Are you looking to launch your small-business blog, but you’re not sure what to write about? This post will help you develop a steady stream of blog topic ideas.
Posting regularly to your business blog has big inbound marketing benefits for your website. If you’re looking for ways to improve your search rankings and attract new customers, blogging can make a big difference:
- More inbound links. Companies that blog earn nearly double the backlinks of companies that don’t.
- More leads. When you blog regularly, your website becomes a 24/7 sales hub, delivering great content and turning visitors into leads. B2B marketers report getting an average of 67 percent more leads when they regularly publish blog posts.
- More traffic. Companies that publish 16 or more posts per month get more than three times the traffic of companies that publish between zero to four times per month.
Did you just get a feeling of panic when you read the words “16 or more posts per month”? If you did, rest assured you aren’t alone. For most business owners, it’s tough to think of something to write about weekly or even monthly. Yet the truth is undeniable: the more you publish, the bigger the benefits.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a creative genius to come up with blog topics. These simple tips will keep your writers supplied with a steady stream of ideas.
1. Research the Competition
Blogging has been around for over two decades, so there’s a good chance that somewhere in the world a company like yours has a steady and successful blog. Navigate over to Google and search for businesses like yours and take a look at their blogs. While you’re looking, jot down a few notes:
- What topics do they cover most frequently? Some blogs have a category column in the sidebar, which shows the number of posts in each category. If companies like yours blog most about particular categories, you can be sure there’s a reason why.
- Which topics get the most engagement? Look to see which posts get a lot of comments or social shares. These topics might also have a lot of appeal for your readers.
- What do their blogs look like? Notice things like visual effects, email subscription boxes, forms, download offers, and other tools that other businesses are using to get bigger benefits from their blogs.
Now that you’ve scoped out the competition, take a few suggestions from their playbook. You shouldn’t copy their content, but you can use their posts to generate some ideas of your own:
- What’s missing? As you looked over their blogs, you probably noticed both what was there — and what wasn’t there. Brainstorm some topics you think they should have covered, and then write about them yourself.
- What’s not that good? Some bloggers try to tackle topics, but they end up out of their depth, or they’re not fantastic writers. If you have deeper knowledge about a subject and can deliver a better blog post about it, do it.
- What would you do differently? As you read their posts, you might feel a “yes, but…” or a “yes, and…” reaction to what they’ve written. In other words, there’s more to write, or something different should be written. So go ahead and write it.
2. Brainstorming and Mind Mapping
Once you’ve looked at what other people are doing, it’s time to dig for some topics within your own brain. Set aside some time to try two techniques: brainstorming and mind mapping.
You probably have done some form of brainstorming in a class or in a meeting. People attach large pieces of butcher paper to a wall or clear off a whiteboard and generate a list of ideas. There’s a big piece of brainstorming that many people forget: no idea is a bad idea in brainstorming.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down everything — everything — that comes to mind.
Write down every idea, no matter how awful or crazy it might look.
A lot of your ideas will make you laugh, and that’s a good thing because you’re empowering your brain to generate ideas freely and without judgment. After a series of 10 ridiculous ideas, something golden usually emerges.
Mind mapping is a slightly more organized form of brainstorming that helps you generate ideas based on one central topic. Let’s say you operate a veterinary clinic, and you want to start by writing posts about the animals you treat. As you start thinking of what you could say about dogs, you’ll generate a few categories of topics:
Now, around each of these categories, you can probably think of a series of ideas:
Keep generating topics and sub-topics until you come to some blog post ideas that are both specific and unique. That’s when you know you’ve found your best ideas.
3. Let the Format Trigger Ideas
Sometimes, the thought of having to list ideas on an empty page can leave any writer, from professional to amateur, feeling panicked. Instead of wracking your brain for open-ended subject matter, start with a blog post format and let the ideas flow.
For example, one common type of blog post is the list post, which contains a list of three to 100 or more thoughts on a specific subject. The list post can take on several forms:
- The Top __ List. The veterinary clinic from the previous example could make a post about “Top 10 Dog Breeds for Families With Kids” or share something humorous like “The Top 5 Cat Videos on YouTube Right Now.”
- The Helpful Suggestions List. A post like this might have the title “10 Ways to Help Your Cat Lose Weight” or “5 Ways to Help Your Pet Beat the Heat.”
- The Historical List. A post called “31 Breeds That Have Won the Westminster Dog Show” gives readers a taste of history.
- The Mega List. These big lists usually consist of a brainstorm of ideas: “100 Ways to Show Your Pet You Care.”
When you think of the format as a container, ideas can flow into the empty space. Of course, you have many options beyond the list post. Here’s a roundup of different blog posts you can write:
Roundups of tweets about a subject
Surveys or polls
Problems and solutions
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Definitions (explaining a term related to your business)
Checklists or cheat sheets
Answers to reader questions
4. Let Keywords Inspire You
If you’re working with an SEO agency to boost your search rankings, your agency will probably give you keyword ideas for your site. These keywords, which are the search queries that people type into Google to find sites like yours, can often inspire a lot of blog post topics.
Even keywords that seem a little dull on the surface can turn into great blog posts. Try mind mapping around a keyword phrase. For example, “veterinary care in Phoenix”:
5. Capture Ideas on the Go
Ideas can be like annoying relatives: they often show up unannounced. Make a habit of carrying a small notebook and pen with you wherever you go, or use a smartphone app like Evernote to type out and store your ideas.
Many times, ideas come to you when you’re reading about something else. If you use Google Chrome or Firefox, install the Evernote Web Clipper, which will let you clip articles into Evernote with one click so you can refer to them later. Also, many social networks and smartphone reading apps integrate with Evernote, allowing you to save articles to your Evernote account.
However you choose to record your ideas, get in the habit of writing them down immediately. If you’re like many business owners, you have a lot on your mind, and you won’t remember your blog topic ideas later.
Blogging Isn’t Just for Writers
Never give up on blogging, even if you aren’t a confident writer. You can always create a more visual blog — images, videos, etc. — and only add minimal text. You can also supply your ideas to a content marketing agency and let someone else do the work.