This is the latest installment of Dear WordCount, an advice column that answers your questions about writing, blogging and running a freelance business.
Do you have suggestions on what to blog about other than about my daily happenings? I mean, where is a good place to start and how did you know what your blog would be about and what you’d write about? I have many ideas but I don’t know if I have enough knowledge/content to make anything of it.
Good question, and the fact that you’re asking it means your blog is growing up.
Many people start blogs as personal journals, chronicling their daily activities for family or friends. Then something happens. They run out of things to say about themselves or hit on a new passion – gardening, knitting, high school basketball or crazy cat antics – and decide they want to give some direction to what they’re doing in order to take it to the next level.
Sounds like you’re at that place.
To determine what your next step is, you need to do some soul searching. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Why are you blogging in the first place? Is it to gain a technical skill, build a platform, practice writing?
- What kinds of things are you interested in?
- Is there a topic you want to learn more about?
- Are you part of an organization, group or other cause that you want to write about?
- Are you into books, green living, home canning, recycling, sustainable living, biking, travel or some other hobby?
The answers to those questions will give you information you can use to consider a direction for your blog.
Next do a little digging. Are there other blogs out there covering any of topics you’re interested in blogging about? If there are it’s not necessarily a bad thing – in fact, blogs on similar topics are a good thing because it means people are interested in reading about the subject. It also means there’s an existing blogging community that you could be part of.
Research also can help you hone your idea down to the point where you have an idea for a topic, or two or three, to blog about. Choose the one that gets you the most excited – you’ve got to love it because if you’re serious about blogging, you’ll be spending a lot of time with it and don’t want to get burned out.
Once you’ve hit on what you want to blog about, you’re ready for the next step: researching ideas for blog posts. For freelance writers and journalists, this is second nature. But if you’re not a writer, it could take some getting used to. Research could mean a lot of things. Depending on the blog subject you’ve chosen, your research could be to:
- Make something – a recipe, craft or planting a garden.
- Go somewhere – a store, park, bike trail, city hall, library, etc. – to investigate something, take pictures or attend a meeting.
- Talk to someone – in other words, doing an interview
- Find something online – read what’s been written on a topic so you can summarize it in a post
- Read something – a newspaper, book, magazine, etc.
- Watch something – a play, concert or movie, to do a review
I started this blog with exact one post. If I were starting a new blog, I’d have at least a half dozen posts under my belt before publishing any – if not more – and twice that number of ideas waiting in the wings.
It’s a great sign that you’re ready to take your blog to the next level. Getting it there will require extra effort on your part. But it’s worth it. Blogging for yourself can be fulfilling, just like keeping a diary can be. But if your goal is to turn a blog into more than a diary, you’ve got to look beyond yourself. The more universal you can make what you write about, the more interesting it will be and the more readers you’ll attract.
More resources to help you decide on a topic for a blog: