Writers’ Block: Three techniques to generate ideas

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Introduction

Reading comments, tweets, from Twitter;  or free article directories can easily spur ideas for excellent posts.

Comments and discussions on other blogs.

Read posts on blogs that are in, or close to your niche.

Read the comments.

Look at blogs in your niche or subjects that are  close to your niche.

You will often find that the comments expand the topic or come up with unusual angles on the niche. You will find yourself agreeing with them and you can soon develop these into the outline of a post.

Other comments will make you mad, angry or you feel contempt for the writing.  OK use these emotions to write a better post, a post that make sense or a post that explains the issue properly.

You can also combine ideas from two or three posts and make three or four points and  - you’ve got a good post.

Twitter

Use a package, such as Tweetdeck, to monitor a set of keywords that are important to your blog.

Scan the tweets and you may get inspiration for a great post.

Alternatively follow the links to blogs – read a few posts, combine ideas from two or three  and you then come up with an outline, with a twist, that will lead to you approaching the subject with yet a different angle.

Free article directories

Do a search on your topics relating to your blog.

Scan through the shorter, often badly written articles, often crude, marketing message. Combine the ideas from two or three articles and you have a great structure for a great new post.

Over to you

What other techniques do you use to beat the problem of writer’s block.

Blog Writing: Don’t Narrow Your Options

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There are five types of new blogger:

  • those who know what they want to write
  • those that are writing to promote their business
  • those that are writing to promote a cause or raise an issue.
  • those that want to write a blog, but don’t know what to write
  • and people like me  who like to write, but are unfocused.

This article is the first in a series of five relating to the different types of new blogger.  It warns that even a blogging newcomer, who knows what they want to write, should consider whether the subject area, niche, is too narrow. A second consideration is for those wanting to make money with a blog is to check if the niche actually has online products that their visitors are likely to purchase.

Those who know what they want to write

This is great.  You can just set up a blog and start writing.  Take just a short time to clarify your thoughts before you really commit yourself.  A friend of mine John started writing car reviews.  He would go into a car showroom and get a test drive and then write a review.  He then did some work for a car dealer and got a few more reviews.

He enjoyed writing the articles for a time, but after about twelve he started getting a little bit frustrated.  It was getting more and more difficult to find cars to review and he was building up a realisation that his reviews were not going to be as comprehensive, or as flashy, as online reviews done by some of the motoring magazine websites.

We had a nice afternoon chatting about his problem at the lovely,Thames, riverside bar and restaurant, Hart’s Boatyard.  He wants to be a writer and blogger.  He’d done a couple of work experience, short internships at a couple of car magazines and was also doing a half day’s  experience in the PR department of the council. He was keen, but he realised that he did not want to work as a full time car journalist.  He’d like to take a car out for a test drive now and then, but not full time.

Through the talk I was aware that he really liked gadgets, such as satnavs, music systems and the whole host of other gadgets that relate to cars.  As we talked he realised that becoming a car consumer writer, (that is writer about gadgets), he is opening up a far wider market for his writing.  I also pointed out that people are far more likely that people are far more likely to buy a £50 gadget from a blog post than they are a car.

So he’s gone from looking at a very narrow niche, cars, to a far wider niche, car gadgets, but which can include the occiasional review of a car.  In fact the niche is even wider.  He can write about car insurance and finance, both likely to give a good affiliate commission.  He can write about high value products, such as holidays, providing he has a motoring link – mad Italian drivers, advice on car hire or just describing a town with a number of pleasant half day drives. Even products, such as cameras, can be used in context, providing he includes the benefit of taking your camera on a motor trip.

 

Important lesson. Initially his idea was just to write about cars.  This was a very narrow niche, which required a lot of work to write each post, was in a niche where there were quite a few, extremely well funded competitors.  Philip’s natural writing style would not have let him move into the down-market ‘lads’ end of the market.  By redefining himself as a consumer motoring journalist he opens up a far wider market for his writing, with far less competition.  This market includes many high value products that would like to use his blog as an affiliate.

This is also shows how you need to be quite careful how you name you blog.  If the blog had been something on Writing About Cars instead of Writing about  Motoring he would have had a lot more difficulty in shifting the focus of the blog.

So

Don’t pick a niche that is too narrow

and

If you want to make money –pick a niche that

has products or services that are sold online

Over to You

So what niche are you targeting?  Can you see how to expand your area of writing if you want a break from the main subject area?

Have you any other advice for new bloggers?  or even advice for old bloggers like me?

Content Writing: Your Audience- the Internet Today

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Introduction

In 2010 it was estimated, by Netcraft, that there were 255 million websites in the world, each with its own domain name. This is quite a lot of text, images, videos and animations running around the wired world. Bear in mind though that each one of these sites is in its own way competing with the rest for users to read it content.

It is also reckoned that there are around 6.8 billion users of the net, which is just under a third of the world’s population. In North America and Europe the percentage of users is high, however, the rise of countries, such as China and India, mean that this number will increase dramatically. Both these countries have a high percentage of English speakers.

These sites range from the small, with one or a few pages web sites; to the very large content sites, such as the BBC; large commercial sites, such as the Microsoft websites, with tens of thousands of support pages; or WordPress.com, which hosts over 340,000 individual blogs, with several million pages of blog posts.

The Audience’s Choice

As the figures show there is a lot of competing websites chasing a massive audience. Nobody knows how many web pages there are but there are estimates of between 27 billion and a trillion, (a thousand billion). It we ignore potential computer generated pages, that is pages that could be generated, but may never be seen by humans, then the estimate of the writer, Stooge, on Hubpages of around 48 billion is probably a reasonable estimate.

What this shows is that there are a lot of web pages competing for the attention of the person browsing. This web user has a multitude of choices and pathways to follow. He or she may use a search engine to find a range of sites or they may follow a website they trust, such as a blog or news site, to find interesting links.

Your Job

With billions of actual users, with an almost infinite range of interests, the main job of you, the writer, is to make the sites you are working on are attractive to relevant users, who are interested in the topics you are writing about.

Your job is to understand your targeted readers and understand what is their expectations of your site. Understand your audience, work hard at satisfying their requirements and you will become a good, professional writer.

Links

Blog Basics: What is a Blog?

Image: Flickr: @aemde

Over to You

What sort of interests do you have on the net?

What sort of things do you want to write about?