Building a website, writing posts, promoting content and taking care of everything else in your business can be hectic. It can even feel never ending at times. All the same, things can come to a grinding halt when you can’t figure out what to write about. That’s what this post is about.
Writer’s block in the world of online business can stem from many things. Maybe you’ve exhausted your current editorial calendar, have dozens upon dozens of posts published on your blog and don’t know where to go next. Maybe you’re a new blogger who isn’t sure which topics would perform better than others.
Whatever the case may be, you need a method (or four) that will help you churn out new blog post ideas on the fly. That’s what this post is going to focus on. We’ll be going over four different methods you can use to come up with new blog topics, but first, let’s talk about how this all relates to your content marketing strategy.
Letting Your Content Marketing Strategy Guide You
If you haven’t defined the goals you want to accomplish with content marketing, the lack of a proper strategy may be part of the reason why you’re finding it difficult to come up with new ideas. A content marketing strategy helps you connect the goals you want to accomplish in your business with the content you’re producing in and outside of your blog. It provides direction while you fill your editorial calendar with all of the ideas you have. What you may not realize is how it can actually help you come up with those ideas.
You can learn more about this in our post on how to create a content marketing strategy. In it, we show you how to define your audience and give you tips on how to find their pain points. We also provide a simple list of resources/methods you can use to find out what problems your audience is having. That’s what we’re going to cover in this post.
The Importance of a Content Marketing Strategy
Blogging takes time and a lot of effort. It can even take money if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. It can, however, seem worth it when you start seeing revenue come in despite these inconveniences. A content marketing strategy helps you develop a plan that will enable you to use content to achieve your goals and earn revenue more efficiently. This will ultimately help you develop an editorial calendar filled with content all but guaranteed to help you succeed so you don’t waste that time, effort and money on posts that won’t help your cause.
With that being said, a content marketing strategy is nothing without ideas to fill it with, so without further ado, let’s get into our list of methods that will help you find blog topics to write about.
How to Find Blog Topics to Write About
Let’s go through our list of four different methods you can use to come up with topic ideas for your blog. What you’re looking for in each of these methods are problems your audience is having, also known as “pain points.” This will help you build a blog filled with content that caters to their every need. I recommend using a spreadsheet, document or Coggle mind map to keep track of all of the pain points you’re going to be finding.
Let’s get into our first method.
Method #1: Talking to Your Audience
It may seem simple, but the most effective way to find out what problems your audience is having is to ask them directly. The other methods in this list are effective enough, but talking directly to your audience will allow you to see the specific, real-world problems they’re having, not just problems they might be having. It also helps you establish a relationship with them, which is a much more invaluable asset to have than you may realize.
There are multiple ways you can go about talking to your audience. Start on your website. Go through your comments, and reach out to commenters who express their problems or ambitions to you. Request to have a one-on-one discussion with them on their terms (Skype, phone, email, Twitter, etc.), and use it to ask them what the hardest part about being in your niche is. Here are a few examples:
- “What’s the hardest part about being a photographer?”
- “What’s the hardest part about learning photography?”
- “What struggles are you currently experiencing in photography?”
You can also set up a special contact form on your site visitors can use to express their problems to you and ask questions. Surveys or small polls will work as well.
Outside of your website, you can use the same questions mentioned above, and add them in an email in your Welcome autoresponder series for new subscribers as well as a broadcast email for current subscribers. Lastly, you can talk to people in and outside of your circle on social media or in forums.
Method #2: Forums
Another way to see what problems members of your niche are having is by seeing what issues they’re having around the internet, starting with forums. Simply go to Google or your preferred search engine, and search for “[niche] forums.” A few examples include “photography forums,” “ice fishing forums,” etc.
Open the first forum in the search results, and start with the General Discussion subforum. Almost every forum has a subforum for general discussions. Scroll through the subforum, and click on any topic that appears to be a problem someone is having. Here are a few topics I found on the PhotographyTalk forum:
- “Would a 14mm wide lens be wide enough for interior real estate work?”
- “Who would own the copyright on photo negatives I buy at a garage sale?”
- “Good time to buy Sony stock?”
- “Anyway to secure camera gear when you have to check bags?”
There are two ways you record these topics on your spreadsheet/document/mind map. You can record the topics as they are and list them as problems, or you can brainstorm blog topics as you go and record those instead. Either way, don’t stop at the General Discussion subforum of the first forum. Go through other subforums that seem related to your niche as well as additional forums you find in the search results.
Other resources you can browse include subreddits on Reddit or subforums on Stack Exchange. These are monster forums anyone can use to create subforums about any topic, making it a wonderful place for you to see what members of your niche are lamenting about in various places.
Method #3: Quora
Quora is a question and answer site you can use to find the answers to life’s most important questions, including “Which is better to use, Google Drive or Dropbox?” “What are the benefits of eating beetroot?” and “What are some examples of psychological tortures?” You can also, however, use it as a resource to find pain points members of your niche are having in multiple areas.
Create an account, or connect your Google or Facebook account to the site, and use the integrated search function to begin searching for a broad topic in your niche, such as “photography,” “fishing,” “woodworking,” etc. Using the search function reveals a number of different categories (labelled “topics”) in that niche. You can most certainly look for entries in the broad topic of your search, but beginning the search will reveal a number of niche topics on Quora, including “digital photography,” “SLR photography,” “portrait photography,” “travel photography” and more.
When it comes to forums and sites like Quora, you only need to search for as long as you feel like or at least as long as it takes to come up with a decent amount of blog topics from that particular source. When it comes to Quora, all you need to do is go through each topic and find questions that seem like problems members of your niche are having.
You can either record each problem or come up with a few ideas for them, as previously stated. You can also choose whether you want to simply look at each question in a particular topic’s feed or open each question to read it in full to gain a better understanding of the problem that particular person is having.
Method #4: Keyword Research
The last method we’re going to cover is keyword research. You aren’t necessarily looking for keywords to target nor are you necessarily looking for pain points. You’re simply looking for popular topics people search for in your niche so you can build a list keywords that will allow you to come up with a decent amount of blog topics. To do this, we’re going to be talking about a few different tools. I recommend installing Keywords Everywhere for Chrome or Firefox for tools that don’t include search traffic data natively or accurately.
Let’s start with Google Keyword Planner. Once you log into your Google account, you can use the tool to input a main keyword and generate hundreds and even thousands of related keywords. Start with a broad, short-tail keyword, and work your way from there.
You can also use KWFinder, a great tool to use when you want to see how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword. This tool does come with its limitations, such as having to pay for a membership account to perform more than five searches. That’s okay, however, because there are two more tools you can turn to find more keywords.
The first is Ubersuggest, a simple tool that mimics Google’s suggest function and expands on it. All you need to do is enter a base keyword, such as your niche topic, to generate dozens upon dozens of keywords related to that keyword. Lastly, you can use a tool called AnswerThePublic to generate keywords in unique ways, including in “who,” “what,” “why” and “how” formats.
Again, you’re not necessarily finding specific problems to solve here. You’re simply trying to build a large list of keywords you can reference while you brainstorm topic ideas for your editorial calendar.
Unfortunately, your work has only just begun after you’ve come up with a decent list of pain points from your audience or blog topics. If you only generated a list of pain points, your next step should be to turn them into a list of post ideas. Be certain to read our post on the four types of content every blog should have to generate the most amount of traffic possible as you build your list.
As you build your editorial calendar, consider the goals you want to accomplish with content marketing. This will help you organize your ideas from most important to least important based on the products and affiliate products you’ll need to promote. If you don’t have products, yet, use the list of pain points you collected to get an understanding of the types of products you might create in the future. Coming up with a product idea isn’t always as simple as this, but consider which problems came up more than others, and base your ideas around those.
Again, if you need help developing a content marketing strategy, read our guide. You can also read our guide on how to create an email marketing strategy so you can learn how to build an email list from the traffic you’ll receive and eventually use it generate revenue.