7 Ways to Come Up with 100+ High-Quality, Interesting Blog Ideas
It was October 2015, and my CEO took a risk. We needed to hire a marketing person and the CEO plucked the top account manager on his operation’s team to fortify the company’s marketing initiatives. Our company is a bootstrapped startup in every sense of the word, so each position mattered, a lot. It turned out that the new marketing manager that he hired was me, and I was ecstatic.
I believed our product was awesome. We filled a gap that was sorely needed in the property management industry and when that happens, it makes marketing less about “selling” and more about educating the target audience. However, no matter how great the service offering is, if no one knows it exists, no one is going to buy.
Our company already had a novel approach to marketing, not only did we create a brand new blog each week to our subscriber list, but we did it with video.
This helped our company cut through the noise and be an authority figure rather quickly. We started in 2012, and had gained 45,000 YouTube views, and 58,000 site sessions by October of 2015 — all with zero advertising dollars being spent. So what did we do once I became in charge? I doubled down.
Present Day: July 2017
Fast forward to the present day; from November 2015 to July 2017, we amassed over 108,000 website sessions, and reached over 104,000 YouTube views. Essentially doubling what took three 3+ years to make, all within twenty two months. Not only that, we doubled incoming leads as well.
What did this allow us to do?
So what’s the secret?
I simply optimized what we did, and aimed to absolutely crush it with articles our readers have been yearning for. This involved meeting a deadline of creating one brand new video blog + article each week for 22 months. This is something I’d say is easy if that was your only focus for a 40-hour work week, but as anyone knows when working at a startup and an agency — you’re doing all sorts of work. In total, over 111 pieces of content and 124 YouTube videos were published in that time and for today’s article, I’m going to go over a question that I get asked often, “how are you able to consistently come up with new blog ideas?”
In short: it gets easier as it goes on — all you have to do is start. However, if you are someone in a company that is looking for actionable methods to develop interesting content at scale, well here is my long answer:
Start with the FAQ’s
The first part stems from the teachings of the Sales Lion, Marcus Sheridan. His pool business was failing until he started blogging the questions that he received. He answered questions like, “who are your competitors?” and “what are the main problems with getting a pool?” with complete honesty and transparency. It’s a simple concept of “They Ask, You Answer”. If a customer asks, you answer in the form of a blog. This helps you control the conversation; if you have people asking you these questions directly, you can count on many other people searching those same questions online.
There are so many ways to source questions from clients.
- If you have a chat function on your website, source blog ideas from there. That’s an anxieties goldmine!
- Common questions that you receive over email; never waste a good conversion by keeping it private.
- Meetings with clients.
- Set up weekly meetings with sales.
All of these methods are fantastic to source blog topics, and the best part is, it’s always constant. Always be cognizant of what people ask and how that can be turned into articles.
Real-world examples of FAQ’s made into blogs:
A prospective lead told one of our salespeople, “I just started my company and I don’t know where to start with marketing!”
So we created the blog: Property Management Marketing 101
A client asked one of our account managers, “I have a new lead, how do I talk to them without scaring them away?”
So we created the blog: How to Double Sales by Qualifying Leads, the Right Way
Use the Big “5”
Another strategy from the help of Marcus Sheridan is the concept of the Big 5. These are the essential topics/questions all consumers want to know about when it comes to the buying process. These are:
- Cost/price articles
- Problems articles
- Vs./Comparison-based articles
- Review-based articles
- “Best of” articles
Below are a few examples of this practice being turned into content for our company:
- Cost: Why Property Management Marketing is So Damn Expensive
- Problems: Property Management Marketing: What to Know Before You Buy
- Comparison: Quickbooks vs. AppFolio: Which Property Management Software Should I Use?
- Best-of: 10 Industry Experts on How to Start a Property Management Company
Topics that fall under the “Big 5” framework are engaging, and are surely a great way in building out a content strategy. Even if there are similar topics on the Internet, people are always interested in hearing another viewpoint. To learn more about the Big 5 framework, be sure to check out Marcus Sheridan’s blog on it, here.
Break Down the Topics with Content Mapping
You can create several blogs from a single topic just by breaking it down to its essential components. For example, one of the jobs for a property manager involves screening tenants for rental properties. Surely it will be difficult to cover every single aspect of tenant screening in one blog. You’ll need to discuss what it takes to screen a tenant in your city, what to look for in a tenant, what’s legal or illegal, common mistakes that landlords make, and etc. It will be a lot easier for your company to break down each of these topics into separate articles.
As an example, see if you can find the general theme with the following blog topics that we have created here:
- How to Respond to Negative Reviews
- How to Prevent Negative Reviews
- 9 Most Common Complaints for Property Managers
- What to Do When You Have a Negative Reputation
As you can see, we were able to go beyond talking about online reputation and focused on the negative aspects of it. As you get deeper looking into blogs, the fractal components allows you to uncover a treasure trove of content.
Use Data When Possible
Your audience is hungry for data. I learned that when we had to reject a blog last second. We needed to find something else to fit our weekly deadline, so I did a blog compiling basic data on the top 30 property management companies that ranked #1 in their respective areas. When it came time to send out the email, we only received 4 unsubscriptions (7 is our average) and received numerous comments of people thanking us for the video:
If you have the opportunity to present on data, do it. It’s well worth the effort. Just make sure the data that you are reporting on is accurate and that you do your due diligence.
See if your company is able to uncover trends, whether it’s from data that you have internally (if it’s okay to share) or by simply doing your own research. For example, Mary Meeker publishes her Internet Trends report annually; and people from all sorts of industries (see: fintech, real estate, retail, healthcare, marketing and advertising) share their takeaways based on the 355 slide presentation.
Tools That Help You Find What People Search
Technology can also help you find relevant and fresh content that your audience is looking for. The following websites have equipped me numerous times with new ideas and topics for free.
Google Keyword Planner
This is a keyword research tool that gives you a quick snapshot on how many searches people make per month on Google; which is incredibly helpful when looking to title your articles for maximum search engine optimization. Google Keyword Planner can also help you find what people care about, and that can help you know what type of content to prioritize.
In order to use the Google Keyword Planner, you’ll need to have a Google Adwords account. If you don’t have one already, you can set one up in a few minutes. It’s a free tool, just follow the prompts, enter some information about you and your business, and you’re in. It’s a tool for advertisers, and you’ll run into a lot of features in the tool (like suggested bid features) that won’t be useful for you. You’ll only need to use this a few times in order to get some topic ideas.
AnswerThePublic is a helpful resource for pulling questions that searcher’s make on Bing and Google. It’s really neat as it breaks down the who, what, when, where, and how of your topic and what people search on the Internet.
I would use ubersuggest.org if I was really desperate. Nonetheless, you can use this to find some good information. Sites like ubersuggest.org and keywordtool.io automate the gathering of suggestions by appending every letter of the alphabet to a keyword you enter. Hasn’t helped me too much, but maybe it can help you.
As soon as you get a good library of content, people will love to contribute to your blog, as they will benefit from the added exposure themselves. We have started incorporating interviews with experts as our readers appreciate the level of depth the experts are able to provide. Some of our most popular content have come from interviewing experts:
Exhibit ii: Property Management Company Structure
Considering that there are only 32,000 property management companies in the United States, these videos have been a bonafide success for us. Here’s a few sources for you to find great interview opportunities:
Go out and add people in your industry on LinkedIn. Invite the people who leave thought-provoking updates on LinkedIn for a phone call and see if there’s a kernel of an idea for great content.
It’s generally a good practice to sign up for email updates from other people in your industry. This is also another great method to help you source new blog ideas as well.
Help a Reporter Out
This is great if you have a great topic, but you don’t have a contact to to help with the content. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects journalists to relevant expert sources. Not only is this a great idea if you have a topic that needs qualified experts, but you can also be that expert when a journalist is looking for people like you to contribute to an article. This is a great method to building links to your site.
Examples of Companies that do Content Right
I’m a huge fan of the following blogs because they are able to create interesting content that relates with their product:
Zapier — Productivity Guides
Zapier helps automate and connect workflows with it’s third-party integrations. Their blog adheres to the company’s main principles by publishing content on productivity. Pro-tip: Zapier’s integrations are a great way to keep up with the latest tools in the industry.
Wistia — Video Marketing and Production Blog
Wistia is a great example of a company that is able to generate a steady stream of content for a niche service. Wistia is a self-hosting video platform and they are able to create engaging pieces of content, 3x a week. Talk about experts that do content mapping just right!
Final Words of Wisdom
If you had told me that I would have posted a brand new article each week for two years — I would’ve thanked you for your confidence in me and then downplayed it! Even after two years of content being used, I still feel confident that I have another two years of content in me to continue delivering stories that readers care about. These strategies will surely help you stay on top of the industry, and if you are tasked with something like this, just know that anything is indeed possible!
However, if you’re not totally committed to content marketing, your industry, or company, then the quality is going to be lacking at best. You have to be a student in every sense of the word. That means you are reading blogs in your industry, and every conversation you have is an opportunity for new content. This can be incredibly intoxicating, and can also be very draining. As long as you have the right attitude, not afraid to take chances, and are passionately curious, you will do well. If you liked this article, feel free to add me on LinkedIn and if you do have questions, simply send me an email at email@example.com, I read every email.