Generating Blog Ideas
One of the more challenging aspects of Blog writing is coming up with ideas for your next blog. First, I recommend that you find a place to jot down all your topic ideas as you come up with them so you will be able to refer back to your list later on. I have an Evernote page just for Blog ideas. If you have some specific ideas on what a blog post should include, write down those ideas too.
If you don't have time to write the whole post, but want to get a head start, you should consider starting and saving it as a draft. If you have a professional Drupal website that we built for you, you would Create Blog and then, before saving, uncheck the Published box so that it is saved as unpublished and will remain private until you finish it and publish it. You might also start writing in Evernote or an app like Blogger+ and then transfer the post to your online blog later.
When it comes to topics, you should regularly take the time to brainstorm ideas so that you have a healthy list of potential blog ideas to draw from. The following are a number of sources for coming up with those ideas.
1. Industry News
Bookmark websites or subscribe to newsletters and RSS feeds so that you can keep abreast of current industry news and trends. For instance, we use an iPhone app called TechWire that compiles the RSS feeds from a bunch of news sources like Mashable, Wired and Ars Technica that we can easily scan. Some articles we may choose to simply share a link to Twitter or Facebook, while others may inspire a full blog post or news article. If you aren't sure where to start looking, try doing a simple Google search on " News" and see what comes up.
A more advanced technique is to use Google Reader to collect RSS Feeds from a variety of sources, whatever sources you decide to subscribe to. You can then simply log into your Google Reader to see the latest posts from those sources. You can use the Newsify app on your iPhone or iPad to see new entries. I use Google Reader / Newsify to monitor the blogs of Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other players in the social media industry.
UPDATE: While Google Reader may have bit the dust, there are alternatives. I currently use Feedly for industry news sources, and Hootsuite for peers and colleagues (since I'm more likely to want to share the latter).
2. Books in Your Niche
Business owners are often encouraged to read more books, magazines and articles from their industry in order to continue to educate and improve themselves. Such reading can also often inspire us to write new blog posts to share what we have learned with our readers and customers.
We have a Recommended Reading area where we share specific books that we think our readers would find helpful, and we occassionally write more lengthy reviews and overviews for those books that are particularly invaluable.
3. Question and Answer Sites
There are many Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo! Answers. If you take a little. Time to review some of the questions that relate to your business and industry, you might find some topics that you can easily answer yourself. However, instead of testing an answer on the site, craft your answer as a blog post within your own website. Bonus points for posting or linking your blog as an answer on the Q&A site as well.
4. Recycle Your Own Posts
If you have been blogging for a while, you undoubtedly have old blog posts that you can recycle. What you should look for are blog posts where your business or industry has changed and you can provide new, updated information which would supplement the old post. You might also take a post like this one, where you have provided a list of some kind, and look to add more list items. When recycling an old post, certainly do not edit the old one. Instead, create a new post and retain as much of the original content as you wish, simply adding and enhancing as needed. At the start of the new post, explain why you are revisiting the same topic and include a link back to the original post for reader comparison (and deeplinking).
5. Interview Other Experts or Controversial People
Depending on your industry, you might consider talking to or interviewing other people. These people might be experts in the field or simply controversial individuals. If you have never interviewed someone, do your homework. Prepare by researching who they are so that you are familiar with their work, and have questions prepared in advance. Takes notes during the interview and use your iPhone to record the conversation later reference. Your blog post should then include your questions, their answers, and your opinion of their answers. Be sure to include some background information on the person, and remember to thank them!
6. Television and Pop Culture
This source involves the timeless writing technique of comparison, where you relate two dissimilar concepts so that the reader is made to understand one concept due to their existing understanding of another concept. While watching a television show or movie, or listening to the radio, you are reminded of some aspect of your business or industry and are inspired to write about it in a blog entry. For instance, if you are a fan of the TV show Lost, you might write about how a business could find success using the Dharma Initiative model of organization. Some of your points may be tongue in cheek, but most of your points should have enough merit to be considered.
With the release of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit", I decided to write a blog post about blogging lessons we might learn from Bilbo Baggins.
7. Social Media Newsfeed
Regularly check your Facebook news feed for issues and topics that people are talking about. While you will likely want to avoid the more controversial topics, there may be an number of news trends in your friends discussions that you use as inspiration for your next blog article.
On a related note, make sure you're paying attention to and answering comments and questions on your social posts. AgoraPulse can assist with that. Some of those comments (and your answers) may turn into great blog post ideas.
8. Twitter Followers and Trends
Similarly, you can use your Twitter feed to get ideas on what is trending currently, but Twitter makes an even better tool than Facebook. First, you can easily follow prominent people in your industry and even use Twitter's recommendations to find new people to follow. Second, use Twitter's "Discover" and "Trends" tools to see what Twitter users everywhere are talking about.
9. Group Discussions
Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ all have discussion groups of one kind or another. Join groups that are talking about your business and industry and pay attention to the questions being asked and topics being discussed. Answer questions whenever appropriate and participate as much as you can. Often, your topic answers and discussions will naturally lend themselves to new blog posts.
10. Educational / Historical Topics
Every business should strive to provide blog articles that educate their readers, clients and potential customers on relevant topics. While you don't want to provide so much information that you are no longer needed, there are likely plenty of topics which you can write about which are helpful. You might also occasionally draft posts that discuss the history of your industry or aspects of your industry.
Review your blog analytics. Which blog posts and topics seem to get the most traffic and attention? If you can identify those kinds of trends, then you may be inspired to write more posts on similar topics.
12. BONUS: Solo Build It! for WP
Check out Solo Build It! for WP. You can grab a free trial for 30 days and see for yourself how using the Brainstorm It! tool can help you to come up with all kinds of winning blog post ideas.
Hopefully these areas will provide you with a rich source of ideas and topics for your blog. If you need assistance implementing your blog or in other areas of internet marketing, please contact us.
Where else do you get your ideas and inspiration for your blog topics?
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, award-winning Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."Follow @Mike_Allton
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