Over the past few years, I’ve written a number of articles about coming up with blog post ideas, but never one quite as specific or actionable as this one. When I say “killer” blog post ideas, I mean ones that combine strategy and chutzpah—exactly the kind of post that will bring in interested, engaged leads.
In addition to coffee, pacing, and cursing loudly, I use several tricks to come up with ideas for blog posts that perform. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Avail Yourself of an Aggregator
Search engines like Alltop and Addictomatic pull together recent articles from a variety of sources on any topic of your choosing, which is a great way to trigger fresh and timely ideas. Look for things that you can cover from a different angle or tailor to your specific niche; just be sure to focus on what your buyer persona will find compelling rather than what you, as an industry insider, are drawn to.
2. Borrow Someone Else’s Inspiration
TED Talks are one of my favorite things in the world. Experts in every field coming sharing their most exciting, disruptive ideas with the world? Get me a bowl of popcorn and an armchair and come back in 4 hours.
If you need ideas, this is the place to go. Sure, you can search for “technology” or “business,” but you can also search “creativity” or “human”—best of all, combine things like “creativity” and “technology” for some pretty darn cool stuff. Watch this, and I think you’ll see what I mean. Seriously, if you stick around until the end, you’ll see him make an electric piano out of bananas.
It almost doesn’t matter how much the TED Talk applies to what you do. Creativity begets creativity, and I guarantee you the ideas will come rolling in.
3. Think Downstream
Business blogging is all about building relationships that lead to customers, and in order for them to become customers, visitors must become leads. The perfect time to come up with blog post ideas is when you’re planning out your lead-generation offers.
You’ll most likely have a post launching the offer, but what other content could you create that would relate to and support that offer—say, a blogging checklist? What could your buyer persona be doing that would lead them to need the checklist? What kind of barriers would prevent them from being able to use it (maybe the blog isn’t live yet)? What kind of issues might come up in the process of using the offer, or afterward, that you can educate them about?
Think about the content your buyer persona will need throughout the process, using the offer as unifying thread, and write posts to address those needs. Much of it can drive traffic to the offer, and the rest can be a part of email workflows after the download.
4. Mix and Match
If you want blog posts to be shareable and engaging, your best bet is to make them more specific. Try mixing and matching items from this list:
For example, niche + season = “3 Problems All Marketers Face during the Holidays,” and platform + goal = “Getting Your First 1K followers on Twitter.” See what I mean?
5. Brainstorm Like a Reporter
So you need to write more posts about one of your core services (or a big change in your industry, or whatever). Try approaching it like an old-school gumshoe, and ask yourself who it impacts or benefits most, what the main point or takeaway is, when it matters most, where you should focus, how it can help (or how it came about), and why it matters to your buyer persona.
For example, wouldn’t you want to read “Instagram’s New Boomerang App Is Perfect for Retail Marketers” or “5 Settings You Need to Change after Updating to the New iOS”? You don’t have to get all fancy with the titles, either. Just go with “How XYZ Thing Can Help Homeowners” or “Why the New Blah Blah Blah Matters,” as long as you’re being clear and specific.
6. Use the Lesser-Known Google Tools
It has probably occurred to you to use Google Keyword Planner and Webmaster Tools to look for long-tail keyword opportunities and the keywords and sources that are bringing the most traffic, but Google has more to offer. You can also check and compare ideas on Google Trends andGoogle Correlate, explore public data from international databases with Google Public Data Explorer, and read some up-to-the-minute business articles from Google Think Insights.
7. Ask Around
The great and powerful Amanda Palmer recently wrote a very popular book called The Art of Asking (her TED Talk of the same name has 7.3 million views as of today), and I’ll tell you the same thing she would: Let people help you.
Your sales team, non-troll people in web forums, and your customers all have one thing in common: they want to share their value. If you need ideas, ask the people who know. In particular, ask your sales team what content they wish they had while trying to make a sale. That’s a great place to start.
8. Revisit Old Site Content
This kind of thing pops up on lists about blog post ideas a lot, but I want to take a slightly different approach. Look at the core content you created years ago, like your FAQ page. Are there any glaring holes that have opened up since you first wrote it? Write a blog post on the topic, and reuse some of the post content to update the FAQ page.
Also, re-read your buyer personas in detail. Are there any ideas that pop up now that you didn’t think of when you first wrote it? You know so much more about your ideal buyer now. One more idea: Use your analytics to find your top-performing posts and re-read them, looking for minor points that you can expand into whole blog posts.
There are lots of ways to trigger fresh ideas for your blog, but I think the most important thing is to be ready to make connections between everything you’re exposed to and what you’re marketing. Let the creative juices flow!
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