How To: Crafting Content
I’ve reached the stage of blogging where people ask me questions about it, which is possibly the most flattering thing imaginable. I love when people reach out and it’s a great way to keep up with old friends. One of the most common inquiries has been “how do you think of stuff to write about?”, which is also one of the most difficult ones to answer. When I first started blogging, I assumed the biggest obstacle would be the time commitment of sitting down to write. What I've learned is that the writing isn't the most time-consuming part - finding content is! Coming up with material that’s relevant, personal enough to be relatable (but not too personal!), and something I think people will care about is something I end up putting a lot of energy into each week.
I know that having a content calendar is a very popular choice for bloggers and I’ve considered adopting that method as well. I can see the pros and cons to both, but for now, I’ve enjoyed not being bound to a specific plan. It allows me a real-time, off-the-cuff strategy which feels like the most authentic way for me to engage right now. It is something I could see myself doing in the future, but for now here are my current strategies for content creation:
Consume content from a variety of sources // I get inspiration from all over the place. Other blogs, books, articles, and even Instagram or Twitter accounts can be fantastic sources to spark ideas. It’s easy to get in your own “social media bubble”, so I try to take a really varied approach in the kind of content I seek out. For instance, I’m a sucker for newsletter digests because they’re easy to read, but I make sure to read at least a few long-form articles a day to balance that. I find myself feeling far more creative when I’ve been exposed content with different forms or themes, and you never know what you could discover.
Hold yourself accountable // Since the early days of the blog, I’ve always kept myself on a Sunday and Wednesday publishing schedule. Having this kind of routine keeps me in the mindset of producing content on certain days, and since I give myself a deadline I know I’ll devote time to thinking of something. While I do twice a week, even if you want to do one blog a month I’d recommend setting a specific day to publish. Sticking to a schedule is a great way to hold yourself accountable, even if it is a self-imposed routine.
Write ideas as they come (with context!) // I often think of ideas on the train, while I’m at work, etc., so keeping a running note on my phone has become a necessity. While the most important thing is that you get the thought down, making sure you’re specific is also something I underestimated the importance of. I’m terrible about only adding a single word, and then when I go back to revisit I’m left staring at a vague term that I can’t remember the context for. This is useless, so give yourself enough clues to piece it together after the idea has left your mind!
Let yourself write // I’ve can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a blog post, only to realize I’m rambling and need to separate it into different topics. I try not to censor myself during my first draft too much so I can encourage this process to happen. When you go back to edit your posts, ask yourself “does every statement promote my main idea” and if not, “could I give this a spin-off post”. This ends up saving me legwork later on because from one writing session I’ve given myself 2 or 3 post ideas! Work smarter, not harder, as they say.
Thinking of content can be hard, but keeping yourself inspired organically is a great way to encourage your brain to keep the creativity alive. Maybe in the future, I’ll implement a content calendar and stick to certain topics, but right now it’s fun to play around to determine what inspires me the most. Above all, have fun with it! People will absolutely be able to tell if you’re inauthentic or lack passion, so make sure you write from the heart so the rest can fall in to place.