Mar 28, 2014

Beginner Blogger Tips: Creating Content


Last Friday, I started this new series on Beginner Blogger Tips. I've had some good feedback so far and I hope some of you get something out of it! Just to recap, I started this series, even though I'm a beginner blogger myself, because I find it a lot easier and more comfortable to approach and learn from someone on a smaller scale. When I first started blogging and had a simple question I couldn't find the answer to, I would email some of my favorite smaller bloggers who I knew had great potential. They always got back to me in a timely manner! I love Ree Drummond at the Pioneer Woman dearly and would love to ask her all my blogging questions but, quite frankly, and I could be wrong, but I doubt she would have time to get back with me. 

Today I am going to talk about some ideas on what to write about. That is the number one questions I get from friends and family. "How in the heck do you keep finding stuff to write about?"

Obviously, in the blogging world, content is pretty darn important. A good blog needs to have good content! I am not guaranteeing that I have good content but I know it when I read it on someone else's blog. Keep in mind, these are just a few ideas and it's kind of what I stick to and what works for me, but there are definitely more types of post out there. The possibilities of blogging are endless. Get creative!


Diary 

When I first started blogging, I honestly treated my blog like a diary. I wrote about what I did on a certain day or a certain week. My early posts had great tone and charisma. They were great for starting out. [Actually, I may have deleted them. In fact, I am too scared to go back and read them if they are still around.]

Please keep in mind, it's perfectly okay to treat your blog like a diary! Those are the best posts. You will be surprised with how many people are FASCINATED with your life. In fact, I had a gentleman from New Jersey contact me saying he spent the entire afternoon reading my blog and that he was smitten by what I had to say as a little 'ol farm girl from Indiana. That eventually landed me a gig doing a sponsored post for Sargento. How cool is that?

I have quite a few blog friends who blog about their weeks and I enjoy seeing what they are up to! The problem with doing a diary-only style blog is it's hard to bring in new readers from way outside your niche if that's one of your goals. So how do you bring in a new variety of readers?

Tutorials

If your goal is to bring in new readers, then you need to write about something you specialize in that others may be wanting to learn more about like cooking, decorating, organizing, crafting, sewing, underwater basket weaving or my favorite, agriculture/farming. These types of posts are great for pinning to Pinterest, sharing on Facebook and popping up in Google searches. There are people out there everywhere that want to learn how to do something new. You may not think you're an expert at anything, but I guarantee you know a lot more than you think! Once you build that trust with a reader and have taught them how to do something new, they will want to learn more about you as a person and they'll keep coming back to your blog to see what you're up to and what else you do.

A great example of this is, once again, the Pioneer Woman. Are you sick of me using her as an example yet? I stumbled across her blog years ago before most of you even knew who she was while searching for a dinner recipe one evening. As I read through her recipe post, I remember thinking, "Come on, just get on with the recipe already! But little did I know, I would soon become addicted to her story and where she was from. Eventually I ordered her book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. Then her cookbooks. Followed by her children's books. I started reading through her photography tutorials. I was watching her cooking show on Saturday mornings. I also fell in love with her style of dress (TUNICS!) and began branching out a little bit with my wardrobe. 

All of that from one stinking recipe post. 

The girl knows what she is doing.

Keep in mind, tutorial posts take a long stinking time to create. First, you have to actually create what you are doing a tutorial on. Then you have to photograph the process. Once you think you're done, you're not even close. Before even writing the tutorial, you have to edit the photos. When editing photos for a tutorial, it's smart to make some of them Pinterest-Friendly that way people can search for them. I am not the best at this, but I will talk more about Pinterest and graphics in the future. For now, jump on Pinterest and study what people are pinning. You will begin to see a trend you never realized before... 

So, there's definitely more to blogging than writing your diary and creating tutorials. My favorite posts happen to be sharing a random, inspirational story.

Inspirational Stories

People LOVE to be inspired. In fact, I think most of us live for it. How many times a day do you see inspirational quotes going through your Facebook News/Twitter/Instagram feed, on a desktop calendar, driving by a billboard and heck, maybe even on the bathroom stall door? If you listen closely, even some News programs will squeeze in an inspirational story or two. We have to seek inspiration from somewhere! Inspiration is what motivates us to find confidence in who we are. 

I find the easiest way to inspire people is sharing what you go out of something. Instead of writing about your day or an event, twist it around and write what you got out of it. What did you learn? 

This past summer, I went to a garage sale with my mother in law. It was one of those situations where, we were all meeting after work, piling in a car and going to some random person's house almost an hour away for some antique milk bottles that were listed. It was kind of crazy. I could have told you about the event and it still would have been entertaining, but I end up telling you the lesson I got out of the event. That made the story so much better and is now one of my favorite posts I have ever written.

"If only that old lady knew how much of an impact her unused crystal punch bowl had on me last night. 
Maybe I should have bought it. 
For 50 cents. 
As a reminder that life is too short."


You can seriously find inspiration in almost every situation. You just have to look deep and read between the lines. Stop focusing on what you see and focus on what you feel.  

And, when you have those moments where you don't feel anything or feel like making anything, you can always do a product review!

Product Reviews

People love learning about new products. I know I do! If you've discovered a product, service, restaurant, etc. that you really enjoy and it's made life easier (or more enjoyable) why not share it with the world? There is a reason companies are turning to bloggers as marketing tools! We are a major influence. It all goes back to that trust that's developed. 

It works like this: Susie reads my recipe and makes it. Susie loves my recipe and comes back to comment on it. While Susie is visiting my blog, she reads a few posts and finds a product review. Susie thinks well,  I like her taste in recipes, maybe I will trust her taste in shoes, too! Susie buys the shoes. 

Product reviews are really easy posts, too. If you're doing more than one product at time, just make sure they are organized and easily accessible. Provide as many links and resources to the product so the consumer knows exactly where they can buy it! If I am doing multiple items, I like to put them all on one graphic and describe everything in order under the graphic. Give good reasoning why you love the product but keep it simple. My first product review is what not to do. Ha! Compare it with a more recent product review and you will see why! Definitely a lot easier to go through and read.

Advocate Your Passion 

And last, but not least, you can always write about your passion. Being an advocate for something you love. A blog is a great way to get the word out. People will read your posts, agree or disagree with you and share them with their friends. 

When advocating your passion, you'll be sharing mostly your opinion but also be sure to include facts and resources when available so you are more credible. I am not the most technical person in the world so that is one thing as a blogger I'd like to work on in the future. I can tell my story, but I have a hard time backing it up with facts so that you'll believe it. For example, I can tell you until I am blue in the face that I think the Earth is flat. How am I going to prove that to my reader? 

Sidenote: I really don't think the Earth is flat.

One thing you have to keep in mind when advocating your passion is not to bash on the opposing side or belief. That's one way to send your credibility running out the door. "Promote what you love, not what you hate." That anonymous quote is one I've seen around the Internet a lot lately and I've noticed a few friends picking it up. Which makes me happy. It's a good one to live by. 



Be nice, but keep a strong voice. It will get you a lot farther than being mean. I've seen some bloggers act downright mean about some of the things I advocate for and it only stirs the pot more. Not only that, it's embarrassing. Find out who your audience is and figure out how to make them feel good when they read one of your posts. They may not exactly always agree with what you write, but they might feel better about a subject they once found to be questionable. If that's the case, you've done your job. Forcing someone to change the opinion about something is only going to make them stick to their guns even more. You remember what it was like when you were in Junior High and told to clean your room.... We all know how that one turns out.

Additional Post Ideas

Like I mentioned earlier, you're definitely not limited to my above ideas. You can also try:

  • Interviews
  • Lists (I.E. 10 Ways Marrying a Farmer Will Change Your Life or list your favorite posts to get re-exposure!)
  • Wordless (Post a beautiful picture and leave it at that)
  • Tours (Give a tour of a room, a space, your yard, your vacation, etc. I would say my Sunday Drivin' post fell into this category)
  • Giveaways (Guilty of not doing this yet but there is one coming soon!)
  • Challenges (Engage your readers to do a special challenge with you)
  • News (What's going on in your neighborhood or around the world?)
  • Goals (Talk about your goals and provide updates)
  • Facts/Statistics  (Share fun facts without a lengthy essay)
  • Guest Post (Why write when you are burnt out when someone can write for you?!)
  • FAQ (Request readers to send you questions about a topic or yourself then create post revolving around the answers)
I hope this gives you some ideas to get started out in blogging! There's definitely enough here to keep you busy for a while. I haven't touched on some of these yet. If you're already a blogger, what are you favorite types of posts to write? 

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