If you blog regularly—doesn’t matter whether once a week, once a day or three times a day—sooner or later you come up dry. With the clock ticking away, your brain freezes. You simply can’t muster the creative juice to find a great post topic, write an irresistible headline or craft an engaging lede.
What now? Yes, you can bloody your keyboard banging out draft after fruitless draft.
Or you can give yourself—and your Muse—a break with these great Cheat Sheet resources:
7 great blogging cheat sheet resources
Post topic cheat sheets
The following lists provide meaty blogging fodder—whether you need it for a single post or an entire series:
- Chris Brogan’s 100 Blog Posts I Hope You Write. Wouldn’t we all love to have Chris Brogan’s prodigious blog production skill? Chris travels constantly, schmoozes in multiple social communities, writes books, devotes time to his family—and still manages to write terrific blog posts every single day. If you don’t actually use one of his 100 blog post suggestions, I guarantee reading them will unstick your brain and help you come up with your own variation-on-a-Brogan-theme.
- Lisa Barone’s 100+ SMB Blogging Ideas to Kick Start 2010. I confess I’ve never completely read through Lisa Barone’s excellent Blogging Ideas post. I haven’t had to: Usually the old gray matter kick starts about a third of the way into her great list.
- 99 Headline Techniques Revealed by Chris Bloczynski. I use Chris’ terrific list of tried-and-true headlines with just about every post, feature or piece of collateral I write. There’s a relaxing mindlessness to plugging my theme and keywords into one of these dependable, reader-focused heads.
- How to Write Magnetic Headlines by Copyblogger. This collection of Copyblogger posts is a mini-headline course: In addition to explaining the crucial importance of headlines, the Series touches on headline SEO and provides numerous headline examples for you to
stealadapt. Two of my favorites: 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work and 7 More Sure-Fire Headline Templates That Work.
- The 100 Greatest Headlines Ever Written by Jay Abraham. Don’t feel put off by the dated language in some of this collection’s headlines, e.g.: Who Else Wants a Screen Star Figure? If you stretch your mind, you’ll see how you can apply many of the formulas to your own head. Beyond a wealth of sample headlines, Jay provides commentary for each head, detailing valuable historic, strategic or structural insights.
- Poynter’s Lexicon of Leads. Once in a while a divine inspiration—or dumb luck—strikes and you’re given a great lede. The rest of the time you need to use your head. It helps if you understand a wide variety of lede forms. Poynter’s Lexicon of Leads gives them to you in spades. You’ll learn the whats, whys and hows of straight, narrative, anecdotal and a dozen more lede types.
- Poynter’s Power of Leads Brown Bag. In newspaper jargon, a “brown bag” is an in-house training session. Poynter’s Power of Leads Brown Bag provides expert analysis of ledes, samples of award-winning ledes, exercises in lede-writing, tips on revising ledes and lists of lede resources.
Headline cheat sheets
Five times as many people read your headline as your body copy. So clearly, your head has to kill. Seasoned direct mail copywriters tell us to brainstorm a hundred headlines. Get a headstart:
Lede cheat sheets
Good journalists craft great ledes, the segue paragraph or two at the top of your post that draws readers into your story. To learn about lede forms and functions, who better to turn to than the expert reporters and editors at The Poynter Institute?
Does using cheat sheets make you a cheater?
I hold there’s nothing unethical—or uncreative—about borrowing inspiration from others. Michelangelo studied Donatello. The Coen Brothers lifted from The Odyssey. Bloggers and writers should feel free to use tried-and-true resources, provided we inject work with our own voice, tone, insights and conclusions.
Agree? Disagree? If you use cheat sheets, please feel free to share them in comments.