Close
Close

Monthly Trends + How to Instantly Triple Your Post Ideas

For many bloggers, coming up with ideas for great posts is one of the biggest challenges. The good news is that if you have an idea for one post that will appeal to your readership, odds are, you have at least one more. How so? By covering a story from a different angle.

Every time you write a post, you determine the angle you’ll take—even if you’re not consciously doing so. Just as taking a photograph from a different angle can yield very different results (imagine a photo taken from the base of a large tree, a photo taken from the top of the same tree, and a close-up shot of an individual leaf), covering a story from a different angle can give your readers a brand-new experience, even if you’ve covered a topic before.

As always, Regator has calculated the ten most-blogged-about stories of the last month, and we’ll be using posts about those popular stories to demonstrate the power of choosing the right angle. (The blogosphere trends for the month of January 2011, in order, were: Egypt, State of the Union, Golden Globes, Verizon iPhone, Gabrielle Giffords, Super Bowl, Martin Luther King Jr, Sundance Film Festival, Flooding, and Consumer Electronics Show.) Here are some tips on finding the right angle for your next post, along with examples showing how a few bloggers used unexpected angles to put a new spin on these oft-covered topics… and, more importantly, how you can use similar ways of thinking to turn a trickle of post ideas into a flood.

1. Narrow down a broad story by choosing one element

The top story for the month is, of course, Egypt. While it is valuable for us to hear the general details, it’s not valuable for every blogger to provide the same information. To find an angle that would provide unique content to its readers, Threat Level first narrowed the story down to one aspect: the shutting down of Egypt’s Internet access. Still, plenty of bloggers were writing about that, so they went even further by focusing on just one aspect of the shutdown: how it was actually achieved by those in power.

Because of this very specific angle, the resulting post, Egypt Shut Down Its Series of Tubes With a Series of Phone Calls, is interesting and stands out amidst the crowd. A story doesn’t need to be as massive as the Egyptian revolution for this tactic to work. Try taking the subject of your next post and narrowing it down. Then, if you can, take that and narrow it down again.

2. Find the right angle for your niche

A story like President Obama’s State of the Union address may seem like a political story—and it is—but it’s not limited political bloggers. Smart Politics is a political blog but the angle it chose to cover this story would work just as well for a linguistics or psychology blog. The post, Obama’s SOTU: Uniting the Country…through Pronouns?, is a fascinating examination of the President’s use of pronouns as a unifying device.

The next time you think, “That’s a really interesting story but it doesn’t fit into my blog,” ask yourself if there’s any element to the story or angle you could take that might make it a great fit for readers in your niche. You might be surprised.

3. Look for trends

Analyzing a story for patterns or trends is another way to find an angle. There was no doubt that celebrity fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself, was going to cover the Golden Globes from a fashion perspective, but by finding a red-carpet trend, its post, Golden Globes Trend Carpet: Best/Worst Green, not only gave readers the gossip on the awards ceremony but also advised its fashion-conscious readership of an upcoming trend.

See if you can find a legitimate pattern or trend in a story you’re covering. Identifying trends before the rest of the blogosphere will help your blog become the place to go for those who want to be in-the-know.

4. Try a personal or emotional angle

It’s no accident that every news organization features “human interest” along with its hard news. Stories involving emotions and struggles of everyday people are almost universally appealing. When writing about the launch of the Verizon iPhone, The Next Web’s Verizon Throws Best Customers Under the Bus: Charges Them 3X for iPhone post focuses on the anger of a long-time Verizon customer. Try finding an emotional or personal angle in a post you’re working on.

5. Focus on an interesting but seldom-covered aspect of the story

Every story is made up of thousands of details. Slate: Press Box’s Jared Loughner is ready for his photo op post analyzed a rarely talked about aspect of the man accused of shooting Representative Gabrielle Giffords and several others: his mugshot and, more specifically, his baldness and the cultural implications of a shaved head. The uniqueness of this angle made the post a captivating read.

Make a list of at least ten different aspects of a story that you’re covering, then try to choose an unusual angle to create a distinct post that your readers won’t find elsewhere.

6. Turn one story into three (or more) posts

There are countless ways to tell every story. The Business Insider’s How To Bet On The Super Bowl – A Click-By-Click Guide chose to focus on betting. Other blogs talked about uniform choice, psychological preparation of the players, Super Bowl party snacks, and many, many other facets of the game.

If a story is relevant to your readership, you need not limit yourself to just one post about it. If you can find several angles that each provide something unique and interesting, you can get several quality posts out of just one story.

7. Take an unexpected approach

In general, the more unexpected your angle, the more likely it is to be shared. I saw i09’s Martin Luther King In Science Fiction passed around Facebook and Twitter more than any other individual post about Martin Luther King Jr Day. Now that may be because I’m friends with too many nerds, but I think it’s actually because the angle was so unexpected. I’m not a big science fiction fan, but even I clicked on the link to see what the connection between King and sci fi was.

I think it’s important to surprise your readers now and then to keep them engaged. The unexpected makes an impression.

8. Research the historical angle or backstory of an event

The Daily Beast looked back at the Sundance Film Festival and found that many of this year’s Oscar nominees had started at the festival. The combination of finding a trend and researching historical data yielded the post Filmmakers Who Started At Sundance.

There are myriad stories hiding in history. A bit of research might reveal an angle you never considered.

9. Remember that there are always more stories than you think

When parts of Queensland, Australia, were affected by severe flooding, Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog combined several of the techniques we’ve talked about above in the post University of Queensland’s Equine Hospital Keeps Its Head Up Above the Flood. This intriguing post took a broad story and found a way to apply it to the blog’s niche; it struck emotional chord with details of horses who’d worn their hooves down by swimming up to 30 hours to stay alive; it narrowed the story down first to horses affected by the flood, then to horses being cared for by a single veterinary hospital; and it took an unexpected and seldom-taken approach to flood coverage.

10. Write a story from someone else’s perspective

This is one of the easiest ways to find an alternative angle, but it’s also one of the most effective. While most blogs were covering the Consumer Electronics Show from the perspective of attendees or companies presenting new products, Gadget Lab chose to post It Takes a Mountain of Shipping Crates to Make a Trade Show from the perspective of the organizers, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the massive conference.

Consider covering a story from another party’s perspective to provide a whole new story.

Do you consider different angles when writing posts? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator, as well as an award-winning print journalist. Find her on Twitter @kimber_regator and visit Regator’s widget site to get free widgets for your blog.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. John Sherry says:

    Smart ideas Kimberly for taking a fresh approach to blogging. In a packed blogosphere creating creative content is the way to build a brand but also to offer something new as most subjects have been covered again and again. I think it’s wise to sometimes see the world with new eyes and help readers do the same too. Like this one!

  2. As I constantly tell my people, there are two parts to every post – the topic and the format you choose to write about it with. I think you’re being a little modest by saying it can triple your ideas, as with a little creative thinking it’s not so hard to come up with hundreds of potential ideas. Writing them all up is another matter entirely, though, but it is quite nice to have that selection at your fingertips.

  3. Adam says:

    Great ideas that I am definitely try to implement. I am always looking for new ways to come up with new post ideas…Thanks!

  4. Jia Jun says:

    Nice list Kimberly :D
    Like it especially to talk about the current trend, what people are concern about at that moment, and lots more.
    Like a spider web that expand more and more, ideas comes within~ :D

  5. Thanks Darren. These are useful tips they always work.

  6. Finding things to write about for current events are easy…just check out the front page of Yahoo and search the trends..all the top stories are listed there.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  7. Thanks Kimberly for these tips. In this age and time, coming up with creative posts is the way to go so that ours audience can enjoy us. So many things to take away here. Enjoy your day.
    Tim.

  8. Simon Turner says:

    Kimberly this was something I had never thought of. My blog tends to go through thinigs consecutively so once a post is up that’s it – never to be returned to (in many ways). I was struggling for ideas for 4 posts at the end of Feb (I have every day covered up till then) but am now thinking that these 4 days would be a useful way to try out this idea. Thanks.

  9. Mike Lopez says:

    I guess a blogger will always come across the dilemma of coming up with a new idea. Great tips and certainly helpful! – Mike

  10. Dale Adams says:

    As my blog sits in a state of filing 404 limbo because I wasn’t able to do what I wanted with it. Instead of being everything to everyone sometimes you have to be able to focus on your subject with a laser and find your niche/angle. Thanks Kimberly for inspiring me to bring back my blog and share my thoughts with an audience again.

  11. ObGyn Gal says:

    I haven’t had too many problems yet but this just makes it easier for me to come up with more posts. That being said I haven’t been blogging for awhile.

    Thanks Kimberly

  12. A blogger friend of mine recently wrote an excellent post that takes #2 in a slightly different direction. He took the event of the State of the Union address and applied it directly to his audience, writers, by asking what the state of their business is. It had nothing to do with politics at all. His point was to remind them to take the time to assess what’s working/what’s not and make a plan for the upcoming months, just as the President did.

    This angle strategy is in taking a best practice from one entity/business and applying it to another. Clearly, his idea would have been useful at almost any blog that talks to business owners, in addition to those serving homemakers, teachers/classrooms or churches.

    One way to find more ideas like this would be to ask yourself what do I/does someone else I know do right in their business or life and how could my audience use that too?

  13. A. Tatum says:

    Sometimes I run into this only because I don’t like doing the same thing everyone else is doing. I try to stay unique and original as possible, but also adding things that can be helpful as well.

  14. Rohit@ SG says:

    Exactly, I was thinking of the same. One post leads to another idea and if the idea is based on the topic, the previous post works as an post with additional information.

  15. Eric Lortie says:

    I tend to throw out a slew of minor posts about things that interest me, while maintaining and overall trend with regards to something current and major that interests me.

    For example, I just did a three part series about something that was very important to me, but in between major posts I was creating smaller posts to discuss other subjects as they crossed my mind. These minor stories are usually based around articles I see on other blogs and have an opinion on, or from some of the myriad minor entertaining links that get throw my way every day.

    I’ve always felt the key is being interested in what you’re writing about, and tempering that with ideas and concepts that you feel your reader base would be interested in.

  16. Great advice. I’d like to add one… even though it should be obvious.

    Always keep a list of blog ideas/topics/possible titles. Even if most of them are not useful, they can spark ideas for other topics that would be awesome! I like to keep a pad with me all day, and every night before bed, I add the new ideas/etc. to the list in a GoogleDoc.

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. When I have no ideas I simply go and find some by visiting other bloggers, or doing searches on blogsearch, news.google or even comluv.com. Even a random stumble from stumbleupon can take me to a site that I never even thought of and find interesting enough to write about.

  18. Suzanne Vara says:

    Kimberly

    Great ideas and references to how to see the different angle. I tend to take a much different angle in posts to relate them back to small biz marketing and advertising. It gives readers a chance to see how I am seeing it and for them to chime in to add their thoughts.

    Thanks for a useful and helpful post.

  19. papa echa says:

    thanks kimberly, thanks for helping me by this post…

  20. darkduck says:

    There is a trade between popularity and populism if you write about 10 most popular topics. My blog is about Linux systems. I can easily understand how I can link my blog to CES. This will probably take some search results to my blog. But Super Bowl? No way! This will be populism!

  21. Himanshu says:

    great advice author. Should blend with the trends!!!!

  22. mark ways says:

    Thanks Kimberly, number one is my fave, but I def need to digg deeper into number four, five and seven. However, I just realized the big advantage of having a bag full of story ideas. cheers mark

  23. amy says:

    I love all of these suggestions because – if content is king – then creativity is queen – and it may even be the other way around. you can be the greatest writer in the world but if you write about something in a way that does not offer a new/fresh/entertaining/unexpected perspective, then why should readers return? essentially what you are suggesting is that writers be….dare I say….ORIGINAL!!!

    Of course it isn’t easy. But that’s what separates the average, from the above average, from the ‘spectacular-must-drop-everything right now and read this post’ bloggers.

    Hmmm…me thinks creativity is KING and content is Queen. Either way, it’s a beautiful marriage!

    Amy Parmenter

    The ParmFarm.com

  24. ronika says:

    For imaginative people, the different angles on a story can be numerous. The problem of course is that it needs to fit into your niche. Additionally you need to be knowledgeable on the subject you are writing on (I’ve had so many great ideas for stories that I’m unqualified to write about) and of course ideally you will bring a unique perspective, for which this article provides some great pointers. Appreciate the tips.

  25. Michael says:

    This is a pretty novel approach for picking topics. I often find it useful to note potential topics down as soon as you thought of them (or else, you tend to move to a different subject and forget about it). I find it really hard to just “come up” with topics. It’s much easier to just “stumble” on one while browsing a site or reading an article. Thanks for the post – very useful!

    Michael

  26. manonthelam says:

    Definitely some great ideas on battling blogger’s block! Thanks for the post…