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The Commonsense Approach to Fresh Post Ideas

This guest post is by Ryan Shell of Fashables.

If you’re a long-time blogger, you, at some point, have inevitably looked at a blank document on a computer screen and thought to yourself, “I have no idea what I’m going to write about.”

And if you’ve never been a blogger, it’s likely you haven’t even fathomed the idea of, you know, sharing your thoughts with all of “those” people on the internet, let alone knowing what to write about.

What to write about

This is a topic I’ve addressed with a number of individuals during the past few months, and imagine it will continue to come up time and time again.

When the “What do I write about?” question comes up, I quickly start brainstorming and, within minutes, can develop a number of topics for the individual to write about.

My method isn’t rocket science.

It’s also not some wildly colorful secret that you’ve not been told.

It is one thing though, and I’d like to share it with you.

Common sense

Everyone’s an “expert” about something. What we fail to do is realize that what is easy and common sense to Person X (you) may not be common sense to Person Y.

What happens is that people inventory the knowledge floating around in their brain and eventually—due to their expertise—think, “that’s nothing special” or “everyone already knows that.” And that’s a big mistake.

I recently built a website for someone and the following exchange happened via text message.

Her: “Is my site mobile phone friendly?”

Me: “Yes. Very.”

Her: “Cool! How did you do that?”

What immediately came to mind after seeing her question was, “It really isn’t that big a deal. I simply customized a mobile responsive WordPress theme.” When I look at that short thought through a different lens, I can quickly see two blog posts develop: one about the importance of creating a mobile friendly website, and another that discusses mobile responsive WordPress themes and how they easily make mobile friendly websites.

That simple exchange, followed by what came to mind for me, is a great example of how we constantly take knowledge and our life experiences for granted.

What’s simple for you very well may not be simple for someone else.

Ryan Shell is the Senior Manager, Online Communications for a global communications firm. He is also the founder of the fashion blogFashables and recently created a t-shirt line, The Home T, that helps raise money for multiple sclerosis research. He can also be found online at RyanShell.com.

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Comments

  1. I agree. By writing “commonsense” articles you’ll cater to the beginners in your niche, and there are probably a lot of them.

    • Ryan says:

      Not just beginners. You could likely school a ton of folks on Japanese culture.

      @RyanShell

  2. Rob Molina says:

    Nice approach Ryan.
    I typically bookmark nice articles and make notes in outlook for the day I want to write, I have a list of 5 articles and then I pick some to write about based on what I read and my personal experience. typically I end up having too much information. I synchronize that with my iphone mail in case I have ideas and I’m not infront of the PC.

  3. Samuel says:

    Sometimes we know what to write about but just need to dig a little deeper into our minds and find it.

    At the beginning of the journey of blogging, finding ideas can be very hard.

    Thanks for writing this article!

  4. Also I think we assume our audience knows less about a topic than we think when we get deep into a subject on education. I like to use a mindmap to expand ideas to write about.

  5. Thanks for the information.

  6. rania says:

    Love this article.
    I often thought about that too, that “everyone already knows that”, when I looked for post ideas.
    This article has changed my perspective on “nothing special” post ideas :-)
    Thanks, Ryan.

  7. I completely agree with you. My definition of common sense is not your definition of the same. You might work on an article really hard thinking that it will impress your readers but you realize it actually didn’t from the comments. Thanks for the info.

    • Ryan says:

      Although, don’t judge a successful post by the comments. My first careers was spent as a radio DJ and an early boss said, “Just because the phones aren’t ringing doesn’t mean no one is listening.” Great advice.

      @RyanShell

  8. Reed Nixon says:

    We differ in the way we think. The best way to come up with something that impresses your readers is by interacting with them, get to answer their questions and know exactly what their interests are.

    • Ryan says:

      But Reed, if you don’t have anything to write, you won’t even be able to get to that step.

      @RyanShell

  9. Light Within says:

    The idea of how to develop list of posts for a blog is very helpful, indeed.

  10. Ehsan Ullah says:

    You must be passionate and expert in your niche, than coming up with fresh ideas will be easy. Otherwise If you’re blogging about you don’t have much knowledge, It’ll be difficult.

  11. Shorya Bist says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I like your idea of “Commonsense Approach to Fresh Post Ideas” as time comes when you are left with a question of what to write on, either you are beginner or have experience.

    Thanks for sharing the thought.

    Thank You
    Shorya Bist

  12. Chad Miller says:

    I can see so many benefits to this approach. One being how I listen to and engage with people.
    I’m sure the people that I’m surrounded by are giving me blog topics daily and I don’t even latch onto them.
    Thanks, Ryan.

    • Ryan says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Not only the people around you, but your life experiences. There’s blog topic inspiration literally hitting us in the face.

      @RyanShell

  13. blogostrong says:

    well, thanks for the valuable information..

  14. Commonsense differs in every individual so in my point of view, we need to be somewhere in the middle so we can capture all types of readers.

  15. Jihan Ahmed says:

    I agree with you commonsense posts are really helpful for newbies and sometimes we professionals can also get some new tips which we have missed during our learning !

  16. Thats exactly how I got my mobile website…

  17. Straight up truth and encouragement, thanks

  18. Smith says:

    I definitely want to start experimenting with video. I need to figure out what content will work well, both in video format, but also in staying true to the nature of my blog

  19. Matt Brennan says:

    Yes. All you have to do is look for new blog ideas. They’re everywhere. Read a lot, pay attention to your conversations with customers (like you did) and use a little creativity. That blank page can be intimidating but there are always sound strategies to defeating it. Nice post!

  20. William says:

    Awesome post again. I like the information you provide here.

    William
    Helping Others To Succeed

  21. Ferb says:

    Since I found my passion, another problem I have is to find fresh ideas for readers and it’s really hard.

  22. Víctor says:

    As simple as that and I sometimes forget about it. My reader´s questions through email, facebook and twitter, though sometimes seem simple and straightforward should be the first source of articles for me. Thank you very much for reminding me of that Ryan.

  23. Clabbe B says:

    Actually, I dont think I can say that I have that problem.
    As I am blogging about my travel and thoughts there is always something that comes out of my head. :)
    I guess it would be harder if I would just be writing about everyday things.