“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.”
- Sidney Sheldon
Do you struggle to come up with blog topics that are fresh, engaging, and sharable? When you write a blog post once a week, once a month, or even only once a quarter, this part of the process may be the most frustrating for you. And you’re not alone. It’s probably the number one reason that people never get started on their blog or eventually stop blogging.
The other day my friend Betty Marton (a brilliant professional writer), asked me to share some of the tips for developing blog topics that I teach to entrepreneurs in Blog School. As I was giving her a run-down of my tips, she said, “If I wasn’t driving, I’d be taking notes. Would you send me your list?”
Being the overachiever that I am, I spent the next four hours creating the list below. These are my top tips for avoiding what I call “blog topic deficit disorder” and I hope they help you with your blogging. When you’ve come up with your topics, then hop over to How To Write A Blog Post in 10 Simple Steps…to get more help.
15 Easy Ways To Come Up With Blog Topics
1. Answer Frequently Asked Questions: Make a list of questions that you are asked all the time by your current clients, your past clients, and your prospective clients (or customers). This is my #1 go-to idea generator. When I speak to clients, I try to remember to jot down some of the questions they ask. Later on, when I look at my notes, I see a pattern in the types of questions I’m asked. I figure that if I get the same questions a lot, many people are looking for the same answers.
2. Use Google Suggest: I often type a phrase into Google that is relevant to my business just to see what comes up. Google will “suggest” search phrases based upon what I typed in. These “suggested phrases” have high monthly search volumes based upon Google’s data, so they can be great choices for blog topics. Here’s an example:
3. Try the Google Adwords Keyword Tool: I don’t run Google ads often, but I don’t need to be actually advertising on Google to take advantage of their excellent keyword tool. Simply set up an account and you can get search volume on any keyword or key phrase. This information can be incredibly inspiring for blog topic ideas. Sometimes the numbers are truly surprising. Who would have guessed that 18,000 searches are performed every month for homeopathic remedies?
4. Set Up Google Alerts: (https://www.google.com/alerts) I run Google Alerts to get updates of the latest Google results for a whole slew of terms including my name and my company name. I also have alerts set for topics that I’m interested in such as Facebook advertising. When you set up Google alerts you will receive a report in your email box whenever new content is indexed on Google…based upon the keyword or key phrase you have set up.
5. Play Around with Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator: (http://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator) This is a fun little tool that was created by the really clever folks at Hubspot. It’s worth giving it a try when you are really stuck. The results can be kind of funky, but again…if you’re desperate for ideas, it can help.
6. Read Your Competitors’ Blogs: (and the comments that they get.) I find great ideas just from reading the content of other bloggers in my field. As long as you aren’t stealing or plagiarizing, it can be an awesome way to be inspired. And your opinion or point of view may be very different than someone else’s.
7. Peruse Forums: There must be a forum for every topic on earth! I read forums all the time. What people discuss on forums can be a great source of blog topic ideas. Here you can be a voyeur and gain a lot of insight into what your ideal clients are struggling with. An example:
8. Use Google News Search: I always check the news category on Google. When you use this method be sure to adjust the time period so you only get the most recent news. Then you can jump on a topic immediately and have a lot of impact.
9. Share Your Client Success Stories: What could be better than to profile one of your own clients? You gain credibility…they gain visibility. Everyone wins! Here’s one of mine:
10. Expand on Posts You have Already Written: I look at my website analytics to see which blog posts have been the most popular. Check out your website reports to see which blogs got the most pageviews. Have you completely exhausted all of the topics? Can you expand on them? Or, has the landscape changed? Perhaps a new point of view is needed.
11. Agree Or Disagree With Popular Opinion: Got strong feelings about something? There’s a blog in that! Warning: keep your business goals in mind 100% of the time and don’t use profanity (unless it works for your business!).
12. Review A Book or Product: Last year I blogged about some of the Social Media tools that we use here at Be Visible. The blogs have been really well recieved and are still being shared today. If you love something (or hate something) and you think your audience would appreciate to hear about your experience…review it! It’s smart to make it clear to your readers that you were not compensated for your review (unless you were!).
13. Report on a Conference You’ve Attended: Or a trip you went on. Or an experience you had. One of the most popular posts I wrote (when I was first getting started) is entitled What I Learned at the Cool Twitter Conference.
14. Take a Reader Poll or Survey and Report on the Findings: When you have a good amount of readers you may want to run a poll or survey on your blog. Think about what you could ask that would get people really engaged. We all love to give our opinion, especially anonymously. And, you can use SurveyMonkey or PollDaddy to embed the survey right into the blog post.
15. Interview a Thought Leader in your Field: Here’s where a blog post serves you double duty. The interviewee has followers who will want to read the interview. And the thought leader gives you more visiblility and increases your crediblity.
So, thank you to my friend Betty Marton for making me create this list. I hope these tips will make it just a bit easier for you to come up with fresh, interesting and helpful content, too. Got any to add?
Note: If you want to brush up on your writing skills, I highly recommend Betty. You can check her out here.