Developing story ideas for your blog is a lot like coming up with a business idea: You're bound to come up with a handful of duds that have a few gems sprinkled between. Even the most expert writers experience this.
While it's simple enough to come up with broad topics as an entrepreneur -- such as successful networking, defining your brand, marketing strategies -- these are broad themes that have been written about many times.
Your story ideas live inside the popular topics, so get ready to dig deeper. The best way to connect with your readers in a unique and meaningful way is to share stories born from your experiences.
Here are three tips for generating specific and insightful content your readers will love:
1. Make it personal. As you well know, expertise develops over years of successes, failures, false starts, experimentation and risk-taking. Sharing personal experiences provides valuable insight only you possess. First-person accounts of experiences you've had and lessons you've learned often make for compelling and unique stories. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and ask yourself the following:
What are the biggest mistakes I've made along the way? Jot them down in a list. If you've learned valuable lessons from them, each one could be its own story. Did you design a marketing campaign that failed miserably? What did you do wrong and what did you learn? Pointing out your own missteps and how they changed your frame of mind can be illuminating for readers.
What do I know now that I wish I'd known when I got started? Again, brainstorm a list. What experiences changed your understanding and how? Be specific. An anecdote from your life and what it taught you can be a great jumping-off-point for a story.
What are some successes that could provide lessons to other entrepreneurs -- whether they are yours or someone else's? Think outside the box. Rather than relying on high-profile examples that everyone is writing about, such as Steve Jobs, consider case studies of other successful people who may be under the radar.
2. Scan the news. Is there anything relevant happening in your industry -- policy changes, tech developments or recent reports -- that could affect your customers? Can you distill some valuable lessons from companies or industry leaders who've made headlines? What could your customers learn from these victories or disasters?
3. Pick up the phone. Call clients or colleagues and ask them about the challenges they have they been experiencing lately? As you jot these -- and all other -- ideas down, take a moment to search the web for similar stories in the news using keywords. Often, you may think an idea is unique, only to find it has been covered extensively. Think of a fresh angle.
Bottom line: Be specific. Examples are important. Your personal experiences are what make your writing shine. Work those into your stories. Bring out your voice. Let your readers get to know you and they will turn to you repeatedly for expert insight.