25 Oct How to Come Up With Great Blog Post Ideas
Here it is – another week, another post on our humble Virtual Stacks Systems’ blog! We write four posts each month for our digital marketing agency’s blog, for a total of 48 a year! If you’re in charge of writing a blog for your business and dread coming up with ideas, you may wonder how we do it. Well, we’re going to tell you!
Getting beyond that blank page
You know you need to blog. HubSpot’s Rachel Leist eloquently describes why.
“Without a blog, your SEO can tank, you’ll have nothing to promote in social media, you’ll have no clout with your leads and customers, and you’ll have fewer pages to put those valuable calls-to-action that generate inbound leads.”
In preventing this dire fate, the hardest part is consistently coming up with high-quality ideas. As digital marketing sensei Neil Patel puts it, “Inexperienced writers rely on their brains and their own abilities to create content. Sometimes that works, but eventually, you run out of ideas of what to write.”
What you need is a system. Whether you blog 52 times a year or 12, your approach needs to be methodical. By the way, posting a blog on a monthly basis is the minimum for Google’s web crawlers to recognize fresh content on your website, which it rewards with higher rankings. Posting sporadically won’t produce the desired result.
Keeping the customer in mind
The foundation of any system for generating great blog post topics is keeping your target audience in mind. Whether your company is business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B), your blog needs to speak to their needs, interests and concerns. As we’ve noted before, a common mistake is writing about what interests you, rather than your audience.
On the subject of B2B companies, our February 1, 2019 blog post – “How to Write Fascinating Content About a Boring Industry” – provides tips on getting fresh, relevant perspectives about your product/service and industry to tell compelling stories. We quoted marketing writer Sherry Gray’s observation, “Marketers are called on to create compelling stories for things like toilet paper or tile grout and for companies that rent out heavy equipment or manufacture parts that go inside other products.” Discovering the interesting aspects of tile grout provided a wealth of blog post topics for our theoretical company. You can follow the process we used to do the same for your business.
Keep track of trends/events that interest or affect members of your target market – For example, conserving water is an issue that affects everyone, both on the environmental level and keeping utility bills down. A plumber can blog about water-efficient plumbing fixtures (and even narrow it down, with separate posts about toilets and shower heads), as well as general water-saving tips. Basically, if your target audience members are thinking about it, the topic is worth a blog post.
For B2B companies, write about pending legislation that could impact your industry, economic trends or new technologies. Follow trade associations and other relevant resources online to keep current and get ideas.
Look for lifestyle topics – Look at members of your target market as individuals. This is where buyer personas come into play. If parents of elementary school-age children is your market, consider their priorities, interests and concerns. Topics relating to safety; security; education; raising a happy, healthy child and many other applicable areas allow you to engage with your audience on a personal level, signaling that you understand their life and want to be a supportive resource.
Plan for seasonal posts – Your business probably ramps up activities during certain times of year. In addition to major holidays, there’s summer/vacation time, back-to-school, baseball season, football season – the list goes on. Own a bicycle shop? Blog about the history behind major competitions – like the Tour de France in July – scenic routes for fall outings or holiday gift ideas for the serious bike enthusiast. For some companies, the year-in-review and look-ahead to the upcoming year are always popular blog topic staples. Yes, watch this space for ours!
For the B2B world, industry trade shows provide a wealth of topics. Even if your company isn’t an exhibitor, there’s still a high interest in the newest technologies, products and brands. Trade shows also present the opportunity to write a think piece about a specific technology, product or trend that promises to have a significant impact – and help position you as a thought leader.
Send an email campaign
Content marketer Brittany Berger recommends asking customers on your email list what topics they want to see addressed in a blog post. This can be conducted as a separate campaign, or with your welcome email to new subscribers.
Make it a team effort to learn more about your customers – If your company has a sales team and/or customer support team, Berger also recommends asking your sales team what questions they typically get from prospects. Choose such questions as topics, then answer them in detail. On the other side of the customer journey – those who have converted – Berger writes that your company’s customer support team members can offer insight into their questions and issues.
“Talking to your customer support team members can tell you what current customers want to know. For example, a few months ago our support reps asked me if we had a post explaining our sentiment analysis features. We didn’t, so I wrote one that they can now use and reference when helping people.”
Connecting with other teammates
Holding a brainstorming session with the team members in your own department can generate good topic ideas. HubSpot’s Ginny Mineo writes about getting her team in a room and brainstorming a year’s worth of blog topics in under an hour. The results provided material for HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator, which is free for all to use. Gather your own team and bounce ideas off of each other and the Blog Ideas Generator.
The basic process, says Mineo, is to “… just iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.” This can be done as follows:
- Changing the topic scope
- Adjusting the time frame
- Choosing a new audience
- Taking a positive/negative approach
- Introducing a new format
Changing up the format
If you’ve been blogging for your business for a while, it’s easy to fall into a pattern. Varying the format of your posts can help you take a different approach that leads to more topics. Rachel Leist identifies the leading blog posts formats:
- The how-to post
- The list-based post
- The curated collection post
- The SlideShare presentation post
- The newsjacking post
Leist then provides the following blog post topics as examples:
- List-based post: 5 ways to fix a leaky faucet
- Curated collection post: 10 faucet and sink brands you should look into today
- SlideShare presentation: 5 types of faucets that should replace your old one (with pictures)
- News post: New study shows X% of people don’t replace their faucet on time
The take-home message
As with all other aspects of marketing, blogging well takes time, but is well worth the effort. Consider it an opportunity to connect with your target audience and share with them information they’ll find useful. In addition to the SEO benefits, blogging makes your business more relatable, more trustworthy and more likely to be top-of-mind when they’re ready to buy.
So, this leaves us with eight more blog posts to write until the end of 2019. Of course, our remaining topics are scheduled. We look forward to having you join us for each of them – as well as the 48 posts for 2020!
When you’re ready to choose a digital marketing agency, we hope we’ll be top-of-mind! Virtual Stacks Systems offers social media marketing, PPC advertising, website design and redesign, SEO marketing, review management services, social media marketing, video production and much more!
Contact us to get started!