Writers block, it happens to the best of us. You sit down to write an article and literally nothing comes to mind. What do you do? When I get stuck and can’t come up with a topic to write on, I often turn to my readers. Here’s how:
Read your comments. Readers often write very thoughtful comments in response to your articles. They’ll also frequently ask questions or for your perspective on something related to what your article was about. Of course you could just respond to their comments with a comment but a better approach is to write an article responding to their comment or question. It’s a win-win as your reader gets a thorough and well thought our response and you get a article. I always look for win-win opportunities.
I get a lot of reader email. Sometimes they are just saying Hi or letting me know how much they liked a particular article or my blog in general. Many times though they are asking for help. As with comments, of course you could just reply, but again an article response to their question is a win-win.
One thing I would recommend though is that you ask if it’s ok to use their question. When one of your readers posts a comment for all to see, than providing an answer for all to see is acceptable. When they email you though, it’s private, so make sure you double check with them. Unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way and had to remove an article response I wrote up and published. 99% of the time, they’ll be fine with it, it’s that 1% you have to watch out for.
Social networks are great sources to poll your readers on their ideas and for them to give you article ideas. The key is to be active and engage your readers. I try to ask questions and get their opinions on topic ideas. I often ask them directly for ideas on what they would like to hear more about. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are great ways to interact directly with your readers to get their feedback, thoughts, perspectives and ideas. All of these can lead to great articles!
Write a post asking your readers for ideas and the types of topics they would like to hear more about it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the large amount of feedback you get. Readers will often respond with questions and topic ideas you probably hadn’t even thought of. This is another win-win as by doing this you get great content ideas and readers get the answers and information they’re looking for. I tend to do a post like this monthly to not only get article ideas but to get feedback on the blog in general. This helps to insure your blog is meeting the needs of your readers.
A word of caution
One word of caution: Don’t use these ideas too often. If you look to your readers for article ideas too often, especially when asking, they may begin to wonder why they’re reading your blog when all they do is provide ideas. These techniques work well when you’re stuck, but in general you want to provide content and content ideas yourself.
Also, make sure the question or topic isn’t too specific. The topics you respond with via an article should be topics everyone in your audience will enjoy and benefit from, not just that one reader that asked.
Did I miss anything? For those of you that have been blogging for a while, do you have any additional ideas I might have missed? If so, add a comment!