Yesterday I wrote a post on keeping the momentum going on your blog by building on previous posts.
Today I want to extend that post (you knew I would) with a practical exercise that any blogger with a blog can do. It’s something that can take as little as 10 minutes (or that you could do more comprehensively) and something that I do on those days when I’m struggling to come up with something to write about (we all have them).
It’s an exercise in mind mapping – here’s what you do:
Get a whiteboard, piece of paper, note book, tablet pc or something else to write on (there are also various mind mapping tools and software options out there – but I find a pen and paper can work just fine) and draw five circles across the middle of the page. In each circle write the titles of the last five posts on your blog (if you want to do this more comprehensively go back further and do it with more posts).
Now take each post in turn and spend a few minutes brainstorming on ways that the post could be extended. For each idea draw a line out from the circle, draw a square (or use a different color) and write the idea inside of it.
Remember last post where I suggested how you could extend a post in numerous ways including by answering a question that a reader asked about it in comments, taking an opposite view point, writing an opinion piece, doing a followup ‘how to’ etc.
The key at this point is to let yourself be as creative and outside the box as you want. Any idea is allowed at this point.
Let me take a recent post of mine (why you should use AdSense on Your Blog) and show you how it might work:
At this point I’ve got 7 potential new posts to write that extend upon my original one – coming up with them took me 2-3 minutes – if I were doing this seriously I’d give it more time and come up with 20 or so posts.
These ideas are logical next steps for readers wanting to explore this topic – some of them based upon actual questions by readers. Do this with the other four posts you’ve written and you’ll have plenty of ideas for new posts to cover in the coming week or two.
You might want to stop this exercise at this point if you feel you’ve got enough topics to keep you going – however while you’re in a brainstorming frame of mind – why not take it a step further and think about how you might extend the topics you’ve come up with. The beauty of thinking forward even further is that you could quickly come up with a further 10 or so posts and be able to map out the next few weeks of blogging.
Lets do it now with the post above – just for fun (click to enlarge).
You can see that I found some posts easier to extend than others. This is OK as not every post is in need of a follow up one – while others will have multiple next steps (some will even have a longer series of posts that you could run).
You can take this exercise as far as you’d like into the future (you get the idea I’m sure so I won’t keep going).
You can see that I’ve come up with 15 ideas above (not bad for 5 minutes of brainstorming) – some of them for multiple posts (series and ongoing weekly columns). Do it with more than one post and you will find that you’ll often come up with more posts than you can actually use on your blog.
The key when you do it is to let your creativity run wild (because it can take you in some wonderful directions) but then to be ruthless in culling ideas that don’t actually add anything to your blog. Remember – everything that you post on your blog either adds to or takes away from your blog’s perceived value – so not everything that you come up with should make it through to the front page of your blog.