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January 23, 2015

Eight Tips For Brainstorming Blog Topics

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Image Credit: Kristina B via flickr

The battle of brainstorming blog topics can seem like a never-ending project. Inspiration comes and goes, and all of your good ideas are dried up. If you feel like you are constantly fishing at the bottom of the barrel for blog topics, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, this is why some are so quick to throw in the towel on their blogging efforts.

Goodbye, Bland Blogs

There are two reasons why blogs can fail: no strategy and no ideas. If you find yourself struggling at the brainstorming session of your blog, today is your lucky day. No matter your niche or industry, these brainstorming tips can bring out the best of your blog topic ideas time and time again.

1. Curate Your Way to a Better Blog. The purpose of curating content isn’t necessarily to score you a brand new blog topic, but it’s a great stepping-stone for finding topics that are hot and trending in your industry.

Content curation is the act of collecting your industry’s top-notch content into one place. Right off the bat, curating will help you discover what your audience is reading and sharing. From there, you can use your keen expert eye to gauge the topics that your own audience will most likely enjoy.

The real benefit of curating is adding your own insight to the content. You can offer a new angle the chosen topic, which gets those wheels turning for brand new blog topic opportunities.

Once you find content that’s worth curating, this is where the brainstorming for unique blog topics begins. After you share your curated content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did my audience respond to this topic? Did they have any questions? If you answer yes to the latter, this is instant blog topic material.
  • Did I have a reasonable engagement level from sharing this content? Engagement levels will determine if a similar topic of your own will score with your audience.
  • How old is this content? If the content is even a little old, you can make it fresh again with your own twist.

Keep in mind that you never want to completely copy a blog topic from your curating efforts, no matter how compelling it may be. However, there’s no harm in becoming inspired from content curation. Give credit where it’s due, and always remember to add your own angle.

This not only gives you unique blog topic opportunities, but it helps you establish your brand and build a solid reputation with your audience.

2. Connect With The Community

Stemming from the idea of curating content, there are tons of online communities out there for your blog topic needs. It takes a bit of patience and digging, but you can easily find inspiration within several online communities.

Take Quora, for example. Quora is a community-based Q&A website that contains nearly every question that you can think about. Using the search bar, type in not only the name of your industry, but every small detail about your business that you can think of. You might be surprised as to what comes up.

If you can’t find what you are looking for from Quora, all is not lost. Another website with quality topic ideas is Reddit. While Reddit is more topic-based than Q&A, you can find a lot of inspiration in this community with a bit of digging.

3. Google’s Not Just For Search

Google’s ability to offer unique blog topics is almost hidden in plain sight. When you are searching for any kind of content, predictive text nearly always auto fills in the search bar. You can extract some of these suggestions and use them as blog topics.

Taking things with Google a step further, you can also use the related searches area results. These results are located at the bottom of the SERPs, and usually contain clickable links to directly search for that particular query.

Sometimes you will score big with Google’s suggestions, and other times you won’t find a thing. However, it’s almost always worth trying your luck with this method.

4. Using Keyword Tools For Topics

The purpose of keyword tools is to discover the best keywords for your website. But, you can easily double the workload of your keyword tool by turning it into a (somewhat) blog topic generator. While it won’t exactly spit out a list of top-notch blog topics, thousands of keywords at your fingertips become a gateway to endless topic opportunities.

To get started with this method, invest in a quality keyword tool such as SEMRush. SEMRush is one of the best and most accurate keyword tools in the industry, and it can help you dig for not only blog topic ideas, but search volume data and more.

Once you find a high-quality keyword, you can expand on your search by browsing related keywords. The related keywords can open even more doors for your blog.

Not only can you score some great ideas from SEMRush, but you’ll have the bonus of knowing that your content is in demand. Nothing is better than writing a blog while knowing that your material is relevant and read by your audience.

5. Don’t Forget Hubspot

If you are looking for a blog generator tool that literally gives you full topic ideas at the click of a button, Hubspot’s blog generator tool is for you. The browser version generator tool is located here, and it is super simple to use.

After using your handy dandy keyword tool, you can plug in three nouns into the generator. These nouns are dispersed at random within a list of topics for your use.

If you really love the generator tool, you can download the entire tool for free by clicking here. The full generator tool is an excel spreadsheet that functions like the browser version, but it contains dozens more blog topic ideas at your fingertips. It’s completely possible to have an entire year’s worth of blogging ideas from Hubspot’s generator.

6. Bonus Brainstorming Ideas From Hubspot’s Generator

Just because Hubspot hands you blog topics, that doesn’t mean you have to put your thinking caps away. Here are several tips to get even more mileage out of the helpful tool:

  • You can expand on their recommended topics
  • You can turn their topics into a series
  • You can use their topics to create infographics
  • You can use their topics to create videos and slideshows

 7. YouTube and Slideshare

Speaking of videos and slideshows, don’t forget that your information source doesn’t have to come from existing text. YouTube is loaded with content – more than six billion hours of content to be exact. Take advantage of YouTube’s insane amount of video footage, and start searching for keywords that are relevant to your industry.

Slideshare isn’t quite as big as YouTube, but that’s no reason to knock it. Slideshare has increased in popularity over the last year or two, and it contains thousands of slideshows that can help spark that light bulb moment.

8. Blog Topic Inspiration From Your Competitors

You might think that your competitors are an unlikely source of blog topic inspiration, but this is anything but the case. Your competitors offer tons of unique blogging opportunities, and it honestly feels a lot like stealing their thunder. Here are a few of my favorite techniques for generating blog topic ideas from my competitors:

  • Take note of their catch phrase or slogan. Can you get an angle for this on your blog?
  • Browse their blog content and comments. Are they dodging customer questions? If so, take matters into your own hands. Answer their questions for them on your own blog.
  • How do they handle business on social media? If they fall short, you can blog about how you effectively handle customer service inquiries via Facebook or Twitter.
  • Is your competitor gimmicky? If so, this is where your new blog topics can be a lot of fun. Although you might not want to call them out by name, analyzing gimmicks while telling the truth about your industry puts you in the position as a thought leader.
  • Do they make unrealistic claims? Set the record straight and explain why XYZ is not possible to accomplish in X days.
  • Are their prices obscenely low? Tell the customer why products actually cost more than what competitors advertise. You can accomplish this with an in-depth blog that explains the manufacturing process, the science behind your product, or the level of skill that is needed to be successful in your industry.

After browsing through these techniques to generating the best content ideas for your blog, it’s time to re-strategize that brainstorming session of yours. Although every industry is different, these guidelines can easily apply to nearly every niche.

Now that you have dozens of ideas on hand, you’ll find it much easier to write that next blog post. Blogging is most effective when you are prepared, and there is no better feeling than having top-notch blog topics waiting for you in your editorial calendar.


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Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.

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