I’m not the kind of writer who can sit down at my desk, take a sip of tea, and start pounding the keys.
I don’t work that way.
I need inspiration. A line from somewhere. A topic around which I can build a theme.
I obviously need a lot of help.
If you’re like me, I have good news. There are applications that can give us the prodding we need to get started.
The first tool is one that you need to create: an editorial calendar that lists the topics of all of your blogs for the next three to six months.
Before you start to protest, give me second.
Taking time to create an editorial calendar can really help you (and me!) on those days when you get stuck. Yes, it takes a time to create one, but it’s worth it.
We all have those days when we think to ourselves, “What can I possibly say?” Or, “What can I say that hasn’t been said before?” When that happens to me, I look at my editorial calendar and see that I’ve got scheduled.
Confession: I don’t always follow my editorial calendar. I can’t. Things change quickly in social media and what was new last week is old today. Or, sometimes I simply don’t don’t like the topic on my calendar.
So I jump ahead, or write something completely different. But at least the editorial calendar – in some bizarre way that I don’t completely understand – got me started.
Editorial calendars give me a starting point. (And I need one!)
I’ve sold you on the idea of creating an editorial calendar, right? The next step is to spend some time coming up with ideas for your calendar.
What’s a writer to do? Use a curating application or website to find the hottest news in your niche.
Curating tools are applications that crawl the Web in search of the best news for the topics you love to write about. Many present the information in a magazine format that you curate yourself and then share with your readers. The two top applications in this field – in my humble opinion – are Paper.li and Scoop.it.
This curation application will find the most recent stories on any topic you choose and present them in a newspaper format for you to enjoy and disseminate through your social media networks. This website also offers an informative blog.
With this application, you search categories – called topics – and the application will scour the Web in search of applicable posts. You will have the option to discard or scoop (publish) the articles that are most relevant to your areas of interest. Similar to Paper.li, you can share your online magazine on your social media networks, follow others, and encourage other users to follow you.
Curating Websites for Trending Topics
These websites won’t collect information tailored to your requests, but they will list trending topics in your niche and offer insight into what’s hot. The most popular online venues include these sites.
This is the top online source for the hottest trending information on the entire blogosphere. Search for categories under every letter of the alphabet.
This search engine will crawl the web for trending topics posted on social media networks.
Type in any topic and Google Trends will let you know whether it is trending up or down—and provide you with great statistics for your next blog.
Google Insights is designed to provide users with the trends Google tracks and the associated data related to each topic.
This website from Microsoft shows top trending topics and pictures on Facebook.
You can use this application on your Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android to aggregate news on any topic you select. This website also claims it can recommend future articles for you by analyzing your previously saved items.
This website is self-described as the “front page of the Internet.” It will show you trending topics and, similar to Digg, you can add your own posts as your favorites.
This website lists and categorizes the day’s top blogs. You can also list your own blog post here.
Use this website to uncover the day’s hottest messages on Twitter.
I hope you like the list and will try out a few. Don’t forget to report back which ones are your favorites, okay?
Well written, well researched – well thought out. This book is a must have!
Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.
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