A content marketer’s job is never done. At every stage of the buyer’s journey, prospective customers have questions. Your job is to give them the valuable information they crave along their path. But it’s not always easy to come up with new blog post ideas. In this article, you’ll learn a series of processes to help you gather valuable ideas for your next blog post.
Why you need a blog post ideas process
The creative individual thrives on inspiration, while professionals use processes. Creative professionals need inspiration and a heavy dose of process.
Effective content marketing requires regular publishing. But it’s not enough to post just anything. The topics you choose should be relevant to your readers. They should also align with your sales, marketing and customer service goals.
Over time, you’ll have covered the most essential topics. That’s when finding new ideas becomes a challenge and an ideas process proves invaluable.
Having a system in place means never missing a publishing deadline. If you have a team, a process will help you deliver consistent assignments to them. Individuals on your team might also use this process to contribute more ideas to the pile.
Process One: Four Go-To Methods
If you’re just starting to create content, the following four methods will help you churn out a lot of new ideas. After you’ve wrung these methods dry, check out the three-step process in the next section.
It’s inevitable that industries innovate and consumer interests / needs shift over time. Year by year, you can return to these four methods to find new blog post topics.
Step 1: Buyer persona interests
What blogs, magazines and books do your buyer personas (a.k.a. “marketing personas”) read? Their interests can help you steer the content in new directions. As you scan the websites they read, take note of the best performing content. Check blog sidebars, where there’s often a “Most Popular” category listed. If this isn’t available, visit their Facebook and Twitter pages. Look for their blog posts that are getting the most likes and shares. Paid options like SEM Rush and Buzzsumo can also tell you which posts perform best.
Step 2: Competitor content
Competitors with similar buyer personas provide another opportunity for new blog post ideas. What are they publishing and which content is getting the most attention? Look for opportunities to expand on topics where they’ve only scratched the surface. Or, look for topics where you might provide a different point of view.
You can also read what people are saying in the comments section. Do they have more questions or interests in adjacent topics?
Step 3: Online forums
It helps to know what questions people have about your industry. Find out by scanning Quora, Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Add the questions you find to your list of blog post ideas.
Step 4: Search results
Type your blog post ideas into Google search. You might find inspiration by reading the titles of the search results. Also, at the bottom of each page, take note of the “Related Searches”. You’ll also notice “Blogs to Read” and “Searches related to” sections. These will give you more ideas based on your topic.
Process Two: The 4 Step Creative Process to Spark New Blog Post Ideas
In his book, “Steal Like an Artist,” Austin Kleon says that no artist’s work is ever completely original. Rather, artists study, credit and remix. They mash together different creative works that came before. These methods work for painters, and they’ll work for you as a business content creator.
Creative process is not a new idea. Plenty of people have written about it at length. It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or a content marketer. The following four steps are the basis for any creative process.
Step 1: Consume other people’s content
Painters study other artists’ works. In the same way, content marketers should seek out other people’s content. Consume blog articles, news reports, Facebook live and YouTube videos. Don’t limit yourself to content within your niche. Instead, immerse yourself in other topics of interest. Like photography might inspire a painter, content from another industry can also inspire.
Once ideas strike, save the content that inspired you in whatever way works best for you. I used to use Pocket and Evernote. And my Bookmarks toolbar is chock full of articles from years gone by. These days, I rely on Google Docs & Google Sheets to keep track. I like to leave notes for myself next to the links I save. These help me to remember my ideas, whether or not they’re fully fleshed out.
Step 2: Make a content collage
Now it’s time to mix and match the content you’ve gathered. Think of this as cooking a meal without following a recipe. You’ll throw elements together that you believe will blend well. If you are an artist of sorts, you might think of it like putting together a collage. Look for connections between ideas and combine them to create clever new topics.
In some cases, doing Steps 1 and 2 will be enough to give you new blog post ideas. If you find yourself with half-baked ideas or nothing at all, move on to Step 3.
Step 3: Go do things you enjoy
In the final step, you’ll let your subconscious do the work. Stop thinking about the challenge of new blog post ideas. Instead, Go out for a cup of coffee, put on some headphones and jam out, take a walk, do some Yoga or whatever floats your boat. Just immerse yourself in things you enjoy.
Meanwhile, your subconscious mind will process the information you’ve consumed. Then, when you least expect it, lightning will strike and a new idea will come to mind.
Step 4: Ideation and Creation
Be sure to capture the idea when it comes. Most people usually have their phone handy. If you’re not at your desk, jot the idea into a dedicated notes app. Then, when you can, add it to a digital “Blog Post Ideas” file.
Your ideas might not be fully formed, so in this final step, you’ll refine and develop your ideas. Since ideas are meaningless without action, this is also the stage where you’ll begin to write.
Process Three: Collaborative Blog Post Ideas
The third method to come up with fresh blog post ideas is to host a company brainstorming session. This is a fun collaboration that helps to bring fresh perspectives to the table.
Get the ball rolling, with a “brain dump”. Have your team sit quietly for a few minutes and jot every idea that comes to mind. You can also play word association games. If you’re writing content for a sales organization someone could start with the word “sales”. The next person might immediately associate sales with “cold calling”. Everyone should take a turn naming the words they associate with the phrase that came before.
Here’s how to get the most from your blog post ideas team meeting …
- Invite outside team members. People who work outside of the marketing department have fresh perspectives to offer. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know much about your topic. Your prospects likely don’t either. So your teams’ questions could be a lot like your target audience.
- Choose a moderator. This person should outline the purpose of the meeting and guide the conversation. Anytime the group goes off track, the moderator should gently steer people back to task.
- Make it safe to share. Your meeting should be a safe place for people to open up and share. Be supportive of people’s input. This will give everyone the confidence to voice their ideas and opinions.
- Use a whiteboard or sticky notes. Display everyone’s ideas. Once they’re all collected, your team can decide on the strongest topics, combine and refine ideas.
Every professional content marketer and team needs a process to find blog post ideas. With the above three strategies, you’ll never run out of ideas again. The key is to continuously pursue content and keep your eyes open for inspiration. As ideas come, remember to record them in one place where you can review them anytime you need fresh topics.
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