It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>
This week I asked our panel of experts …
What are your absolute best tips for coming up with blog post topics and ideas for yourself to write about? (Not for guest bloggers or interviews.)
What do you do when you're feeling out of ideas?
Let's get the brainstorming going…
Felicia Slattery of Credibility and Cash Flow says:
I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. Literally the day I learned what a blog was back in 2006 as I was just trying to figure out what business I was in, I began my blog.
It started out as a way for me to think about what I wanted, a place to play with ideas for articles I planned to develop more fully, and an opportunity for me to feel like I was doing something productive in my business by developing my message. The only visitors I had back then were a handful of family and close friends.
Later, as my business grew, I had my blog redesigned. The only problem was — I HATED it. So my blogging time slowly dwindled to almost nothing. And there it stayed for a couple of years. It wasn't that I didn't have anything to say, it was that there were so many other places to say it — online articles, video, my ezine, social media — it didn't feel like I “had” to blog anymore.
Finally I had my blog redesigned again to something I'm much more proud to send people to. The question of what to write about is similar to people who ask me what they should speak about when they have a few minutes at a networking meeting to talk about their business. Here are a few tips:
1. Current Events: Is something newsworthy happening in your community, your state, your country or the world that you can comment on? When you use the keywords people are searching for you get the added benefit of additional new traffic to your blog.
2. Your Business: Do you work with clients or get emails or comments from people in your business that you could turn into a post? Tell stories of a problem someone has had and explain how you helped resolve it.
3. Social Media: Was there something in your Twitter stream or Facebook wall or Linked In group that got a LOT of attention? Use your blog to expand on it and continue the conversation. Then link to your post in the original social media post so others interested in that topic can read your thoughts and comment.
4. Favorites: Write posts about your favorite tools, books, mentors, or colleagues doing great things. Whenever I find a new online tool — especially a free one I LOVE — I share it with the world. If I'm reading a good book, or a bad one, I'll blog about it. If I have a great experience with another business owner that can help others or meet someone they should know, I use my blog to introduce my readers to that person.
5. Teach a Tip or Technique: When I feel totally out of ideas, I go to my bookshelf and online library and teach something I think my readers will find valuable. Then I ask them for their opinions or ideas, too.
I like to think of blogging as a conversation and work to keep my end going.
Connie Ragen Green of ConnieGreen.com says:
My very best ideas for blog posts come from the questions my students ask during my teleseminars and webinars, as well as when they email me between training sessions. This means that they have taken action with what I am teaching, and are now able to ask a more advanced and specific question. By writing about it in detail on my blog, many people will benefit from the post over time.
I also find topics to blog about based on reading other people's posts. Typically I will leave a comment on their blog, and then think about it before writing my own post.
When I am completely out of ideas, I go back and read my own posts from a year ago, or even further. Many times there have been new developments on those topics, and I have also learned more since writing the original post. Everyone benefits from this type of research and the new blog post I end up writing as a result.
Shannon Cherry of Sponsorship Made Simple says:
The confounded ‘Blogger's Block.' As brilliant as we all are, there are times when we look at our blog we see a blank screen. It especially is tough for those for us who post three or more times a week.
The first thing I do is make sure I know the topic I should be writing about. Because I plan my marketing and promotions calendar, I know what I am promoting 6 months in advance. So I make sure that the theme or topic matches what I have on the calendar. (So when in doubt… plan!)
The second thing I do is look for ways to piggyback on hot topics already in my target market's radar. First, I look at what known holidays are going on and if I can't find one that relates to what my topic is, I turn to Blog Energizer or Chase's Calendar of Events to find more quirky holidays. For example, March is National Noodle Month. Now, I know this is really about noodles (as in the pasta-like food). But what if I take a twist on this… about using your noodle (and buy what I am selling).
By piggybacking, I get inspired and create more interest than the same-old-same old.
Alice Seba of Contentrix says:
A lot of people combine the activity of coming up with topics and blogging, but I think those are two very separate activities.
We've all done it. We sat at the computer and tried to figure out to write about and a few things may have happened. If we're lucky, we come up with a topic right away and we can start writing. But in many cases, it seems to take a while before we come up with a topic or we can't come up with one at all.
That's why I recommend taking time each month (or at an interval that works for you) and make a big list of topics you can write about or have a guest / ghostwriter write about. Once you get your first few topics written down, it's easier to come up with more. Personally, I'd prefer to spend about 30-45 minutes coming up with all the topics, instead of 10-15 minutes each time I sit down and try to write. It's an amazing time saver. Plus, it's much easier for me to be creative and come up with a ton of ideas. In fact, I'll often have more ideas than I need, and I can simply choose the best ones and discard those mediocre ideas. This helps make sure that I deliver only the best to my readers…instead of just “good enough”.
Of course, you still need to know how to get those ideas:
- If you sell your own products (or recommend affiliate products), shape your content topics around what a buyer of those products would want to know about.
- Review the headlines in your RSS reader to see what people are writing about.
- Check out Google News or your favorite news site to see the hot topics.
- Check out a big article directory like EzineArticles.com or look at Nicole's LadyPens.com for topic ideas.
- Find PLR content on topics that are suitable for your blog.
- Use keyword tools like WordTracker.com to find frequently searched for topics.
- Look at magazines and other print materials
Write down every idea that comes to mind. It doesn't matter how lame it may seem. Lame ideas can become good ones with some extra thought and they can breed even better ideas. Review your list when you're done and come up with your blogging schedule. Now you'll never sit and wonder what to write about again…you'll be ready to go instead!
Susanne Myers of AffiliateTreasureChest.com says:
I noticed that I go through cycles where I’m super creative and come up with all sorts of different blog post ideas and then I have weeks where it feels like pulling teeth. The key for me is often just to get started with some ideas and more start to branch of from the initial ideas.
Theme For The Week
My first strategy is to come up with related blog post ideas for the whole week. Once I have the overall theme it’s pretty easy to find individual topics to write about. I also don’t feel like I have to cram everything I know about a topic into one single blog post. Instead I can spread things out and teach one thing at a time.
The added bonus is that I can then take the related blog posts and turn them into a short report.
Another good option I use frequently is keyword research. I either look at keywords I’m already ranking for and see if that sparks ideas, or I may type some rather general terms like “list building” into a keyword research tool and see what terms come up.
I find it helpful to look for long tail keyword phrases that are questions or include words like “how to” or “tutorial”.
Ask A Friend Or Customer
Last but not least, I just ask a friend, my readers or a customer what they would like me to cover next. Each email that goes out to my blog subscribers at AffiliateTreasureChest.com invites them to reply with a question. Some of my best suggestions have come via Twitter. I just tweet something like “What would you like me to blog about this week” or “What’s your most pressing question about ….” I often get some great replies within a few minutes.
Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of JeanetteCates.com says:
When I'm short of ideas for new blog posts, I use several idea generators. First, I keep an ongoing list of questions that I receive from members and the question form on my blog. These are always good article-starters.
I also keep a file of article titles I come up with as ideas pop into my head. I jot down quick ideas on the topic, then file them under “ideas.” I can easily pull one out and fill out the rest of the article.
I have several lists of “Blog Post Ideas” from other marketers and PLR reports I've purchased. Those are also great idea-starters. Plus, any PLR article is a great way to start your writing. Just rewrite it as you go and you have a brand new article!
Finally I've just started using EzineArticle's Title Suggestion tool. It's a nice challenge to have them generate article titles for you, then write to fill the topic.
There are always a ton of great ideas when you keep your mind open and your antenna alert. Enjoy the process!
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
The dreaded blank screen looms ahead. My mind goes even emptier than usual as panic starts to take hold.
“What if I never come up with an idea?! I'll sit here for ever. I'll DIE in this chair. OMG HELP!”
ok. Well, it doesn't get that bad, but sometimes I do wonder if I've run out of things to talk about.
The best thing I can do at that point is to go on a walk or jump in the shower, or do both — but not at the same time. That's just silly. 😉
When I get back, I usually feel like I have more ideas than I could ever write in just one lifetime.
Because this is a question that I get asked about regularly, I wrote a report on this topic that you're welcome to read here:
One of the many ways that I come up with ideas to blog about is through keyword research. I let other people tell me what they're looking for online in my field. Then I write about that.
Speaking of keyword research, I sent two free sets of keywords to my EasyPLR lists as a little gift.
Isn't it nice just to have pages of ideas – telling you what to write about?
But, what if you're in another niche, like Yoga or Crockpots?
You're in luck. My friend, Susanne Myers has put together “Niche Research Packs” for a variety of popular niches.
If the concept of niche research packs is new to you, then let me tell you what you get…
* Detailed niche description
* Who your target market for this niche is
* List of affiliate products available
* 100 domain name ideas (plus list of modifiers for hundreds more)
* Detailed keyword report for over 1000 keywords
* 100 article and blog post ideas
* 15 different author resource boxes
* 2 different detailed marketing plans (beginner and advanced)
Be sure to check it out here if you think it can help you in your business:
It’s Your Turn.
So, now, I’ll pose this question to you. Do you have any special tips for coming up with blog posts when you're fresh out of ideas? I’d love to hear your comments!
PS. I have created brandable reports from several of the previous Expert Brief columns that you can use to earn money by giving them away.