How to Come Up With Content Ideas for Your Blog
Writer’s block. The nemesis of content creators everywhere. Sooner or later, the blank white screen and blinking cursor will taunt you. It happens to the best of us.
The easiest way to avoid this is always to have a stable of ideas, topics, thoughts, and musings on hand, be it in the form of an editorial calendar or a simple list. That way, you need only refer to this document, and you'll be up and writing in no time.
In case you're unable to follow a calendar or just haven't been able to update your topic list recently, we've compiled a list of six of our favorite ways to generate great content ideas for your blog, no matter the industry you're in.
1) Have a good 'ole fashioned brainstorming session.
Who knows your blog, subject, industry, and what topics you've already covered better than you? Brainstorming sessions are still a fantastic way to generate new ideas, and that extends to content just as readily as anything else.
Ready, Set, GO!
Write for two minutes, non-stop, just listing general topics. Don't worry if you add something you've already written about; the fact that it came up again could mean there's more to explore. Unsure where to begin? Start with the titles of your last three pieces and go from there.
Bonus points if you have a team, circle of friends, or even a writer's group that you can draw inspiration from and ask to join you.
Even more bonus points if you have one of those awesome huge tablet-on-an-easel things.
2) Ask your people.
Presumably, your existing audience likes your content. Otherwise, they wouldn't be your audience. So how about asking them for input? Use your social media presence to ask what they want to see you write about. Scroll through your comments section. Are people asking questions that you haven't addressed yet?
Both of these are great sources of ideas, and you'll get bonus points from the people whose ideas you end up using. Showing that you're listening and engaged with your audience may prompt others to write in with more ideas. So you can kill two birds with one stone—end your writer's block, and fill in your upcoming editorial calendar with reader-suggested topics!
3) Do your research, keyword research, that is.
There are two versions of this one. First is the old use of Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and other tools to dig into the keywords you rank for and find some you might want to rank for in the future. Nothing new here; just do the leg work, and you'll end up with a list of keywords and some topic ideas you gleaned from the results.
The second version is the same process, with a half-twist—do keyword research on your competitors.
Using the same tools, dig into your closest competitor's blog. See what keywords they rank for, and get a feel for their top ten posts. Can you riff on the same topic, addressing it from your perspective? Or maybe there's a glaring omission from one of their posts that you can use to generate your fresh take on the subject? Whatever specifics you find, you're bound to come away with a decent list of keywords and post-topic ideas, at the very least.
4) Go on a mining expedition, looking for topic gold.
Quora, Reddit, and other similar question-and-answer or forum sites are topical gold mines. People are likely asking questions about your expertise, so find them and use them to build your topic list. Quora is a straightforward Q&A site, with questions divided into multiple sub-topics. Dig around and use the search function to look for your keywords. Then, use the filter to sort by top questions.
This will raise the most asked questions and the "best" answers. These are ripe areas for you to glean ideas for your posts. But not only that. You can also reverse the sort to see the questions that haven't been answered. This is a prime source of topic ideas since people want to know and have not found the answer. You can fill that void with your posts.
5) Reuse or Remix your existing content.
Check your analytics for the pieces that continue to garner hits weeks, months, or even years after their initial post date. From these stats, compile a list of your top ten pieces. Now, reread them all with an eye toward what you can reuse or remix into new content. Maybe a section of one post resonates with you right now. Pull that out and make it a new topic. Or maybe there's a comment (yes, reread the comments, too) you realize is particularly timely. There's another topic.
What about a podcast? Can you turn the transcript of an episode into a post of its own? Or maybe a guest asked a great, probing question you didn't have time to dive into during the show. There's another post or two.
Using these sources, see if you can go meta/granular with a topic you've already covered. Look at that top ten list of posts again. Can you go up a level? How about down a level on one particular section?
6) Write about your life experiences
When in doubt, know that people love a good story. They also love transparency. So if you can combine quality storytelling with letting your audience in on a little secret about what makes you tick, you'll hook them. One thing to keep in mind with this one is if you don't write stories regularly, it can pay big time to refresh yourself on good storytelling techniques if you want to make it sticky.
Using these tips as a starting point, you can get past your writer's block. Even if you're not currently suffering from watching that dang cursor, you can use these tricks when it's time to build your next editorial calendar and eliminate the suffering. Now, get writing!