Inspired by Parajunkee: Seeking originality

About 2 weeks ago, Rachel put up a post about originality.  The post got some backlash, but it also got an awful lot of support. If you haven’t read it yet, do check it out, but basically it talks about the fact that promo posts and cover reveals are starting to take over the book blogging world – making every blog look virtually the same.

I know, personally, that memes are taking over my blog a little, and planned to spend my Christmas holidays rethinking how to schedule my content better, keep on top of reviews etc (which is where I’ve been most of the month!). Rachel’s post then got me thinking about how to push it further – how to fill my blog with more original content.  Here’s a few ideas, if you’d like to branch out a bit too!

Step 1: Mind dump….

For the first bit, think about what you could, and would, write about, if it was just you who’d read it.  Maybe you started the blog for book reviews, but very few bloggers have the time to fill their blog with reviews alone – and unless you’re happy to have days without posts, it gets very easy to then fill days with memes and promo posts.  But what else could you fill it with?

The easiest way to think about it, is to have a complete brain dump, with everything that possibly appeals to you, and one of the easiest ways to do that is with a mind map (I used Text2Mind Map which was very straightforward).
Anita's brain dump
This is a mind map I drew for Anita, my example blogger (click to enlarge).  Anita is a fictional stay-at-home mother who blogs about cooking.  This took me less than 10 minutes to draw up and, as you can see, provides lots of foundation ideas for blog posts.  Firstly, write down your meme/link up ideas – if you want to include promo posts, cover reveals or excerpts etc, they should go here.  Then, make a section for the things you blog about currently – or things you could blog about that would fall into your current focus. For example Anita currently blogs just about recipes, but she could also include menu plans in that vein.

Then, if you need more content, think outside the box a little. Everyone has other hobbies – Anita has her family, and a love of stationery and budgeting.  Thinking about whatever it is that you’re passionate about – add a few more ideas for posts.  If you’re struggling with this section, think of things you maybe used to do that got dropped over time – reading fanfics, playing PC games, nail art – anything!

Step 2: Fit it all in!

So now you have plenty of ideas, you need to figure out what to cut, what to keep, and what to adapt.  First, decide which new ideas you could use weekly, if you wanted to.  Then slot those together with the memes/current features you definitely want to keep and see how everything fits.  Anita wasn’t that bothered about her memes, so she’s cut the Sunday haul to fortnightly, the Monday menu plan to once a month, and scrapped the rest for now.  If you like strict rules, then implement those: for example, Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, Anita has a strict recipe group to stick to. If you like more flexibility, then allow for that, such as Anita’s open “kid theme” Thursdays.
Anita's schedule

Step 3: Put it all to the test

Give it a go for a while; if your schedule doesn’t work – change it!  Remember as well, that you don’t have to post everyday.    If you only want to post twice a week, then plan for that. If you want to post 5 times one week and 6 the next, then go ahead!

If you love promo posts then go ahead and post them – but set yourself a limit.  If you decide you want to post one a week, then put them on a calendar or something when you sign up: no one wants to read promo posts seven days in a row.  Similarly, if you love memes but find yourself disappointed by the lack of content you end up posting as a result (this is definitely me), consider doing some every other week. Alternatively you could combine a few into one post to make things easier for readers who don’t like memes.

Book blogging can take over – review books take over, personal choices get forgotten about, and you can get caught up in the hype of certain books. If you’ve stopped reading your guilty pleasure genre, putting off your personal choices or giving up on other hobbies because you don’t have the time, this is a perfect time to re-evaluate! Find a way to bring those things in – after all, why not?

Above all else, remember that it is your blog. You might be nervous about venturing outside the comfortable book blogging features you have going on now, but your readers know you have other interests too, and bringing some of those interests in is an easy way to come up with new, original content.

 

Do you have any tips for originality in blogging? I’d love to hear more suggestions!

8 thoughts on “Inspired by Parajunkee: Seeking originality

  1. Great post! I don’t use the mind map but that’s sort of similar to my method! I write down EVERYTHING…every little idea. Some are duds but some spur other posts that end up being my most creative or most lively discussions — about silly things or about the serious. I think my tip is to be yourself. I remember for the first few months of blogging it took me a while to “find myself” as a blogger but once I started posting the things that I PERSONALLY would want to see and the things that felt like ME I became the happiest with my blog and I started gaining readers who were more similar to me and my tastes and my sometimes silly personality.

    I don’t personally feel, for me, that originality is an issue (I have many many other issues with myself as a blogger — procrastinating, too much social media and not enough productivity, struggling to write reviews because perhaps I’m not as great a writer as others in the community) but I think this is one area where I feel like I find my stride — being original and myself and I have heard, via feedback, that there is a definite tone and style to my blog and my posts…which could be good or bad for some people 😛 So I guess my advice is that…just be yourself and you’ll find your stride and be able to churn out more original posts because YOU are an original person! I found once I started caring way less about what OTHER bloggers were posting and what publishers WANTED I started loving my blog and having so much more fun and having these amazing ideas for posts! It was like an unblocking of the mind I guess! And I really felt free rather than trying to “keep up” with what the blogging world was doing.

    Anyways, great post! Love the method!

    –Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner

    • I definitely agree your posts are original – just off the top of my head, some of your posts have been my favourite this year!

      I’ve deliberately taken a step back the past few weeks, to really think about where I want to go with it, because originally I wanted to blog about a broader range of topics, and then book blogging somehow took over along the way! Now that I’ve started trying to think about what I actually WANT to write (as opposed to what I think I SHOULD write), I’ve had a few ideas for posts that I’m actually excited to write, which is what blogging should be about I think!

      Recently I feel like things I used to love have been dropped because I “need” to catch up – my personal choice books have been left on a shelf, I’ve abandoned reading fanfics completely, and I don’t remember the last time I played the Sims! It was starting to make me feel pretty uninspired to blog, because everything I posted felt so similar. Having had a break, I’m hoping to find a better balance, and start loving my blog all over again.

      Thanks for the comments and the tips – here’s hoping to a 2013 full of posts I loved to write!

  2. I’ve been book blogging for a little over a month now (just a baby!) and I’m still working on what the content of my blog should be. Your post, and the one Parajunkee wrote as well, made me sit back in my chair and really think about where my blog is heading. “Do I want my blog to be just another promo blog with no sense of originality?” The answer to that is no. I didn’t start blogging just to end up as a look-alike. I took your advice and I am now in the process of making my own Text2Mindmap for my blog. I hope it will eventually help to bring something new to the blogging universe.

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  4. this was a great post. I think every type of blog posts works in moderation. Also look at how many hits you get with each post..this is a key indicator of your followers opinions. I am going to try this little map

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