By Dan DelMain
Congrats! You finally sat down to write a blog post. You’ve already made it farther than most of your competitors, who either don’t have blogs or last updated them in 2012. So what do you write about? The keyboard cursor is blinking impatiently and your mind is just like Microsoft Word: blank.
I know the feeling. Writing a blog post every month (or week!) is great for SEO, but coming up with ideas for blog posts is a stumper. Here are 20 ideas for blog posts that will engage your customers.
What are the most common questions you get from clients? Even if you’ve already answered them on your FAQ page, these make great topics for writing articles -- just expand on your answer in a blog post. Clear up a common misconception or put to rest an old myth about your industry. If you’re having trouble thinking of something, look through your emails from clients for popular questions. Or cover a question you never get, but clients should ask. Share a secret!
2. Blog Comments
If your website has a blog, look at past blog comments. Are there any blog post ideas there? If your posts reminded readers of other research or news, and they mentioned it in a blog comment, read up about it and see if it inspires a blog post.
You have three different ways to get content marketing ideas from Facebook. First, look at what customers post on your wall. (If you’re in ecommerce, maybe they shared an article about the latest online shopping trend.) If no one is posting to your wall, ask your audience for ideas! Ask what they’d like to see you blog about, or what their biggest industry-related concern is. Third, look at the analytics in your Facebook Insights to see how past posts have performed. Which got the most engagement: photos, videos, links, or simple text updates? That can help you figure out what they’d like to see on your blog.
Pinterest isn’t just home to runway photos and inspirational quotes. Ideas for blog posts are hiding there too. Search for your industry and look at popular pins. What’s trendy? What’s being hotly debated? If you work in a highly visual field like cuisine, for instance, write a post about the 10 most mouthwatering dessert photos on Pinterest (just make sure you link back to the original source, not Pinterest).
Ah, Twitter: home of the hashtag. Any trending hashtags related to your industry are great topics for writing articles. See what influencers and customers in your industry are talking about and what links they’re sharing. You can either write a blog post that reports on the latest news and trends, or write a more personal post weighing in with your thoughts and commentary on the industry goings-on.
Browsing Reddit is like putting your finger on the pulse of the internet. (But it’s uncensored and sometimes explicit, so be warned.) Find a relevant subreddit for your industry and see what people are buzzing about. For example, if you sell women’s clothing, read /r/femalefashionadvice to see what stylish women are curious about.
Within a subreddit, you can sort by most recent, top posts, what’s hot, or what has the most comments. Or search all of Reddit for your keyword plus a word like “problem,” “annoying,” or “how to” (for example, “how to insulate crawlspace” or “crawlspace problem”). Bam, now you know what your potential customers can’t figure out. Write a blog post answering their questions, and then post the link to the subreddit.
Quora’s aim is to let people ask questions and have experts answer them -- like a more reliable version of Yahoo! Answers. So it’s similar to Reddit as a great source for content marketing ideas, but with less junk and more polished information. Look for questions about your industry and your areas of expertise. Then look at the answers people have provided. Some answers are controversial. If so, try to figure out why. What are people reacting to? Would it make a good blog post? Like Reddit, you can post a link to your blog post in the thread once you’re done, because readers might find it helpful.
8. Ask Metafilter
Ask Metafilter is a slightly under-the-radar source for content marketing ideas. The site has questions and answers on countless topics, which you can use for blog post inspiration. A design/build firm might be interested in this question, for instance, about how to do an affordable kitchen remodel. Search for keywords related to your industry. As with Quora and Reddit, leave a link to your blog post in the comment thread once you’ve written it.
9. Top Blogs and Their Comments
Do you have a sense for the “it” articles your colleagues and customers are reading? The ones everyone is talking about? You should! Use a free RSS reader like Feedly or The Old Reader (RIP, Google Reader) to pull in the latest headlines from industry blogs and news sites. (Here’s a quick video on how to set up Feedly.) Keep an eye not just on popular posts, but the comment threads -- you’re going to get some great ideas for blog posts there. Or browse AllTop, which pulls in the top headlines from tons of different verticals. Type in your keyword or industry and see what’s buzzworthy, then write a blog post with your take on it.
10. Book Reviews
In Amazon.com’s book section, search for relevant topics (like “dressing well for men” for a bespoke tailor). Find books with a lot of reviews, and read the 3- and 4-star reviews. In those cases, people liked the book, but there was just something missing. Try to find out what it was. What could have made the book better? Then write a blog post that fills the gap. In the comment below, the reviewer wants to know more about how to match basic elements of men’s clothing:
11. Entertainment & Pop Culture
What movies just came out? What TV show is everyone talking about? (If you aren’t sure, use Google Trends.) Get creative and think about how that connects to your industry. For example, dentistry may seem pretty far removed from Hollywood. Tying in pop culture references, like How Gum Disease Is Like the Incredible Hulk and License to Floss (James Bond), will surprise dental clients and keep them interested. Just consider your clients’ demographics. If it’s an older crowd, they might appreciate references to Golden Girls more than Vampire Diaries.
12. “How-To” Posts
How-tos are one of the best ideas for blog posts. Everyone wants to know how to do something, whether it’s how to save time cooking, how to plant flowers, or how to get a better night’s sleep. If you sell an organic skincare line and your client base is moms in their 30s, you might write a post called “How to Get Kids to Wash Their Faces.” Keep your audience’s age and interests in mind. If they’re older, try something like “How to Have Great Skin in Your 60s, 70s, and Beyond.”
13. News Roundup
Have you sensed a theme in these content marketing ideas? Many of them hinge on what is timely and newsworthy. Your clients look to you as an authority for what important is happening in your industry, versus what is just noise. Create a weekly or monthly news roundup on your blog so they know what’s worth paying attention to. You can use Google News to find news articles to summarize, with your own commentary for added value. Or sign up for Google alerts when a specific keyword is in the news. That way you’ll know as soon as there’s a big article or breakthrough.
Research shows that video is often more engaging than text or photos. And a blog post with a video can be short: just a little intro, the video, and conclusion or call to action. People love going behind the scenes, so shoot a video of your office -- even if it’s just with your phone! Or search YouTube for a how-to video related to your industry, or a supercut of people with your job in movies.
15. Fails & Memes
Remember America’s Funniest Home Videos? People love to laugh at failure. Search for photos, memes, or videos of people failing related to your industry (for example, “roofing fail”). Then write a short blog post about it and share the post on social media.
Or jump on a meme that’s popular right now. Here’s a great intro to using memes in business. They’re a great way to show your audience you’re current, and they typically make people laugh. People want to share them, and them sharing your content is great. The most important thing is to be timely. So what memes are popular right now? Look at what’s trending on Know Your Meme, or check out popular memes and slang of 2014. (Or, you know, just talk to a teenager.)
16. Diagrams & Infographics
Infographics can get five times the engagement of a typical blog post. It’s great if you can create an infographic yourself using a simple, free tool like Canva, but if not, write a quick blog post about someone else’s infographic. Just make sure you give them credit and link back. Try a Google image search for “[your industry] infographic” or “[your industry] diagram” and see if you like any of them. Add some text providing background and statistics if possible.
17. Interview or Profile
Running out of ideas for blog posts? Highlight one of your vendor relationships, one of your most loyal customers, or someone on your team. Either interview them or just do a quick profile with info you can find online. If you have the resources, you can even record the interview and upload it as a video or podcast. Make sure to link to their website. Let them know when the post is live, and ask for their help promoting it on their social media channels.
Or turn the spotlight on yourself and write a post like “Getting to Know Your Divorce Lawyer” or “9 Things You Didn’t Know About Me” (like your guilty pleasure is milkshakes and you love Downton Abbey). Who are your heroes? What inspires you?
18. Your Favorite Blogs, Books, and Resources
A list of your favorite websites and other resources is an easy, fast blog post idea. What sites do you read to stay current on your industry? Do any of your vendors have a blog? Linking to someone else is a great foundation for asking for a link back.
What’s changing in your industry? What trends do you expect will be big this year? What did people do 20 years ago that we wouldn’t dream of doing today? If there’s new terminology, explain what it means so your customers are familiar with it. For example, interior designers could talk about what paint colors are hot for 2015 and link to resources like Pantone’s color of the year.
20. Contest, Giveaway, or Poll
Do something interactive! Ask for customers’ help naming a new product, and give one away as the prize. Or integrate a poll into a blog post that asks your clients when extended hours would be most helpful (weekends? evenings?) or what kind of waiting room music you should play. Here’s how to add a poll in Wordpress. Or use PollDaddy.
No matter what blog post idea you run with, just remember that consistent content is key. Your posts can be short. Just try to keep them coming every month or couple of weeks! Once they’re up, share them on social media and in your e-newsletter. Happy blogging!
So what target keywords should you include in your blog post? Find out by learning basic keyword optimization.
Dan DelMain has a history of helping businesses realize their potential through online marketing. Before developing DelMain Analytics, Dan DelMain managed the marketing department for an e-commerce company. He left that company to form DelMain Analytics in 2009, where he could share his digital marketing talents with multiple businesses. A graduate of University of San Francisco with a degree in International Business, Dan enjoys being active indoors and outdoors, traveling abroad and playing bagpipes.