Whether you’re blogging for yourself or a client, coming up with blog topics can be a source of pain, or it can be a lot of fun. One of the fastest and easiest ways to generate a lot of really great blog topic ideas is to work from a solid list of blog post categories. Here are 12 categories to get you started.
One: Audience Pain
Take a look at your persona documents for your blog audience. You do have persona documents for your audience, right? Examine the list of pains. Each pain can be the start of a great blog topic… or multiple topics. And don’t stop with pains. Look at their fears and their hopes, too. Honestly, this exercise alone can generate topics for months.
Two: Audience Journey
Now take a look at the journey your audience takes to arrive at your company’s website, and their journey after they leave the website. In the middle, while they’re there inside your content, what questions do they need answered? What concerns do they need addressed? Think about why they’re there and what they want out of the experience. Then see if you can’t come up with blog topics that give it to them.
Three: Google Headlines
Google (or your favorite search engine) can be your best friend for topic generation. Choose a keyword or phrase that you want to target, or that is related to the offerings your blog promotes. Google the keyword, and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you’ll see a list of suggestions for related topics, based on common searches. These can be a rich source of topic ideas, with the advantage that you’re guaranteed that people are searching for them.
The classic “5 Ways to XX” and “8 Reasons Why XX” headlines are classic for a reason. They work, and they’re easy to produce. What kind of lists can you make that would be relevant to your audience? For instance, you might write about XX ways to generate blog topic ideas. Just a random idea.
Five: How Tos
One of the biggest ways people use the internet, is to find out how to do stuff. Cater to that by providing step by step guides to things like, huh, how to generate blog topic ideas. What do you (or your client) know how to do that would be helpful to your audience? Blog about it.
Six: Case Studies
The human brain is wired to love stories and to be motivated, inspired, and persuaded by them. Do you know of any companies or individuals whose story might be relevant to your audience? Perhaps a client that you (or your client) have helped. Perhaps someone who did a thing that you’re recommending and had good luck with it. If you can’t think of or don’t yet have a specific client story to tell (or don’t have permission to tell one), you can make one up and present it as a “problem-solution” story. Always be clear whether it’s a real story or a hypothetical one, of course, but the power of the story structure works either way.
Nothing gets juices flowing and people interacting like something they feel passionately about. Are there hot topics in the industry that you or your client have a contrarian view on? Grab it and run with it. Don’t be afraid to go against the common wisdom, if you’re confident in your view. A word of caution, however. In most cases, it is best to avoid hot political, religious, or societal issues, unless you have a very good reason for addressing them.
There are companies that take an ethical stand on major controversial issues and use it to their advantage in marketing, but this must be a decision that is made at the highest levels of the organization for either strategic or moral reasons. Simply tossing out a blog article about why supporters of the current US administration are scum and/or why detractors of the current US administration are scum is generally a good way to rally the troops for a boycott. If that’s a decision you decide to make, make it carefully.
There are few things in life that people love more than a good laugh. Have you ever noticed how fondly you feel toward people who make you laugh? That is basic human nature. Think about your audience and what they might find funny. Are there cultural references you can work into your topics? Issues that everyone knows about but maybe walk the edge of taboo just enough to be funny? Are there analogies you can pull that might make the audience chuckle?
As an example, I write for a large technology company that makes a rather dry product involving technical jargon like “digital document management” blah blah blah snore. To liven things up, we bring in a little humor from time to time. We know at least some of our audience enjoys Star Wars, so every time a new Star Wars movie comes out, we all go watch it and then come up with a tongue in cheek post that connects their product in a humorous way with the plot of the movie. For instance, when Rogue One came out, we did a piece titled, “The Empire’s Guide to Document Management” and explored how Jyn would never have acquired the Death Star plans had the empire used appropriate document management technology. In short, if they’d had my client’s software, the entire Star Wars franchise would never have happened. We had fun, the audience had fun, and the blog got lots of traffic. Wins all around.
Nine: News Round-Up
What’s currently going on in the industry you write for? Consider a blog post covering the top biggest news items, or dive deep into one particular news item that impacts your audience. For example, maybe relevant regulations recently changed and your audience needs to know how to navigate the new regulatory environment. Perhaps a bridge collapsed in Atlanta and your audience is interested in the details of its construction and what happened and how they’re preventing it happening again. This can be a one-time blog topic based on big news, or you can make it a regular feature to round up the latest news every month or every quarter.
Ten: Seasonal Topics
Nearly every industry is impacted by seasonal events of some type. Holidays, weather, new year, and industry events are all opportunities for blog topics. Of course you’ll write an annual “happy holidays!” post, but what about a round-up of “Most Popular Blog Topics of (Insert Past Year Number)” or “Biggest Trends to Look for In (Insert New Year Number)”? What about hurricane season and summer heat and winter ice? Do these impact your audience? Is there an annual conference that your audience goes to? These are all opportunities to jump in and talk about timely topics that matter to your audience.
Eleven: Content Repurpose
Many established companies and individuals have stashes of old content sitting around. White papers, case studies, webinars, blog archives, and even internal facing content can contain troves of valuable information that can be rewritten, repackaged, and revived as blog content.
Twelve: General Audience Interest
One pitfall many new blogs fall into is thinking that they should only talk about topics that are directly related to their offerings. This can be unnecessarily limiting. Remember that the blog is a place to make connections and build meaningful relationships. You wouldn’t go to a family gathering and only talk about your work and your personal strengths, so don’t go to the blog thinking that’s the only thing you’re allowed to discuss. If the company makes analytics software and the audience is Finance gurus, think about what else finance folks might be interested in. Sports? Golf? Yachts? The land speed of African swallows? Heck, I don’t know, because I don’t know any finance gurus, but your client whose audience is finance gurus probably does. Find out what they like to read about, and write about it. Odds are, you can also find ways to connect what they love to what your client does, but even if you don’t, it can still be worth writing about.
In any given blog brainstorming session, you may not use all of these approaches, but it’s good to have them in your pocket and visit each of them periodically. With this list, you will never be short of great blog post ideas to fuel your efforts.