One of the most difficult things about starting a blog and keeping up with a blog is coming up with topic ideas. It seems like this should be the simplest part because after all, once you have a topic the real “work” begins. However, truth be told, articles can be researched and written rather easily once you have a solid topic to work from. A list of topics goes a long way, and below covers how to build a list of topic ideas for your brand or business.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is who is your target audience? Who is most likely to be reading your blog and returning time and time again for valuable content? In the majority of cases, clients and customers take the priority. As you begin to think about what your next blog post should cover, ask yourself what concerns and interests your customer base has. This will undoubtedly help to shape the topics and style of your blog.
While customers should always be a central concern in terms of the content that you are producing, you should also think about followers (and prospective followers) more broadly. For many brands this also includes industry specialists, colleagues, and yes, even competitors! If you can situate the kind of content you are producing within your industry, you are going to be curating content that becomes reputable to your larger network.
Keeping this in mind, a great way to develop topics for your own blog is to actually look at other competitor or relevant blogs within your industry. See what others are writing about and what kind of topics they are covering this year. It is important that you always put your own spin on things and do not plagiarize, but seeing what is “trending” in your industry can work really well for finding topics for your next blog post.
It is good practice to think about the content you are developing in terms of a Q&A. In other words, think about the kind of questions people are asking, and then how you might go about answering those questions based on industry knowledge or specialized skills that you might have. This works well for developing creative approaches to relevant topics, but it can also help to rank for “query” type searches that are popular in the industry.
Is your company hosting an event? Have you experienced something recently that is worth sharing? Any time you host/attend an event or have a relevant work related experience you can share; you can easily turn this into a topic for your blog. These even-centered pieces do not always need to be a “what happened” play-by-play, they can simply serve as a starting point for discussing what you learned and what you want to share.
Social media is a great place in 2017 to start to get ideas for blog posts and other content that you are trying to produce. By keeping a close eye on popular discussions, events, hash-tags, viral videos, etc., you can better understand the kind of events people care about in your industry.
Feel like your industry is never producing any viral content or popular trends? Some businesses in obscure or niche industries might struggle more than others to leverage social media. You can always use trends from other industries that your audience is likely to follow as a starting point for coming up with topics. Again, you do not need to cover this particular trend exactly, but you can use the knowledge as a starting point so that you are producing information that your followers are likely to care about, equally.
There is nothing better than seeing a well-written opinion piece on a popular industry topic! Not only is this refreshing since so much of the content available on any topic mirrors other articles that preceded it very closely, but it also is interesting and educational to think about the opposing view on something that everyone cares about. Be careful not to insult anyone inside or outside of you industry network, but feel free to “respectfully disagree” if you have a different opinion or method that is not necessarily as popular.
Most of the time the goal with blog content is to turn things around very quickly so that you can constantly be putting new content onto your website. That said, before you sit down and commit to writing on one specific topic, make sure that their is easily accessible information to help form your writing and provide additional links to situate your piece within a larger industry conversation. If it is going to take you days or weeks to research a 1200 word post, you may want to reconsider writing on the topic. If you do want to attempt a topic that is on the challenging side, consider reaching out for interviews or working collaboratively with another industry professional who might have some unique insights and approaches.
Even in 2017, list posts are the bread and butter of blogging. List posts make it incredibly easy to structure your writing and provide information, and those who might not have time to read an article word for word can easily skim them. List posts also help with “coming up” with topic ideas as you can frame an answer to a question with a “10 things you need to know about _______” or “Five steps to achieve ________.”
Coming up with blog topics might seem challenging but taking into 8 tips can make your life a little easier. Remember to always keep your customers and industry in mind as you write and develop topics. Consider structure (Q&A or list posts) when you get stuck, and make sure that your topic is easy to research and contextualize within a larger ecosystem of articles. When in doubt, utilize events and relatable experiences as a starting point!