Over the past eight years, we’ve noticed that 99% of our blogging clients have one thing in common: they have real trouble coming up with topic ideas for their blog.
If managing your business blog yourself, here are a few hints from our blogging team.
- 1 8 Blog Topic Generation Tips
- 2 Final takeaway
8 Blog Topic Generation Tips
We offer free blog topic idea generation for all of our clients, so we know how to come up with hundreds of ideas each month. Here are eight tactics we use.
1. Think like your audience
When blogging for businesses, the biggest mistake you can make is writing for yourself.
Your audience is probably not that interested in the minutiae of your products, services, or your business itself. Think in these terms instead:
- How can I help my customers?
- What were my customers struggling with before they found me?
- What solutions do I offer?
Solutions aren’t just products and services. Think of the big picture. What problems do you solve, and what value do you add?
You could also:
- Consider personas
- Help your readers
- Offer advice
- Provide FAQs.
Think broad at this point. Look at the questions you get from customers. Shape your content around their needs — not yours.
What is your ideal customer searching for today?
2. Don’t be too clever
Paul recently mentioned this tip in a post about evergreen content. It’s worth repeating again here:
Being too clever will make your audience very narrow.
Again, this comes back to what your customers are looking for.
Highly specialised topics are interesting for experts. But you probably aren’t looking for experts now. Your customers are looking for you because they need help. They’re just starting out.
This is a tricky point to get your head around, because there’s so much content produced on similar topics and it’s always tempting to try and do something different. But many of the most popular blogs are primarly about the basics of a topic. You only have to look at something like this on the QuickSprout blog to see why this works so well.
3. Write around your keywords
Keywords are a thorny subject, so this is all about balance.
You need keywords, but don’t beat your customer around the head with them.
We have, in the past, supplied blog posts to customers who have inserted keywords randomly into the text, or the blog post titles. This is a long way from natural, and it won’t do you any favours.
So, if you’re not sure what to do:
- Build blogs around long tail keywords
- Think about keywords as concepts, not fixed phrases
- Vary your phrasing when you write.
For this article, the keyword I chose is ‘blog post topics’. But I’m using a mixture of different wordings, like:
- Blog post titles
- Blog topic ideas
- Blog idea generation.
In the end, all of the keywords in a blog should speak to the same subject matter. But you should be writing around the topics, and not using any artificial keyword density percentages that often encourage people to keyword stuff.
4. Create weekly or monthly blog topic themes
Coming up with blog ideas for a month or two is fine. After a while, you will probably start running out of new ideas, or you’ll just start lacking the focus you need to stick to a schedule.
You can do a mini content strategy to help with this. Also, it helps to brainstorm your new blog ideas in a group:
- Come up with 6 themes, one per month; you might want to attach personas to your themes, or you could just come up with six blog post categories
- Split out those categories into 4-10 posts, each covering the topic from a slightly different angle.
There are two advantages to this approach:
- You will naturally think of more ideas because you’ll be brainstorming one blog post topic very intensively, and sprouting more from it
- You can link your blogs together — and internal links are always good.
5. Plan blog posts, and stick to the schedule
The best-planned blogging projects tend to slip if there is no plan and no deadline to stick to.
In the past, when Red Robot has been really busy, we’ve neglected our own blog because it felt like we had higher priority work to do first.
Neglecting your blog is always a mistake. Not only can it cause your traffic to fall, but it also interrupts the creative process when generating blog ideas.
For lots of reasons, your blog should be as high a priority as your paid work. And if you can’t make it a priority, you need to outsource it to someone who can.
We now use a Trello board to plan out our blog posts, which has really helped to formulate a regular schedule. A spreadsheet or shared calendar would achieve the same result.
You can also use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin to plot your blog publishing on a visual calendar within the WordPress back-end. This shows you, at a glance, where your gaps are, and how your publishing schedule looks for the months ahead.
6. Harness flashes of inspiration
If you get an idea for a blog, write it down.
Whether you write it yourself or pass it on to someone else, harnessing those ideas in the moment often results in really good content.
(If you can’t get online, write notes on your phone, or type up a quick blog post draft in a text editor. Even better, keep a Trello board: one list for rough ideas, and another for approved ones.)
When a blog post comes genuine inspiration, it will be easier to write, and easier to branch ideas off from it.
Often, the flashes of inspiration you’ll get will lead to much better posts than the ones that drag on for weeks unfinished.
7. Write about industry news
If you’re really stuck for ideas, writing about news and current affairs in your sector can help you to get back into a regular posting schedule, which will naturally help you to think of related topics for your blog.
This is also a good way to piggyback on trending hashtags. You can pick up lots of ideas for trending topics from sites like:
Even if you use hashtags, it’s important to remember that the very best blogs in the world do not promote themselves.
You need to spend around the same time promoting a blog post that you spent writing it. (To be precise, you should allocate 54 minutes for each 1 hour of writing, according to this research).
There’s a caveat with trending topics, news, and hashtags: any topic linked to current affairs is more prone to going stale.
You may still get a reasonable amount of mileage out of a trending topic if it’s an ongoing concern for your clients. We published three GDPR blogs (GDPR MailChimp list reconfirmation, writing GDPR policies, and new GDPR tools for WordPress) and these are still performing well, even after GDPR went live.
8. Diversify your content
Written content is not the be-all and end-all of a blog.
There can be value in creating other types of content, like:
- Video explainers.
In terms of SEO, you’re still better off publishing high-quality written content. But mixing content types is still worthwhile because it’ll excite your audience and help you to cover topics that don’t lend themselves to a blog post.
A good video, podcast, or infographic can also inspire new blog post topics. That’s another good reason to play around with different content types.
When it comes to idea generation for your blog, all approaches and strategies are valid, providing you get good quality content at the end of it. Which leads me to the final, bonus tip.
Continually improve your blog posts. Update them, rewrite them, or replace them whenever you feel you can do a better job.
Leaving old blog posts on a website can lower the quality score for the entire site. So aim to create the best content you can, and then recycle the topics later with new content if you feel the post needs an update.
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