Has this ever happened to you…you sat down at your keyboard to crank out a blog post.
And you stared at that damn blinking cursor…with no idea of what to write about. When you first started your small business blog, you were brimming with ideas and the conviction that sharing regular and helpful content would help to grow your business.
But after a bit…blogging turned into a slog. You didn’t know what to write, and people didn’t seem to be reading your posts anyway.
Why you should spend time finding relevant and helpful topics
There are all kinds of lists out there on “what to blog about” that will “fill up” your blog. Many of these are geared toward personal blogs, rather than for blog ideas for business owners. They have topic ideas like:
- write a list post of “X number of ways to _______” (thanks but you need the blanks filled in, right?!)
- create a helpful resource (but on WHAT?!?)
- or share your favorite quotes (Um…Why? Doesn’t this go on Instagram?!?)
These are all ideas that will fill up your blog with posts, but what do you fill in the blanks with? When it comes to the topic, ask:
- Are these blog topics what your target market or potential clients want to read about?
- Are they helpful for small business owners trying to grow their traffic?
- Does this topic in some way serve your visitor?
- Does your topic help them to solve their problems in some way?
That’s the trick to blogging and creating content that actually works to build your business.
You’ve got create content that appeals to your target readers, those people that you’d like to engage. Eventually, you’d like them to hire you or purchase a product, program, or course from you, right? So, you want to be helpful from the very first time you “meet” on your website.
This means that sharing an embarrassing story or your favorite morning routine won’t do the trick if your target market isn’t searching for those topics, though those might be great topics for a Facebook post or Instagram story.
By focusing on creating content that was helpful for their readers AND was being searched on Google, Hubspot (an already huge blog) increased their traffic by 14.7% in the spring of 2018.
To grow your small business following on your blog, it’s important to create content that’s helpful, that serves your site visitors in some way, and there are a few key strategies you can use to do this.
How to find blog post topics that people will read
#1 – Focus on a defined niche
You can find blogs on anything and everything, but it’s actually easier to get good content ideas when you have a clear focus. It really does help remove overwhelm.
For example, on this blog, I write about website strategy and design topics. I don’t focus on marketing or social media unless those are directly related to something you can do on your website. That’s my criteria. If you can’t login and apply the strategy or the idea to your website, then I don’t write about it on my blog. I do write about my business journey, but since that’s related to websites, it works.
To help you find blog post topics, define a clear focus. Think about the overall focus for your website. This is a bigger “category.” My overarching focus is “Strategic Websites.”
Then, break your overarching focus into smaller categories. You can see mine over there to your right on my sidebar: writing your web copy, branding your business, case studies, client resources, design strategy, & WordPress workshops. While some of them, like branding, are also HUGE categories, I only focus on branding in relation to web design/copy.
Another example might be something like weight loss which is super broad. You’d want to narrow that down to eating for weight loss, exercising for weight loss or even cardio/strength etc.
Does this mean you can’t ever talk about anything else but your overarching focus? Of course not. Just not on your blog. For example, I do occasional “Mindset Monday” Facebook lives that live on Facebook and also on YouTube. I incorporate some mindset stuff in my blog posts, but since that’s not my focus, I don’t put it on my blog. I want Google to know exactly what my website and blog are about so they can let targeted potential readers know.
Once you’ve got your focus categories, it’s time to brainstorm actual post/content topics.
#2 – Brainstorm
This is a tried and true strategy. Grab a pen and some paper. open up a spreadsheet, or create some new boards in Trello or Asana. Write your blog’s FOCUS or niche at the top.
Then, create columns for each of the categories you can address, write your category names at the top of each column and start brainstorming. List as many topics as you can think of.
When you run out of ideas, move on to strategy #3.
#3 – Questions Clients Ask
Some of my most popular blog posts that get the most traffic consistently are posts that I wrote to answer client questions. If I get the same question several times from different clients, I’ll write a blog post that answers their question.
Then, I can refer any future clients who have that same question to my blog post.
Clients are also a great resource for topics because their questions tend to be very specific which is good. So much on the internet provides broad answers, so people appreciate step-by-step, focused content.
Add any of these topics to your brainstorming list.
#4 – Client Surveys
For your survey, there’s really ONE question that you want to be answered: what’s your biggest struggle when it comes to _________________?
You’ll fill in the blank with your own area of expertise.
If you’re just getting started, you can ask this question on a variety of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
If you do have a bit of an audience, you can add it to any of your welcome email sequences or even any of your email newsletters. You can survey your Facebook group, or you can add it as a question that people need to answer when they request to join your Facebook group. I have this question in both my email welcome sequence and my Facebook group that I have for those in my website courses, and I’ve gotten surprising and helpful feedback.
You can also go the tried and true route and either send former clients an email or even pick up the phone and give them a call. Building a business, even in this crazy online space, is still about connection so connect with your clients.
Most of these responses can be turned into a helpful blog post. For example, if someone is frustrated with feeling overwhelmed with tech, I can dig a little deeper and create some tutorials to help them out. Or, if their biggest frustration is that their current website isn’t user-friendly and they don’t know how to “make it friendly,” there’s a blog post topic…or five.
Add these ideas to your list!
#5 – Google & “Keywords Everywhere”
The benefit of these next two strategies to find blog post topics is that in order to write posts that people will read, you’ve got to write posts that people are searching for.
First, if you’re using Chrome, install the “Keywords Everywhere” extension. Then, head on over to Google.
Type in your idea for a topic. As you type, Google will show you additional topic ideas that might be a good “spin” for your original idea.
You can also scroll down to the bottom of the search results page and see some other related topics. This is a great way to come up with some ideas that you hadn’t thought about before.
The Keyword tool will also show you keywords and related ideas that you can add to your list. I searched “best chocolate chip cookies” and came up with this list of ideas. I could write a post on using different types of nestle chips or share a recipe that has no brown sugar or that uses sugar alternatives – because who knew that 6600 people PER MONTH want to make chocolate chip cookies without any brown sugar in them!
Another bonus of using this strategy to build your topic list is that you can also note the keywords that you want to use for SEO purposes.
#6 – YouTube, Pinterest, & Amazon
Did you know that according to Alexa, a global website ranking platform, Google is the biggest search engine, but YouTube is #2, Amazon is #11, and Pinterest is #79? This is worldwide, out of the 30 million sites that they rank!!
Why does this matter? It means that people are on these sites searching for information, answers, and solutions. You can dig into these searches to figure out what kind of information people want. Once you know that, you can provide it to them!!
Go to any of these sites and type in your categories. Like Google, all of them will give you more ideas as you type in the search bar. See what comes up in the search results.
Are there any topics that you see where you can create much more comprehensive content? How can you add YOUR approach, systems, or ideas to make the topic idea relevant for YOUR clients?
On Amazon, it can also be helpful to click on some reviews of ebooks that are in your niche. Sometimes people will write questions or places they struggle in their reviews. Jot those down! How can you provide a solution to that problem on your blog?
Add any of these ideas to your list. Is it getting bigger?
Now, to be clear, your content MUST BE ORIGINAL. Don’t copy what other people have written. Instead, put your own spin on it and make it better.
These strategies are designed to get your own creative juices flowing and give you some topic ideas, NOT to encourage you to copy or plagiarize another person’s content.
Once you’ve got a big list, it’s time to organize them.
Plan Your Posts with Intention
I do this right in my Editorial Calendar, which is a free WordPress Plugin as I like to keep everything on my blog, but you can do it in any kind of organizational tool like Trello, Evernote, Asana, or a plain old Excel spreadsheet.
You can organize and plan out your topics in one of two ways:
- monthly or quarterly themes – choose a theme for the month or the quarter and focus all of your posts on that topic
- daily or weekly topics – the first week of the month on topic #1, the second week of the month on topic #2 etc.
Either method is fine, but having themes can help with your content creation as you’ll be focused on one main idea for an extended period of time or you’ll know what you’re writing on for the next month or quarter.
Writing thematically also helps me get more ideas and go deeper into a topic then I might have otherwise.
This also allows you to easily link your posts to one another which is great for SEO.
Coming up with blog topics that actually solve problems AND that people search for can take a bit of time, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you’re going to take the time to write a blog post, it might as well be one that people will actually read and that will help bring targeted clients to your business.
What is your favorite strategy for coming up with topics for your content? Share in the comments below and let’s make this post even better.