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How To Generate Content Ideas For Your Blog

Thinking of things to write aboutGoogle loves blogs because they are a source of new, fresh content. Not only is each article, itself, new material for Google to index but any comments left on the blog is seen as fresh content by the search engines. Therefore, every website should have a blog associated with it.

Of course, not just any old content will do. Your blog is really the place that you use to build an audience that is eager for your next article. Because of that, you need to come up with ideas for blog articles that people will find interesting, provocative or even humorous. Content that they will want to comment on and share with others.

Your blog’s audience may not necessarily be ready to buy something from your website right now but you will always come to mind when they are ready to purchase something because they are familiar with your blog.

One question we hear more often than not is, “What will I write about?” Even the best writers sometimes find themselves staring at a blank page, wishing desperately for the first sentence to write itself. Jayson DeMers wrote an excellent piece last week about where you can find ideas and how you can stay organized, titled, “How to Generate a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Ideas.”

Have A Plan and Stay Organized

One thing Jayson points out is that you need to have a plan. Are you going to publish something every day? Twice a week? Once a week? Twice a month? You need to put together a content calendar and mark the days that you will be publishing articles. Without that, your twice weekly blog post concept becomes a once a week ritual and that soon turns into every other week.

You also need to have a place where you note every idea you ever have for an article. If you have a smart phone, jotting down an idea when it hits you or even recording a voice memo to yourself is an excellent way of storing your ideas. Always save those ideas in the same place so that you know exactly where to turn for inspiration.

Or, you can always do what I do – have a small notebook in your back pocket and jot down any idea as they hit you. They always seem to enter my mind as I’m driving, so I find myself pulling over frequently to my record my latest pearl.

Where to Get Content Ideas

There are so may ways to get content ideas, you should really never be at a loss for things to write about. Here are places Jayson suggests as well as a few of our own:

  • Customer Questions – Hardly a day goes by in any business where there aren’t questions being asked by customers, whether face to face, over the phone or in an Email. Write down every question that is asked (and if you have a staff who deals with customers, have them do the same thing). Then, look for questions that come up repeatedly and place those at the top of your list. Creating articles around commonly asked questions guarantees you that you will be creating content that is important to a large number of readers. It also tends to be “evergreen” content that will be get referenced for months or even years.
  • Yahoo Answers and Quora – Both Yahoo Answers and Quora are inundated with people who have questions. Type in a few keywords in their search boxes and make note of all of those questions. After prioritizing them, write articles that answer the most asked questions. And, if it is still an open question, be sure to provide a helpful answer on Yahoo Answers or Quora to the original question with a link back to the article you just wrote. The great thing about this approach is that you know the question is going to keep getting asked in the future. Monitor Yahoo Answers or Quora at least weekly and drop a link to your articles as those question pop up again.
  • Monitor Social Networks – Search the social network for keyword hashtags being used that relate to your industry and see what kinds of things people are talking or asking questions about. Not only will this give you ideas for content but in many cases it will be about a currently trending topic – something the search engines just love to index! Go to Hashtags.org and enter a hashtag to see what people are talking about right now or use any one of dozens of social network monitoring programs that will send you feeds related to terms you want to follow. Although not free, Sendible is one such monitoring program that you may wish to consider.
  • Google Trends – Enter terms related to your industry into Google Trends to see what the hot topics of the day are.
  • Blogs and Forums – Enter generic terms related to your industry along with the word “blog” or “forum” and you’ll find a ton of ideas being discussed by others. That should give you plenty of new ideas for content! When you find a blog that is updated frequently with great content, subscribe to their RSS feed and either regularly check your feeds in an RSS reader or, do what I do, have those feeds sent to your Email so that you are sure not to miss a thing. If they don’t have a feed, surely they have a “follow us” button for Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus that you can monitor.
  • Google Alerts – One of the very best ways of staying abreast of industry news is setting up Google Alerts. Anything being written about will show up in your inbox and you can quickly scan the headlines and save anything that you think may provide inspiration for a future article. Not only should you enter key search terms in your industry for Google to send you alerts about, but if you know of a writer in your industry that always seems to have something prolific to say, set up an alert for that writer’s name. It’s never a bad idea to set up an alert for your company name, too, so that whenever your company is mentioned on the web, you’ll know about it and can respond, when appropriate.

I hope I shouldn’t have to say this but I will anyway … articles that you find should be used for inspiration. It’s fine to pick out a quote or two from an article and give attribution to the original author, but definitely don’t plagiarize and copy the whole article. Put things into your own words, adding your own ideas or a new perspective (much as I have done here with Jayson DeMers’ article).

If you do all of the above, I guarantee you that you will have no shortage of things to write about. You’ll be creating things that you know people are talking about. You can’t get more relevant than that!

The only problem you’ll have is finding the time to write about it all!