Content is king: it’s the ubiquitous phrase that has become synonymous with SEO. It is no secret that updated, searchable content appeals to not only potential customers, but also search engines.
Blogs are a profound way to increase your overall web presence, build a formidable audience, promote social engagement and, of course, get more pages linked to your website. Exceptional content garners the trust of current customers and invites new ones to your site. Many small business owners either disregard the benefits of having a blog or, more often, simply do not have the time to contribute content on a regular basis.
Enter professional blog writers, who provide expert material at a low cost and allow companies to regularly offer insight in their field. Regardless of the niche, professional bloggers create informative content for a client’s target market.
As you can imagine, however, it can oftentimes be a challenge for said bloggers to drum up ideas for a topic they have little to no knowledge about. Without direction from a particular client, bloggers rely heavily on their own research. What are some best practices for professional bloggers who lack acumen in a certain field? How do bloggers create new and evoking content on a daily basis?
Generating ideas for a blog
Trust me, I’ve been there before—literally staring at a computer monitor for hours on end, hoping for the Little Blog Fairy to come along and make things all better. I’ve done it several times to no avail.
Blogging for a specific niche can be an arduous and sometimes frustrating task. Nailing down a list of topics for a weekly or even daily blog can be downright daunting, especially when facing a mounting work load and strict deadlines. For any writer, time is valuable. And any time wasted stressing over what to write about can be detrimental to your client.
When first writing a blog, research is pivotal. Read and educate yourself on all related material, jot down your findings and read some more. But, like one colleague put it, after writing a blog post or two, it becomes more about conducting research to find a topic that relates to an industry rather than conducting research about the industry itself.
1. Put yourself in the readers shoes (via Dan Shure)
Dan Shure recently wrote an extremely thorough post on the many ways to help improve your blog (17 to be exact). The example Shure used was about a blog entitled, “Noah’s Dad.” The blog, authored by Rick Smith, is about Smith’s son, Noah, who has Down Syndrome.
In order to remain creative, Shure recommends writers put themselves in their target audiences’ shoes and ask simple questions.
Like Shure points out, tools such as Ubersuggest and Soolve (which use an array of search engines to provide vast results based on a keyword or phrase) are valuable for sparking new ideas and developing fresh, creative angles. As shown here, inserting the word “can” before the topic cued a bunch of notable ideas.
Shure also advises pro bloggers to utilize Google in a way a potential reader would search for a particular topic. Google’s suggest feature makes it simple for bloggers to steer in a number of directions with any given subject. It’s a great tool for linking unexpected but somehow related topics. Stumbling across a wealth of information via Google provides you with plenty of content for a blog post.
I recently had to write a post for a big game hunting outfitter that specializes in elk hunting. For someone who’s never fired a bow and arrow or even been on a hunting trip before, compiling any sort of useful blog on this topic was seemingly impossible. After a quick search, I discovered several pages leading to tips, videos and top destinations. I ended up writing a post highlighting tips about archery elk hunting, but I also came away with several ideas for future posts.
But like Shure says, perhaps the most forgotten tool of them all is none other than your brain.
Nonetheless, writer’s block can be rather maddening. Take a deep breath, give it a break. Coherent thoughts aren’t going to magically appear. I find it very helpful to get up and physically walk away from your work for a few minutes to regroup. Typically if I’m struggling with a certain post I will begin to work on something else. Of course, don’t procrastinate. Give yourself a strict time window of when you need to tend to that blog.
Keep working at it. Sometimes writing even the slightest bit can help spur novel ideas.
2. Random Affinities (via Ian Lurie, CEO of Portent)
Perhaps one of my favorite posts in regards to blog writing is Ian Lurie’s post about Random Affinities.
“Your new client makes pollen-resistant underwear? Congratulations. You’re now an author specializing in allergen-repelling undergarments,” Lurie quipped.
Lurie points out that it can be fairly difficult to write 15 blog posts per month about such a unique and specialized topic. So Lurie coined the term “Random Affinities” to help combat this issue.
So what’s the recipe for a Random Affinity, you ask? Two ideas plus no obvious connection aside from your target audience and boom! (i.e. those who go deer hunting or more likely to drive a truck.)
There you have it. While Lurie suggests Random Affinities be used no more than 20 percent of the time, they’re a great way to fill blog requirements with creative, unique topics. While a blog is designed to boost business and make customers happy, it’s also there to attract readers and keep them around for a while.
Like Shure, Lurie utilizes several tools such as Facebook Ads. By taking the initial steps in creating an ad (note: you don’t actually have to create one), you could discover suggested likes related to your precise interest. He also points out Google Suggest and even Reddit and Amazon as potential havens to uncover fresh ideas.
I’ve also found it helpful to use Google News to dig up notable information.
A quick and easy search led me to sources for a potential blog post in a region of interest.
3. Interview business owners and specialists
Fact: Everyone likes to talk about what they’re most passionate about. So it’s likely your client would be willing to set aside 10 minutes of their time to chat about an industry-related topic. As a recovering sports journalist, asking well-rounded questions has become almost second nature. Jot down a list of five to ten questions for your client or a specialist in a specific field and hammer out an interesting blog post.
Writing for a hunting outfitting service? Talk to a guide and have them describe an exciting bear hunting excursion. Highlighting an experience can evoke readership and give a respective blog a more personable feel. There’s no substitute for a good story.
Furthermore, by picking your client’s brain, you’re likely to pick up on a wealth of knowledge regarding more specific issues. Just like the aforementioned practices, by interviewing a client or a client’s customer, you can spark more ideas for a future blog post.
Stop struggling, start blogging
Depending on your audience, there are several ways to uniquely spin a blog post in a way that can captivate your readership. Think outside the box.
Blogs can vary by style, voice and subject matter, but also how you present the material. Unorthodox blogs such as infographics and debates can be fun to piece together, too. Invite a guest blogger or a colleague to lend a hand and take a side to help list the pros and cons of an industry related product.
Be sure to converse with others in an editorial meeting to brainstorm ideas for blogs. Be proactive and always use search engines to further explore into an unknown industry. Check out what’s trending on social media networks, because you never know what ideas may relate to a specific blog. Also, don’t forget to give tools like Soolve and Ubersuggest a try, as well as Ian Lurie’s Random Affinities.
While these tips may not simply eliminate writer’s block altogether, they may help pave the way toward greater concepts and ideas.