When it comes to blogging, writing the post is really only half the battle. A lot more goes into it, and no small part of that is coming up with ideas.
You can’t just write about anything. Successful content marketing always comes with two key qualities – unique and valuable. You’ll see me using these descriptors often, if you haven’t already.
When I say unique, I mean at the very least that you can’t copy and paste something someone else has written and stick it onto your own blog. Not only is this stealing, Google knows duplicate content when it sees it, and will punish you.
But it also means more than that. Unique content is part of the principle of valuable content. You won’t see me writing up a “Ten Tips For Getting More Facebook Fans” post because there are already hundreds (probably thousands) of articles exactly like that with the same tips. You (the reader) don’t need me to rehash those tips – you can take to Google and find those yourself. Coming up with a more unique idea – something that would be harder for you to find – is more valuable.
However, uniqueness isn’t everything. A totally unique idea is worthless if it isn’t valuable to my target audience. For example, this blog post isn’t a very unique topic – but I know that many small to medium businesses who recognize the value of content marketing have trouble getting started – and much of that is because they don’t know what to write about.
And so, with the key concepts of uniqueness and value in mind, here’s a list of techniques you can use to come up with a pile of ideas:
#1: Lean Into Your Passions
Want to know how I came up with the idea for this article? I was trying to think of ideas and once again recognized how difficult it can be. I also have a passion for writing and so I knew it would be easy to write. I enjoy sharing my love of writing and making it easier for others to write. If you can write about something you enjoy, do it! Even if you think your business is inherently “boring,” unless you genuinely hate your job, there’s something about it that inspires you. Maybe it’s your special form of customer service, or cost-cutting techniques, or green office initiatives.
This is an especially useful way to come up with ideas when you’ve just made a blog and are feeling that sense of crushing despair that many first-time bloggers experience. Write about what you love first – once you get into the routine of blogging, it becomes much easier.
#2: Share Your Expertise
#3: Read Other Blogs
This is the first thing I do whenever I need an idea for a blog post. Reading other ideas and opinions gets my own mind going, and before I know it I’ve formed my own opinion on a topic that’s good enough to share. You might also find a particular post that really gets your blood going – feel free to write a response piece. This can either be a counterpoint piece if you disagree, or a piece that expands upon the original, or just you talking about how great the original piece is.
If you’re not following any blogs yet, you should be. To start, simply Google “best blogs about [your industry]” and go from there. If you don’t come up with much, start following social media accounts belonging to similar or even competing businesses – those that are active and doing it right will post content from blogs that they’ve found.
#4: Follow Industry News and Trends
If a big story comes out about something related to the industry you’re involved in, you should be on top of it. You can make a simple informational post, a piece about your reactions and predictions, or a compilation of other people’s reactions and predictions.
#5: Don’t Forget Other Options
Most people think of blogging and content marketing solely in terms of writing. But words aren’t the only form of content! A blog post full of photos of your new office is still content. A video demonstrating your product is content. Infographics and slideshows are content. Switching things up in terms of the type of content you produce not only keeps things interesting for the people following your blog, it helps to keep you from getting burned out. Have writer’s block? Break out the camera. Get creative. Enjoy yourself.
I’ve always believed that the best thing you can do for your content marketing campaign is to find a way to enjoy it. When you like what you’re doing, it tends to turn out better. Plus, people can sense when someone’s really into their work. They’ll be reminded that there’s a human on the other side of the screen, and will know that you care about your business. That goes a long way to creating a sense of trust in potential customers as well as brand identity.