You just published a new blog post. It was long and informative and your audience loved it. But now several days have passed. You check your blog’s stats.
Fewer and fewer people are reading your last article. Instead, your audience is waiting with bated breath for your next piece.
So you open a blank document to begin writing, but you just stare at it in desperation. What on earth should you write about next? You run your hand through your hair. You think about the TV show you’d much rather be watching than tormenting yourself with this blank page and a blinking cursor.
Does this sound like any of your writing sessions? If it does, don’t worry.
In today’s article, I’m going to share with you five strategies you can use to make sure you never run out of blog post ideas. With these ideas at your fingertips, you’ll be able to continue publishing consistently and build a strong connection with your audience online.
Let’s dive in.
1. Search for People’s Burning Questions About Your Topic
When you answer people’s burning questions, you’re seen as the go-to expert. You’ll also know that you’re writing a blog post that will truly help people and that they’ll be interested in reading.
But where can you find questions?
One way is to ask your readers. If you have an email list, you can send out an email asking them to reply with the one thing they are currently struggling with. I put this question in my welcome email — the first email people receive when they subscribe to my email list.
You can also look at comments that people have left on your articles. Has anyone asked a question you can answer in a blog post?
Another way is to search online.
On Quora, you can find questions people are asking about the topic you blog about. For example, I searched “copywriting” and found this question:
“How do I become a master copywriter (resources)?”
This would make a great blog post — a round-up of all of my recommended resources for becoming a better copywriter. (It’s actually a great topic idea for whatever subject you blog about — a fiction writer could do a round-up of her recommend resources for becoming a master storyteller.)
Answer the Public is another excellent resource. It’s a free keyword research tool that shows the questions people are typing into search engines about your topic. For example, I searched “low carb” and received 163 different questions. One of them:
“What low carb foods give you energy?”
If you have a low carb food blog, there’s a blog post idea for you. Of course, you can always put your own spin on it. You might write a blog post like, “10 Delicious Low Carb Recipes That Will Boost Your Energy”.
Amazon.com is another place where you can find people’s questions. Look for books written about your topic and read the reviews (especially the negative ones). Do the reviewers point out anything that was missing in the book? Something that they wish the author had covered? Write a blog post about that topic.
Goodreads is another place to find book reviews. I often find that the reviews there are more critical than on Amazon. You could even use a critical review as the jumping-off point for a blog post.
For example, I looked up Seth Godin’s book This is Marketing on Amazon. Here’s a critical review arguing that storytelling isn’t important for marketing:
I like Seth a lot but sometimes his ideas are not a reflection of the real world. There are some products that benefit from telling a brand story but 99% of products don’t need a story. When I buy a frozen pizza or cereal I don’t need a brand story, just give me a good product at a fair price…Yes, some products solve my problems but most just meet my basic need as a consumer.
Do you agree? Disagree? If you write about marketing or copywriting, this would make for an interesting blog post.
2. Check What’s Trending
What are other websites in your niche blogging about? What are their most popular posts?
Now, I’m not recommending being a copycat and stealing other bloggers’ ideas. If I saw that there was a post about writing that was currently trending on Medium (say, about how to keep a journal), I wouldn’t write about the exact same topic right away.
But I would file it away under my list of ideas. And then a few months later I might write about how to keep a journal but put my own twist on it. Maybe write a longer and more in-depth post than the original author’s or a more personal one sharing a peek into my own journaling process. (You could also mention the author at the beginning of your post and say you were inspired by their article.)
By thinking about how to put your own twist on a topic, you can actually come up with many more blog post ideas.
Here are some other ideas for how to use trending topics to come up with new articles:
- Look for a news story that’s being shared everywhere that’s related to the topic you blog about. Write your own opinion about it.
- Look for a news story or a popular movie, TV show, etc. that isn’t related to your topic but that you could tie back to your topic in some way. For example, I wrote this blog post about cliffhangers after watching The Avengers movies which had just been released at the time. They gave me the inspiration for the post.
- Look at the upcoming holidays. There are ten federal holidays in the U.S. and many more unofficial holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. These can be great inspiration for new blog posts. For example, last year I wrote this Christmas-themed post: The Powerful Ingredient in A Christmas Carol That Will Make Your Writing and Marketing Compelling
Like questions, trending topics reveal what people are most interested in reading about at that time.
3. Use Headlines for Inspiration
I love using headline formulas for inspiration. Here are some examples:
- How to Start____When____ (For example, “How to Start a Side Hustle When You’re Broke”)
- Why____Makes You____ (“Why Reading Makes You a Better Writer”)
- [Number] Mistakes People Make When____ (“10 Mistakes People Make When Saving for Retirement”)
- The Ultimate Guide To____ (“The Ultimate Guide to Going Low Carb”)
- [Number] Lessons I Learned From____ (“5 Lessons I Learned from Waking up at 5am for 30 Days”)
You can search for more headline formulas on Google. Note that you don’t have to use the headline formula as the final title of your blog post if it sounds too much like click-bait. Just use it to jumpstart your creativity.
In addition to headline formulas, you can also look at the headlines of popular articles on websites like Medium or on other blogs. And the cool thing is you don’t only have to look at headlines of blog posts in your niche. You can use any headlines as inspiration, even the ones on magazines at the checkout counter in the grocery store.
For example, here’s a headline on a Psychology Today magazine cover: “10 Myths about the Mind.” That gives me an idea! I could write an article with the title: “10 Myths About Being a Full-Time Writer.”
Google images of magazine covers for inspiration (just type: “Psychology Today magazine cover” into search, for example) if you don’t have time to head to the grocery store.
4. Gather Stories
There are stories all around you. They’re waiting to be plucked from the last movie you watched, the last book you read, or even the last conversation you had.
But you need to be on the alert in order to find them. When you watch movies, read books, or are just out and about running errands or meeting up with friends, keep your eyes open for stories you can use. Being a writer means always being on the lookout for writing inspiration.
I read books on writing and copywriting for blog post ideas, but I also find inspiration in novels and essays and YouTube videos and, well, the list is endless.
For example, at least once a week I like to go somewhere new or somewhere I haven’t been to in a while. It might be a coffee shop or a park or a museum. I find when I’m in a new place, I pay closer attention to my surroundings and, thus, am more likely to find new story ideas.
In fact, any new experience can be fodder for writing inspiration. You could pick up a new hobby or signup for a class or go to a conference.
And, of course, old experiences can serve as writing inspiration too. Flannery O’Connor wrote,
“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”
One way to start collecting those stories is to write up lists. Ray Bradbury’s method for banishing writer’s block was to jot down a list of nouns — any nouns that tumbled from his fingers: “THE LAKE. THE NIGHT. THE CRICKETS. THE RAVINE.” He let these words spark memories which triggered ideas for new stories.
You could write lists of your favorite books and movies, lists of places you’ve visited, lists of all the most interesting experiences you’ve had, lists of the things you love or hate, etc.
Not only will these stories give you ideas for new blog posts, but they can also give you inspiration for your blog post introductions. I wrote this article about how stories make for captivating introductions.
5. Mine Old Blog Posts for Ideas
Finally, your old blog posts are a perfect place to find new blog post ideas, hidden like gems that you can mine. Do you have a long blog post with multiple subheadings? Maybe you can expand on the information in the subheading and turn it into a new blog post.
For example, I could turn this section into a whole new blog post with more ideas on how to recycle your old content.
If you’re publishing on Medium.com, you can see the sentences and paragraphs people have highlighted when they read your articles. This shows which ideas resonated with them. You might be able to dive deeper and expand that idea into its own blog post.
If you’re not writing on Medium, you could see which quotes from your article people are sharing on Twitter or which parts of the article they’re responding to in the comments.
The Takeaway: What to Do With Your New Ideas
Gather as many ideas as you can so the next time you need to write a new blog post you’ll have a long list of topics to choose from.
I keep my lists of ideas in a note on Evernote. I have lists of ideas for blog posts as well as memoir essays and even short stories.
You can organize your lists into categories. For example, I create lists for potential blog posts under different topics: productivity, writing techniques, marketing advice, etc.
When I use one of the blog post ideas, I delete it from the list. This lets me see if I am depleting all of my blog post ideas. Then I know it’s time to spend a few hours coming up with new ideas.
I also like to note whether a blog post idea will take a longer or shorter time to write. For example, an in-depth article that requires research might take a few days. I don’t want my lists to only be full of long blog post ideas. That won’t be helpful on a day when I need to write a quick blog post.
So I make sure to also track that I have both “quick and easy” and “long and in-depth” blog post topics on my lists.
Of course, there are times when you won’t need to use your lists at all. You’ll have a flash of inspiration and know exactly what you want to write for your next blog post. But “flashes of inspiration” aren’t dependable.
Your lists will make sure you don’t run into writer’s block. You’ll always have a steady stream of ideas at your fingertips so you can continue writing articles that will help and delight your readers.