Brainstorming a topic for a blog is not as easy as it sounds. Particularly when you’re under pressure and need to get a blog out quick (why did I agree to this 30-day challenge?). Killing two birds with one stone I’ve decided to write a blog about brainstorming blog topics in the hope that all future blogs that are produced, as part of this challenge and beyond, become a bit easier to crank out.
After reading through many different articles on the subject, and cherry picking the ideas that are either repeated, or resonate with the way I know I work best, I’ve put together this guide to that I’ll be using going forward. I’ve also gone ahead and shared about how much time I’ve been spending on each step so you’ll have an idea of what to expect.
1. Start wide, narrow later
Don’t have an idea for your next blog topic? No problem, there are few key sources you should always turn to if you don’t have an idea and they both begin with C; your customers, and your customers, are great places to develop ideas from. Wait, you said customers twice. Yep, there’s a reason for that. The first customers I’m referring to is the verbal side of it. What your customers ask you about or suggest in their emails. You should be tracking the types of questions you are getting (If you’re not doing this, start, immediately!) and from this data you can begin to sort and cluster their questions / suggestions into themes. From those themes, you can prioritise which are most beneficial to you to address and bam, you’ve got a topic.
The second Customers I’m referring to is the actions side of it. Taking a look at google analytics / @mixpanel / whatever web data you’ve got it’s pretty easy to get a sense of which pages are ranking for which key words and where there may be a mismatch. For example, right now on our SyndicateRoom site I can see we get a lot of traffic to our page about EIS Tax Reliefs that arrives from people searching for How to claim your EIS relief. While there is some overlap the page for EIS Tax Reliefs is not optimised for How to claim EIS relief so we I’m going to write a handy little blog about this later in the week
2. Research what is trending
Once you’ve got a basic theme or subject that interests you it’s time to start drilling down into that subject to find out what people want to read. Having done a bit of research on this topic in preparation for this blog I can tell you that most other blogs on this topic suggest heading to reddit or Quora to see what is trending. You’ve probably heard of these sites but in case not, they are effectively crowd sourced databases of news / subjects that people actually want to discuss. Spend a few minutes searching through what is trending and if nothing immediately jumps out at you I suggest using the search, typing in the industry or space you would be interested in learning more about and seeing what comes up. Once you’ve found a basic subject you can throw in a google search about it and see what comes up. In your google search results click on the “news” option and you’ll be shown the most recent article that’s been published in the news about your topic.
This is where the real magic happens. We go from having a good idea of a theme and what is trending to producing our final topics optimised to rank, and hopefully add that sense of timelessness we want. There are number of great tools out there that can help you optimise for SEO and my favourite is one from Rand Fishkin and the team at moz. It’s called the keyword explorer. The keyword explorer enables you know the number of searches for that word / phrase, how difficult it will be to rank for that word / phrase, and gives you suggestions of alternative words / phrases that you may wish to use. It’s a pretty nifty tool that will help you add the finishing touches to your blog topics.
I’m going to come back to this and refine it as I write more articles. Until then, let me know if you have a more efficient process for brainstorming topics.
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