Like anyone who works in a creative field, we all get in ruts where inspiration is lacking and our creative juices aren't flowing. That was me a few weeks ago when I wanted to do some Fall decorating, but just wasn't feeling it. Luckily, decorating isn't necessarily my "work" so I didn't have to force myself to pull something together. I could just wait a bit and then get to it. But, if your work is dependent on you coming up with fresh ideas or if you're a blogger, especially a 'home' or 'diy' blogger, coming up with creative content on a consistent basis can become overwhelming and difficult to maintain. I've gotten many comments and questions about how to keep the blog content coming especially when you feel tapped out. Step one of my Ten Steps to Better Blog Posts was "Generate Ideas" and I wanted to expand on that here. Not only "where to find inspiration" but also how to translate those ideas into authentic blog posts.
1. Magazines & Books
In the world of digital media, print magazines seem to be on the decline. I admit to letting some print subscriptions go, but I still like to physically browse through magazines and catalogs (free!) and tear out/write on pages for inspiration for blogging and decorating. My subscriptions are still InStyle, and StyleWatch (fashion), House Beautiful and Martha Stewart Living (decor/crafts), Oprah (lifestyle), Oxygen (fitness). I love the BHG special publications, Food & Wine, Cook's Illustrated, Country Living. As for catalogs, I receive a ton - all the big name retailers like Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Ballard Designs, Home Decorators, and Nordstrom.
I often read 2-3 magazines on a weekend morning for enjoyment, but I'm also guilty of letting my catalogs pile up for too long (who has time to read them all?!) until they are almost driving me crazy, then I go through them in a big mass. When I'm specifically looking for blogging inspiration, I don't read the articles, I basically scan the photos to see if there's something that catches my eye for a future writing point, something for my home, or a possible DIY project. I tear the pages, often making notes right there so I don't forget what I was thinking originally.
In this batch of magazines, for instance, I found a couple items that would make great DIY projects- this shelf from cb2 and this advent calendar from Pottery Barn.
Even if you've seen these ideas in a magazine or on Pinterest before, you can always add that something extra that personalizes the project/blog post to make it yours. Below, I found a style page from the Nordstrom catalog featuring gold and black jewelry that wowed me. I tore the page, thinking I'd like to add those items to a fashion post and by the time I got around to it, the items were actually on sale! Bonus! I found some coordinating items and created a graphic in PicMonkey to feature the items in a unique way.
Don't forget good old fashioned books as inspiration either. I return over and over to some of my favorites when I need a boost. Simply browsing the bookstore aisles for my favorite categories invigorates me also.
2. Pinterest's Secret Boards
We all know that Pinterest is a great source for finding ideas, but did you know you can create "secret boards" to catalog ideas that others can't see just by turning on the secret setting? I have a few secret boards - one for each of my blogs with post ideas, and one for when I was redoing my blog design that I shared with my blog designer. You can add whoever you want to these boards, which would be great for collaborating with other bloggers. If I'm in a blog rut, I'll look at these boards and often find ideas I had forgotten about. If you do use a blogger's pin for a post idea, it's good practice to credit and link to the person from whom you got the idea.
3. Your Daily Life
What I enjoy most about blogs is that you feel a sense of connection with the blogger and that usually comes through when they share some about their life behind the blog. You don't have to reveal intimate details, but if you're comfortable sharing bits about your life and especially daily routines that help make life smoother, most people like to hear about that.
4. Share Ideas, Not Just the Finished Project
You don't have to wait until you have a perfectly styled finished space or project to begin writing about it. Readers enjoy being in on the process and as smart as they are, can usually leave good feedback and options in the comments. You can share your sources for products, ideas for plans, mood boards, and creative process to bring readers in on your journey along the way.
5. Ask for Reader Feedback
If you ask your readers for their honest opinion and really want to hear what they have to say, they will respond. I've done that lots of times getting great insight from my readers. They were particularly helpful when I was trying to decide what paint to go with for my dining room. I love this! Who better to bounce ideas off of than other people who share your passions?!
6. Split One Project into Multiple Posts
If you've done a particularly challenging project or are decorating an entire room, take advantage of all that juicy content and split it into multiple posts. This goes hand-in-hand with sharing your ideas instead of only the finished project. Once you get started implementing the design or project, you can talk about preparation, gathering supplies, and goal for the project in one post, perhaps the process in another post and then a great before and after later.
7. Create Holiday/Seasonal Content
Lots of people are searching the web year-round for holiday and seasonal content. Around this time of year, for example, Halloween content is popular, along with Fall fashion, beverages, soups, and decor. You are probably into those things yourself, so it's natural to create content that flows with the seasons. If you like to plan ahead, it's useful to create an editorial calendar so you can map out when you plan to publish specific posts.
8. Diversify Your Content
A home blogger that has been blogging specifically about their own home can lose steam if they stick with that topic for several years. Over time, you might have done nearly everything you can think of to your home and may feel like you need to branch out. You'll see some bloggers start taking on design projects and posting about them or renovating another home (their own or a friend/family members).
If you feel like you need a break from your own home projects/decorating ideas (aside from holidays which typically bring about an influx of new content) and you are genuinely interested in more than just decor and projects, you can try diversifying your content into another subject area and see how that feels to you and your readers.
Maybe you're a great home cook and want to start posting recipes and food once a week or you're pregnant and want to do monthly bump updates. Go for it! About two years ago, I started a second blog on the topic of health and fitness because that's another area of my life I was interested in and wanted to write about. I wasn't sure if my Honey We're Home readers would be into it, so that's why I created an entirely new blog. Since then, I've pondered whether I should've just made the health blog a part of my Home blog. This year, I added a fashion component to my blog "Wardrobe Wednesday" and "Weekend Steals & Deals". I've been writing fashion blog posts since early on (see "Style Saturday" circa 2010 ;), but had gotten away from it. Adding this topic to my blog was fresh and fun for me, gave me new content to write about, and my readers have responded favorably. Win-win!
Remember that this is your blog, so you should stay true to your heart and what feels good to you! Like-minded people will enjoy it, but no one blog will appeal to everyone.
9. Feature Other Bloggers
This is a big one! Featuring other bloggers not only gives you something to write about, but helps spread the love to other bloggers. It's great for building community, networking and readers like learning about new (to them) blogs that they haven't discovered. Just be sure to link to them to they get credit for their work. It's also good to send a little note letting them know you featured them so they are aware of your goodwill.
10. Take Blogging Breaks
This might sound counter-intuitive, but stepping away from the computer is good for your soul and your blog. Now that I'm home more, I blog almost exclusively before the delightful hour of 3:00 p.m. when I pick-up my son from school. After that, it's "us" time, maybe an errand, dinner by 6:00, bedtime routine from 7:00 - 8:00 and then t.v. and conversation time with my husband. I might be on Pinterest or read, but I'm not usually writing blog posts in the evenings anymore.
If you work full-time in addition to blogging, perhaps blogging is a way of winding down late night (I've been there!) and how you genuinely enjoy spending some of your evenings. That's okay too! Just remember to step away from the computer now and then so you can enjoy the people and things around you as well.
Do you get stuck in a rut sometimes too? Where do you find blogging inspiration?
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