What to Write About During Uncertain Times
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These are scary times! I live in a very rural area in Minnesota and we just finally got hit by the pandemic for real this week. Toilet paper shelves are empty, schools are closing, and my husband essentially lost his summer job officiating softball and baseball since sports are being cancelled. It’s a side-job only, not his primary career thankfully, but it still accounts for a significant portion of lost income for us. So we’re feeling the pinch! And I bet you are too.
Depending on your niche your blog may also be feeling the strain. Are you wondering what to write about on your blog during a crisis like this? Should you bother writing at all?
I say yes! Definitely write. Write your heart out. Writing is therapy after all, right? It’s a release, and if you can help others through this time even better.
And something else to think about: This too shall pass.
Blogging is a long game. It’s months and years in the making, decades even. This might be your first crisis as a blogger, but it likely won’t be your last. Do you want to stick it out? Survive? Come out the other side even stronger? You totally can!
Keep to your normal routine as much as possible
Yep, just keep on keepin’ on. Every niche, every blog and every blogger will be impacted differently (much like every country, city, neighborhood and family is being impacted differently). Don’t panic, and don’t make any big changes unless and until you really need to (or want to). Traffic for some will go down, for others it will go up — wait and see how you fare before making any big decisions or changes. Embrace your blog writing as an outlet for yourself, and as a resource and outlet for your readers as well. Your consistency will provide them with consistency, and in uncertain times that has a lot of value. Don’t underestimate the impact you can have.
Also don’t let yourself forget that this crisis will end. You can get through without changing your niche or giving up on what you love. Don’t feel guilty for writing about “frivolous” or non-essential things if that is what your blog is normally about — people need that stuff in their lives! It’s an escape. A joy. If you want to think about it and write about then I guarantee there are people out there who want to read about it. Keep writing the same wonderful content you’ve been writing, and bring a little light into the gloom.
And if you’re a personal finance or budget blogger, a home sanitization blogger (is that a thing?) or a homeschool blogger you might be experiencing the opposite problem: a crazy boom and too much to write about and do all at once! Well the advice “keep to your normal routine” applies to you too. Don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t apply unnecessary pressure and risk burning out. It’s natural to want to “make the most” of an opportunity (the same way we all want to keep a Pinterest pin going once it’s gone viral) but set realistic expectations for yourself. Only so much is possible. You can only do what you can do. Sit down and set clear priorities, work on them as you can, and be grateful for everything little thing you manage to get checked off the to-do list.
Write on topics that are relevant but also evergreen
Think about how current circumstances impact your niche. Travel bloggers are especially vulnerable during times like this due to quarantines, isolation orders, travel bans, and unprecedented public venue closures. Not to mention travel (in most cases) is considered a luxury and is one of the first to go in the event of financial difficulty or the possibility of an impending recession. So if you’re a travel blogger think: how is this impacting you not as a blogger, but as a traveler? How are you changing your daily life? As a traveler maybe you had to cancel plans, so write a post on how to cancel travel plans. Hotel policies, airlines, itineraries planned through a travel agent, venue tickets, the list is endless and I guarantee you stressed out readers will appreciate a little clarity and focus surrounding how they should go about it and what to expect (what is and isn’t usually refundable, etc). Other ideas could be How has your travel budget changed? Are you finding really good deals anywhere and are they worth the risk? What’s your opinion on paying extra for refundable tickets or travel insurance? What should you do if you’re stuck at an airport for an extended period of time? What if you’re stuck in a foreign country?
This approach works for any niche that’s feeling the pinch. Are you a foodie blogger who writes about making fancy cakes for big parties? Write about cake designs that look classic and expensive but are friendlier on the budget. Write about how to scale a recipe down for a smaller crowd. Or ideas for what to do with a cake when an event gets cancelled last minute. The trick is to keep it both relevant but also evergreen. “How to cancel travel plans” is relevant today but if done right can also still be relevant a year from now. Same with scaling down a cake recipe, or baking on a tighter-than-usual budget. Write for now as well as later, and your efforts will be well-invested.
Use this time to study and learn
Do you have any courses or ebooks you’ve purchased that have been sitting around collecting digital dust? Use this slow down as a time to build your skills and get some backend “housekeeping” skills off of your to-do list. Study up on SEO (finally figure out what keywords are!) and go back and optimize all your old blog posts. Come up with a rockin’ freebie and start building (and writing to!) an email list. Clean up all your Pinterest boards and finally get a pinning strategy figured out. All of these take research and time, and this could be the perfect opportunity to invest both. Blogging has a LOT of moving parts, put some energy behind shoring up your weakest areas and you could come out the other side of this crisis a blogging powerhouse, with several of your ducks in a neat little row, ready to boom at the slightest sign of recovery.
Blog Writing Prompts for Uncertain Times
Note: Storytelling is an important aspect of blogging, but be careful not to lose focus and “vent” your own stresses to your readers in blog posts (it may work on social media though, depending on your niche). Share your stories, get personal, but make sure your priority is always providing the reader with a useful takeaway. What’s in it for them?
- How are you adapting your life (relating to your niche) as a result of the current situation? Share what’s working, and perhaps what isn’t working
- How do finances impact your niche? Supply chains? Talk about how to get creative when resources are limited, how to make swaps and substitutions, how to get by with less than or flow with unexpected changes
- Address specific stresses, and ideas for how to cope
- What are you learning during these times?
- What myths have you uncovered about what people expect vs experience?
- Any problems or issues you’ve seen that seem to be overlooked or under-reported?
- What aspects of your niche continue on, unchanged, regardless of circumstances?
- What worries might people have in your niche that are completely unfounded?
- Give a pep talk
- Has this crisis changed your outlook at all on your niche? If yes, how and why? If not, why not?
Want more writing prompts? I’ve got a whole bunch for you right here.
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What a great post – thank you for sharing all these great, thoughtful tips! I’m a food writer/blogger and you’ve given me some new inspiration. I wish you the best, as we all navigate through this new world of ours 🙂
All the best to you as well Nicole! Hopefully this is all in the rear-view mirror soon.
Very informative post..i hv started writing posts …and i am immensely helped by your prompts
I loved your post. I was talking to my kids earlier, and I said, “You know, blogging is either teaching something or being a life coach.” Then my daughter said, “No, blogging is more like sharing your life with someone.” I like that; sharing your life with someone. Thank you for sharing your life with me. I’m excited to learn all I can about blogging, and this one was a great start. Take care. 🙂
The other email is my family email, this one is my professional one. I’m learning how to market myself as a writer. I hope to have time to read your blog regularly. It was uplifting. Thank you!