One of the more common questions I get from people who want to start a blog is how I find ideas to write about. I ghostwrite several weekly blogs, most of which have at least two posts per week. That’s a lot of ideas. A lot of ideas I need to come up with week in, week out.
But, the reality is, I’ve never really had much trouble coming up with idea. They’re everywhere. The Internet holds the sum total of human knowledge, or at least as close to a collection of all understanding as humanity has ever come. If there’s something to write about, you’ll probably find it on the Internet.
Fortunately, I don’t usually need the Internet. I just use my girlfriend.
My girlfriend isn’t a lawyer. She doesn’t have a background in the law other than what she’s seen on The Good Wife. (I’m only vaguely aware of what that is, but I think it’s a TV show.) So, when she asks me about my day, I inevitable have to tell her what I wrote about. But, because she and I are coming from very different knowledge bases, I have to explain it in a way she understands. I have to guide her through the basic concepts and explain why what I wrote mattered.
More often than not, the way I explain what I do leads me to more idea. Ideas I hadn’t thought about before. I have to explain the concepts I assumed were known. I have to flesh-out the relationship between ideas or topics, or why something happened the way it did.
Ideas after ideas after ideas.
Luckily, that’s exactly how I have to approach the legal blogs I write as well. I write for those with no background in the law. I write to inform those who don’t know anything about the law but who need information because it matters to their lives.
If that sounds like your audience, you can do the same. You can inform your readers, but can’t overwhelm them. Your audience wants you to tell them something interesting, but they don’t want to be confused. They don’t want to be left wondering what the hell you’re talking about.
Can you give it to them?
Even if what I’m writing about is boring, the question of what I did that day is still helpful. It helps me tell a story about something boring and forces me to try to make it interesting. Does it always work? No. But it makes me think about what I need to do to reach my audience. And that helps.
You don’t need someone to ask you about your day, or your week, to come up with a blog. If you have someone, use it. Talk about your day. Talk about concepts that are foreign to your girlfriend, spouse, siblings, best friend. Whoever. Use a lay person you know and have conversations about your job.
If you find your audience losing interest, you know you’ve go work to do. If your audience responds well, you’re doing better. If they want you to go on, you’re ready to start writing.
If you don’t have access to a layperson, don’t worry. All you need is an imaginary child at your side. That child is ever inquisitive, ever eager, and is there to soak up your knowledge. The child wants you to talk, wants you to tell stories even if it’s about boring stuff. Your job is to make it interesting. Compelling. Relatable.
Last week I wrote about how you need to talk to your audience like they’re six. That’s what you need to do when you blog. Tell that six-year-old about your day. Make it enjoyable. Explain the important basics. Drop a joke here or there. Make a spreadsheet and write down all the topics that came up in your discussion. Have those discussions at least once a week.
Ideas will grow like weeds.