Launching a blog is exciting. The blog posts pour out of you, as your enthusiasm for sharing your hard-won wisdom with your readers leads you to idea after idea.
And then, one day… crickets. Nothing. Total writer’s block.
Many blog owners drop-off at this point, letting their sites languish without the updates their audiences crave. This is a big mistake, as Inc. contributor John Boitnott points out:
“Producing high-quality, consistent content helps brands establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry. The regularity of your content has a direct influence on how credible people think you are. The more the consistency, the more the credibility. Also, the longer you produce content the more you are legitimized as a business.”
So how do you keep up with this kind of demanding publishing schedule? Inspiration – as great as it can feel – isn’t something you can rely on. Inspiration waxes and wanes, which is why you need specific strategies to help keep the content flowing – whether or not you’re feeling inspired.
The five ideas below will help you get started. Use them today if you’re struggling to come up with new blog topics, or bookmark this article later for when a dry spell inevitably occurs.
One surprising source for blog post topic inspiration is Amazon reviews. Given the size of the retailer and publisher’s network, books exist on nearly every subject imaginable. And within the reviews left on each of these entries, you can gather a tremendous amount of insight into the topics that matter most to your audience members.
As an example, let’s say you’re a beauty blogger who’s run out of article ideas to cover. Drilling down to books on makeup reveals several entries, some with hundreds of different reviews:
Next, open up each entry and look at the reviews left that give the book 2-4 stars. For example:
Reading this particular review closely suggests that the reader took issue with several things:
- The advice given wasn’t targeted to her demographic.
- The advice given wasn’t applicable to “real” women (versus models).
- Descriptions of colors—especially those intended for women with different complexions—weren’t clear.
Based off this review alone, our hypothetical beauty blogger could come up with the following new blog post topics:
- Makeup Advice at Any Age: Creating a Modern Look
- Pink, Peach, or Brown: Choosing the Right Blush for Your Complexion
- 5 Tips for Testing Your Skin’s Undertones
Not only can these reviews provide a powerful source of new idea inspiration, they’re also more likely to resonate with readers, as they’re drawn directly from concerns they’ve already expressed.
Monitor Community Forums
You can do the same thing with any community forums or social groups where your audience is active.
Now, let’s imagine that you’re a blogger in the fitness industry. The screenshot below comes from the RAW Powerlifting forums, and plenty of possible blog topics become immediately apparent:
While you’d want to open up each thread and really dig into the questions community members are asking and the pain points they’re expressing, some possible topics that could be drawn from these thread titles as-is include:
- Preparing for Your First Meet: Everything You Need to Know
- How to Build a Powerlifting Base – Without Risking Injury
- A Squat Training Plan for Your First Meet
Sure, you may have covered some of these topics already on your site. Keep digging. The more research you do, the more new ideas you’ll uncover – and the better understand the topics your audience is most interested in.
Take a Different Angle on a Subject You’ve Already Covered
Now, on the subject of repeating topics you’ve already covered, let’s get a few things straight…
First, it’s pretty unlikely that your readers – even your most active subscribers – will have read every single thing you’ve posted. And second, even if you’ve already covered a particular topic, there’s a good chance you won’t have shared all of the information you know on it.
John Lincoln, writing for Search Engine Land, recommends targeting a word count of at least 1,500 words per post, stating:
“I’d advise to aim for over 1,500 words, since 1,200 is (in my opinion) the minimum. That way, you’ll have a competitive advantage with the extra cushion. But why not go all in? Set a goal of 2,000 words for your long-form content. I haven’t published a post less than 1,000 words for some time. I am generally going for 1,500 to 7,000 words now.”
Fifteen-hundred words might sound like a lot, but on a subject like “Preparing for Your First Meet: Everything You Need to Know,” that might barely scratch the surface. You could probably spend that long talking about pre-meet nutrition alone, before you’re even able to touch on things like lift training, scoring and how meets are run.
The bottom line is that, just because you’ve covered something before doesn’t mean a) that there isn’t room for expansion, or b) that your readers will be sick of hearing about it from you. As a result, you could:
- Create a “Part II” that gives more information on an article that’s proven popular in the past.
- “Niche down” by going into greater detail on a single sub-topic you covered briefly in an earlier article.
- Look at earlier articles from different perspectives. What information is missing from your earlier articles, or what audiences aren’t fully served by what you’ve published so far?
Expanding on your ideas in this way has an added advantage: you’ve already done most of the research required. Using these strategies lets you leverage information you already have to create content your audience still wants to see.
Repackage Past Content
This strategy piggybacks on the one above, to some degree, but remember that blogs aren’t limited to written content alone. In fact, Hubspot’s 2016 report, “The Future of Content Marketing: How People Are Changing the Way They Read, Interact, and Engage With Content,” suggests that written articles may not even be the format subscribers are most interested in.
According to their report:
“We asked our respondents what they tend to skim and what they read or watch thoroughly. Not surprisingly, video was listed as the type of content people pay close attention to, followed by social media posts, and news articles. Blog posts, interactive tools, and long form content are more likely to be skimmed by readers.”
The full results of their research are below. Look particularly at the number of different content formats subscribers engage with:
The beautiful thing about many of these different content formats – videos, social media posts and podcasts in particular – is that you already have the content needed to create them. Simply take your existing blogs and rework them for each particular structure.
Test applying both underperforming and top-performing blog posts to these new formats. You may find that new structures either make previously-uninteresting content more attractive to subscribers who prefer alternative formats, or expand the reach of your top content to new audiences.
Look for News Updates In Your Industry
One final strategy for coming up with new blog post topics is to develop responses to news updates within your field.
Imagine that you’re an HR consultant, and you come across the following article on Bloomberg’s Businessweek site:
Building on author Peter Coy’s research, you could publish a response – something like, “How Healthcare Providers Can Cope with Upcoming Skill Shortages.”
Responding to news entries in this way comes with a few advantages:
- If you’re one of the first to comment on new research, you could improve your business’s perceived authority by becoming a go-to source for commentary on news and current events in your industry.
- You may also benefit from SEO advantages that come from releasing timely, newsworthy content.
Be wary of using this strategy too frequently, or of taking too controversial an angle with your response. Apart from the challenges of getting your messaging right in real-time marketing (as well as the consequences of failing to do so), relying too heavily on current news will leave your blog without the kind of evergreen content that can be repackaged, using the strategies described above.
Aim for a balance that favors content with long-term appeal, while also allowing your business to comment on the most relevant news stories. Monitor your website’s analytics and engagement reports to fine-tune your approach to this strategy, as well as the others shared here.
What other strategies do you use when you’ve run out of blogging inspiration? Leave us a note below sharing your experience and insight.