13 Tips For Generating New Blog Post Ideas
A blog is often the heart of any content marketing campaign. You know that consistently posting new, high-quality blog posts and sharing them through relevant channels can help you generate traffic and brand awareness. But what happens when you run out of blog post ideas? While writer's block has been written about many times, the internet in 2015 provides many new, easy ways to generate blog post ideas. Of course, the old standby methods still work as well. Before you start, though, just remember that content shouldn't be posted just for the sake of posting. Quality is infinitely more important than quantity.
#1. Create An Ideas List
Perhaps the most important part of developing new blog post ideas involves keeping a database of any idea you've had. Try creating a spreadsheet with separate columns for "title" and "topic." Any time you have an idea for the title or topic of a blog post, be sure to add it to the list. Try adding one or two ideas to the list every day, and you'll constantly have a trove of possible subjects from which to choose. Don't be too concerned about whether or not you think you'll actually ever get around to writing any of the ideas you put down. Besides creating a big list, the other goal of keeping a database is to consistently keep your creative juices flowing. In that same vein, don't be afraid to list big, complicated subjects that you don't feel qualified to write about. While it may take time, you might eventually find that you've learned enough about a certain topic to tackle blogging about it.
#2. Read, Read, Read
Content marketing is huge - so much so that it could actually become a problem. But despite the fact that there's an overwhelming amount of competition, the sheer number of posts being published each day can actually help you come up with some great ideas of your own. Follow as many blogs in your industry as possible and find out what they're writing about. You can even use tools such as Moz's Open Site Explorer to see which of your competitor's blog posts get the most attention through backlinks. While it's certainly not advisable to copy a competitor's post, you can always expand on one of their ideas or even create a post in direct response to one of theirs. This can help develop professional relationships and possibly get you some links as well.
#3. Check Social Media
If you want to be relevant to breaking news or trending topics, social media is essential. Your Twitter stream alone can give you tons of up-to-the-minute news stories to write about. Clicking on hashtags in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Google+ can provide you with some context about how people are reacting to a certain topic. Also, don't forget about Reddit and Google News.
#4. Look Over Your Old Content
Just because you've written about something once doesn't mean you can't explore it again. If you or your company's blog has been around for years, revisit some old blog posts. Is there a smaller idea within a post that you can expand on? Could you write about how things have changed since the old post was published? Don't just retread the same information - use the old posts to inspire new ideas. Also, consider repurposing some of your old content. Try using old blog posts to create an infographic, a slideshow, an ebook, an email campaign, a podcast or a video. Whatever you come up with could be posted on your blog, or you could blog about the process of creating it.
#5. Talk to Your Readers and Clients
There are many reasons for having a blog, but one of the most important ones involves building an engaged, responsive audience. Don't be afraid to directly ask your readers or clients what types of content they'd like to see on your blog. Simply taking a look at the comments on your various blog posts could be very helpful for generating some ideas.
#6. Learn Something New
If you don't know how to do something, chances are good that some of your readers don't know how to do it either. Try tackling a problem in order to create a beginner's "how-to" guide or simply to blog about your new experiences. For example, if you have to create an Excel spreadsheet that's more complicated than anything you've done before, you could turn your experience into something like, "8 Excel Tricks That Made My Life Easier."
#7. Get Personal
Not every blog post has to be news or even information related. In fact, news-style blogs are actually starting to decline in relevance due to social media. Instead, try relating a personal story that can still be tied to your business. Readers love a good story - funny, touching, poignant or otherwise. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but it can be incredibly effective.
#8. Move Beyond Text
Look at the most shared content on social media - it's rarely just a big block of text. Similarly to repurposing old content, try generating some blog post ideas by thinking about topics that would make a good video, infographic, interactive page, game, quiz or slideshow. For example, if you run a financial blog, start thinking about what could make a good video. You might come up with something really fun like, "All the Symbols on a Dollar Bill Explained."
#9. Conduct an Interview
Instead of searching around for inspiration, make it so that the blog post ideas come to you. Pick a fellow member of your industry and ask them to take part in an interview through email, Skype or phone. If they agree, you can end up with an incredibly compelling blog post (provided the questions are interesting enough). The interviewee is also highly likely to link to your blog when the post is published.
#10. Get Out of the House/Office
Blog post ideas can come from anywhere. However, anybody who works from home knows how difficult it can be to just get out of the house for a few hours. Also, if you work for a company that doesn't have a dedicated content team, you might find yourself struggling for time in the office to come up with blog post ideas. To combat these situations, don't turn off the idea-generating machine in your brain when you're away from home or the office. You'll be surprised at the blog post ideas that can pop into your head while taking a walk, going to the gym, watching a movie, listening to music, talking with friends or any other recreational activity.
#11. Use Keyword Suggestion Tools
Keyword tools such as the Keyword Planner in Google Adwords are typically used by SEOs to research the popularity and competition levels of different phrases that people search for. Apart from keyword research, however, these tools can also provide blog writers with many different topic suggestions. For example, entering a vague subject such as "financial stability" into the Keyword Planner results in many different topics that could be written about such as "banking magazines" and "tarp finance." You could turn these keyword phrases into "The 10 Best Financial Magazines" and "How TARP Still Affects You Today." Services other than Google that provide suggestion tools and SEO analysis tools include SEO Book, Bing Keyword Research and Wordstream.
#12. Free Write
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Instead of staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor, just start writing. Write anything - it doesn't matter if it's complete gibberish or has nothing to do with your blog. Start putting words on the page and don't stop writing for five minutes. Simply beginning the process of writing can put you in the state of mind where ideas can start flowing. While it's not necessarily required, spending a few quiet moments relaxing and thinking about your blog beforehand might help put you in a relevant frame of mind.
#13. Get Outside Help
Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the scores of bloggers and freelance writers who are available to help contribute to your blog. Outsourcing blog posts is incredibly common, and it'll only become more and more important as small businesses continue to take advantage of content marketing. Did I miss anything? What strategies do you use to come up with new blog post ideas?