Blogging supports your marketing - it helps with improving search engine ranking, proving yourself as an expert in your industry and common support issues. If your online presence plays a large part in your business, chances are you need to be blogging. But what to blog about? Rather than sitting idea-less at the computer and staring at a blank screen – I recommend you start with just idea generation first.
Here are some general angles and techniques you use to help generate blog article ideas.
Think about your customers' problems, needs and desires
Any reader or customer is looking for 'what's in it for me?' So this should be your biggest consideration - always have your audience in mind and think about their needs when writing. Good content is helpful, so think of what value readers gain from any articles you write.
Answer customer questions or ask them
Related to the point above, gather the most common questions asked by your customers and answer one in a blog post. A rummage through your emails is often all that's needed to unearth these.
If you can, also ask your customers or clients more about what issues they face related to your industry or what they'd like to know more about.
Look at your own business story
Being open and honest about your experiences makes your company seem more human and approachable. So occasionally give readers an insight on the journey you've had to get your business where it is today. People like reading stories.
You might want to recount that first 'aha' moment for your business idea or explain a stumbling block you overcame in developing your product or service. Just make sure you don't write too much about yourself...
Write up case studies
Tell the story of an existing customer, their specific situation and how your service or product really helped them. The narrative of a story makes for a good read and sharing the proven experience will help built trust with readers.
Think about seasonality
This is the most common themes used in magazines and for good reason - the context is a good way to make your content more current, at a time when more people are prompted to look for it.
As well as weather and seasons, think about regular calendar events and festivals - Budget day, Easter, Saints' days etc.
Consider what's topical
Also keep an eye out for popular topics, themes and trends in general (which are more prevalent and searchable than ever, thanks to the internet). These may be relevant to your industry, or something more general that you could use in a more lateral way.
To find out what many people are searching for and reading, these tools are useful:
- Google Trends - Tells you what people have been searching for online recently
- Twitter.com/Search - Gives you the worldwide trends in what people are tweeting
- Reddit.com - Shows you the people's news stream
Share news and developments from your niche
You probably already keep up with your industry news and sharing it helps you look informed. But don't just re-report it - Better to add your own views, than just copy your trade source. It makes your content more relevant to you and gives people a reason to read your blog instead of the source.
Share unusual facts and trivia
Sometimes just revealing an unexpected story or fact is a good basis for . There may be some amusing folklore, bizarre requests, or that you've come across.
Steal ideas from other blogs
Try to regularly expose yourself to many other blogs, whether it's a competitors' or in another field.Ideas are rarely 'original' but you can add you your own spin, so take ideas that are clearly working for other people. You can learn lots from others' success. I'm not suggesting you copy the actual content but just letting the idea to spark your own thoughts.
Break bigger ideas into several smaller topics
Pick a specific point and make it well rather than trying too cover too much in one go. This will also help make the task of writing it up more do-able. By focusing on just one aspect of a problem, the other angles can make multiple future blog articles, which means more ideas!
One final piece of advice… keep an ideas file
Often inspiration comes at the oddest times and unexpected places. You may think you'll remember the ideas for later, but I've learned from bitter experience that they can escape unless you capture them there and then. So carry a notebook or use an app on your phone when away from your desk, and a master list on your computer. Clive likes to actually create a hidden articles with a working title.
Teaching yourself to lookout for ideas is like training a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it gets. So time to start working out!