Inbound Marketing could be thought of as a huge monster with a massive gaping mouth, devouring content at a rate of knots – never satisfied – always hungry. Whilst this might be overly dramatic, there is no doubt that if you are doing it well, you will be producing lots of blog posts. This is not easy. After a while, you may struggle to come up with new posts, new titles, new ideas.
If you feel that the well of creativity has dried up, here are a number of ways to generate blog ideas.
Ask – research sales – customers
A great way to get new topics for your post is to talk to people in your company. Talk to customer services and see what issues customers are having. Maybe write a post on the top five questions customer services are asked? Do the same thing with your sales team – what are the most common questions prospective clients ask? Talk to product development or senior management and see what’s planned – is there anything you can talk about?
If you have a good relationship with your customers, ask them what they would like to know about, what’s their biggest question, what are the problems they come across in their jobs and what would be on their wish list.
News – industry
Use monitoring tools to monitor the industry you are in and your competitors. Are there any stories there? What’s your company’s take on certain industry developments? Are there any seasonal events that you can write about or major industry events such as exhibitions, conferences and the like. Look at the general news - is the there a story you can legitimately newsjack?
The most practical and effective way of coming up with new post ideas is to undertake some keyword research. This is a good starting point for creating posts that deliver leads, so make use of it. Start with some of the common words and phrases associated with your product or services, industry and common issues customers face. Then using a keyword research tool, identify 20-30 good keywords to focus on. Construct as many blog titles as you can using these words. That should give you a good list of potential posts with the added bonus that they should be effective too.
Popular types of post
Another approach would be to look at the kind of posts that are popular, using a tool like BuzzSumo, and then to create one of those types of posts – especially if you were low on that form of content. The most popular types of posts are:
- List post / Checklist
- Research / Review
- How to
- Top / Best of
For exploring a subject in depth, mind mapping is a well-known, simple and yet valuable technique developed by Tony Buzan in the 1970’s. And one that is easily applied to generating ideas for blog posts. Take any subject – maybe an issue within the industry, a problem your customer’s face, one of your products – or a service you provide and apply the mind map technique to it, ensuring that you create as many branches as necessary to capture all the detail. Usually, some of these branches will suggest ideas for blog posts.
Zooming – scope and range
One creative technique is to change the scope or range of a subject. You take a subject or topic that you have written about before (or a new topic) and look at the bigger picture or go into more detail. So if you've written an overview of the options facing your customers, ‘zoom in’ and write in detail about one of those options. If you’ve written about a particular problem your customers face, ‘zoom out’ and write an overview of potential problems and briefly talk about the best approach to each.
This also applies to the funnel – the stage the buyer is at – If you have written a piece on a subject that is aimed at “Top of the funnel” (TOFU) then write a “Middle of the funnel” (MOFU) piece and vice versa. Look at the content you have and relate it to the funnel – then look for any gaps, where you have TOFU content and not MOFU, and where you have MOFU and no TOFU.
Another technique is a reversal – a common post type might be “The top 5 things you should do” or similar. Reverse this and look at the “Worst 5 things you could do” or “5 things you must never do when…”. I used this idea in a blog post when everyone else was making predictions for what to do the following year, I wrote about five things to stop doing - and it worked well.
Don’t get in this situation in the first place
This is probably going to sound glib, but one thing you should always try to do is be ahead of yourselves, always plan a blog calendar well in advance, that way it will be a lot harder to run out of ideas than if you are only writing posts week by week.
And keep a notepad with you at all times so if you think about a blog idea you can write it down and it doesn’t get lost. At the same time develop a blogger’s mindset where you are always looking at things as potential blog posts. It’s even worth holding a few posts back for those times when you are short of ideas or content. Just make sure that they are not time-dependent, topical posts so that you can post them anytime.
There are many other creative techniques to help when you get stuck for an idea, these are just a few to get you started. Just search the Internet for creative techniques if you find these don't help or are not for you.
Ultimately, you could always write a post on why you can't think of anything to write about – maybe the market is stagnant, maybe the news is predictable or maybe it is just that there is no innovation in your industry at the moment? Write about that.