What to do with a brilliant post idea that's wrong for your blog
Jan. 22, 2016
It’s happened to all of us: You’re got your pillow-head ratio just right, the covers are snugged up ‘round your legs, and you’re so close to falling asleep. Then one single synapse leaps to life—and damn it all if that sleep-shaking thought isn’t a brilliant blog idea!
Still, there’s something off about it. You write it down, possibly on your hand in magic marker hieroglyphs, and when the morning comes, you’re pretty sure it’s still a good idea. But.
But…it’s just not the thing you normally do. But…it’s not something people talk about in your industry. But…you’re pretty sure your clients wouldn’t give two twists of a pepper grinder about it. So do you go ahead and write it (because, um, brilliant), or do you shelf it? The answer isn’t as simple as a quick “yes!” or “hell no!” Let’s take a closer look.
We’re going to run with the assumption that your idea is, in fact, brilliant. The big Q is whether or not it’s a strategic piece of content for your business blog. There are actually seven factors that could make or break your 2 a.m. light bulb moment.
Darn those folks who loyally return to your blog every week to read your ramblings! Still, you worked hard to bring them in, right? It takes months—years, even—of consistent, quality content to gain a following, but it only takes one off-topic post to turn a reader off.
Some bloggers, typically dubbed “lifestyle bloggers,” cover a multitude of topics in one blog. But the prevailing wisdom is to keep your content niche and business-related. If you’re already covering different subjects, branching out may do no harm. If you typically keep your content focused on a single subject, though, it would be wise to stay on the path you’ve set.
If you can’t research, write, and support this idea well, it’s not a good fit. Why? Because a great idea deserves more than slap-dash, “best I can do” coverage. You don’t want a “meh” response. You don’t want to contribute to content overwhelm. And you don’t want to let down your audience.
You’ve built your business brand around a strong mission and set of values. Your idea may be amazing, but if it contradicts the foundation you’ve already laid for your business, then publishing it would undermine your strategy.
Imagine a magazine called Cheap Eats offering recipes for fillet mignon with truffle butter green beans and saffron rice. Not exactly what you’re reading them for, right? The same goes for your blog. Don’t bait-and-switch your readers like a misleading sale ad.
For the regional businesses among us, this one is a biggie. Nobody picks up a local paper to read about what’s happening 300 miles away, right? In the same sense, your readers probably didn’t subscribe to your NoLa blog to read about how great the Chicago Museum of Art is.
There is a huge audience interested in reading educational content from a beginner perspective. That’s great! Go for it! But if your brilliant blog idea involves you pitching your mastery when you’re, um, not really a master, step aside. You don’t want to get called out for presuming to be a know-it-all when you don’t, in fact, know it all.
Whoa, whoa, whoa—tell me you didn’t trash that idea when you grudgingly answered “I guess that’s true” to one of the factors above? Well if you did, pull that baby outta the bin and dust ‘er off. Just because she’s not ideal for the blog that lives on your website doesn’t mean that she has to rot away with carrot peels and bits of paper towel. There are all sorts of things you can do with this brilliant idea of yours! Here are my best suggestions for where to look next:
Guest posts are an effective way to open your business—and your personal brand—to a new audience. Many large blogs, industry organizations, and B2B publications are looking for fresh ideas that are relevant to their audiences. If your idea could bring in business from a new market, consider this a great way to reach them.
[COPYBLOGGER: 7 crucial tactics for writing wildly successful guest posts; KISSMETRICS: The ultimate guide to guest blogging; QUICKSPROUT: How to find the best places to guest blog]
In a similar vein, there are formats other than blog posts that can be successful alternatives for bringing your great idea out into the world. SlideShares are immensely shareable. TED-style presentations are hugely in demand. And seminar-style speeches and workshops can add a new income stream to your business.
Just because you’re not the expert in this particular subject doesn’t mean that you can’t get it done. Consider working with another business owner who is to get it off the ground, whether that means conducting an interview, creating an app, or collaborating on a service.
Got big money dreams that need to be bankrolled? If you’re a prominent voice in your niche, you can likely find a sponsor who will give you a hand in exchange for promotion on your blog and on social media. Product reviews and giveaway are hugely popular on the blogosphere.
If you are S-O-L-D on this idea, if it excites you like nothing else you’re working on right now, it might be time to move in a new direction. This isn’t at all unusual with online businesses. In fact, after five or so years of doing the same thing, it’s pretty typical for business bloggers to pivot and offer new products and services just so that they can switch things up a bit.
[BRAID CREATIVE: How a rebrand should roll; BY REGINA: The rebranding conversation; CANVA: 5 signs your business needs a rebrand—and how to launch one on a budget]
Not sold enough to rework your current business? Try playing around with a new one. A blog costs nothing to start, so all you have to lose is the time it takes you to maintain it.
Collaboration is all the rage. (Doesn’t that make you happy? It makes me want to bake cupcakes for the whole world.) If your brilliant blog idea could be the start of a grand new venture but you need help to pull it off, I urge you to see how far you can go with the help of a fellow business owner. Blank slate, new frontier, and all of that!
[NATHALIE LUSSIER: How to pick a business partner; MARIE FORLEO: Should you go into business with your best friend?; CO.DESIGN: 5 tips for forging a lasting creative partnership]
I know this has been a rollercoaster ride of emotional, “Should I love it? Should I leave it?” questions. Don’t head/desk-it just yet, though. Put off your nap for a few more minutes, ‘cause you’ve got four questions to answer about this brilliant idea of yours before we’re done. Ready? Go!
#1. How much do you love the idea? If the answer is along the lines of, “I love it so much I’d elope to Gretna Green with it,” it’s a keeper.
#2. Could it be the start of a good opportunity? Not all opportunities are good, but they all deserve consideration. Are you excited about the opp? Lean toward yes.
#3. Does it have earning potential? Money makes the world go around, but it doesn’t make your big idea an automatic yes. Think about what it would take to bring this baby to life, and if you’re willing to do all the things to get there.
#4. Would it alienate your current customer base or audience? Sure, you could say you don’t give a fig (whatever that means). But since I’m pretty partial toward my customers and my audience, I thought I’d throw this one into the mix. You know, for fun. Wink wink.
Tell me baby girl ‘cause I need to know. I’m sorry guys, I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I do want to know all about your brilliant, middle-of-the-night ideas, though, and what you’ve done with them. Take snaps of the brainstorms (or the results!), Instagram ’em, and tag me @seebrittwrite.