Blank page!!! Agh! I understand, I really do. I have this scenario a lot. I sit there thinking, working ideas in my head. Should I write this? Should I write that? What about this? Will anyone be even slightly interested in reading about that? Or, worse case, I sit there and nothing comes to mind! This happens a fair bit too. I’m not one of those people who find writing comes quickly and naturally. I can write perfectly well and did well at school in English and History, writing essays and dissertations. I know how to spell, construct a sentence and use grammar correctly (most of the time anyway). But it isn’t my comfort zone or my natural way to impart information. I’m a talker. I can chat to anyone and will happily natter away for hours on end. Which is exactly why I am going to start vlogging this year as well as blogging. I think for me this will help get over that blank page nightmare.
However you start and whatever format you choose to use there are things I have learned to do that help me with blogging (and hopefully the same with vlogging when I start doing that!)
Ok, so here is the rundown of what I do when I am putting together a blog post. First up, I come up with the title. The thing I want to write about. This can come from any kind of idea or inspiration. It might be a shoot or wedding I want to share, it might be something I have been asked by a client, it might be something that is being talked about in the wider world. Whatever it is, that’s my starting point. I then do some research around the theme, Ill find references if I need them, links if that’s what I’m after or read around the topic if I am wanting to increase my knowledge.
Once I have done that I start making notes. If I’m at my computer I will make notes directly into the blog draft. If I’m out and about and have a moment of inspiration (which often happens when I’m least expecting it) I’ll make notes in Evernote, Trello or in the Notes app on my phone. The beauty of Evernote and Trello is that they sync to my ipad and my computer so they are very handy. To go off on a slight tangent, Ill give a quick run through about the software I have mentioned. Trello is a new discovery and acts as an online ‘to do’ list for me to keep track of what I need to do day to day. I do use other online systems for other parts of my business, but this one seems to work for me in terms of allowing me to get rid of the million post it notes and lists that littered my desk on a daily basis! Evernote has a little more to it, in that you can add images, links, maps etc to notes. This is very helpful when researching blog posts as well as other work projects and tasks.
From all the note taking and bullet points I have the bare bones of what I am wanting to write (or talk) about. I will then start selecting images, if that is what the blog post is about. Or I will select one or two that illustrate the point or add a visual point of interest to the post. Its then time to start properly writing and filling out the post. This is where I tend to just write what comes into my head without really structuring the post. I get all my thoughts and ideas down and then walk away for a while to clear my head. When I go back I can read through and edit so the post actually make sense! I have discovered that I write very much as I talk, so I do tend to chat on a bit. However, as the aim of the blog is to capture my voice I figure that’s OK.
Here are a few top tips to follow to help you come up with ideas and get writing those blog posts.
1. Write down titles or ideas as and when you get inspired.
If you are anything like me you wont always be ‘inspired’ with an idea at a set time on a particular day. Because of this I make a note of anything that I think would make a good blog post idea as and when they pop into my head. I use Evernote for making notes (this syncs between my computer and my iphone so makes it easy).
2. Think who you are writing for.
When you are writing you need to be yourself, but you also need to think about who you are writing for. For example, I have two blogs. One is this one, and one is attached to my photography website. While there might be some cross over I mostly assume that the majority of people reading my photography blog are brides, grooms and potential photography clients. I know I also have other wedding industry professionals and photographers reading the photography blog but the main people I write for are my potential and current clients. For this blog I am aiming more towards photographers who are needing a little guidance and other business owners who are looking for ideas and advice. Knowing who I am writing for helps me to come up with ideas for topics for blog posts.
3. Be true to yourself and what you care about.
There is no point planning to write about something that you have no interest in, know nothing about and don’t care about. If you do this it will come across in the writing. You wont be able to engage people as much as it will be really clear that you are half hearted about it. There is nothing more appealing than someone who is truly passionate about something. This really does come across in the words and the language that you use. All the posts I write for my blogs are things that I am interested in or interested in sharing. They are things that have a base in something I feel strongly about and care about. If I don’t have the passion and ideas I find it pretty much impossible to find something to write.
4. Don’t think about how many people are reading your blog.
When you first start writing a blog you have no idea if anyone will find you, let alone read what you are saying. That is fine. Basically don’t worry about how many people might or might not read your blog. So what if only one person reads what you say? You should still keep writing as if no one is reading it. If you share what you love, share what you care about, share information that is useful and interesting then people will find you. If you know who you are writing for and make information they want to read, they will find you. They will start telling their friends and your readership will grow. Just don’t worry about it! Write because you want to share whatever it is you are sharing.
5. Be consistent.
I really need to take heed to this lesson myself. I am definitely getting better. I have blogged more in the last 8 months than I did in the last 2 years (true!). But I am told time and time again by my lovely SEO guru Steve (UK Wedding SEO), and my right hand lady, Maddy (who wrote the great article about how to build a wordpress website), that the key to blogging is consistency. Even if you only blog once a month make sure you do blog once a month. Pick a day/date/time that works and stick to it. Eventually, once you are into the swing of things, you can increase how frequently you can blog, but just get the ball rolling for now. The reason this is a great habit to get in to is that regular blogging can do wonders for your websites SEO.
I hope this helps and gives a little guidance as to how I approach that dreaded blank page/new blog/what on earth do I write scenario! When you next blog do come and share. I always love to see what others are inspired by and want to share.
As always if you have any questions please do leave a comment below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org I’m always happy to hear from you and help if I can.
If you know someone who struggles with blogging do share this post with them.If you want to join the lovely little Facebook group I have set up to offer support, help and guidance look no further. Come and join the Glow Photography Training Group.
Thanks for popping by.