The Secret To Promotional Website Blogging – Episode 1: Inspiration and Planning

sam hollis

Sam Hollis is a Web Designer, Business Owner, Dad,  Digital Marketing Expert and Podcaster

‘I’m always happy to chat and advice is always free’

Promotional Website Blogging Series

Almost anyone who has ever created anything fears the blank page. For you, it might be a blog page with that little cursor blinking impatiently at the top left of your screen, while for others it’s an easel or notebook, waiting for their inspiration.  Don’t worry. You’re not alone – Jodi Picoult, Victoria Wood and many more greats have expressed this particular phobia.

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You’re not stuck either. While it’s popular to liken inspiration to mana rained down from heaven by the great muse, really it’s something everyone can generate with time, a little effort, and a 4-step system:


The 4-step inspiration system

  1. Consume content on your subject area.
  2. Choose focus topics and lay out what you know
  3. Expand on your inspiration with targeted research
  4. Play with and discuss your ideas

Let’s dig into those steps a little.


1. Consume content on your subject area.

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope … they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.” – Mark Twain

Mark Twain makes a good point. One that was incidentally made before him by King Solomon in the Old Testament. There’s no such thing as new and unprecedented ideas, just improvements on old ones. Facebook was just a mix of Myspace and the old University Yearbook. Shakespeare’s plays were a rehashing of hundreds of ideas that were around at the time. Even the wheel was an improvement on the logs we previously used to roll things from place to place.

The upshot of that for inspiration is that you don’t need some divine muse or some unknown source of genius to be inspired. You just need to get a load of ideas into the big kaleidoscope that is your head and shake them up in a new way in order to create something original for your blog. The way to do that is to read, watch and listen to as much media as you can on your subject.

Content suggestions

Industry magazines, sites and blogs – Endless fonts of knowledge.

Regular occurrences – Events from International Women’s day to Christmas provide opportunities for a fresh perspective on things.

Competitors – What are they talking about? More importantly – what are they not talking about that you can be?

Current affairs – Plenty of inspiration is offered by everything from niche industry news to the headlines of the day.

Trends – Find out what’s hot in your sphere with the help of Google, social media or other online forums.

Your experiences – Your own work could be informative and interesting for your clients. Write about how you overcame a challenge or succeeded in a big way this week.

The magic thing that’s even better than content

People are even better than content. That may sound obvious, but I am a content creator, so it’s a close-run thing.

Network with experts and interesting people in your field and, dare I say it, befriend them if they’re interesting enough. Chat with them, learn from them, bounce off them, and create new ideas together with them. All of this is invaluable to your blogging. It’s much more fun than staring at a blank screen, too.

Clients are great too. I get a lot of my ideas from people I do work for. You can answer the questions they’ve asked or even feature them in your blog with permission.

2.      Choose focus topics and lay out what you know

Think of the area you want to cover. It might be the topic of your blog as a whole or something specific you’re focussing on this month.

Now write ten interesting things you know about that subject area. Be open and free with yourself and just write. There are no bad ideas and there is no fact that’s not good enough at this point, as long as it interests you. That is the sole requirement.

Delete the ones that you’ve used before and pick your favourite remainders. These are blog subjects. Now write down another list of up to 10 things you know or think about each chosen subject. A few are fine, but no more than ten. You should end up with a list like the one below. With several viable blog ideas and sub-lists of facts for each blog. If you’ve already used all your ideas, just carry on with 10 more, or try step one again for a while and come back to your list.

Topic list example

    1. Blog idea –
    2. Blog idea
    3. Blog idea
        1. Fact / Opinion
        2. Fact / Opinion
        3. Fact / Opinion
    4. Blog idea
        1. Fact / Opinion
        2. Fact / Opinion
        3. Fact / Opinion
        4. Fact / Opinion
        5. Fact / Opinion
        6. Fact / Opinion
    5. Blog idea
    6. Blog idea
    7. Blog idea
        1. Fact / Opinion
        2. Fact / Opinion
    8. Blog idea
    9. Blog idea
    10. Blog idea


3.      Expand on your inspiration with targeted research

Next comes research targeted at the blog areas and facts you came up with in step two. You’re aiming to expand on what you know and add more interesting facts to your blog(s). There are three goals here.

  1. Back up what you know with sourced facts, figures, examples, and interesting stories.
      1. Don’t forget images to illustrate those facts.
  2. Expand on what you know by consuming and discovering new things on your blog topic.
      1. Back to part one of this article.
      2. You could start by reading up on a fact you know and seeing where this leads you. Just follow your own interest and see what related information you can uncover.
  3. Create a narrative to link up the facts you know and turn them into a bloggable story.
      1. For example, I looked up the Mark Twain quote in part one because I knew there was no such thing as a new idea and I needed an interesting way to introduce that concept.
      2. Wherever there is a big jump or a boring section in your blog plan, do a bit of research to find something interesting that will connect it and jazz it up.

Remember researching for a blog is a knack. it’s a challenge at first, but you soon get used to it.

4. Play with and discuss your ideas


Discuss your inspiration with others

Nothing humanises a blog and makes it accessible like talking it through with someone. If you’re one of those people who thinks their blogs are stilted and robotic*, make a point of chatting it through with a friend, colleague, client or family member. As you do, casually take notice of how they discuss things and how you do. Expand on what interests them and reduce bits that don’t. Also, think about the little things that differentiate an interesting conversation from a spiel of text. They are the things that will make your blog more natural and readable.

Some of these little conversational things will seem to break some of the strict rules of writing. If they do this, definitely use them. The conversational bits that go against the grain are often the ones that humanise a text the most. So punk up your writing and stick it to the man (or woman)!


Play by yourself

Play with your ideas on your own. This is great when you don’t have someone to share your blog with, when you’re sitting alone in your office, or simply when you haven’t finished it enough to show it to someone.

If you come upon a small point in your plan that really interests you, follow it. If an idea feels better to you presented in a different way, flip it around. If a tract of your blog feels dull, don’t be precious, drop it (if time allows). This is important because you’re trying to interest other people. That being the case, the single most valuable resource you have for creating great blogs is your own interest.

This should only be limited by the time you allot to the blog. The first test for any piece of writing is for you to be interested in it, and you should work hard to keep yourself riveted.

*Footnote: You’re definitely not alone if you’re one of those people. Every creative person has felt stilted and robotic at some stage.


Systemic inspiration?

This four-step process should provide a fairly systemic way of finding inspiration. There’s no characteristic genius or divine muse behind it, just systems. Geniuses just devise and use these systems without realising they’re doing it. For the rest of us, there are guides and blogs like this one.

Return to master blog – Blogging to Promote Your Website



Promotional Website Blogging 1: Planning

Promotional Website Blogging 2: Writing

Promotional Website Blogging 3: Promotion

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