Where to get ideas for blogposts

Welcome to part three of our “Introduction to blogging” guide for Liberal Democrat bloggers or would-be bloggers. It’s appearing each Saturday between now and Christmas, with all the posts available via this page. The series will then be revised and collated into an e-book, so please do post up your comments as the series progresses. Today it’s the turn of Mark Thompson (the one with the blog rather than the one with TV empire) addressing one of the problems that befalls many would be bloggers: how do you keep on coming up with ideas for new posts?

Young woman, blogging by windowUntil I was asked to contribute to this Lib Dem Voice series on blogging with a focus on where to get ideas for posts I must admit that it was not something I had thought about very much. But having spent some time mulling it over and looking back through my blog archive I have been able to boil it down to a number of broad categories which I will elaborate on:

Blogging in response to a current news story

This is one of the most common categories that my blogposts tend to fall into. I have always been a voracious reader and viewer of news and comment and now that I am a blogger I find this often feeds into the topics that I blog about. I usually come at the story from a certain angle though generally aligned with my political views. One thing that I do try and do is get behind the story as much as I can perhaps by pulling in background and related articles as well as referencing things that the protagonist(s) have said and done previously, especially if they seem to be contradicting themselves! It’s also a good idea to link to other bloggers who may have commented on the same story. One final point is that the quicker you can get your blog post out there, the more readers it is likely to get and the more inbound links. This is especially true with a fast breaking story.

Blogging in response to another blog post

This is again a fairly common way that I get ideas for blog posts. Sometimes I will reference another blog post because I agree with it, sometimes I may disagree and want to reference it in order to put my counter-argument into context. I would suggest though that in the case of agreeing with another blogger, if you can, try and have a bit more to say on the issue rather than just “I agree”!

Fisking

This is a particular type of blog post which I have done on occasion whereby you take an article or blog-post (or section of it) by someone else (usually one you quite strongly disagree with) and then reproduce it along with your own commentary about the points they have made and why you think they have got it wrong. A recent example of this from my own blog is this post I did in response to one on LabourList from someone who seemed to think it was a selfish luxury to vote against Labour which I considered particularly wrong-headed. Fisking can be a good way to respond to others articles but I would suggest it is used sparingly as it can otherwise get a bit tedious.

Blogging in response to a local issue

There are not many of my blog posts that fall into this category. I generally blog about politics from a national perspective. However there have been a few that have related to local issues where I live in the Bracknell constituency. These have been related to our MP Andrew MacKay who held a public meeting and was forced to step down following the expenses scandal and the Conservative open contest to replace him. This category is very important for more locally based blogs (e.g. Bracknell Blog in my local area) though and there have also been examples of bloggers who often blog on national issues but who have seized the opportunity of a local political event to blog extensively on it. Nich Starling’s excellent coverage of the Norwich North by-election a couple of months back on his Norfolk Blogger blog is a textbook display of this where he pretty much kept a daily diary of events on the ground and published a copy of every single political leaflet that came through his door.

Blogging about things that have long been bugging you!

This is something that I found happening a fair bit when I first started blogging. I had had 15 or so years as an adult following politics closely and shouting at the TV but without a proper forum in which to express my views. Once I started blogging it was like the floodgates had opened! An example would be this post about Prime Ministerial prerogative which I wrote back in January as it was topical but that I had been thinking about for years. I still find now after nearly a year of blogging as a Lib-Dem that issues and ideas that I had years ago pop out. Aside from anything else, it can be quite cathartic to be able to do this.

There are a few other categories which some of my posts seem to fall into and I will list here more briefly:

  • Live Chats: Can be a good way to get bloggers together to “chat” in real time about something, e.g. I do one every Thursday during BBC Question Time.
  • Round ups: They can be round-ups of your own posts or of others. Can be a good way to show your readers what you are reading and other bloggers certainly appreciate the linky-love!
  • Interviews: With fellow bloggers or anyone else interesting who is willing to spare of bit of their time for you. They can be written, audio or video. As I am learning though it is best to keep them reasonably short and to the point if you want to maintain interest!
  • Campaigning: It may be to highlight an existing campaign and try to get others involved or even to start your own.

One bit of advice I would give is to maintain a list of non-topical things that you want to blog about at some point. If you are anything like me, ideas will pop into your head at times when it is not convenient to blog. I tend to make a note of them ASAP so as not to forget and it gives me a list to draw from at times when I am struggling for inspiration or there are no topical issues I want to blog about.

So I think that just about covers it. I can only write from my own personal experience but blogging for me has been a very positive thing in many ways and it can be a release valve for when the throbbing vein in my temple gets too big!

I am very conscious though that others will certainly have more categories to add to my list here and please do share them in the comments below.

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This entry was posted in Blogging guide.
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6 Comments

  • Not sure what it says that the post on “what to write about” comes after “what platform to use” and attracts way fewer comments.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Oct '09 - 8:45am

    It would seem to me that if you have a blog and need to be instructed on what you might do to think of things to put in it, you ought not to have a blog. I myself do not have a blog for the opposite reason.

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