As a small business owner or digital course creator, your work is never done. Think of all the stages customers go through on their journey to purchase from you: discovery, interest, initial contact with one question answered, etc. Your job isn’t over until they reach “yes”. Your task, in the meantime, is to give them the information they need from the moment they discover your brand to point when they make the buying decision. This process can take weeks or months, so you’ll need a lot of content to keep them coming back for more. In this article, you’ll learn several ways to brainstorm blog post ideas when creativity starts running low.
Why you need a blog post ideas process
The creative individual thrives on inspiration, while professionals use processes. Creative professionals need both inspiration and a heavy dose of process.
Effective content marketing requires regular publishing and fresh ideas. But it’s not enough to post just anything. The topics you choose should appeal to prospects. 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. Individuals on your team might also use this process to contribute more ideas to the pile.
Process One: A Four-Step Method
If you’re just starting to create content, this Four-Step Method will help you churn out a lot of new ideas. It’s inevitable that industries innovate and consumer interests / needs shift over time. Year by year, you can return to this process 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? You can ask them directly or do a Google search for “Top/Best (target market) blogs/websites”. Learning your markets’ interests can help steer your 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 the websites’ Facebook and Twitter pages. Look for blog posts that get 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 and service offerings 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 your competitors have only scratched the surface. And, 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. As you type, you’ll see suggestions pop up. More suggestions, called “Related Searches”, can be found at the bottom of the search page. The article titles of your search results can also provide inspiration. Overall, Google search is a gold mine for finding 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. It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or a marketing content creator. 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 outside 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. Pocket and Evernote are handy for this. Google Docs & Google Sheets are another way you can keep track. When you can, leave notes for yourself next to the links you save. This will help you to remember your ideas, whether or not they’re fully fleshed out.
Also, be sure to install Pocket, Evernote or Google Apps on your phone. This will come in handy in Step 4.
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’re artistically inclined, 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, run the stairs or stretch. The idea is to get moving and/or immerse yourself in things you enjoy.
Meanwhile, your subconscious mind will process the information you’ve consumed. Then, when you least expect it, lightning can 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. So, if you’re not at your desk, open the app you installed as part of Step 1. Then, add the idea into your digital “Blog Post Ideas” file.
Your ideas might not be fully formed, so in this final step, you’ll refine and develop them. At this point, you can begin to write the articles or pass the ideas to your business’s content marketing team.
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.
To get the ball rolling, have your team sit quietly for a few minutes to jot every idea that comes to mind. Then, invite people to share their best ideas as a moderator jots them on a whiteboard.
If you still need ideas, you can play word association games. Let’s say, for example 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. Be supportive of everyone’s input. This will give your team confidence to voice their ideas and opinions.
- Use a whiteboard or sticky notes. Display everyone’s ideas. Once they’re 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 processes, 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.