November 25

Getting Started with Your Own Blog

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Muslim blogs can, and should, be filled with the best ideas.  I’ll repeat that once more, but say it with me this time because it’s not just a nice idea — it is our goal:  Muslim blogs can, and should, be filled with the best ideas.

So far, you have purified your intention, prayed istikhaara, and selected both your topic and target group (niche).  The next step? Read on to find out.

Resource Center

This is something I started about a year ago or so.  I use to have every blog with its own individual folders for things like product reviews/plugins/pictures/screenshots/ideas.  While I didn’t completely abandon that structure, I did try to unify it all into one central folder: Resource Center

Once that folder has been created, I place it in the folders that were relevant to my type of work.   For you, this can be anything you find relevant.  This is folder where you keep everything together, so have a structure that make sense to you from the beginning.  After I added the folders it looked more like this

So the upper level it’s structured like that.  Let’s go inside The Muslim Blogger folder and see what’s in there.

Inside The Muslim Blogger folder, I have certain files that are exclusive to TMB.  What I want to draw your attention to, though, is where the red arrow is pointing: TMB Posts.  This folder is, for the most part, the place I go to whenever I have an idea for a post. On that note…let’s move on to the Brainstorming Ideas

Brainstorming Ideas

Above, we quickly went through what a resource center is and one way that it could be set up.  But what about the actual ideas?  Let’s break this into two parts: what to brainstorm and how to brainstorm.

What to Brainstorm

To avoid wasting time, first make a list of problems you believe you readers have that you can help them solve.  Let’s say there is a Muslim blog about Muslims in America.  You could brainstorm the points you’re interested in — but that won’t help.  You need to find the intersection of your interests and people’s questions.

  • What does it mean to be a Muslim in America?
  • Can you be Muslim and American?
  • Is there a contradiction between the two?

Those are possible questions Muslims may have that would attract readers.  Of course, you would have picked this topic only having looked into your knowledge in it (dunya/deen) and having prayed istikhaara.

So that is a good place for you to start before you get to the next part

How to Brainstorm

Having completed some of the basics of the what, now it is time to cover 3 different ways that may help you to figure out the how.

Branches

Here, you want to get out a paper/pen, open Microsoft word, or some other way to begin getting ideas down.  Some might do well with a Roman Number system outline.  Most of the time, however, I prefer something visual.  I use an app called MindNode for Mac (free version) and I ended up with something that started off like this.

Pretty basic stuff and nothing fancy in any way.  From there, as I’m sure you can guess, I began to branch out another level.

At this point, what I’ve done is essentially narrow down what my entire blog will be about and the direction I want to take it.  You’ll notice that for The Muslim Blogger, the whole idea is shown in that tiny visual and eventually became worded as: Tips to help Muslim bloggers get more traffic, become better writers, and make money.  The next level begins breaking down into what are later categories and tags.

I won’t go through how it looks when you keep branching out, but you get the idea.  All you are doing really is finding a way to clearly lay out what your blog is all about.  And yes, it does make a difference to have it in front of you vs in your head.

Write-As-You-Go

For example, while I’m writing this I have an idea for a post I want to do in the future – a Blueair 203 review.  I open up Notepad (or TextEdit on Mac) and either just right the title I want or both the title and maybe a sentence or two.  Here’s an example of what I mean.

These are three files that I have in my folder:

  • The first is about this series we’re on now and the topics I want to include.
  • The second was nothing more than a title.
  • The last is an idea that came to my mind and I added a few things to get going later.

As you can see, there isn’t one template I use – and there doesn’t have to be.  This is about what works for you and this post is just to point you in a direction that may help you.  I have dozens of files like that and the folder ends up looking something like this.

That’s one way to brainstorm ideas and how it fits in with the resource center.  Alhamdulillah, we find that Allah (swt) gives us ideas all day, every day.  Sometimes the best way to take advantage is to actually sit down for a good-ole fashioned brainstorming sessions.

60 Seconds

This is a technique that I was first introduced to in college and have found it to be very helpful in many different areas.  What you will do here is pick a word related to your blog and then for the next 60 seconds, write down every word that comes to mind.  The key is not stopping and letting the ideas come out – filter the list later on.

For example, let’s use the keyword SEO

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Bing
  • Words
  • Help
  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • Ideas
  • Thinking
  • Relationships
  • Importance
  • Relevance
  • Focused
  • Targeted
  • Import
  • Export
  • Read
  • Explore
  • Magazines
  • Nature
  • Biology
  • 2 Wheel Scooter
  • Circle of Life

There’s nothing wrong with it being silly or completely out there.  By the end, I’m not sure how I ended up with “Circle of Life” after starting with “Google”.

It’s a bit of a stretch at first, but the “circle of life” can be used to illustrate how words are interconnected and need to be used in balance so you don’t disrupt the “circle of search engines”.  Other points on there could actually become brand new posts.  Take “import/export” – I could create two posts: (1) How to import your posts and settings from a previous blog and (2) How to export your posts and settings for a new blog.

That list could prove useful in many ways if I spent some time trying to benefit from it. Alhamdulillah, it has helped so far and I do expect that it will continue being a valuable resource in brainstorming topics for The Muslim Blogger.

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In The End

There must be hundreds of ways to brainstorm.  The above are only two strategies that I pray will be beneficial to you.  What is needed now is your input.  Some questions I have for you are:

  • Have you planned out your blog?
  • Do you brainstorm?
  • How do you come up with ideas?
  • In your opinion, do you think the ideas in this post are helpful?
  • What else can you share to help other Muslim bloggers?

I look forward to getting your responses in the comments below.

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