Although some people may think blogging was so five years ago, I have to admit it’s one of my favorite hobbies at the moment. I enjoy reading, but in the evenings, I prefer something a bit more productive. I love writing drafts or making lists or figuring out what it is exactly I’m trying to say with all of this. In anticipation of the Blogging 201 challenge, and thanks to a lull in the office, I decided to put myself through an exercise to determine what exactly Next Page, New Chapter is. Not necessarily what I want it to be (although that’s the next step!), but what it is right now. In a short period of time, I had a couple of visual aids that prompted upcoming posts and series. Here’s how I did it:
Mind Map, v1
1. Brainstorm. It all started with a mind map. I grabbed a piece of paper and a few pens and got to work (in the future, I want to keep colored pencils on hand. The process is much more fun when lots of color is involved!) I put the title of my blog in the center and went from there. What do I write about? Parenting was the first word that popped out at me, and from parenting I was able to move in multiple directions (life changes, relationships, baby milestones, work & mothering, etc.) After that, writing popped out as a second major theme. In addition to the periodic creative non-fiction or poetry pieces, I love reading about and thinking about writing (and blogging, which is considered by many to not be writing, but whatever. I’m not trying to argue semantics.)
mind map, v2
2. Analyze. The first draft of my mind map made it clear that I like to talk about all things parenting and writing. There were other areas, such as reading and fitness, that didn’t produce many daughter topics during the brainstorm. Yes, I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon in October, but it’s my fourteenth marathon, and after a while, all training is the same—run miles. Lots of miles. Hopefully fast. It’s a part of my life, but not a huge part, and I don’t think it provides much fodder for posts. It seemed to make more sense to have a broad, “other pieces of me” category for the random one-offs, such as a training run recap or book review.
3. Compare. Once I figured out what I like to write (and where most of my ideas come from), I looked at my blog stats to see which posts were more popular. As luck would have it, the posts with the most traffic happened to be creative writing posts or posts about parenting. Funny how it all works out!
4. Plan. From there, I decided to make a plan for the next month or so. I like the idea of discussing parenting topics on Mondays (with a nod to A Cup of Jo for inspiring the idea!), and discussing writing/blogging topics on Wednesdays. I hope to include more pictures and images. For example, pictures of journal entries with a few excerpts, pictures of brainstorming/planning exercises (like this!), etc. I also hope at one point to write more creative nonfiction, but I’m up against a bit of a writer’s block at the moment. And then sprinkled here and there throughout the week will be some fun, miscellaneous things—another how-to post, for instance, random mommy confessions, my quest to figure out the color of my parachute, etc.
5. Revisit. In June, I’ll re-do this process to see if I should make any changes. Do people not care about the parenting posts as much as I thought they would? Am I having a hard time writing them? Are there summer specific themes or series I might want to try?
Other blogging resources:
one cool site
Problogger (I tried out some of their tips on writing awesome titles for this post!)
How to create mind maps
18 places to generate great blog post ideas