Trade Secrets: Blog Brainstorming

Blog Brainstorming Blog Brainstorming Sam asks, "I'd love to know more about your blog content brainstorming process. What's your criteria for what gets chosen?" 

Brainstorming is one of my favorite topics! In this post I'll share the big and small ways that we stay organized and inspired. I wrote previously about Organizing Inspiration. I still use all of those methods and have a few more to add today. 

Blog Brainstorming  1. We plan out each month. Yep, every month we have a big calendar with article ideas jotted down for each day. We don't follow the calendar strictly, but it's a helpful way to balance daily tasks and planning ahead. Some posts take more planning than others so we are able to work in advance on piece that require planning like Everyday Styling or Mixology. We work weekly on food, craft and Sister Style features that require less preparation. I know this kind of planning sounds like it takes a lot of time, but it consistently saves us time! We spend less time worrying about what we need to write and more time just writing. 

2. We keep index cards and notebooks full of ideas. Sometimes we have a fun idea and we immediately plan it out and get to work. Other times ideas sit in our notebook for months. Sometimes I get off season ideas (for example, lately I have tons of Holiday ideas) so it's good to have spot to store them for later. 

To organize random blog ideas I always keep a book divided into sections. I keep a section for each of the categories we write about, then choose my favorite ideas to work on each week. You can also keep notebooks for special occasion stuff, like a series of posts you have planned. Right now I have a seperate book for home decor ideas where I am organizing new room plans. No matter how you break them down, keeping all of your ideas in one spot is smart!

3. Sharing ideas makes them stronger. Each week Emma and I sit down at least one time and bounce ideas around. We share all of the articles that we are currently working on and think of ideas to make them stronger. This planning time is super helpful. I love hearing her opinions and ideas and I leave each meeting feeling challenged to work harder and try new things. You can do something similar with a friend who also blogs. Don't be afraid to challenge each other! 

Till next time…. Elsie 

*Photos above from Fancy S'more Table + Tips For Indoor Photos.♥ 

  • Trying to keep a balance on my digital tendencies and the oldschool pen-and-paper method, I use a combination of Evernote on my iPad/iPhone/computer and a moleskine sketchbook. Between the two, I can keep myself feeling organized and regimented (in Evernote), and have a place to scrawl notes and form thoughts in my sketchbook.

    Having a handwritten calendar is way nicer than trying to do it all in a Google Calendar or something else digital… being able to see it all at once is huge. I need to go out and buy myself a big ol’ desk calendar!

  • I recently got a new notebook to organize ideas that carry around in my purse. I’m also preparing a binder to organize visual things from like magazines. Great article, tips, and blog.!!!

  • I recently got a new notebook big enough to write everything from ideas on post to tips I can use but small enough I can carry it around in my purse, so it’s definitely a staple involving my blog. Also I’m working on a binder to organize visuals for my blog such as magazine pics. Great article and blog!!!!

  • Planning is great! I need to do it soon (right now I do random idea entries) I am sure it makes life a lot easier and productive too.

  • WOW I needed this! Name That Dress and win $50 with CopperEtiquette

  • I plan my posts ahead, at least most of them, but after reading this, I think I should get a notebook and start writing down ideas. Sometimes I’d think about a things I’d like to blog about and then the phone at the office would ring and that thought is forever gone. Awesome tips, thanks a lot.

  • I love reading about your tips, I just realized that I have to spend more time reorganizing my blog!

  • Thanks for inspiring me to plan ahead for my blog! You guys are AWESOME! Check out my blog:

  • This is so helpful! My sister and I are currently in the process of starting a blog together and this has helped so much, thank you! xxx

  • The simplicity of your logic is refreshing and straightforward. Thanks for the tips! I love the segmented notebook to organize ideas… much better than scrawled-on scraps of paper. 🙂 xxx, j

  • I really love your ideas concerning blog material! I too have a binder devoted to blog post ideas and other features. I’d really like to try out the calendar idea though!

  • These are extremely useful ideas. I constantly have ideas floating around in my head, but I forget a lot of them, the calendar sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the tips

  • Great tips and I already use the notebook for all of my ideas and inspiration 😉

  • It’s always interesting to read how the big girls do it! I’m trying to start planning more but so far struggling to get in the routine but definitely find it saves a lot of time when I do!

  • Thank you for these posts! You always have such great ideas 🙂

    xoxo Sarah

  • thank you! your tips will really help me organize my blog while i’m taking classes in Germany 🙂 Super helpful!

  • I really like brainstorming. I started my new blog and I have a new notebook filled up with all ideas, sometimes its a color inspiration, sometime a description of all the post. Thanks for those tips, it’s just amazing!

  • Very helpful. I’m glad both of you take the time to post these kind of topics : )

    xoxo aley

  • This sounds like a great idea! I have a super cool idea that I hope to do soon, and it’s all because you inspired me to do it. Thanks so much!

    Rachel Nicole @ Summer Breeze

  • I too like the idea of planning out post for the month…thanks for the tip!

  • Hey !Just wanted to say that I love your blog and I think it’s really awesome 🙂
    thanks for creating it 😉

  • I recently started using a calendar to plan out my posts too, after realizing three days late that I never posted about my wedding anniversary! Ah! So the calendar has helped me drastically with learning to plan ahead!

  • I enjoy reading all your posts. Thank you for sharing these tips that help create this beautiful blog. I am going to implement these practices right away.

  • Sam, Yea- we do other jobs, but running this blog is our main gig. We have a small team and we all get to write articles we enjoy, so it’s not that overwhelming… except when we are also writing books (that’s rough!). XOXO. Elsie

  • I always wonder how you can maintain a high quality on all the posts you make because it takes so much time! All the pictures and stuff you need to get done, are you a fulltime blogger? Because I can hardly get time to blog as frequent as I’d love to. 🙂

  • Great article. Now I am trying to develop my blog a bit more, planning and organising is the one thing on my list that I need to conquer – it shouldn’t be hard because I am an organisation freak in the normal world but in the blog world I am struggling more I guess.

  • Hi! This is not on topic but a request. Will you please do a post about photo editing software you recommend IF you haven’t already. I was looking for it on your blog but didn’t see anything.

    I also love the idea of a journal and planning out the month!


  • thanks for sharing!I hope I improve my blog with your tips.
    xoxo luisella

  • I have been doing this also. I’m not a fan of a ton of smaller notebooks. I had ones from Michael’s that were cute but too easy to lose. It breaks my heart when a smaller note book gets lost so I bought a larger 5 subject notebook and I love it. Granted it is a bit cumbersome but I love that it has pocket subiders for each subject that I can throw magazine clippings in and keep them organized. I got those post it labels and divided it by topics and I don’t have to worry about losing it.

  • I really need to start planning my posts! I began to plan a week at a time but I rarely stuck to it. Going to give it another go, find some inspiration and hopefully stick to it this time!

  • so true. planning can seem like it takes the fun out of it but if you’re every in a bloggy rut you will have some great go to ideas to get you going 🙂

  • Great tips! It’s always nice to get a peek inside the minds of people you admire : )

  • love the post ! great tips !

    XX Luba

    Well Living Blog

  • thanks for sharing those tips! I actually don’t really plan a lot if it’s about blogging, i write whenever i come up with an nice idea. I do have a little notebooks with where i keep my ideas.

  • so inspirational! i will use it for my blog as well 🙂

  • Thank you for all of these helpful tips! The idea of planning the posts with a calender sounds really interesting. I think, I’ll try to write a list with a subject for everyday, now.
    Thanks a los!

  • Great ideas, thanks for sharing! I’m very organised in most areas of life and business but never though to write a calender for my blog! The simplest ideas are always the best, and always the ones you never think of huh?

  • Thank you for sharing this! Im about to start my very own blog and im SUPER excited – all these tips are helping me a lot! Ive been sitting on ideas for weeks (to be sure im picking all the perfect things) and already have a notebook full of ideas. I finally decided on a name yesterday eek!

    Wish me luck! And keep the fabulous tips coming 🙂 xxxxx

  • it’s so nice! I wish i have someone to help with my contents to o 😀

  • Thanks for sharing your tips! I really need to get better at planning my blog posts ahead of time. xD

  • Great tips, and great luring first picture…I must say it attracted me like crazy! xo

  • Great post! I personally am much more modern and write ideas down on my phone, which are later transferred to a spreadsheet on my computer, but the principle is simple.

  • great advice! thanks 🙂
    i’m gonna take advantage of the back-to-school sales for all the necessary offices supplies: a proper calendar, stock up on note cards for ideas… an organizer to hold the note cards 😉

  • Planning for the month is a HUGE tip I learned from you, it’s helped me immensely! Loving your trade secrets series. 😀

  • Very helpful! I’ve been writing my blog the way I choose my outfit each morning – on the fly! This seems a lot more organized, directed & purposeful! THANKS!
    -Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:

  • My journal is definitely a staple for blogging! Thank you for all the wonderful advice you give to all of the new bloggers out there (like me) It’s been a HUGE help 🙂

    xo, Kelsey

  • These are such great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!


  • Very helpful, I’m going to need to get more organized about my blog once school starts up in a few weeks

  • – I’ve always been a notebook and list keeper. And I’ve realized how helpful it is be for blogging. I need to divide my notebook into different sections, like you though. Thanks for the tips!

    – tianna 🙂

  • This is fantastic, thank you for sharing! I just today did the e-course you have on starting a blog – wow, I can highly recommend it to everyone! As a very, very new blogger it really had me writing pages and pages of notes!

    I love the idea of notebooks to carry around for ideas on the “fly” and for organising for the future.

    Your Blog is very inspirational and awesome – keep up the fantastic work!

  • thanks, these are wonderful tips! I really need to work on organizing and planning for holiday themed ideas and everything.

  • Great tips!. I also keep a little notebook in my purse everyday to write down ideas. You never know when a great idea will come and I love being prepared. I will have to start dividing ideas on different notebooks too. It will help a ton. Thanks for sharing this Elsie 🙂

  • I definitely do the same thing with having a handwritten calendar! It’s super helpful 🙂 And I love the idea of having a sectioned notebook for ideas…definitely neater than the scraps of paper I always have kicking around 😉
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • This is so helpful! I love brainstorming. And it’s so great to get a peek into what goes on behind A Beautiful Mess. Love you guys!! caroline

  • Emily, we have a handwritten calendar. Yea, it definitely helps with balance! XO… elsie

  • I love the idea of planning out the month… much better organization and better snapshot of what your blog will look like that month! I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing that… time to get back in! Do you guys use a digital calendar (like Google) or do you handwrite on a paper printed calendar? Thanks for the tips, as always! 🙂

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