Does this sound familiar? You’ve invested your time and resources into developing a strong content marketing strategy and mapped out how many pieces of content you want to publish per month. You might have content categories defined, and the framework of a content calendar laid out.
But then… the topics are all blank. You sit there, staring at them, wondering what on earth to write about. How do you come up with enough blog post ideas to fill the volume of content you want to produce?
If you’re in need of topics to write about, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorite (and even unlikely) places where we seek out inspiration for our blog topics, and you can too.
1. Your customers are a goldmine.
The number one place to start looking for content inspiration is with your target audience and existing customers. These are the people you want to reach, and continue reaching, and they’re the ones your content pieces should be geared toward anyway. Find out their pain points by sending out a quick email survey to your database, or schedule a meeting with your sales team to find out what prospects’ biggest objections are to engaging with your company.
If you have a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section on your website, refresh your memory by taking a peek at it. This can jumpstart your insight into what customers really care, and ask, about. Another idea is to ask your customer service team what topics they see bubbling up often. Is there widespread confusion about something on your website? Is there concern about your pricing? Is your shipping process broken? Are people calling in just to rave about your product? Whether positive or negative, these firsthand conversations with customers can - and should - guide your content topics.
2. Check out what’s trending on social media.
Whether you love it or hate it, the fact remains that people on average spend more than two hours per day on social media sites. They also tend to vent their frustrations, celebrate their accomplishments and chime in on world events via these platforms, which makes them a rich source of content topics.
For example, depending on whether you’re using your desktop browser or the Twitter app, you’ll either find trending Twitter topics in the “explore” section or along the left side of your dashboard. You can click on trending hashtags and then look into what others are saying on the subjects, and determine if any of the hottest topics are relevant to your brand.
Another way to get inspiration from social sites is by searching for phrases that matter to your business and your customers on a site like SocialMention.com. It’ll comb the Internet, and deliver results to you on your topics of interest.
3. What are the top conversations happening on popular forums?
Similar to the social media idea above, forums can be a great place to start searching for blog post ideas. To start, check out Quora and Reddit. These are two of the most well-known forums, and offer users’ insights into a vast amount of topics. You can search by topic or just browse through what’s trending, but either way you’re sure to stumble on some interesting subjects and conversations that just might spark your next best piece of content.
4. Find relevant statistics (for free).
You might be aware of some of the top research and analyst firms out there, like Gartner and Forrester, but you might also be aware of the steep price tags that come along with paying for their findings. If you’re not ready to engage with a firm like this, you can still usually land upon some of their insights by doing a little detective work.
Search in Google for statistics on your industry, and keep sifting through results until you find some compelling and relevant data. It might take some time, but oftentimes you’ll find nuggets of research findings from these top firms referenced in other people’s content. You should still cite the source, but as long as it’s out there on the Web, it’s yours to use as content inspiration. There’s also a wealth of statistics available on sites like Statista, that take less work to find and are available for your use.
5. Pull out your calendar.
When you’re trying to find topics to write about, seasonality is your low-hanging fruit. What season are you in? What season is around the corner that your audience might be preparing for? Are there any holidays coming up?
For example, let’s say it’s summertime and your company is a health club. You can come up with an array of topic ideas around getting in shape for swimsuit season, getting more fit to participate in water activities, staying on your fitness plan while on summer vacation - and so on. Seasonality always works, because it ties what you offer into what people are thinking about right at that moment.
6. What’s going on in the news - local, national, international?
Still need more ideas? Think about what’s going on in your local community, as well as what people are talking about in the country and even on the international stage. You might not have a perfect tie-in between your company’s products or services and world news, but you might be able to piggyback off underlying topics. For instance, if there’s a lot of buzz in your community about education funding and you run a children’s gymnastics center, you could write a post about how much you love your instructors and how important the role of the teacher is.
One note: Be careful not to get overtly political one way or another, unless your business is political by its nature. Referencing the news can be an effective way to get traction with your content, but if you don’t approach the issue with tact, you’ll risk alienating half the population.
7. What do you like to read?
Finally, think about what sites, publications and influencers you follow. What do you like about them? What topics resonate with you? Why? Poke around the places where you seek out your information, and then consider how you can mirror the success of these people or publications by borrowing some of their tactics.
For example, let’s say you love to read the posts written by your favorite financial guru. Even if you’re in a completely unrelated field, you might realize that the posts you love the most are very short, include tactical advice and often feature a short Q&A with someone you find interesting. You can adapt your own blog content to match this style, and see if it works as well for your audience.
Most people would agree that the hardest part of maintaining a successful content marketing program is coming up with interesting topics to write about on an ongoing basis. But if you tap into these inspiration sources, you should have no trouble at all coming up with endless blog post ideas that appeal to your target audience and keep visitors coming back.
If you still can’t come up with relevant topics, we’re happy to help! Contact us to learn more about we develop strategic editorial calendars based on topics your potential customers care about!