Regularly updating your website with fresh content is imperative to building a good reputation with search engines and attracting a regular flow of visitors to your site. However, generating ideas for a blog post can often present a significant challenge, and it can be very difficult to generate fresh ideas that attract an audience. This week we asked a group of expert bloggers to share their insights into how they generate ideas for a blog. We asked:
What’s your top tip for coming up with new and interesting content for your site?
Here’s ours: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Build on what’s already available. You can read more in our guide to how to rewrite articles.
Here’s a selection of the great ideas we received:
How to Generate Ideas for a Blog Post
1. Stay On Top Of Industry Trends And News
As I go about my work of optimizing clients’ accounts, I jot down ideas on topics that would be interesting and useful to my readers. Often just talking to my clients & explaining some of the concepts sparks the initial post idea. I also use Twitter to identify reputable sources that publish the latest updates to the system. Seeing what others are tweeting about gives me a sense of the current hot topics. I also subscribe to industry blogs and the latest news, this gives me a lot of ideas as well.
Thanks to Kristina Cutura of AdWords Cafe
2. Everyday Questions
I find I’m asked many questions by email, in blog comments, when I give presentations, and even in face-to-face meetings. Whenever someone asks me a question, I consider whether the answer would be of interest to anyone else. If so, I use that question and answer as the foundation for a future blog post.
Thanks to Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant
3. Find Out What Questions Your Customers Are Asking
Using the Wordtracker Keyword Questions tool, you can find real questions being asked by real people.
Just enter a seed keyword for your industry “cars”, for example. This will then give you a list of questions people have asked, and how frequently those questions are asked.
This gives you some great topic ideas for blog posts or articles.
Thanks to Max Holloway of Wordtracker
4. Stay Current!
I believe the best way to find blog topic ideas is to stay current within your area of business. For example, I sell educational toys for babies & toddlers. I stay current by reading all of the parenting magazines. When I read articles in magazines, I am always thinking about how my products relate to the topic they are covering. It is about being creative. The topics covered in the magazines are a great launch pad for ideas!
Thanks to Christy Cook of Teach My
5. Make The Most Of News Alerts
We are always looking at our Google Alerts to see what people are talking about in our industry. It’s very easy to relate our products and services to most stories about the latest trends and happenings in the industry. We try our best to be creative and relevant and provide as much additional information as possible. We set our blog up to be informational rather than as a sales pitch. We also look to social media question-and-answer sites to generate ideas for our blog.
Thanks to Mark Mckelvey of Hidden Equity
6. Follow The Leaders
My top tip for creating new and interesting content for my blog is to follow the right people on Twitter. Because my blog is fashion based I follow insiders in the fashion industry, celebrities, reality TV stars and famous brands. These “insiders” tweet about the latest trends, projects, sales and more, which gives me inspiration for new article ideas every day.
Thanks to Elizabeth Hannum of The Budgetista
7. Generating Ideas For Blog Posts
One of the best ways to choose a blog topic, which will have reader interest, is to select one of the top trends on Twitter. Monitoring Twitter trends will give you insight into the most recent discussion topics where some additional insight and perspective will gather interest.
Here is a Twitter app that helps with spotting trends: Trendsmap. This app has a feature that enables you to dig into trends by the geographic location of tweets as well.
Thanks to Aloysius Carl of Reynolds And Reynolds
8. Blog Ideas Service
We actually have a service for small business owners where we email them an idea for a blog post each day. It’s designed for people who want to promote their business with their blog but need ideas for what they can write about other than their products and services. The cost is $9.95/month. They also get an idea for a social media status update each day – something they can use on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other communities. There’s more information here:
Thanks to Judy Schramm of ProResource LLC
9. Blogging Made Simple
1. Choose four topics of your business to coincide with the four weeks in most months.
2. Choose three (or more!) subtopics for each topic. Now you’ll have a quarter’s worth of blog topics.
3. Schedule time to blog: 30 minutes once a week (or more, if you choose).
4. Write 200-400 words in a conversational tone. If writing is an issue, consider recording a conversation with someone.
Thanks to Amanda Collins of The Grammar Doctors
10. Follow The News
I’ve been keeping a blog for my print-selling website for 7 years. I don’t blog every day, which is part of the key for me. I don’t put pressure on myself to have to find five new topics a week, which keeps me from writer’s block.
But my biggest tip is to just read the news. I read at least three news sites every morning, which keeps me pretty up-to-date with topic ideas. I blog about my own work, but also about anything related to photography and any news related to subjects I’ve photographed.
Thanks to Chris Nicholson of photographingtennis.com
11. Stumbling Upon Blog Ideas
I write my blog on technology/video production. One of the best resources to generate ideas for blog posts is the website www.stumbleupon.com. Fill in the information pertaining to what you want to stumble upon. Then stumble! This website generates random websites/ideas/pictures/videos for you based on what you are interested in. Not only is it a great source of information, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Thanks to Bryan Darrow of Why Are You Watching Productions
12. You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers!
The best kinds of blog posts are the ones that genuinely help people. These blog posts will result in lower bounce rates, subscribers, and possibly sales if done right. A method I use myself and for my clients is to scour Q&A websites like Yahoo Answers, Amazon Askville, Quora, etc and to find industry-related questions. If one person is curious about something then there may very well be dozens, if not hundreds of others looking for the same information.
Thanks to Alan Dang of Intence Media
13. Blog About What You Know
If you are thinking or wondering or just musing about something, most likely, there are thousands of other people in your demographics that are also doing the same. Why not blog about it. If you blog about what you know or wonder about, it is like a conversation you would have with a friend. You hope that the comments back will extend the conversation.
Thanks to Haralee Weintraub of Haralee.Com Sleepwear
Once you have created a great article, revisit it every now and again to assess if it needs updating. Check out our guide to rewriting articles for SEO for more information.
14. Features Are Your Bread And Butter!
For feature content, the real bread-and-butter of long-tail blog traffic, I’d suggest reviewing the content of similar blogs, and then having a brainstorming session with anyone in your field you might know. Start writing ideas down together in a shared Google doc and feed off each other’s content. Start with broad, popular categories and use them to fill variables where needed. The 10 Best X, X vs Y, these sorts of posts. You can use a site like Pikimal to help gather facts for your comparisons.
Thanks to Cody Musser of Pikimal
15. It’s Got To Burn Inside Me
I write one blog post an evening six days a week. My best stuff comes when:
• I know the topic well
• It hits multiple abilities of mine
• I can add a clever graphic or table that explains it well
• It’s current
• And I care about it.
On days when I don’t have that, I have a list of book reviews to catch up on so I do a review. Not burning, but useful for readers.
Thanks to David Merkel of Aleph Blog
16. Tips For Creating Fresh Content
I keep generating new content for my blog by:
-Creating Google alerts for relevant topics so I can keep up-to-date on new articles published
-Engaging with targeted Twitter followers
-Reading other blogs in my niche
-Using Evernote (http://evernote.com) on my phone and computer so I can record new ideas wherever I am
Thanks to Lindsay Hunt of theboomerangkid.com
17. Transparency Is Inspirational
With our blog ) we are very openly tracking chapters in the book “Rework”. Our objective is not to rewrite the book, it is to apply it. We don’t go in the same order, we go with topics that are very current for us. Sometimes we revisit a chapter. It is all about application in the real world. We did something this week, so why not talk about it.
Thanks to Kenneth Vogt of Crooner Labs
18. Plan It By Day
If you often find yourself at a loss for blog posts, create a weekly schedule. I have organized my blog posts into a daily schedule which provides me with immediate inspiration when I find myself stuck. For example, on Mondays, I share mail art I have created. Similarly, I have Feature Art Fridays, Sunday Sellers and Jewelry Chooseday etc. This way, when I am feeling uninspired, I have a starting point. It also helps to keep an ongoing list of ideas that fall into these categories.
Thanks to Kaitlyn Webb Patience of Isavirtue
19. Fertile Hunting Grounds
Sign up for newsletters, blogs, read industry mags, or any online news that is part of your industry. By reading any or all of these, you come up with a ton of fresh ideas, or ideas that you can spin off; to continually have a flowing stream of fodder to write about. I also recommend keeping a piece of paper handy at all times to jot down blog ideas on the fly, even on your nightstand. No kidding! I get some great ideas in my dreams!
Thanks to Jennifer Chiongbian of Rutenberg Realty NYC
20. 3 Go-to Ideas For Blog Content
1) Current news – set Google Alerts for certain keywords & review them for possible topic ideas. Trends and news can inspire timely posts. 2) Buyer persona – consider the ideal prospect and then write posts tailored to their needs or pain points. This tactic helps the blog feel focused and personalized. 3) Repurposed content – brochures, guides and PPTs can be given a fresh viewpoint and then segmented into shorter blog posts – creating more content without burning a ton of resources!
Thanks to Elizabeth Sklaroff of Round Social Marketing
21. Attract Shoppers – Not Browsers
When I started my site in 2001, competition was low in the wedding industry and it was quite easy to rank well for a myriad of wedding topics. I built a resource on hairstyles which had links that I had found around the web with photos of hairstyles. My site continued to rank very highly for this term and our daily visitor numbers grew. However, the traffic was mostly bouncing right off the site. The types of content a web store produces should be tailored to shoppers and not just browsers.
Thanks to Brina Bujkovsky of Personalized Wedding Gifts
22. Generating Ideas For Blog Posts
I blog about movie posters, collecting and pop culture, as it relates to the movie industry at Just Movie Posters Blog and what helps me to come up with new content is Google Alerts. I set my Google Alert for movie posters and once a day I get an email filled with links to blogs and news articles about movie posters. I then pick a story or blog entry that I think is interesting and from that I write my blog entry. Yes, it’s not rocket science, but it works.
Thanks to Ilena Di Toro of Just Movie Posters Blog
23. Out Of My Office & Into The World
I have a motivational blog for writers and post daily: So far, I’ve posted more than 350 blog stories. I’ve found that getting out of my office and attending writing-related events has been a great source of inspiration and posts. I’ve gone to museum exhibits, book readings, and workshops in order to find fresh ideas for my blog. Whatever your area of interest, there are events out there related to it that can spark new ideas and give you valuable fuel for posts.
Thanks to Karin Abarbanel of karinwritesdangerously.wordpress.com
24. Blog Imitates Life
The human experience is quite universal. We all struggle with money, relationships, work/family balance, what to cook for dinner, etc. I blog about things that happen in my everyday life. I tell stories about my kids, my dog, my travels. I offer up recipes and ideas on how to save money or save time. If something happens that I think someone might find funny, touching or useful, I blog about it.
Thanks to Karen Hoxmeier of MyBargainBuddy.com
25. Food Bloggers Must Eat!
Being a food blogger is about constantly searching for new trends, ingredients, restaurants and keeping up with everyone’s blogs! It’s a full-time job! To create new content at least 4 times/week, I try to search for new ingredients when I shop, even at grocery stores. Look for different things in the most common of places, even your own pantry. Tools of the trade posts are specially interesting, teaching your readers what to look for in them. Search for recipes online and with family members!
Thanks to Marnely Rodriguez of cookingwithbooks.blogspot.com/
26. Listen To Your Clients.
Most of my blog ideas are generated by client questions. For example, a mother of three asked me how she can stop eating her children’s leftovers and lose weight. Knowing that there are probably thousands of other moms with the same question, I wrote a blog on this topic. Sure enough, it was well-received.
Thanks to Christen Cooper of Cooper Nutrition Education & Communications
27. 3 Minutes A Day Gives You Unlimited Content Ideas
Set up a Google Alert for the topic(s) on which you blog. You’ll get an email every day from Google full of great ideas. Copy and paste ideas you like from the Google Alert into a folder on your computer titled Potential Blog Topics. It’ll take you about 3 minutes a day to do this. When you have time to write blog posts, open that file and choose the topic your feel like writing about. I’ve been writing 20 real estate blog posts every month for 2 years and have never run out of topics.
Thanks to Kathy Goughenour of LeadBoosterClub.com
28. My Top Tip
My best tip is just to pay attention to everyday things. Often there is an idea hiding right under your nose if you look at common things & give it a slight twist or draw a parallel to something else. For example, about a month ago I was admiring the tulips in my back yard. From this, I drew the parallel to ask my readers to think about what they are planting in their own life that could bloom year after year.
Thanks to Robert Wilson of SmArtful Coaching
29. Don’t Recreate The Wheel!
I take a two prong approach to content development. I develop topics based on questions that I’m asked most frequently which I put into an “editorial calendar”. Then I supplement the editorial calendar with things that pop up; i.e., an article about giving subscribers the opportunity to update their profile which came up when I changed my email. A lot of the newsletters I subscribed to didn’t give me the option of updating my profile…so on most I just opted out!
Thanks to Jann Mirchandani of Marketing Cafe
30. Blog Ideas
To get new ideas for my blog post, I look for unusual or highly foolish people and things. Stupidity can be highly inspirational!
Thanks to Joe Templin of The Unique Minds Consulting Group, LLC
31. Get Out Of Your Own Head
Read other blogs; it’s bound to inspire you in some way or remind you of a related topic that you can write upon or a great article you can rewrite to make your own.. I also get Google Alerts sent to my inbox on topics pertinent to my website. For me, that means news as-it-happens on body image and eco-fashion as those are the two main topics I cover on my blog. You can also go back over your last few posts and do some brainstorming on sub-topics that branch off from each of them or find ways to expand upon an old post (that’s from Darren Rowse).
Thanks to Laura Connell of For Those About To Shop
32. 5 Key Sources For Blog Topics
To find new topics, talk to people. Tell them what you do and take note of the questions they ask you. These are great topics. Think of the top 10 reasons people should be interested in your topic/product/service. Each reason is the start of a blog post. If you hired someone to write about you/your company/your team, what insights would you give? What challenges are people in your field facing? Stay calm and write about each one. What challenges do your customers face? Have you got solutions?
Thanks to Caroline De Gruchy of C.R. Visuals
33. Generating Ideas For Awesome Blog Posts
For our clients, I usually determine their strategy for the blog and then whittle the conventional “25 styles” of blog posts down to a handful of the most appropriate. With a good idea of the strategy and styles, I brainstorm any ideas using mindmapping. Then from the full list of potential blogs, I prune them according to criteria such as interesting topic, would the reader care or learn something, timeliness of the subject, achievability, etc. The result is usually an actionable schedule.
Thanks to Stephen Terlizzi of Tanis Communications, Inc.
34. Crowd Source Your Blog Content
Let your readers dictate what types of posts you do on your blog. Keep a running list of the questions that readers ask, and then do posts based on what topics are the most popular. You can also start a poll or a weekly “Reader’s Choice” feature that encourages fans to tell you what they want to see. Your content is guaranteed to be popular if you are giving people exactly what they asked for!
Thanks to Jeanette Thwing of J’s Everyday Fashion
35. Picture Cultural Icons Dealing With Your Topic
I am an attorney in Northern Virginia, and I write a blog called “Thoughts on Wills and Estate Planning”.
My top tip for coming up with new and interesting content is to picture how various cultural icons might deal with your topic. For example, after I saw the latest Harry Potter movie, I took some random elements of the plot and tried to apply them to estate planning.
This enables me to use some creativity but also helps me create more relatable posts on what can be an otherwise dry topic.
Thanks to Scott Zucker of The Zucker Law Firm, PLLC
36. Challenge Of Blogging About Writing
As a newly published author, I maintain several social media sites. To update my blog, I do a variety of things. One is that I use the Google built-in statistics tools to track which blog entries get the most hits. In addition to writing more of what is currently popular on my site, I also announce new books and just talk to my readers. Sometimes I talk about the writing process. Sometimes I talk about life. Sometimes I answer common queries from readers. I also link to other blogs of interest.
Thanks to Donna McDonald of Donna McDonald (Author)
37. Trending And Interesting Leads To Fantastic Content
One of the great things about our blog is that it spotlights some of the coolest items that we feel bargain-hunters will be interested in. Sometimes it’s a rare car or it could be a 70s pinball machine or even growing lights. Our tip is to make your post’s content about something in demand and standing out from the ordinary. We do this by checking trending phrases everywhere online and picking the most interesting ones that match auction items in our own database. Then we blog about them.
Thanks to Ian Aronovich of GovernmentAuctions.org
38. Use The News For Blog Topic Inspiration
I use Google Reader/Alerts for the latest news related to my blog topics (telecommuting, flexible jobs, career advice). Every day I read through the news and then write posts in two ways: 1) As commentary about that news or 2) As a brand new topic inspired by that news. Ex: News about Company X allowing 50 percent of its workforce to telecommute inspires me to write my opinion on that news OR to give tips on convincing employers to allow telecommuting. Two great angles from the same news!
Thanks to Brie Reynolds, Content Manager of FlexJobs
39. Consider what your customers need to know
I’m relatively new to blogging, but to get started I simply made a list of questions my clients ask me. These range from “How often should I get a massage” to specific benefits for different medical conditions. I’ve also included questions that many people are embarrassed to ask their massage therapist but my close friends have asked me, such as “what if I fall asleep and snore” and “should I leave my underwear on or take it off”. All of these make great topics for a blog – they provide pertinent information and can be mix of serious and funny.
Thanks to Amy Horn of Bodies in Balance Massage
Do you have any tips for generating ideas for a blog? Leave a comment now and tell us all about them.