Blog Talk: Creating Content

Based on your feedback, today I'm trying my hand at a new feature called "Blog Talk," aimed at bloggers and anyone interested in starting a blog. I hope to share the things I've found most useful in creating my own little online space: lessons I've learned, technical tips, and general resources. Though I'm by no means an expert on this topic, here's hoping the more I learn, the more helpful I can be. If there's anything specific you'd like me to address, let me know!

For my first topic, I'm focusing on content. When I hear from readers interested in starting their own blogs, the most frequently asked questions include: what do I write about? and how do I make my content unique?

Let's face it, I still ask myself those questions all the time! There's no step-by-step recipe, but in my opinion, here are a few keys to creating content that stands out.

Keep an Open Mind
Whether you're blogging in a specific niche or you're taking a more multifaceted approach, cast a wide net when you're looking for inspiration. Read blogs in different genres: for example, I'm not a design blogger, but I love reading design blogs, and they have definitely helped solidify my sense of aesthetics. In order for your blog to grow, you need to grow, so go explore, try new things, read good books... whatever sparks your interest and curiosity. By expanding your sources of inspiration, you'll develop more unique and informative content. (Of course, there is merit in making your content cohesive; that's a topic for another post.)

Embrace Half-Baked Ideas
What if you have an idea, but you don't know where to go with it? Ideas-in-progress can make engaging posts, especially when you open them up for discussion. When you use your ideas to generate questions, you encourage readers to participate in your blog. Maybe you can't make up your mind about the latest trend, or maybe you're trying to work towards a goal, but you're facing some challenges along the way. Because "thinking aloud" posts are relatable and honest, they can also help express your personality and voice. Garance Dore does this very successfully in her "stories" feature.

Be Your Own Editor
Blog about the things you love and feel 100% comfortable sharing. Sounds obvious, but when you put your blog forth in a sea of other blogs, it's easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing rather than build your own ideas and opinions. Don't think too much about dos and don'ts (I realize the irony in that statement)... readers want to see your take on things! You should never feel that you have to post about something just because "it sells" or that you can't post about something because "it's not popular." Trust me, if you're interested in what you're writing, someone else will be too. What can you teach your readers that they might not already know? What fresh perspectives can you offer? What do you like about your favorite blogs, and what would you do differently?

Finally, keep in mind that developing content usually takes time, trial and error. There are many ways to stand out, so go do your thing!

How do you get inspired to create new content?