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10 tips for generating more blog post ideas

Blogging is, for many businesses and organizations, a great way to establish credibility, draw buyer interest and improve website search rankings.

It is not necessarily easy, though.

Even once you’ve gotten approval to go ahead with blogging and figured out who’s going to write the posts, you still need to come up with great blog post ideas.

I’ve been blogging personally and professionally for about 14 years now. I’ve also helped clients, employers and other organizations develop blog editorial calendars. Along the way I’ve picked up a few ideas on timeless blog post topics as well

1. Quiz your sales and support staff.

One of the things that people look of — in search engines and on your website — are answers to their questions. While you generally don’t want to get too product specific on a blog (how to calculate the through capacity of the XT-5000 model widgetizer you sell is probably too narrow), there will be plenty of questions that people ask as they’re trying to understand their problem, your industry, and the various potential productions and services that might solve your problem. Any of these questions — and the answer — could be a blog post.

2. Take inspiration from the trade press.

What are the topics that your industry trade press is reporting on? What trends, regulatory news, customer stories and problems are getting their attention? Your take on these topics can be turned into good, timely blog posts.

BONUS: If you want to see what stories are really popular, many news organizations now display a list of trending or “most popular” stories on their websites. This can give you insights into what topics, themes and ideas your audience cares about.

3. Research topics online.

You can do keyword research with SEO tools (or your online marketing consultant can), review industry forums and social media sites, and see what your competitors are writing about. This online communication should spur more ideas that could be topics for blog posts.

NOTE: Keyword research often reveals keywords or phrases that you might have an opportunity to rank for with a blog post. However, make sure that you’re choosing keywords related to topics you can genuinely write about.

4. Brainstorm — the traditional way.

Unless you work with zombies, getting a group of people in a room and asking them to help you brainstorm blog post ideas will likely generate a lot of ideas. You’ve probably done this kind of brainstorming before, so I’ll leave it at that. You may want to start people off with a few ideas, but once things get going you just need to keep it rolling.

Brainstorming is a good way to generate blog post ideas

Creative Commons licensed photo via mundoresink. Sticky notes are a good way to capture ideas if you don’t have a dry erase board.

5. Brainstorm — virtually.

If you an in-person brainstorming session is impractical, or if your in-person session doesn’t produce enough ideas, you can also brainstorm via email. Send an email to a group of people asking for blog post ideas (you may want to prime them with a few ideas from the list above) and ask everyone to take few minutes and contribute 3-5 ideas. Just ask them for 1-2 sentences — don’t make it hard.

You’ll likely have to follow-up to get a good response, and you may want to offer incentives (a $5 Starbucks gift card for the first person to respond, to the person who comes up with the most ideas, etc.).

Turn blog post ideas into blog posts

So by now you should have a pretty long list of blog post ideas, or at least potential ideas. However an idea isn’t a blog post, and some of the ideas (“a blog post on topic x”) may still leave you wondering what you’re supposed to write about. The next step is to take those ideas — or take the best of them — and give them a bit more shape and definition.

There are different kinds of blog posts, so one way of doing this is to consider what type of blog post might be most suitable for each day. Here are some common types of blog posts.

1. How-tos and tutorials.

Content that helps people do something tends to draw steady traffic on the Internet. Since your blog often has the primary purpose of attracting new customers, most of this should not be about doing something with your products and services. But it should be related to your business. So a financial aid company might blog about how to get into college, or a financial advisor might write about how to stick to a household budget.

2. Best practices.

Are there best practices you wish your customers and potential customers knew about? For example, CPAs probably have some pretty clear ideas about what best practices are for storing tax-related records so you have everything in one place when it’s time to do your taxes.

3. Common problems and traps.

Are there common traps that your customers and potential customers fall into when considering how to solve their problems in this area? I’m sure many plumbers and home improvement contractors could write a post titled “5 reasons you shouldn’t do it yourself.”

4. News.

Though a good blog shouldn’t consist primarily of company news, publishing some major announcements on your blog is fine. These may include major leadership changes (a new CEO), significant policy changes that might affect your customers and important new product and new service announcements. If you’re in a service business that depends on individuals interacting with customers — accounting, law, consulting and the like — you might also publish short profiles of those key service providers. These should provide professional information and qualifications, but also some personal details that humanize the professional.

5. Explainers.

Sometimes people simply need to understand a topic better, to know the ins and outs of it, and why they should be concerned. Technical subjects which are not well understood are a good candidate for this approach. For example, an HVAC company might explain how weather changes in the fall and spring can lead to problems if HVAC equipment isn’t properly serviced.

So there’s 10 ways to populate a blog editorial calendar.

There can never be too many ways to generate blog post ideas, though, so if you have some ideas please share them in the comments below. And get blogging!

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