One of the best ways for a service-based business owner to build their credibility, their list and their social media following is to write regular articles and blog posts that are interesting, informative and beneficial to their target market
I’m often asked by clients and prospects about how they can continue to come up with fresh ideas for their articles, which was something I often struggled with as well.
If you find generating topics difficult, here are the 10 ways I use to get my creative juices flowing so that I can generate articles and blog content that I know my clients and readers will be interested in.
1. Check out content sharing and social bookmarking sites such as Digg.com, Delicious.com or Alltop.com to see which topics are hot and seizing people’s attention.
Search for articles that are relevant to your target market and find the most popular topics by reviewing the number of readers, the number of times they have been shared, and/or the amount of times people have commented. These will indicate which topics are of interest.
2. Do an advanced Twitter Search using keywords (and the #hashtag) relevant to your target market to see what people are talking about.
For instance, here’s a search I’ve done on #business, while selecting “Asking a question? in the Attitudes Advanced search function.
3. Survey your database using SurveyMonkey.com to see what they’d like to know more about. Keep the questions short and easy to respond to. Also, consider giving respondents something in return for helping you out as a ‘thank you’ for their time – a free report that is both relevant and beneficial for them
4. Post a question to your followers on Twitter to find out what is currently causing people frustration.
I have Twitter linked to my Facebook and my Linkedin profiles so when I asked the question: “What do you struggle most with in your business?” I received some great feedback from my followers. Their feedback helped me decide on the key topics for the Biz Building Webinar Series I’m currently running
5. Monitor the interaction and responses you receive for your Twitter posts. The topic that gets retweeted the most or receives the most comments is obviously something of interest to your followers.
One of my tweets read “Stop comparing yourself to your competitors. Measure & look to expand your personal best” which generated comments from my followers. Hence, the following week I created my article ‘Fallen Victim to the Competitor Trap? 5 key components to boost your personal best.’
6.Review the videos on YouTube for your keywords and see which videos are generating multiple views/hits and comments.
When I searched for ‘branding and marketing’ I saw that the top video had received 13,324 views. I watched the videos and read the comments people had written to see whether this was a topic that generated interest and one that I should consider writing about.
In fact, if you want to be creative, develop a video blog post. If you’re shy and don’t want to get in front of the camera you can always create a PowerPoint presentation and convert that into a movie. Here’s a video I created (using PowerPoint) about “Time Management: Gain 5 hours in your week”, which didn’t require me to get in front of the camera.
7. Check out the Questions section of Linkedin in your area of interest.
For instance I could narrow my search to >>Business Development and then >> Sales, or I could type in the words ‘facebook for B2B sales’ in the search bar to narrow my search. LinkedIn then provides me with a list of relevant questions including the number of responses, the date the original question was asked – a great indication to see what has people curiosity and interest.
8.Visit your LinkedIn Groups to monitor discussions. What are group members interested in? What issues are they talking about? Think about how you can tie this in with what you are doing and are able to provide a solution for.
I asked the question “What’s the one biggest issue you’ve been struggling with in your business” and the feedback I received was very useful when developing my Biz Building Webinars and ideas for upcoming blog posts and newsletter articles.
9. Monitor the conversations on your Facebook wall to see what people are asking.
One of my weekly twitter posts (which fed onto my Facebook wall) referred people to an article (written by someone else) on how to generate topics/ideas for your blog posts. Unfortunately the author’s site was compromised which was brought to my attention by a number of my followers.
I immediately deleted this post with a few of my followers expressing their disappointment due to not being able to access the site. As this had prompted interaction and interest I thought I’d better write an article on the topic – hence the creation this article you are now reading.
10. Develop a list of the top ten problems/issues your clients face. That list is a goldmine of ideas and could be developed into ten separate articles/blog posts.
For instance here are a number of problems my clients are faced with:
- identifying and building a strong brand
- marketing and selling their services
- boosting their credibility and reputation as an expert
- using social media effectively to build a solid responsive network
- eliminating barriers so they can build profitable and successful businesses
Each week, I might pick one of those topics and create an article that will help my readers solve that problem. So what problems are your clients facing?
Remember, before you start researching topics of interests for your readers it’s important that you are clear on the general topics you want to write about AND know your target market intimately so that the articles and blog posts you create are interesting and relevant to what they are experiencing.
So, were these helpful? Which strategy will you be using?
Type your comment here… Great post Annemarie. I think we've all faced the blank page and equally blank brain when it comes to writing articles.
Thanks Angela – totally agree. I think one of the most difficult things I have found in the past is coming up with ideas for fresh posts. Once you have an idea you can research and expand on the content – however it’s that initial idea that can sometimes be elusive. Here’s to brainstorming great ideas!
Hi Annemarie, This is a great article with fabulous ideas that I can use for future blog posts. It will now stop me from being stuck looking at my blank white screen 😉
Thanks Deb – great to hear it will get your creative juices flowing. I know that I often scour my social network to see what people are talking about/interested in as a way to get inspiration from my next article.
Thank you for this blog post! Sometimes I do get thin on ideas for my niche blogs and your #1 tip is a great idea.
Looking on content sharing and social bookmarking sites and searching for related content to a specific niche is sure to spark some ideas for me.
Hey Jeff, thanks for stopping by. Getting the creative juices flowing can sometimes be difficult so it’s great you found some of these ideas helpful.
Almost all writers have suffered from lack of topics at one time or another. As a writer you have readers and hence you need to satisfy them with most of the articles you write. Because you are writing for people then the people themselves should give you ideas on what to write on and this is where social media comes in.
Thanks for stopping by Jesse and commenting – much appreciated! Yes, I think the ‘blank page syndrome’ is something all writers can relate to. Thankfully there are ways to get our creative juices flowing again!
Hey Annemarie Cross I really liked your great blog post on 10 ways to easily generate article/blog content. I’ve recently started a website, the information you provide on this website has helped me tremendously. Thanks for all of your time and work.
Excellent post, AnneMarie! Not the typical ‘Top 10 Lists’, ‘3 or 5 or 10 Wayst to…..’ stuff that are rampant on this topic. No nonsense ideas on where to find information based on research into hot topics. Thanks for sharing.
Terri L Maurer
Maurer Consulting Group
Thank you for these great tips Annemarie! I’ve been “stuck” writing a blog and coming up with new ideas – these strategies are going to be a huge help.
You’re welcome Debbie – I’m glad you found them helpful! They certainly have helped me get out of a tight spot, with deadlines looming and no idea what to write about!
Great ideas Annemarie! Another one is writing about client queries and how that was solved or explored. We are told Google likes new content – makes sense as it means fresh info and ideas are being offered all the time!