I LOVE generating blog post ideas. My content idea bank can usually get me by for three to four months – two or three posts per week – without having to sit down and brainstorm new ideas. That’s what you want. When it’s writing time, you want to sit down and write. You don’t want to waste time trying to figure out what to write about.
So, how do you come up with these great blog post ideas?
Oh, my friend. You have so many fun options! And that’s why I will sit down and spend an entire afternoon coming up with new post ideas. You can get lost in the brainstorming process. That’s why it’s best to time block this exercise and not try to squeeze it into your writing time. A couple of hours every couple of months is all you need.
Brainstorming Option 1: Answer the Public
Answer the Public is a fun site to play with. This site pulls in questions people have asked on various topics all around the web. As an expert in your field, you can get to work answering these questions in your next blog post. If it’s a popular question, your regular readers probably have it too!
You can use this site for free though you can no longer choose your preferred country without a premium account. That’s okay. You should still have plenty of questions to pull from.
First, enter your desired topic or keyword. On the next page, you are going to have more questions to answer than you know what to do with.
Take these and make them your own. Maybe there’s a good chance your readers know the beginner basics on your topic in which case you might switch up “when should you save money” to “clothing: when should you save money and when should you spend.” A lot of traffic generation is simply enticing people to click over. Making them curious enough that they can’t resist. Get a little creative and think outside the box. There are 4 million “how to save money” posts out there. Give yours a unique spin. Concentrate on one area rather than trying to cover everything in one generic post. That will give you more blog posts to write as well.
Brainstorming Option #2: Survey Your Readers
I love surveying my readers. So much so that I have to limit myself to twice a year to keep us all from getting distracted. But if your audience is large enough, an annual survey could provide you with several months of post ideas by simply asking them about their current struggles within your niche.
For a survey to be successful, however, you do need a dedicated following – preferably email subscribers – and they do need to trust you enough to share their deepest secrets. You need that personal connection for this to work. You can always do it later if you aren’t there now.
This doesn’t need to be complicated. If you don’t know how to create a fancy survey with Google Drive, don’t worry! Send an email letting your subscribers know you are looking to provide them with the best information possible and to reply to you with their current top struggle related to your niche.
Also along these lines, think back to reader emails and comments you have received lately. Can you address any other those concerns?
Brainstorming Option #3: KWFinder
KWFinder is another tool I use on a regular basis. This tool helps you identify the best keywords to target in your posts. Not only does it tell you how many searches there are on average for a keyword, it also shows you what the competition is like. A keyword like “save money” might have 22,000 searches per month, but the competition is rough. To get a good slice of the traffic on a keyword, you want to rank in the top three results. (Approximately 35% of search traffic goes to result #1, 15% to result #2, 11% to result #3. Things drop off substantially after that.) The current top two results for “save money” are America Saves and Dave Ramsey. As a small potatoes blogger, I’m not likely going to be knocking those two off their pedestals.
If I keep digging, I might find out “grocery shopping on a budget” is a much better option. The search volume is still decent, but the competition is a lot more comparable to where I’m at.
One thing I do want to stress here is that you aren’t always going to find the perfect keyword for every post. Some niches are extremely competitive and there may be a lot of sites that have been around for a long time. Aged sites tend to rank better than new sites. But that’s okay! Your site is going to be aged someday, too. And the more Google begins to see that you are someone in your industry that people can trust and go to for valuable knowledge, you will naturally start ranking better.
If you have a really great idea for a post but find yourself discouraged because you can’t find a low-competition keyword, write it anyway. Write it now. Never try to shove some random keyword in there that’s really stretching it just because you think you can rank for that one when you can’t rank for the right one. You’re going to end up with super crappy traffic that’s unsatisfied with the page they have landed on. When they immediately head away from your page to find what they were really looking for, that sends a signal to Google that page is no good. You may have ranked well initially, but you won’t be for long.
SEO is a waiting game. That’s fine. Social media can bring you the short-term traffic while search engines bring it to you long-term.
Brainstorming Option #4: Autocomplete
Have you ever noticed when you start typing something into Google it tries to read your mind?
Or maybe you have seen those lists of “related searches” at the bottom of your search results intended to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Both of these things can be used to generate blog post ideas.
Bonus: You have some built-in keywords already with these options. Google is serving up what other people are searching for!
Brainstorming Option #5: What’s Missing?
So maybe you don’t have your own audience to survey. What if you could survey the audience of your competitors to find out what information people in your niche are dying to know?
Visit some of the big blogs in your industry and look at their comments. If they have a “most popular posts” list in their sidebar, this may be a good place to start. What questions are those people asking? What concerns are they sharing? What things can you address in an upcoming post?
Brainstorming Option #6: Go Sideways
Come up with a few blogs in parallel niches. These aren’t direct competitors. Instead, they are one or two steps out. For example, you are a crochet blogger. These could be sewing or other handmade blogs. Take these popular parallel blogs and pop them into Buzzsumo.com. This tool will let you know what content has been shared most often on that site.
Now think about how these parallel topics can be transformed into some you can use. If one of the most popular posts on that sewing blog is about how to use up scraps, how can you write something similar for your crocheting blog? What if handsewn holiday gifts was on that list? Can you come up with some gift ideas for crocheters? I bet you can!
And these are ideas you are complimenting from other industries without directly copying your competitors.
Brainstorming Option #7: Google Trends
These days, I try to limit my time on social media. I find myself more at peace and productive when I'm minding my own business instead of everyone else's. 😉 When I did hop over to my newsfeed recently, I saw a bunch of posts about some organizing show on Netflix. My friends were talking about it. People in Facebook Groups were talking about it.
I had no idea what they were talking about. I don't have Netflix. Nor do I have a passion for organizing. But it really got me thinking about how we can take advantage of these trends and fads as bloggers.
Every week or so, Google sends me an email letting me know what's trending in the world of remote work. I look forward to receiving these emails as I don't always have time in my day to stay on top of the latest buzz. Google Trends lets me know what things people are suddenly searching for. Not so surprisingly, at the same time I saw these Facebook discussions, I also saw “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” over there.
Trending topics can be great inspiration for blog posts. I thought I'd share a little rundown of my blog post brainstorming process on this topic.
- People are obviously going to be hip on organizing and clearing out the clutter right now. Share how the show is changing your life. Or, maybe you hate it. Tell your readers why.
- Also within those trending search terms, I found “Marie Kondo boxes.” Those fancy KonMari boxes are sold out, and expensive, but maybe you could provide a top 10 list of cheaper alternatives and include your affiliate link to those products.
- What else is out there that can help with this process? Everyone loves printables. Create your own that you can offer as an opt-in freebie. Or, promote one of these I found on Etsy. (The Etsy affiliate program is available through Awin.)
- Then I hopped over to Answer the Public. There, I found people were searching for things like, “Konmari for Crafters” and “Konmari with Kids.” Good titles for blog posts, if I do say so myself!
- I then consider how this topic relates to my niche? Check out my Marie Kondo post here.
You already know people are hitting the search engines for more information. You already know people are sharing and discussing on social media. Trends may not be long-lived, but they may give you a little boost. They may help you spark some engagement within your own community.
Remember, every piece of content should count. A post full of GIFs or your current to-do list doesn’t have much long-term value – if any value. You should be proud and confident that any post a new visitor lands on shows what you are about and what you have to offer. That’s what makes them come back for more!