7 Tricks to Always Have a Blog Topic Handy

blog topic ideas

If you have a blog, at some point you’ve hit up against the challenge of coming up with topics to write about. While you know that there’s no way you’ve covered every subject possible that’s related to your industry, sometimes you just can’t seem to think of anything new.

A successful blog strategy requires staying on top of this issue. Your aim should be to always have a list of topics you can turn to when it’s time to update the content calendar. And you definitely never want to find yourself scrambling for a topic with no good ideas right before it’s time for a new post to go up.

You can do better than that. Developing a few good habits can ensure you’re always prepared with an ongoing list of relevant topic ideas. These seven tips are a good start.

  1. Have a central place to keep a list of ideas and resources.

For every other step on this list to pay off, you have to take a second to jot down all the ideas you have as you go. And at least as importantly, you have to get them down somewhere that you’ll think to return to at the moment when you’re planning out your content calendar.

The place you choose to do that is up to you, but make sure you find somewhere consistent to regularly record your ideas where it’s easy to add to the list and make notes in the moment while the idea is fresh in your memory. This could be something as simple as a Word or Google document, or your list could live in a tool more designed for the purpose like Evernote or Trello.

Treat this as your central repository for ideas. Don’t be particular about what goes in. As with a brainstorming session, there are no bad ideas. An idea that you’re not sure is strong enough on its own for a blog post could later inspire you to think of a related topic that makes for great content. Any idea you have, throw in there. You can refine the ideas later when it comes time to put actual topics on the calendar.

  1. Always be researching.

This is good advice for life in general – we should all strive to be learning more as we go. When it comes to keeping your blog running smoothly though, research can play a key role in helping you generate topic ideas regularly.

Most good ideas in history have been built off of other ideas. What you read in another industry blog (or maybe even in the news or a magazine) can be the seed to a great blog post you write later.

Make research a part of your daily to-do list and always be on the lookout for ideas buried in the articles you read, videos you watch, and podcasts you listen to that you can build off of in your own content. You can save articles you see shared on social media for later with an app like Pocket, and you can add blogs and publications that consistently provide information you find valuable to an app like Feedly so discovering good articles on the regular is simplified.

The tools we have available should make it easy for you to always find new research materials to consume, which will in turn help you keep your list of ideas growing.

  1. Use keyword research to see what people are interested in learning.

Keyword research is one of the early steps in any SEO strategy, but it’s also an important resource for figuring out what people are talking and thinking about. A number of keyword research tools exist, including Google’s free Keyword Planner.

All of them can help you grow your list of topic ideas with the confidence that every idea you add to the list is something your audience cares about.

  1. Subscribe to relevant email lists.

Seek out every important and successful blog in your industry and sign up for their email list. The emails they send out will point you toward their content, which will keep you abreast of what your competitors are doing. Seeing what topics they focus on can serve as inspiration to help you come up with (different, but related) topics for your blog.

  1. Pay attention to Google Trends.

Wonder what people around the world are thinking about right now? Google doesn’t have to wonder, they know. Every search someone does in the search engine turns into data that they share with Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 4.29.02 PMmarketers in a number of different forms. One of those is Google Trends.

You can see generally what people are thinking about. You can see the subjects that are most popular in different categories. And you can search specific terms to narrow down the data and see how popular that particular term is, along with a list of related terms people are searching for.

The more you explore in Google Trends, the more you gain a snapshot into what people are thinking about and looking for more information on. Not every trending topic will be relevant to your own blog, but finding those that are can give you great ideas that you know people are interested in.

  1. Hang out in relevant forums and social media groups.

The best way to find out what your audience cares about to is to hear it from them. That means hanging out wherever they are online. Look for forums, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter chats, and Facebook communities your audience is a part of. Follow relevant topics in Quora and pay attention to the questions people commonly ask.

Visit popular blogs with comment sections and read through them. When discussions get going, you’ll often find hidden gems of questions and comments that point you toward topics people want to know more about. The internet provides you with different opportunities and ways to listen, find and take advantage of them.

  1. Look for examples.

Is there something you’ve written about before that can be demonstrated with examples? For a lot of topics, it’s easy to find general advice and harder to find specific examples or case studies of how that advice plays out in real life. If you can fill in that gap, a lot of people will find it valuable.

Examples lend weight to what you’re saying and thus provide real, tangible value to your readers. It takes some work to put together blog posts that highlight specific examples of good advice in practice, but it’s a worthy topic category to tackle.

 

This list should keep the topics coming over time and ensure you consistently have a steady store of them to turn to whenever needed. When you have a long list of topic ideas to work with, your blog planning will run more efficiently and you’ll be able to consistently publish content that people are actually interested in.

 

5 Questions to Guide Your Blog Strategy

If your business has a blog, but doesn’t have a blog strategy yet, I just decided what the next two things on your to do list should be:

1. Finish this post. 2. Create a blog strategy.

You can’t just blog blindly. Whether you’re taking the time to write content yourself or hiring a freelance blogger, blogging has a cost. No good businessperson wants to incur that cost without taking the proper steps to get something back from it. When it comes to business blogging; that means creating a blog strategy.

The Difference a Blog Strategy Makes

Based on a 2013 study, only 20% of businesses had blogs, and over a third of those never got updated. You know how that happens, right?

Someone says, “we need a blog!”

Someone else says “Ok.”

Then no one creates a blog strategy or puts in the work to keep it updated.

An abandoned blog will do nothing for you. A blog that you’re investing time and money into that’s not getting read or driving conversions won’t do much more for you than an abandoned blog will (although you’ll be spending a lot more on it).

Creating a blog strategy can help you avoid those fates.

Here’s what you need to consider to put a good one together.

1)   What are my blogging goals?

A blog can bring in new leads and customers, but that’s not going to happen right away and it’s not always easy to determine which leads first found you through the blog. So while that can be your overall goal, when it comes to creating your blog strategy and tracking your progress, it helps to have some lower-level goals that can help contribute to that, like:

Think about why you want a blog and what you want it to accomplish for you. Your blog strategy should be based around those goals.

2)   Who am I writing for?

Hint: it’s not you. You can absolutely create a blog that’s all about the things you’re most interested in – but it shouldn’t be on your business website. Your business blog has to be about what your audience cares about.

You have to think about their problems, their questions, the types of things they normally like to read and do online and in the world at large. What you blog about and how you write needs to all come back to them.

3)   What does my audience care about?

You really want to get inside their heads here (as much as you can without being creepy, anyway). If you’re a local business in a city full of people with local pride, that should come through in your business blog. If your audience is moms who care about the environment and worry about the ecological effects of every product they buy, your blog should share that concern (and provide information that helps them make informed choices).

Do some research:

  • Pull up websites you know your customers like and look at what posts and articles are the most popular.
  • Read the comments that people in your audience write on those sites.
  • Spend time in forums.
  • Have conversations with your customers and prospects directly.

Keep a running list going where you collect all the ideas you learn so you can make sure you’re blogging about the things they care about.

4)  What’s my (realistic) blogging schedule?

If you read somewhere that you have to publish a new blog post every single day, forget it. While it’s often true that regularly posting fresh content adds up to better blogging results, that’s only true if the content is good and you keep up with it. A lot of businesses don’t have the bandwidth for daily blogging.

My one-woman business publishes once a month because I know that’s the most I can expect from myself while also getting all my client work done. The ideal isn’t to produce as much content as you possibly can, it’s to produce as much good, worthwhile content as you reasonably can. Setting your sights too high in terms of quantity will mean an abandoned blog or junk content no one wants read.

Carefully consider how much time you really have, how much time your employees really have, and how much you can afford to spend on a good freelance blogger. Then create a blog strategy and editorial schedule that’s doable.

5)  How am I going to promote my blog posts?

Don’t overlook this step. It’s one of the big things that sets successful blogs apart from those that fail. People have a lot of content to choose from out there. How are they going to find yours if you don’t create a plan to get it in front of them?

Content promotion can be part of a long-term social media and influencer strategy, it can incorporate paid media to get results faster, or it can be some combination of the two. Just make sure your blog strategy includes room for promotion (both in terms of time and budget).

 

Starting a blog is easy enough, but doing blogging that’s worth it and yields results for your business is hard. Anyone who says otherwise is misleading you. If you’re going to invest in a blog, be willing to invest enough to make it worth it. My free report on building a better blog is a good place to start in visualizing your larger blog strategy. If you could use some help with the content writing, side of things, I’m happy to help.