Do you want to find new inspiration for your business blog and get back into the swing of regular content creation?
Follow my 7 steps to help you re-start your business blog.
1. Take stock
One very useful thing we always do on the digital projects I work on is to hold a ‘retrospective session’ or ‘retro’ at the end of each block of project time.
A retro generally happens every two weeks.
The point of the retro is to look back at:
>> what went well,
>> what didn’t go well,
>> what we should start doing and
>> what we should stop doing
Having your own version of a retro, after you’ve been out of the habit of creating regular content for your blog, is a great way to take stock of where you are, where you want to be and how you can get there.
A retro is also a good way to look at your content, your audience and overall direction, and it can help you pinpoint any particular reasons why you stopped blogging in the first place.
Maybe you were extremely busy, became overwhelmed by blogging, ran out of article ideas, or you simply fell out of love with the topic you were writing about.
The next thing to do is to look at what you’d like to do with your blog.
Maybe you want to continue to build on what you have. Or you might like to change the style and tone of your writing. You may be considering switching your focus to a different niche or a sub-niche, or it could be time to shake things up with a design overhaul or re-brand.
Use some of the retro headings (or any other headings that work better for you) to help you decide how you’re going to take stock of your blog.
Sticking post-it notes on your wall is a great way to quickly jot down your ideas in a more visual format.
Try holding your own retro every 2-3 months to keep track of your progress. You can also add feedback from readers to your retro, to help balance it.
Type up your retro notes, or take a photo of your post-it notes, so that you have an ongoing record of your ideas and plans.
2. Make changes!
Now that you’ve done your retro and written a list of things that you’d like to start doing, mark them as changes you’d like to put in place.
Here are some ideas:
** Set up an email list landing page
** Get a logo/change the logo
** Update the colour scheme
** Create a new/free ebook
** Improve the calls to action
** Add/improve images
To keep things manageable, choose three things from your list and focus only on those three for now.
Keep a note of the remaining items on your list – and mark them in your calendar for review in a month or two or at your next retro.
Now focus on your three priority changes and make each one a SMART goal, i.e. specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound.
For example, if one of your three priority changes was ‘improve the calls to action’, you could make sure it is a SMART goal in the following way:
Specific – At the end of each blog post page I need to add a call to action – e.g. a button/link to one of my products or to my contact form.
Measurable – I will add the call to action button/link to all 30 of my blog posts.
Actionable – I will design the call-to-action buttons, write the link text, embed the links and upload them. Or I will hire someone to design and upload the call-to-action buttons for me.
Relevant – This low-effort piece of work will deliver high value for me (through potential ebook sales and client work through my contact form).
Time-bound – I will complete all 30 call to action buttons/links in 3 days (be sure to add a specific date here to make it firmly time-bound!).
Set aside a little time to re-evaluate your SMART goals to make sure they continue to be relevant while you’re working on them.
You may need to change or adjust your SMART goals, so be prepared to be flexible.
3. Create an ideas book
One of my favourite tools is my little book of ideas that I use for my blogs.
It’s a notepad where I jot down ideas for blog topics as and when the ideas come to me.
Sometimes the ideas arrive when I’m out and about doing something completely different or first thing in the morning when I wake up.
Ideas sometimes come to me while I am writing a blog article.
I recommend jotting down the ideas (or typing them into a note-taking tool like Evernote) as soon as you think of them.
If you don’t record your ideas when they come to you, trust me, you’ll forget them! When you have time, you can test the ideas to see whether they would be helpful to your audience.
Use lots of other sources to spark more blog article ideas for your ideas book, including social media listening, feedback from your readers (you could even run an online poll or survey), news from your industry, blog post comments, queries from prospective clients or frequently asked questions on your blog.
The great thing about your ideas book or virtual book is that as time goes by, you’ll have a vast pool of ideas to choose from and sometimes the practice of writing down one idea or reading through the list sparks yet more ideas.
The added bonus of an ideas book is it’s a ready pool of ideas you can dip into for your next blog post.
Think of your ideas book as your constant source of inspiration that will allow you to get on with the business of writing and enjoying what you’re writing about.
4. Set a regular writing routine
Do you know when you’re at your most productive?
** First thing in the morning?
** Last thing at night?
** After your mid-morning espresso?
There’s only one right answer to all of these questions.
And the right answer for you is whatever time you’re at your most productive or feel most able to create content with the least distractions.
For many people, first thing in the morning is the best time because you’ve (hopefully) had a good rest and your mind is clear – before it becomes cluttered with all the things that each new day brings.
I know that I have two creative spurts in a day, first thing in the morning and during the very early hours of the morning when it is very quiet.
If you’re unsure which time is best for you experiment by creating content at different times of the day or night. You could even use this as an opportunity to set a new habit around a particular time slot that suits you best.
This fascinating article on how long it takes to form a new habit by James Clear, is well worth a read – to help you form your new (or improved) writing habit.
5. Do more writing when you’re feeling more creative
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that there are certain times when you suddenly find you’re in a creative spurt. The ideas are flowing and you’re being extra productive.
Whenever one of these creative bursts strikes, I like to make use of them to produce as much content as I can, even if it’s only a collection of rough drafts.
Start by writing down the outline of what you want to say.
Add in any other details, including reminders about any extra information you need or research you would like to do.
With a little practice, you’ll soon find a method of making outlines or note-taking that works for you.
I like to use the numbered list approach when noting down my outlines. It helps to give me some structure by allowing me to group topics with a similar theme together, whether or not I will end up using the numbers in the finished blog article.
One more thing to remember is that during your creative or productive bursts, the versions you produce are likely to change drastically and you may even decide to throw away what you first wrote and start again.
This is fine and is all part of the creative process.
Allow yourself to create, and allow your creation to evolve.
6. Write out loud
If the writing itself is the thing that’s holding you back when it comes to re-starting your blog, try recording the content for your blog post.
Today’s smart phones have voice recording tools that will record to a good enough quality for this purpose.
Start by recording a test sentence or two and playing it back before making the full recording of you talking out your blog post.
Once you’ve finished recording, you can either transcribe the article manually or use a speech to text application and edit the text afterwards.
7. Remove obstacles
Are there any obstacles in your path that are preventing you from re-starting your blog?
Give this some thought and see what comes to mind.
I’m going to share one thing that stopped me updating one of my blogs for a very long time: the date on blog posts.
Seems odd, doesn’t it? But it’s true.
During the years that I had been regularly updating that particular blog I suddenly experienced a lot of upheavals in my life.
As I overcame each obstacle, I would return to the blog and sit there paralysed by those blog post dates and widening gaps of time between each date.
When I was posting regularly – and hitting my weekly blog post publishing goal, I didn’t notice the date thing.
But once life had stolen the rug from under that particular routine, whenever I returned to the blog and saw those increasingly sporadic publishing dates, they stopped me in my tracks cold and prevented me from writing a single word.
I tried amending the blurb of the blog to include the words ‘regular updates’ in place of ‘weekly updates’, but that didn’t help either. One year I managed to write only one blog post and the year after that, I managed to write only a handful (compared to the 52 I was ‘supposed’ to be writing).
One day I read a blog post on Copyblogger about removing blog post dates. The idea had never occurred to me, but it made sense because it wasn’t the type of content that needed to have dates on it.
I immediately removed the publication dates. Once the dates were gone, my mental block was lifted.
This is just one example of an obstacle.
You can probably think of others that apply to you.
Next step: write your first blog post.
Have you re-started a blog recently – or tried to? How did it work out?