10 ways to generate ideas for blog posts

Ideas

How do you come up with ideas for blog posts? (Illustration by raja4u at stock.xchng - http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1156284)

Here’s the problem most bloggers, and anyone doing content marketing, faces: how to come up with ideas for posts.

I’ve got a list of about 30 potential blog post topics for this blog, right now, and I add to that list each day.

There’s lots of ways to come up with ideas. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that if you consistently work out at these techniques below, you’ll soon have more ideas for blog posts than you have time.

1. Wordtracker

SEO software maker Wordtracker’s free keyword questions tool allows you to enter a keyword and see the questions that people have actually typed into search engines related to those keywords. As with many of these online question tools, I always assume that if some people asked these questions online (through a search engine or another forum) than many others are probably also looking for the answer and interested in the topic.

2. LinkedIn Answers

Go to LinkedIn Answers and you can drill down, by various industry categories, and find questions that people have asked related to that. As above, I am assuming that if someone on LinkedIn asked the question, may more are interested in the answer. I’m not suggesting you should copy the answers, by the way. To produce good content you need to come up with your own original, meaningful, useful way of answering these questions.

3. Yahoo! Answers

Just like LinkedIn, Yahoo! Answers is a compendium of people’s questions, categorized by topic. You can use these just like you use LinkedIn Answers.

4. Ask MeFi

Same as above. There are some really interesting questions, by the way, if you dig into the Ask MetaFilter archives.

5. Everyday Conversations

What do people ask you? What do they wonder about? What conversations do you have that make you think about ideas related to your blog? For example, I had a conversation recently with a personal trainer who’s really trying to grow his business — he’s only got two clients at the moment. He mentioned being on Facebook, but obviously there’s a lot more he could do. Maybe there’s a blog post there, don’t you think?

6. Magazines in Your Niche

Go to a news stand or library and look at the magazines in your niche or industry. What cover blurbs do the latest issues have? What are their stories this month? Could you write your own take on some of these subjects or ideas? I’m not suggesting copying or stealing their stories, I’m saying that chances are, sometimes you’ll have your own ideas that are different from the ones in the magazine. Turn those into a blog posts.

7. Read Other Blogs in Your Niche

Has someone write a post that you have strong feelings about — maybe you think it’s brilliant, maybe you think it’s terrible. Either way, write a post in response. You can even link the original post that prompted the idea. (Although, even if you think the original post is horrible, be polite and diplomatic.)

Also look at the ideas that other bloggers in your niche are using. Could you do your own version of some of these posts? If someone does “10 tips for doing better” in your niche or industry, could you come up with 10 different tips? If so, you’ve got a blog post. I’m a big fan of giving credit where credit is due, so linking to these inspiring posts is a good idea.

9. Ask Your Community

Run a poll on your blog about possible future topics, or just put out a call “What should I write about next?” You can also ask these questions on your social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you have an email newsletter (which you should), you can put out a call on that channel, too. This probably won’t work so well for start-up blogs, but if you have a reasonably active community of people tied to your blog and social media presence, this could yield some good ideas.

10. Timed Brainstorming

Set yourself a deadline and simply come up with a certain number of ideas — say 10 in the next hour. The trick to this is to write down anything and everything that comes out, even if a lot of those ideas are not terribly good or original. With all the unusable ideas you get out of brainstorming, you’ll also get some usable ones. I did this recently on a plane trip when I didn’t have anything to read, and I added 10 new ideas in the last hour of the flight.

How do you come up with ideas for blog posts? Please share your tips in the comments below.

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