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Kickstart Your Stalled Blog Content, Part 1: Six Steps to a Fresh Post

Just starting a blog? Longing to revive an old, forgotten blog? Or just feeling guilty because you’ve let your blog languish without a post for a little too long?

Typing a post

Image courtesy stock.xchng user tikideputy

If your blog’s fallen behind your ideal post frequency, you’re in luck. Today, I’m going to give you a six-step plan for kickstarting stalled blog content. The work we’ll do today takes just 40 minutes in total, but you can split it up in to five- and ten-minute blocks if that’s all you can fit in.

Then, over the coming week, I’ll check back in with you periodically to see how you’re going—and provide some more tips for staying on track along the way. Are you ready to kickstart your content? Let’s go!

1. Take stock: readers, niche and blog: 10 minutes

First up, let’s take stock of what’s going on on your blog, in your niche, and with your readers. A good way to do this is to start by looking at the leading sites in your niche—not just blogs, but all sites and other media (press, for example) that your target audience might use.

Look closely at:

  • current news, events and trends
  • what readers are linking and sharing
  • what readers are worried or concerned by
  • where your niche seems to be headed in the short- to medium-term.

Do this now, and in ten or fifteen minutes’ time, you should have a pretty clear picture of what’s happening in your niche—an essential step if you’re reviving a blog you’ve left to languish for a while.

Next, visit your own blog. What topics have you covered most recently (even if that was a while ago)? Where does your blog sit relative to the competition, and to readers’ interests?

Hopefully, this review will give you a clear idea of some gaps in niche coverage that you can fill on your blog. It might also spark your ideas or opinions on topics that are important to your niche and audience right now. We’re off to a good start!

2. Think of three questions readers are asking: 5 minutes

After step 1, you’ll probably be fairly clear about the kinds of things readers are trying to learn or get information on.

Take a minute to write down three questions they’re asking. You might like to write them as if they’re questions you’re tying into Google or some other search tool, or you might just narrow down to fairly specific topics.

These questions don’t have to be actual questions you’re seeing readers ask in blog comments. They might be suggested through the interactions your audience is having on social media, or questions other leaders in your niche seem to be asking, and which are getting some attention from readers.

What you’re really looking for here are audience needs that aren’t being fully met by the content that’s available in your niche right now.

3. Write answers to those questions: 5 minutes

You’ve got a list of three questions; now answer each one in a sentence or two.

In those answers, make sure you’re 100% clear on the meaning of what you’ve written (it’s all too easy to jot down a one-sentence answer and find out later that it was full of holes!), and that you know why you answered the way you did.

Being able to rationalise your points of view will be essential when it comes to writing your next post!

4. Choose one Q&A to expand on: 10 minutes

Hopefully, you’ll find at least one of the questions you’ve identified really interesting. Pick that one, and note down a bit more about it.

You might get into the reader question in a bit more detail, or jot down the logical components of your answer—perhaps just in bullet points or using keywords.

The object here is just to get clear about the nature of the question, and the key elements of your answer. You might also have a think about some of the content you’ve seen on the topic online (if you have seen any) and identify what’s missing from that content. Should you cover those points in your post? Where would they fit?

You might notice now that you’ve got a brief outline for a post. You have a topic, a question for the post, and an answer split into a number of elements. Not bad for a half-hour’s work!

5. Write down what’s different about this advice: 5 minutes

You might be tempted to skip this step. Don’t.

Here’s where you clarify for yourself what your post will provide that no other content on the topic does.

This isn’t just an informational question—though of course knowing what advice or detail your post will offer uniquely is important. But let’s not overlook what you bring to the equation as well.

Perhaps your post will hinge on your own personal experience of the topic, and will provide unique insight from that experience.

Perhaps the approach will be different—maybe all the coverage so far has come from one side of the industry, or of a debate. Perhaps you’re going to provide another perspective from a completely different viewpoint.

Or maybe you’ll use a different format from the rest—one that makes the issues more approachable and digestible, and helps readers understand the topic more easily.

6. Schedule writing time, editing time, and a publication date: 5 minutes

This is the last step for today! You’ve just created a plan for a unique piece of content that responds directly, and uniquely to readers’ needs.

All you need now is the time to write it.

Check your schedule and set aside three blocks of time:

  1. 40 minutes for writing
  2. 30 minutes for editing, on a different day
  3. a publication date.

Commit to these dates and times—make them non-negotiable. Tell us when they fall in the comments, if you like. What I’d love is if you could fit them into the next week, because I’m planning to check back in with you on Tuesday and Friday to see how you’re going.

On those days I’ll be providing tips to help you keep your content kickstart on track, so it’ll be great if you can work along with us. If not, that’s fine—I’d still love to hear when you’re planning your writing, editing and publication in the comments.

Don’t forget to check back on Tuesday, when I’ll reveal some of the tricks I use to blog when I have no time in my schedule. Hopefully, they’ll put you in good stead for keeping the content rolling on your blog long after you’ve kickstarted it back into action. See you then!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ismo Tammi says:

    Thanks darren this really asnwered my current problem and brougt to light the languishing blog that I have. I will implement these suggestions.

  2. Melody says:

    “Write down what’s different about this advice” – A very important question! The blog world is saturated with simplistic, basic information when most of us crave more. The answer can often be as simple as “It’s more thorough/detailed than any post I’ve seen on other blogs”.

  3. Thanks for this one Darren,

    I have been putting off a long overdue blog post for weeks now, this has given me the kick I needed to get back into it!

    Appreciate the great content, especially about writing why the advice is different, I love the angle!

    Look forward to the next one Darren!

    Zayne Thompson

  4. jeff says:

    Great article, it made me come up with content for a post for my site, so good job…

    I decided to make a Q&A post because I have never done that before, and I will be writing on Sunday evening, and editing on Monday.

    The post will be titled “What is QE3, really?”

  5. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Great steps Darren, I’ll surely start it from next week from asking my readers about their questions. It’ll great for my readers and for me. It’s win win trick.

  6. Grieg says:

    thanks for you advises Darren,
    nice step by step explanations,
    thank you very much!

  7. Dale Aceron says:

    Great post. A favorite by far!
    So in point 6, you mention in point 2 ‘another day’. I’m probably exposing myself as a newbie blogger but do you take 2 days to write each post?

    DA

  8. Jan Bierens says:

    Do all one day ahead of the intended publishing time. I always allow myself 24 hours of ‘cool down time’ after I have written a post. When the dust of the initial idea has settled, read it over one more time. Usually helps to see the post in a ‘sane perspective’.
    Just adding my two cents worth…

  9. Having just gone through a fallow period on my blog and got back up and running with a couple of posts your excellent advice is well timed and will add more structure to my future plans.

    I like your suggestion to be more analytical in looking for something that people want to know and then providing information in an eye catching and helpful way. The way that you have broken down the steps makes that task seem simpler and more easily achieved.

    I will be planning a new schedule from next week to keep me on track and will follow your next posts with interest.

    Many thanks for your informative post Darren.

  10. Steve says:

    My list of article topics is running out faster than I can think up new ones. I’m going to try this technique and see what comes up.

    Just a comment on Step 6. I can’t stress the importance of writing and editing on separate days. Even if you’re in a rush for content. Write. Wait. Edit. Coming back after at least a day will give you a different perspective on your article. Every time I put a piece aside and come back to it, something gets changed.

  11. Danijela says:

    The step one took me more than 10 minutes, but I found some interesting stuff I could write about. I love this, it really works. :) Thanks Darren!

  12. Glad to know that you’ll get a little time to check our writing progress, Darren! I’m going to figure out what things can I come up with after reading this post and will try to work along with you :)

  13. Veeru Bolem says:

    Great! Information Darren. Thank You.

  14. Good one! That could be a great start.

  15. Reed Nixon says:

    I love the post. Good thing it works for starters as well as revivers. thanks for the post. It is very educative.

  16. Great work on the post. I also really enjoyed your blog post on ‘Blogging for Start Ups’

  17. Thanks Darren,
    for me, it’s will work with the additional paper and a pen. Yes, back to traditional way, use paper, not Word. non-digital documents will help us to more focus and stick to the plan.

  18. Shelby Roth says:

    Thanks for the great post Darrren! Appreciate your great site content, especially the deal with why the advice is different, I actually got so interested with such angle! You are actually a great writer and I love your reading; sounds so cool! I look forward for your next shout out!

  19. Joey Xoto says:

    Hey Darren,

    Excellent post! I only recently began my Blog and these comments are definitely helpful. I think a key element in Blogging is having a positive mindset with a “take action” attitude! If you can take action on all the points that you have mentioned, then you should have some success generating some great content!

    Thanks for the information Darren,

  20. rakesh says:

    disciplined work is most important in writing articles

  21. Anne says:

    You can also make a video blog post following your tips if you are more comfortable sharing your ideas on camera and make a written post to be published after. This will also help invite more readers and followers to check out your blog since you are offering post variations from time to time.

  22. James Dean says:

    what making people concerned, feared or worried? really good topic to start with. these kind of topics are also most searchable and shareable.

  23. Excellent information out there. I have a stalled blog and I am going to implement these techniques soon to that blog. In my opinion. the most powerful one is Write down what’s different about this advice: 5 minutes.

    Thanks.

  24. Lol, sorry this doesn’t relate but, what software do you use for your job board?

  25. I teach teen travel bloggers, and this is excellent advice. They often have great topics, but aren’t sure how to explore them. The kicker of audience is critical – and one they’re just learning (it’s not just their relatives!). I’ll send them here – thank you!

  26. Hồ Konodo says:

    Thanks for this one Darren

  27. Judy L. says:

    Very helpful information and I can learn from these pointers. I started the blog less than a year ago and all the time I’m thinking what’s the effective ways to continue. Your guides provide some good fundamentals to based on. Thanks!

  28. Trudy says:

    Thanks Darren. I’ve just started my writing on my blog and have so far enjoyed the journey very much. I’m looking forward to creating a great blog and thank you so much for sharing your tips so generously.

  29. Smart Touch says:

    Thanks for sharing this one, it was really helpful for me while starting up launching my new blog :)