So, you’ve got a blog. But you don’t know what to write about or you’ve run out of steam. Here Natalie Lue explains how to find regular fresh blog content so it keeps working hard for you and your business.

I talk to mums in business all the time who are either considering starting a blog but are not sure what to write about, or have started a blog and have run out of things to write about. The first situation comes about because every Tom, Dick and Harry is saying variations of how if you’re in business you should have a blog. Maybe you’ve seen others including your competitors doing it and think ‘Ooh I want a piece of the action’ or maybe someone’s told you it’s great for SEO. You’re now stuck in the indecisive, self-doubt, plenty of analysing stage feeling like you should do something but are not personally convinced, or you’re time poor, struggling to wear all your hats and dropping a lot of balls, and wondering if you can squeeze in another one.

Or…you’ve started a blog, had a burst of energy, and then run out of steam. Either way, you have a blog with no content or energy.

Quickly getting past the whole issue of whether you should have a blog or not, I always say to people to create your own personal business case for doing so. It’s different strokes for different folks, so while I do believe that if you truly want to have a strong online presence for your business, create a brand, and a be an authority on your niche that blogging is a must; if you have to drag yourself there kicking and screaming, or you get there and then lose sight of why you started and it becomes like Yet Another Chore, what is the point?

Blogging is part of your marketing activity and even if you pooh pooh marketing, everybody needs it and has to do it to a certain extent, so it’s important that if you actually want to grow your business, that get behind your decisions otherwise you’ll undermine them.

Planning ahead is key as well as managing your expectations so that you don’t have too inflated ideas about what the blog is supposed to do.

What do you need to plan? What you’ll write and how often you’ll do it

In terms of what content you will use on your blog, there’s the obvious stuff and then there’s the ‘thinking outside the box’ stuff. If you do both, your blog will stand out as opposed to looking like ‘just another business getting in on the blogging action’.

The obvious stuff

Your take on news related to your business/market. Make it original and informative – it’s your view, although avoid taking up the high horse/lecturing position.

Provide how to’s/patterns/downloadable PDF’s/recipes/link to great resources etc. A fantastic way to add serious value to your blog, people love finding solutions to problems, or just feeling like they gained something.

Tips & advice on how to get the best of out relevant products. A very good example of this is over at Milly Bee where Camilla sells affordable artwork and has put together a really useful page on where to buy frames.

Inspiring pictures. Photos of your product in use or someone using your service. Photos of them in unusual settings can be thought provoking and humourous.

Run a poll or survey and report your findings. Works as a great piece of pr that you could use to get press coverage elsewhere although every poll/survey needs respondents.

Post genuine customer stories. Don’t go down the informercial route as people will get weirded out, but posting feedback with pictures/video is great.

Video. An increasing number of businesses and bloggers use video. Quick snippets of your customers using your products, talking about your business, staff demoing stuff, show how something is made and give it some backing music and speed it up.

Remember! If you are on multiple platforms – for instance blog, Facebook, Twitter – you need to vary it up a bit because there is no ‘incentive’ for someone to follow you on all of these if you’re going to repeat the same information.

Eek, but seriously, what do people write about?! Here’s an example of brainstorming ideas for blog content

All of the above and more. I met Bisola from Kiddiesplaybus at the recent Mums The Boss monthly networking event. She throws parties in a specially kitted out soft play bus and had wondered about what to post on her blog. Off the top of my head I’m thinking:

Videos of excited kids at the party with little snippets act as great testimonials and also give a far stronger impression of the fun factor. Aside from mentioning news about the business, featuring stuff like the iPhone app ‘The Wheels On The Bus’, pictures of bus cakes, inspiring pics of the bus decorated in various ways, maybe staging a few scenes of teddy bears and dolls having their own sneaky tea party, other cool bus products, links to bus themed evites for the party or a template to customise and print out for party invitations, and tips for making the day less stressful are just some of the things that would work on the blog.

You don’t need to update your blog every day but find a general rhythm and try to stick to it, although don’t beat yourself about the head if you don’t. Start with saying you’ll update once a week or fortnightly, and even write in bulk and schedule ahead. Set aside an hour, bash out a few blog posts, and schedule them.

Keep a note of ideas so that if you don’t have time to write them straight away, you have your ideas ready to hand.

And remember, you don’t need to write an essay – pictures with a few sentences work really well. If you write a post and it’s really long, split it into a couple of posts – bingo, you have more blog content!