It’s all very well committing to a regular blog schedule - but coming up with fresh ideas can often be a challenge. Even the best B2B marketers can find themselves scratching their heads in puzzlement at times.
But the secret is to have an arsenal of techniques up our sleeves that can help the ideas to flow. These methods won’t necessarily make forming blog ideas an effortless process, but they can help to guide us towards the answers we’re looking for.
And if we can reduce the time spent chewing the tips of our pencils – or tapping pensively at our keyboards – we can dedicate more hours to actually creating the content that our audience is searching for.
1. Start with the problems
There’s a reason people are reading our content – they have a problem and they want to solve it. Consider the types of challenges your audience are grappling with and think about how you can help them to overcome them.
A useful way to approach this is to come up with a list of the questions your customers regularly ask you. You can then make these questions the focus of individual posts and use your knowledge and expertise to answer them.
Someone who did this with transformative success is Marcus Sheridan. His company, River Pools and Spas, was greatly affected by the 2008 recession - so Sheridan changed his marketing tactics. By producing informative blog posts and other types of content, he saw his business recover and grow. In fact, he can track $1.7 million in sales to a single blog post!
It’s good practice to clearly outline the reader’s pain and make a promise to relieve it in the opening paragraph – because this will capture their attention. And then you can go on to fulfil that pledge within the body of the post.
2. Always carry a notebook
Have you ever had a flash of inspiration in the middle of the night and then forgot it by morning? If so, did you ever wish you had written it down?
Professional writers often advise others to keep a notebook on them at all times. Author Will Self says: “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.”
We’re not necessarily talking about a mole-skinned A4 notebook here (unless, of course, that's exactly what you want!) – a small flip pad or even the notes section on your mobile phone will do the trick.
3. Hold regular brainstorming sessions
There may be only one person blogging at your company or there may be a dozen. However big or small your writing team, you can still use the brainpower of all your staff to generate blog ideas.
HubSpot marketing blog section editor Ginny Soskey says she once asked her team to sit together in a conference room and come up with a year’s worth of blog topics in less than an hour.
“The first five minutes, we were stumped. The eight of us tentatively put in a few ideas... and then all of a sudden ideas were flowing. One idea would suddenly morph into 10, and before we knew it, we had almost 300 titles... and we still had 15 minutes to spare.”
Each person in an organisation will view a subject from a different perspective, so bouncing off one another can prove an invaluable resource. And that leads us onto…
4. Approach the same topic from different angles
It’s easy to think that once we’ve covered a topic we can’t write about it again. But, when it comes down to it, there are only a finite number of topics in any industry - it’s how we approach those topics that makes the difference.
Perhaps you’ve discussed an issue in a straight-forward and technical way, so why not take a more creative view this time around? Or maybe you previously produced a list post and there’s the potential to write separate in-depth posts on some of the points you included.
It’s also worth remembering that it’s unlikely that a reader will consume every single piece of content on your website – at least not at the same time! As long as you’re not rehashing the same issues again and again, it’s improbable that you’ll be criticised for returning to a topic of interest.
5. Mix up the content mediums
Sometimes a topic doesn’t lend itself particularly well to writing – but it can still make a brilliant blog post. For example, perhaps you’ve gathered significant data about your industry - in which case, why not create an infographic? Or maybe you want to explain a complex practical process – so how about producing a video?
Utilising different mediums helps us to cover a wide range of topics in the best possible way and keeps our content dynamic. And it also allows us to gauge a clearer idea of what works and what doesn’t, which will impact our content strategy.
Sometimes it can feel like inspiration eludes us when it’s time to come up with blog ideas. But while there’s no magic solution, there are certain tactics we can employ to guide our thinking.
Let those creative juices flow…