If you’ve ever been tasked with writing content for a company blog you’ll be familiar with that frustrating feeling that slowly develops as you sit in front of a blank screen with no idea of what to write about.
Finding the right topics is often the most difficult part of maintaining a blog, particularly if it has to be done frequently and to a schedule. Once the topic is set, the rest is mostly research, structuring, typing, and a little bit of creative magic. Unlike with personal blogging, business bloggers can’t just wait for inspiration to hit them. Blogging serves specific business needs and like any other business process it has to be repeatable and scalable to be successful. It’s not useful to only be able to write wonderful articles when the muses — who are frustratingly idle — send inspiration.
I’ve found that imposing limitations on myself is the best way to hone in on suitable things to write about. Those limitations can be divided into goals, techniques, and formats.
Know Your Goal
Why are you writing and what do you hope to achieve? Knowing your purpose is the best way of winnowing out the useless ideas before they go to far down the road to execution. A good blog topic needs to be:
- Relevant: You’re writing for an audience in a particular niche with specific interests and needs. Sometimes a totally off-topic article is great for establishing personality, but don’t expect blogs about your staff members’ hobbies to get widely shared among an audience that is going to convert.
- Capable of sustaining a decent length article: Otherwise, it’s a tweet dressed up as a blog article, which is usually tedious to both read and write. I throw away a lot of ideas that seem interesting and relevant but can’t sustain a 500-word article.
- Original: There’s almost nothing new under the sun, but to get traction an article topic should be new to the intended audience or at least look at a relevant subject in a new way.
Fertile Topic Finding Domains
This is still the most useful way to find a central set of subjects that can both meet SEO goals and be used as a core from which several specific articles can be created. Having a solid set of core and long-tail keywords to target should be at the heart of any content marketing effort; not primarily as a way to influence search engines, but as a way to connect with searchers.
Google’s Keyword Tool can provide a lot of inspiration in this regard, as can Google autocomplete.
I work in the SEO and content marketing field. When I sat down to write this article, I wanted to find a topic that would be useful to others who work in that field. So, I used the problem I had as inspiration for an article topic.
All businesses and the people who make up their target markets have problems they need to solve, and writing articles that provide useful and actionable information to segments of the market is a great way to get shared and read.
Explain Your Business
What exactly does your company do and how is it useful to prospective customers or clients? These sorts of articles are a great way to use your market personas to target specific segments with relevant information.
Instead of writing an article directly that solves problems or provides useful information, linking to a list of other articles and resources can be a very efficient use of research. Content curation articles of this type are very popular, they help build relationships with the linked to sites, and they tend to engender a lot of social media sharing.
Perhaps obvious, but keeping on top of the news that’s relevant to your niche and putting an individual spin on it is a very fertile way to generate topics.
Opinion and Commentary
Quite often business blogs strive to avoid controversy, and the result is bland and uninspiring marketing pablum. Instead, take a topic that’s hot in your niche and be opinionated about it. Argue a point of view. Sometimes that’ll turn readers off, but often you’ll generate respect from other industry insiders and influencers, which helps increase social media exposure, establish thought leadership, and provides evidence of engagement and expertise.