write about and that'll get you started too!

3. Write a report on something you've attended
... and make sure it's something you've attended recently!  That way, it'll be fresh in your mind, it's straightforward to structure because you introduce the event, summarise the event and then round off with a few take-away points from the event... and if you let the event organiser know that you've written about it, you'll often end up with them publicising your blog post as well (which is good!)

4. Share resources you know about
Think of a theme - for example, learning design / screencasting / online assessments / accessibility - and then gather together some resources you use to support you with that particular theme or approach.  You don't have to say that it's something you recommend or that you will support, but signposting things that people might find helpful is another way of getting something written up quickly, but which will also be useful to others.

5.  Take a first look at something
Case studies are a great way of getting ideas out there - but people also value your thoughts as you're trying out a new idea... so, why not share your reviews too?  We've done a few 'first look at' posts and it's a good way to write up your initial impression of something and the potential for others to comment on your post goes up because they may well try or have tried what you're looking at too.

6.  Put together a 'how to'
How many times have you had the experience where someone's explained something to you and you've gone 'thanks, I didn't know that!'... well, why not write up a few of those blog posts too?  A nice simple how to post is easy to write (because you're writing about what you know) but can be helpful to others and will be appreciated by your readers

Interview someone!
7.  Interview someone
An interview is less trouble than you might think to put together.  I bet you know lots of interesting people who other people would find interesting as well.  Make sure the subject is relevant to the them of your blog, nab them for a quick chat (top tip: use a Google+ thread, email or something which allows threaded discussion because your interview will already be written up for you!) and that's another post done.

8.  Ask others to write a blog post for you
It's not all about you, y'know!  Okay, that's slightly facetious... but getting other people to write you a blog post now and again will give you a break from writing but will also mean that other perspectives get shared - and it might just inspire you to write a response to their blog post too.  If I hear that someone has done something interesting, then I'll just ask them to write it up for the blog - and most times they do!

9.  Summarise earlier blog posts
This is a bit lazy - but if you find over time that you've written a fair few blog posts about a particular theme, then every now and again a blog post which just summarises those earlier posts (still with me?) can be a great way of getting something out there, plus it puts the spotlight on articles people might have missed.  Make sure you group them on particular themes so as to be purposeful rather than just a bag full of old blog posts!

10.  Answer a question
Like this blog post, for example!  Or questions that might have come up in comments on earlier blog posts.  Chances are that if someone's asked you the question, there will be a whole load of people who also wanted to know the answer too and taking a single question and writing up your thoughts / answer to it is an easy way to get something out there.

Well... look at that!  I did a 'top 10' blog post plus answered a question... and out popped another blog post along the way!  If in doubt, combine the above ten ideas and I bet you another blog post will quickly emerge.

What are your top tips for kick starting your writing?

Sarah

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