A lovely maker whose posts and content I love recently surveyed her Instagram audience about blogging, and more specifically about how to find things to blog about. Her question got me thinking because I used to ask myself the same question – I sometimes still do! – and after sharing my experience with her I realised that it would actually make a good blog post, so here we are!
How do you find things to talk about?
This question used to really bug me. I was reading so many blog posts that were either interesting, informative, beautiful or all three that it sometimes felt like I would never be able to write anything good in comparison. I also felt that I was joining the game too late: people had already written about such and such topics, and they’d probably done it way better than I would ever do. And then one day I read somewhere a sentence that went roughly like this (I’m paraphrasing): everything has already been done but nobody will ever do it like you would.
That sentence was a massive eye-opener. I realised that what I liked about all those amazing articles was that they reflected the author’s experience, their opinion, and that they were written in a style that was truly personal to them. I also came to realise that I liked reading articles that answer questions I ask myself and articles about things that I am curious about, like how other artists work, what their favourite art materials are, how people live in other countries, … those kinds of things.
How I find things to talk about
I can’t second guess what I think people would like to read about – well I could give it a try but there’s no guarantee that I would get it right – whereas starting with what I’m interested in and what I want to share is a lot easier! And I figured that if I’m interested in a topic surely someone else, somewhere, must be too.
To find things to talk about I ask myself ‘what would I like to read about?’ and ‘what do I have to say on the subject?’ and then I start writing.
The behind the scenes of how I write my blog posts
Keeping track of my ideas
I usually prefer paper for most things but I had to face a tough fact: too many of my ideas were getting lost or forgotten because they were jotted down in various notebooks or on loose sheets of paper.
So now I use Google doc to write down every single blog post idea I have. Sometimes it takes the form of just a sentence and sometimes it’s a whole paragraph. Sometimes it becomes a post and sometimes it doesn’t.
I also like my lists to be very clean so that I can see at a glance what’s left to do (I’m the kinda girl who has a colour code for her daily to-do list based on whether the item is personal or for work and depending on its level of urgency you see). An electronic document gives me the flexibility to delete old or ticked items so that I only see the ideas that haven’t been used yet.
How I organise my Google doc for blog posts
My Google doc – which I used to write this post – is divided into three sections:
- The rough ideas at the top: usually some sort of title or one line summarising the idea. I recently started adding dates next to the ideas because I find it interesting to see when I’m interested in what topics.
- The blog posts in progress in the middle: I sometimes have several posts in progress at the same time, this enables me to chose what topic to write about depending on the mood.
- A ‘completed posts’ bucket at the end: for some reason sometimes I like to keep a copy of my blog posts. When I do, I pop them in the ‘Published Posts’ section at the end of the document.
Another way to ‘write’ blog posts: dictating
I heard that some people use their mobiles devices to dictate their posts in Notes or in an email and then use AirDrop or email themselves for further editing. That sounds like a good idea to me because talking is sometimes more natural than writing and you might be less tempted to endlessly rephrase your sentences.
I tried it and and it sort of works, sort of doesn’t. I don’t know if it’s because of my French accent but the voice tool tends to change quite a few of the words that I say and it is sometimes almost more difficult to go through the whole text again in order to correct the mistakes than it is to write from scratch. That’s me though and I would suggest that you give it a try to see if it’s for you or not.
About writing faster
In the past few months I have also become quicker at writing my blog posts. I used to have a big complex because I am not a native English-speaker so I’m prone to making mistakes or to phrase things in a way that is not very natural in English. It took me a while (and some reading) to finally accept that this is who I am and that spending countless hours trying to write the perfect sentence is not really a good use of my time.
So what’s my technique for writing faster?
Well, first I start by writing everything I have in mind, everything that I want to say on the subject without worrying about how well it is phrased. Then I focus on the form: I edit my sentences and organise my paragraphs; by that point I don’t have to worry about the content anymore because it’s already all there. And finally, I stop editing when I consider that the post is good enough – note: not perfect, but good enough so that it communicates what I want to say. Working in this way saves me a great deal of time!
I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to share your own tips and techniques for writing blog posts and other online content as I’d love to know!