By: Clair Belmonte
Whether you’re a freelance writer driven by a brilliant idea or a company eager to get skin in the content marketing game, starting a blog can be daunting. Once inspiration strikes, it’s natural to research your competition, and the realization that your topic has already been covered by other bloggers might be enough to send you back to square one. Although there may be other prominent voices in your industry, creating your own well-researched and engaging content can help you break through the noise and gain a following, even in a seemingly saturated market.
The key to attracting your ideal audience is innovation. Content marketing focuses on bringing value to your customer, so whether you create a colorful infographic, a detailed how-to guide, or an article of industry tips, the goal is primarily to attract readers who find your content (and your company) interesting and informative. By crafting your blog with a human-centric approach and keeping your audience at the forefront, you can write about the topics most relevant to your audience, stay up to date on industry happenings, and attract potential customers online.
Here are a few tips on how to find blogging ideas.
Create a Mindmap
If coming up with blog topics seems overwhelming, that may be because you’re looking at your topic too broadly. Take a step back during your brainstorming session and start with what inspired you to begin your blog. Narrow this idea down to one word and write it in the middle of a piece of paper. Many of you may remember mindmapping from grade school, but this elementary trick can be just what you need to get the ideas rolling.
Once the initial word is on the page, start by reframing your question. Instead of asking “What should I blog about,” ask instead, “what questions do our customers typically ask” or “what were my initial questions when I started this hobby?” If you’re brainstorming with a team, work together to create word associations branching off the first word that begin to answer this question, then continue to branch off the subsequent ideas. Your first few thoughts may seem obvious, and that’s okay; the real meat of the exercise comes when you start making unexpected connections further from the center.
By getting all your ideas on paper without censoring yourself or your team, you can start to tap into the juicy topics that will keep your audience reading.
Read Press Releases
Publicists in all industries are eager to get press releases in front of new audiences, so take advantage to stay updated on topics relevant to your blog. Find companies or thought leaders in your industry and reach out to their publicist on LinkedIn; since it’s a publicist’s job to spread the word on new products and updates, many are willing to add you to their email distribution list. Regularly receiving updates on your industry can help you connect the dots between your expertise and something interesting happening in the market, allowing you to be ahead of the game on a recent story.
If you’re not interested in any specific companies, scour websites like PRWeb.com or PRNewswire.com to gather new ideas. These are sites that publicists use to distribute press releases, so they are ripe with new information about your industry. On PRNewswire, you can sign up as a blogger or journalist, where you can choose your industry of interest to receive emails with new press releases along with relevant images and source information. While you may have to wade through a lot of irrelevant press releases to find the best topics for your blog, these sites are a consistent and ever-changing source of inspiration.
Leverage Social Media
Stay ahead of breaking news by searching social media for inspiration. Follow industry experts and trendy up-and-comers on Twitter and Instagram to get the first scoop on your industry. Particularly if one of your target audiences is millennials, using social media to generate blog post ideas shows that you are informed and trustworthy.
Search for hashtags or keywords relevant to your industry and look for questions from the community on Twitter, as well as sites like reddit or Quora. This simple search can offer immense insight into what intrigues or confuses your ideal readers, and many of those questions can be turned into informative blog posts. Jump on these opportunities to provide the answers for questions like “What backpack is best for my budget” by looking not just at the question, but at the inquirer as well, and tailoring the answers to fit the searcher’s intent.
Content marketing is a great way to differentiate yourself and become a thought leader in your industry, but all thought leaders have to start out somewhere. Use these tips to help engage your audience in your first post and beyond.