You’ve got a blog, you’ve scheduled the time to write, and now you just need one more thing. A blog post idea to write about.
Even though you’re an expert in your field, sometimes the hardest thing is to figure out how to capture your knowledge and ideas into a pretty little blog post. Sometimes, it's easy to be uninspired. How do you balance sharing what you know and answering the questions your customers have?
I know for myself, when I don’t plan ahead and have to come up with a blog post topic the day before it goes live, I feel frustrated and lost. I sit and stare at my computer hoping THE BEST IDEA EVER falls from the sky. Most of the time it doesn’t.
When you feel this way, remember that you're not alone. We ALL feel that way on a regular basis. Thankfully, there's a way around it!
These are my go-to strategies for coming up with new blog post ideas.
1. Ask your significant other:
Earlier this year, I felt stuck when it came to blog post topics. I felt like I had written on all of the relevant issues already. My husband, Nate, and I were on a road trip and so in the middle of my rant, I asked him, “What questions do you have about writing and communication?” Not thinking I would get much help, after a few minutes I realized I had hit a goldmine.
My husband is an engineer and someone who doesn’t love writing. Nate started sharing his frustrations and questions when it comes to communication, and I started typing as fast as I could.
The great thing about asking your significant other for ideas is that they have a general idea about what you do, but they are likely not an expert in your field.
Here are a few questions to get your conversation started.
- What questions do you have about my industry? What don’t you understand? (IE: Nate asked, “How can I maintain high-quality writing in my work without wasting time? He also asked, “What are the biggest mistakes I should avoid in email?”)
- What frustrates you on a daily basis when it comes to the field I am in? (Nate mentioned his frustration with lazy communicators - people who send emails for the sake of sending emails and don’t actually communicate anything of value.)
- How does my skill influence your daily life? (IE: My skill is writing, so I wanted to know how writing influenced Nate’s day. He said he doesn’t really care about grammar but does occasionally wonder if misspellings or grammatical errors hurt his reputation. He also wants to know how to communicate clearly without taking too much time.)
Things to remember when you’re asking your significant other questions:
- Ask clear, specific, and focused questions.
- Don’t be defensive. You may not love their questions, but they are trying to help!
- Listen and take notes. The blog topic may not jump out at you right away, but it’s there if you dig.
2. Compile your FAQs
If you’ve been in your industry awhile, it is likely you’ve been asked a lot of questions about what you do. When you think about creating content for your customers, you want to tailor your content to the answers and solutions they are searching for.
If we’re truthful, none of us do honest-to-goodness research in the library anymore. We all just turn to Google, right? So, make sure your topics are searchable and easy to understand. Keep a running list of questions - you can easily turn these into blog posts!
Here are a few places you can look to for these questions.
- Go through your emails: It is likely that people have sent you emails or filled out a form on your website with questions.
- Check your social media pages: People often will post questions to company pages - while you probably answered the question already, dig deeper and create an extensive blog post on the topic.
- Think about the questions you get at a networking event: At networking events, the goal is to quickly communicate what you do and how you help your customers. As you meet new people, they will probably ask you questions about what you do. Pay attention to any unique questions you get about your field or specialty!
- Take notes during potential customer meetings: During the first meeting with any potential client, you are going to receive a lot of questions. They will likely ask about how your product/service works, the value, the ROI, and your competitive advantage. Pay attention to anything that doesn’t make sense to your customers and write down the problems they have! Then answer those questions in a few posts!
3. What, Who, When, Where, Why, How
Sometimes we just need to go back to elementary school to remember how to gather information and solve problems. When you’re trying to come up with blog post topic ideas, think about writing content for these six different categories.
We’ve found that “How to” and “Why” posts are particularly compelling, but don’t overlook the other approaches!
And yes, it is likely that you will cover many of these in one single blog post, but focusing on one can help you come up with unique ideas and perspectives in the first place. You should be able to come up with several blog post topics for each of these categories! Just think about each area of your business - the different ways you solve your customer's problems - and then try to think about it from these six perspectives.
Brainstorm blog post topics for each of these different categories:
- What: Write a post about what it is that you do -- but make sure the topic is tailored to your customers’ needs. What are they searching for? Take the opportunity to define anything confusing about your industry! What is different about your business? What will happen if they don't choose your solutions?
- Who: Who should care about your services/products? Who will benefit the most from what you do? Who are they and what do they need to know? For example, I could write about small business owners and the problems they face with writing and content development.
- When: What in your business is time sensitive? Can you write a post about when is the best time to have a promotional sale? Or when your customers need to be publishing blog posts? Or when is the best time to launch an eBook? You can also feature upcoming events, etc.
- Where: Are your customers wondering where they can buy something? Or are they trying to figure out where to hang out online? Maybe they are looking for the best places to visit in a certain state! Whatever the topic, be their guide!
- Why: Everyone loves a good “why” post. Why must they be on social media? Why should they go to that new restaurant downtown? Why do they need to stop ignoring their blog? Why will they have problems if they don’t do XYZ? Why should they care and why should they pay attention? These posts are ideal for creating urgency!
- How: How-to posts are all the rage. The reason these posts are so popular is that they offer value-rich and action-oriented information. The goal is that your audience will read the post and be able to do something immediately. Don’t worry, giving away these tips and ideas for free is not going to take away your business. Often, you will tell your customers how to do something, and they will either have so much success that they can’t thank you enough, or they will say, “Hey, even though I know how to do this, I’d rather pay you to do it!” How-to posts are probably the easiest to come up with!
Try these different approaches and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear about the blog post ideas you've thought of!
Comment below with your go-to strategy for coming up with blog topics!