7 ways to come up with compelling ideas for blog posts
How many times have you sat in front of your computer, willing your brain to squeeze out a killer idea for a blog post – only to find yourself, 30 minutes later, still staring at a blank page?
We’ve all been there…
When it comes to attracting visitors and generating leads for your website, a well-maintained blog can be invaluable; but creating content on a regular basis is a lot easier said than done, resulting in an ever-growing litany of neglected blogs scattered across the internet.
Well enough is enough and it’s time for a change – so today we’re going to look at 7 ways for you to come up with an endless supply of blog post ideas.
Listen to your own audience
If you’re coming from the service industry, where you typically trade time and knowledge for money, you may have developed a mindset where people asking you questions or wanting to pick your brains is an annoyance.
However every question asked is an example of a knowledge gap just waiting to be filled by an awesome blog post.
Start paying more attention to the questions being asked by your members, your connections, social media contacts, blog commenters and anyone else you engage with; as they’re a gold mine for potential blog ideas.
You could even actively solicit these questions by adding a contact form to your site and encouraging visitors to send questions in, or even making a point of inviting replies to the emails you send out to your list.
Eavesdrop on existing communities
As well as looking to your own audience for ideas, there are plenty to be found in existing communities all over the Internet. There’s a Facebook group, LinkedIn group or online forum out there for pretty much any topic; and Q+A sites such as Quora.com or Yahoo Answers have hundreds of thousands of questions asked about everything imaginable every day.
Figuring out where people are discussing your chosen subject matter is important for a variety of reasons, one of which is the ability to tap into these communities and see what questions are being asked.
And again, if playing voyeur isn’t getting you enough ideas for blog posts you can always be more direct and outright ask these communities what sort of content they’d like to see.
Look at what’s working for other people
By this we don’t mean copying and pasting every great blog post you encounter onto your own site, that’s most definitely not cool. Rather, observe and learn from other blogs that you aspire to be like, or that are already successful within your chosen niche.
Use an RSS reader like Feedly to subscribe to these blogs and read them regularly for insight, inspiration and ideas.
You could also employ the technique of adapting and improving upon a blog post idea that has proven successful or popular for someone else. Using a tool like Buzzsumo you can find which blog posts on a particular topic received the most social activity – putting your own spin on the subjects that get the most traction.
Repurpose existing content
Digging into the back catalogue and finding ways to refresh and repurpose existing content is a great way to come up with something to publish in a pinch.
If you have a selection of older blog posts that were popular but are now a little dated, you could polish these up and put a fresh spin on a tried and tested topic. This could be providing an update to an old list of recommended resources, or a follow-up on an editorial or opinion piece.
This tactic is even easier to employ if the original content is something other than a blog post – such as a video, podcast, presentation etc. Perhaps you’ve put out information products prior to launching your membership site, maybe they didn’t sell as well as you’d have like, but perhaps they could be broken down and spun into a series of blog articles.
Hijack current news and trends
A great technique for coming up with content ideas out of thin air would be to “piggy-back” on a popular topic such as a pop culture reference, a TV show, a popular movie, or a news headline. You can take that subject and marry it with a subject related to your business or market.
So, as an example, you can take “Game of Thrones,” which – in case you’ve been living under a very large rock and thus don’t openly weep at the words “Red Wedding” – is an extremely popular book series and HBO TV series, and you can write a blog article titled:
“What Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Financial Planning.”
The popular subject and particularly linking it to a seemingly random topic is going to be enough to pique people’s interests, and it should be enough to fuel you to try and find ways in which you can link that subject in an interesting and appealing manner.
Pick a lazy format
It could be that the reason behind hitting a brick wall when trying to come up with ideas for your blog is simply that the creative juices aren’t flowing for you. If so, then there are numerous approaches to creating content which rely on research rather than creativity.
Perhaps one of the easiest examples of this is doing a roundup of your own content. Hey, if Vanilla Ice can release a “Greatest Hits” album then you can darn sure publish an “Our 10 most popular articles of 2015” blog post.
If this is a bit too lazy for you, then you could look to do roundups of other people’s articles that you think your audience would be interested in; or useful resources you’ve gathered that your readers would benefit from.
You might also consider conducting interviews, or polling a selection of experts in your field for a one or two line answer to a specific question or opinion on a particular topic, which you would then publish in a roundup post.
None of this will stretch your creative muscle, but will be useful for your readers regardless.
Consult the Manatees
Fans of South Park may be familiar with the reference to an infamous scene mocking rival cartoon Family Guy, which is depicted as being written by a team of manatees, who pick out random “idea balls” to come up with topics for their episodes.
While you may not have a squad of manatees at your disposal, there are certainly tools freely available that essentially do the same thing, enabling you to plug your chosen subject area into a myriad of different concepts and templates for article ideas.
Even though tools such as those from Hubspot (http://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator), Portent (http://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker) and Content Forest (http://ideas.contentforest.com/) aren’t necessarily going to give you a raft of million dollar ideas; they can certainly give you a starting point when you’re drawing a blank.
In terms of running a successful blog it’s just as important to be consistent as it is to publish top drawer content, so hopefully that’s given you plenty of food for thought in terms of going out there and finding what you should be writing about as well as ways in which you can conjure up plenty of blog ideas to keep your site riding high using these simple techniques.