“I’m struggling to come up with blog topics.”
It’s something I hear at least once a month from my clients. And it’s not just the small business owner who’s wearing 12 different hats and being pulled in 12 different directions.
It’s the marketing director. It’s the account manager at a marketing agency. It’s the strategic marketing consultant.
When you blog consistently month after month for years, you’re bound to hit a wall. It happens to me from time to time.
I always come back to this list to break through that wall.
Not only does it help me come up with fresh ideas for blog topics, but it also brings me back to what’s helpful, useful, and valuable to my clients.
As you go through this exercise, be as specific as possible. When kicking around blog topic ideas with clients, I often find myself saying:
“That could be a separate topic.”
“You have enough information here for a three-part series.”
“This is a great topic, but let’s try to focus on one particular aspect of it.”
The more specific you are, the deeper you can dive into each topic. This translates to more value per article and more topic ideas to add to your pipeline.
I offer strategic planning calls for clients who hire me to write blog articles. Once we’ve defined the target audience and established goals and a high-level strategy, we use these regular calls to flesh out topics that support the strategy.
These are the questions I typically ask during each strategic planning call, especially when the client seems to be hitting a wall.
1) What questions do clients and prospects ask most often?
One of the primary functions of your blog is to educate your audience about what you do, the value of what you do, and various issues related to what you do.
What don’t people fully understand? What confuses them? What industry jargon or terminology is somewhat of a mystery to them?
Use your blog to address the most common questions from your target audience – one question per article.
The goal here is to replace confusion and doubt with clarity and confidence so people feel more comfortable doing business with you.
On the other hand…
2) What makes people uncomfortable about doing business with you?
Just like answering questions will provide clarity, dealing with objections directly can help you speed up the sales process and potentially avoid awkward conversations.
We’ve all learned to be prepared for the most common client objections and respond accordingly. Your blog allows you to be proactive about overcoming obstacles to the sale.
What are the most common misconceptions, myths, or preconceived notions about what you do? What objections are untrue or unjustified and can be easily debunked with a clear, fact-based explanation?
The beauty of overcoming objections in a blog article is that you have the opportunity to deliver a perfectly worded explanation without interruption.
Use your blog to address any issues that might make people uncomfortable about doing business with you – one obstacle per article.
3) What do people want to learn how to do?
In my blog, I always discuss how to do different things related to copywriting and marketing, whether we’re talking about making website content voice search-friendly, writing your About page story, or answering the “what do you do” question.
Business owners and marketers will often say, “I don’t want to give that information away for free.” But here’s the thing.
If people don’t get that information from you, they’ll find it somewhere else. Wouldn’t you rather be their trusted, go-to information resource?
Remember, someone doesn’t automatically gain the ability or desire to do something on their own just because you showed them how to do it.
In many cases, a how-to article proves to your audience that they can’t do something themselves and need to hire a professional. The goal is to show you know what you’re talking about and convey the value of your expertise and the product or service you provide.
Think about a process your ideal client would like to understand better. Think about how your ideal client might benefit by learning certain steps or tips related to whatever it is you do.
Use your blog to walk your audience through a process, simplify that process using terms they understand, and show them how to do something – one “thing” per article.
4) What real-world stories capture the value of what you’re selling?
Nothing validates the claims you make in your marketing like a real-world story that shows how you’ve met a client’s expectations and delivered the result you promised.
For nonprofits, stories that show the impact of your fundraising – how donations are making a difference – serve the same purpose.
The key is to focus on the customer experience without glossing over the work your organization did to make that positive experience possible. Think of it as a success story rather than a more formal case study, but with the same general structure.
What problem were they facing? What solution did you offer? Were there any unique obstacles that had to be overcome? What result did you deliver? How did you take them from problem to desired outcome?
Use your blog to tell these stories so your audience can envision what it’s like to experience the end result of using your product or service – one success story per article.
5) What data supports your value proposition?
Is there data from a new or recent research study that helps to elevate the value of what you do? Share that data in a blog article.
You can build an entire article around a research study if the information is valuable to your audience and can inform their decision-making process. You can also cherry pick a statistic or two to hook the reader’s attention at the beginning of the article, or even in the headline.
The key to using data effectively is telling the story behind it. Why is it meaningful to your audience? What’s the context? What’s the takeaway?
Data alone can be compelling, but the story draws people in. The story adds emotion to the data and makes it more memorable.
Keep an eye out for data and trends that are relevant to your audience and use them as inspiration for new blog topics.
6) What does your organization stand for?
People want to work with organizations that share their values. Why you do what you do is often as important as what you do in the eyes of your clients and prospects.
Who are the people behind your organization? Why are they valuable members of your team? How do they represent what your organization stands for?
Share the stories of your team in your blog, from the C-suite to client-facing employees – one individual per article.
What worthy causes and organizations do you support? How do you support them? What kind of impact have you made?
Show people how your organization is making a difference – one program or organization per article.
These stories make people feel good about doing business with you, and feel good in general.
7) What topics have you covered previously that are worth covering again?
It’s okay to recycle an old topic or even a not-very-old topic. Just put a fresh spin on it based on the current state of your industry, your company’s current offerings, and your clients’ current needs – all of which tend to evolve over time.
Pssst… don’t tell anyone, but I wrote a blog article on this very topic seven years ago.
But guess what? Coming up with blog topics is still very much a challenge for my clients and prospects, so it’s a good time to revisit.
The questions I’ve outlined in this article are a starting point for a blog topic discussion. They typically lead to another round of questions that unearth a goldmine of ideas. The deeper you dig, the more you discover in terms of both quality and quantity.
This is why it helps to brainstorm topics strategically with someone who can offer an outsider’s perspective that you may not have considered.
It’s a process that involves molding unrefined thoughts into specific topics with specific angles that appeal to your ideal client.
When you put this level of thought into article ideas, your blog becomes a strategic marketing tool that supports your business goals. And you’ll never run out of topics.