At various points along the way in my 3 1/2 years of blogging, I’ve wondered if I’ll ever run out of things to write about. It hasn’t happen yet, and it’s not going to happen anytime soon, but I do still occasionally wonder if there is, in fact, a finite well of material to blog about. I think the answer could depend on a number of factors, so let’s chat about what those might be.
To start off, there are people who’ve been blogging for 10+ years and are still going strong, so in a bigger picture sense, there does not appear to be a finite well of material.
It probably depends on what you write about. If poetry is your passion, creating poetry on your blog 10 years from now probably isn’t going to be all that different from writing about poetry today. Being niche(ish) might help if it keeps you focused, but there’s probably the risk of burning through the major topics that fall within your niche. If somehow I managed to say everything there is to say about mental health, I’m not sure I’d have enough to say about other topics to be motivated to keep blogging with anywhere near the frequency I do now. In the meantime, though, I think being pretty loose with my niche helps keep things feeling fresher longer.
Another factor is probably what you’ve got going on in your life. If I’d been getting a lot of inspiration for posts from my work as a nurse, it might have been hard to keep generating ideas once I was no longer working. It would be the same if you were writing a lot about school or therapy or travelling and those things were no longer happening in your life.
Where to get ideas from
I get a lot of ideas from other bloggers. It might be the main topic of their post, or it might be some little tidbit that I mention. Copying someone’s work is plagiarism, but borrowing a topic and writing your own spin on it is inspiration. When in doubt, credit the blogger for the inspiration. For me, this is probably the steadiest source of ideas, and I would guess that I get inspired by tidbits more often than the main topic. Unless we all crash and burn at the same time, I see this as an idea source that keeps perpetually renewing itself.
A few other sources of ideas:
- prompts organized by other bloggers
- articles from elsewhere on the web
- the news
- social media
- Google Trends shows you search terms that are popular
- Hubspot has a blog ideas generator—just enter between one and five nouns, and it will come up with five potential blog post titles for you
Having a system
Depending on your writing approach, you might have some sort of system to keep track of ideas when you think of them. If I were to try to think of a new topic every time I sat down to blog, that system would probably crash and burn within a few days Trying to yank ideas out of my head on demand is like fishing for octopus in a puddle (does one fish for octopus?), so that’s a definite no. Instead, I start drafts for things I intend to write about soon-ish, and have a blogging spreadsheet that includes ideas for later.
I think it’s totally okay to recycle older posts, either by republishing them or by writing new versions. I’ve noticed my writing style has evolved over time, and the way I would write about a topic now is a bit different than the way I wrote about the same topic 3 years ago.
Whether you’re short on ideas or bursting with ideas, there’s nothing wrong with “filler” material (curtains, one might say). That might be some favourite quotes, photos, listicles, or anything that doesn’t actually require much thought. I’ve noticed that what I think of as filler on my blog often ends up doing better than the posts that I like the most and spent the most time on. Go figure.
Release the shoulds
Being flexible and self-forgiving can make it easier to keep the blogging train on the tracks. If you’re mostly writing what you think you “should” write about, that’s going to get uninspiring pretty darn quickly. If you feel like you need to stay firmly in your niche, it may start to strangle you. The should monster is not your friend.
Overall, I think that as long as your manner of blogging is sustainable, the ideas can continue to flow. Do you ever worry about your blogging idea well running dry?