Writer’s block is not reserved for authors; bloggers too experience it from time to time. When in a flux, pick someone’s else brain – online. Opening your mind to others and listening to what they have to say can help you find new content ideas for your blog. Once you’ve identified a few go-to sources for inspiration, you can curate content and add some of your own original comments to deliver maximum value to readers.
1. Customer questions
The queries customers send you via email or phone, or the questions they leave on your Facebook or Twitter page are potential topics for your blog. It is likely that many others may be searching answers for the same questions, which can lead them to your blog. By offering resolutions and addressing their challenges through how-to or instructional posts, you can establish yourself as a credible source.
2. Content discovery tool DrumUp
DrumUp is a popular social media management and content curation tool being leveraged by thousands of businesses to engage in relevant, meaningful and dynamic conversations with their social media community. Its content recommendation API scans the web for relevant and current articles based on the keywords or themes you provide. DrumUp can complement your existing content discovery methods or serve as your one-stop tool for the latest, high-quality content.
3. Blogs in your industry
Top-ranking blogs in your niche can help you plan your content calendar. Avoid using the same topics or ideas to rehash your posts. Build on ideas, add your own commentary, offer your own experiences or examples, and write in your unique brand voice. Subscribe to their RSS feed to get updates and make the most of the latest news and topics.
You can even consider reaching out to bloggers and having them contribute a guest post to your blog. If you’re in the fashion industry, for instance, you can interview a fashion blogger with a popular site and/or a substantial social media following (ex : styleheroine.com, hug-you.com, shinebythree.com), to create a video post that you can promote on your social channels.
4. Forums and discussion boards
When you’re out of ideas to write about, a few minutes visiting forums and discussion boards in your niche will help you build out a list of potential topics. That’s because now you’re getting into the minds of thousands of members with their own questions, opinions, musings and insights to share.
See what people are curious about, the challenges they’re facing and the kind of advice they’re soliciting. Comments from frequent users (most of the time identified by their user names) as well as from anonymous guest users can help you think about a topic in a new way. The grammar, style or spelling of forum posts is bound to be casual, so ignore the softer aspects and focus on the key messages, logical reasoning and lesser-known facts within the posts.
For a quick forum search, type allintitle : ‘keyword’ forum. If you sell gardening tools, for instance, you can access over 150,000 relevant results, as shown below.
Quora is a great site to identify people’s pain-points and gain an understanding of what your target audience feels about a particular issue. Among those who contribute answers on the site are experienced professionals, entrepreneurs and PhD students whose commentary is backed by facts, empirical research and statistics. Humorous stories and personal experiences are also a welcome addition. Members are allowed to upvote answers, helping you determine which responses resonate more than others.
An advantage of Quora is that you can type a keyword to view questions related to your topic. You can also test if potential blog topics may generate interest and response from readers, by posting questions and seeing if they’re answered.
In the example below, the ‘Related Questions’ section on forex trading can help you look at a particular topic in many ways.
6. Yahoo! Answers
The company may be in the doldrums, but its Q&A site continues to be a useful, if quirky platform for blog post ideas. Wholly community-driven, it covers 25 categories, with knowledgeable contributors. So, not only can the questions on the site trigger blog ideas, the answers too can be enlightening. Of course, Yahoo! Answers has its fair share of silly questions and probably sillier answers that deliver chuckles. As long as you can ignore them and stick to the genuinely helpful contributions, it will be time well-spent.
If you own a pet store, and you want one post to target new owners, the goldfish example like the one below combined with your own knowledge/experience can make for an authoritative post, while the other question will be of no use to you!
7. Google Trends
Google Trends is an excellent tool to find trending topics. The real-time data offers a broad understanding of what everyone is talking about at that moment. A few of the topics may be ephemeral in nature, but others will be related to a general or broad theme that may be on many people’s radar or related to your industry. You can pitch into these conversations, enhancing credibility and drawing attention to your brand. By posting relevant content on hot topics and sharing them on your social channels, you can drive significant search traffic to your website.
8. Social media and bookmarking sites
Needless to say, social media is a rich source of information on various topics. Your Facebook newsfeed will clue you into the most popular topics being discussed online. Inspiration can come from influencers you follow on Twitter or the pages you’ve ‘liked’ on Facebook (related to your industry). You can consider subscribing to the Facebook page of an influential person in your industry or a top company in your niche, to get notifications every time they share a post.
TweetChats are scheduled events attracting Twitter users the world over to converse about a particular topic on the micro-blogging site. The chats inevitably contain questions, answers, opinions and facts that you can leverage for your blog posts. If you aren’t yet following industry leaders or people with similar interests on Twitter, use relevant #hashtags or the search tool to find users and follow them.
Join Google Plus communities and Facebook groups with active members. Their views and questions can broaden your perspectives and expand your understanding of a particular issue of interest to your blog readers and social media fans and followers. Also pay attention to LinkedIn Groups and posts; they’re contributed and read by serious professionals, with quality write-ups attracting hundreds of comments. Some ideas for your next blog post could be hiding within those comments.
Besides social media content, spare some time for social bookmarking sites as they will keep you updated with the latest viral content on the internet. They are especially useful for entertaining, photo/meme based posts. The most popular social bookmarking sites include:
9. Your previous articles
You cannot cover various nuances of a topic in a single blog post. A broad theme can be diagnosed and discussed in several articles. Go back to your previous posts and think of the specific sub-topics that readers may be interested in. This is a good way of providing a more comprehensive understanding of a particular topic/theme to your readers.
10. News and magazines
Some of the freshest ideas for blog posts can come from journalists and feature writers. So it makes sense to invest some time reading magazines, trade journals and news sites in your niche. For instance, if you offer investment advice or you’re a recruitment consultancy, Forbes is a good source for news articles, popular stories on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and feature articles. The site features top stories related to investments and recommends stories on different topics.
Online clothing, make-up or accessories retailers can look at Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar that pretty much dictate what’s hot and what’s not. If you’re in an industry where trends come and go by quickly, or if you’re trying to reach out a high-end fashion-savvy clientele, borrowing ideas from magazines with clout can make you appear more trustworthy and desirable.
By the same logic, if you’re looking for novel, innovative concepts in interior designing, Houzz can be a valuable source for creative blog post ideas.
Sometimes, potential blog post ideas can come to us when we least expect them to! Jot them down in your notepad (if you’re carrying one) or save them on your phone immediately. The little bursts of inspiration often lead to compelling, highly original, share-worthy posts.
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