Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Amanda Athuraliya
Although I’ve been a writer in the field for several years now, I still find myself stuck for topic ideas more often than I’d like to admit.
But it’s true, finding a topic to write about could be harder than the writing itself.
So, I decided to take the time and figure out where I can find good ideas for blog posts, and I’m sharing them here with you.
Any topic idea you come up with should be evaluated for its potential to stand out amongst the two million blog posts published online everyday.
Whenever I generate a new idea for a blog post, I put it through a quick test that includes three simple steps.
Is the idea original?
A quick Google search will reveal whether others are already blogging about this topic. If the topic is already written about, see if you can approach it from a different angle or focus on a specific aspect of the topic to provide more value than what already exists. But if a topic already feels like it’s overcovered, it may be better to move on.
Is the idea relevant to your audience?
Will your audience be able to relate to this topic or find value in your idea? Would your piece help them in some aspect of their life?
Will the idea help you reach your goal?
Every blog post you write needs to have a goal, whether it is to increase awareness of your product or service among your target audience, increase traffic to your site, to convert visitors into leads or to make money. Whatever idea you select should be relevant to your business and help you achieve a specific goal.
Yes, sometimes what’s right in front of you is the hardest to see!
The target audience is, in fact, a massive topic generator.
Once I started digging in to the needs, challenges, and goals of the target audience I cater to, I suddenly have an abundance of topic ideas.
Research, surveys and interviews are three of the easiest ways to get the information you need on your target audience. You can invite your current as well as potential customers to participate in surveys via email, or reach out to them directly with a few relevant questions in return for a reward such as a gift card.
Or simply refer to question forums or communities where your customers would share their ideas or opinions, such as Quora and LinkedIn.
Based on the data you collect, you can create your buyer personas, which is a generalized and fictionalized representation of your ideal target audience member. It should include both quantitative data (such as age, income and location), and qualitative data (such as responsibilities, interests and challenges).
(An example of a buyer persona)
If you write for different niches, it’s better to have separate buyer personas for each niche. When you start writing, you can refer to your buyer persona to make sure your article is solving a real problem for this audience.
Your competitors could be a great source of new ideas. For example, you can find a topic that is trending on your competitor’ blog and come up with different angles to approach it. If you think you can do a better job, don’t hesitate to jump in.
But be mindful not to overlap too much with what your competitor says. Be unique and avoid accidentally (or purposefully) plagiarizing.
Checking Google News is something I do on a daily basis. This helps me find out what is trending out in the world, and it’s the quickest method to find a credible source to cite in an article.
Google News also gives you access to the latest research, interviews and announcements from companies which can help you think of a whole new set of topic ideas. Select a specific area you are interested in writing on and easily find what is trending in the space through Google News.
Whenever a vague idea for a new post pops into my head, I use Buzzsumo to see what articles have been written on it. This platform offers you quick and useful statistics on which topics and headlines attract the most visitors and social shares.
A quick research of a selected keyword on Buzzsumo will reveal to you what topic you should write on next time.
Got a particular keyword you want to write around? Put the keyword into the Google search bar and Google will point out related topics people are already searching for.
Additionally, you can use keyword research tools such as SEMRush and UberSuggest to discover different versions, especially long tail variations, of the keyword you have selected. This will further push you in the right direction in finding the right blog post topic.
Interviews by Experts
Interviews by an expert in the field hold a lot of juice for topic ideas. Track the key influencers in your space on social media channels and publications to see what they’re talking about. You can use what they discuss as a jumping off point for your article. Reference the expert or influencer in your piece to give your readers context for what you will be discussing.
Institutes and corporations are constantly publishing new research online. If you have already decided on an area to write about, do a quick online search to find relevant research on this topic to inform your own article. Alternately, you can conduct original research or survey an audience yourself, and use your findings to create blog posts. Conducting your own research would naturally make your content more relevant to your target audience and help position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
Sometimes a good old brainstorming session work just fine. But to make it more productive, here are some steps that I take:
Set a goal
Having an idea as to what you want to achieve by the end of the brainstorming session is a surefire way to keep you focused. But the goal you set should be specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, or in other words fit into the SMART criteria.
Get the help of your team
A few heads are better than one, and more people means more topic ideas. Different ideas from different people – from your own team or other teams – could help you quickly accomplish the objective of your brainstorming efforts.
Use a mind map to record everything
Mind mapping is a technique that helps you organize the ideas swirling in your head when you are brainstorming. Put down the main subject you are brainstorming around in the middle, and then move on to add branches to it to illustrate everything else that pops into your head when you are thinking about that core topic.
You can further divide these secondary branches and analyze each idea further. It works great as a analysis tool.
I maintain a mind map that contains all areas that belong to the niche I write about. It kind of works as a vision board for my blog posts.
When researching for topic ideas, I frequently use these methods. They provide quick, relevant and insightful topic ideas that have the potential to go truly viral.
Do you use methods to generate topic ideas? Let me know in the comments below.
About the Author
Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Cinergix, the team behind the development of Creately Org Chart Software. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.