Running Out of Topics to Blog About? Follow These 5 Simple Steps

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Running Out of Topics to Blog About? Follow These 5 Simple Steps

No matter how good of a writer or marketer you are, eventually you will run out of ideas to blog about. It’s just a matter of time.

It happens to all of us… including me.

What should you do when this happens? Throw in the towel and quit?

Of course, not! Just follow the steps below, and you’ll start generating tons of new ideas and concepts for your blog.

Step #1: Walk Away From the Computer

Sure, you can generate ideas by surfing the web, but some of your best ideas won’t come from the web.

For example, the top 3 most commented blog posts on Quick Sprout are about my personal experiences – lessons I’ve learned over the years.

So, start thinking about all the mistakes you’ve made over the years and what you’ve learned from them. I bet you can actually create a blog post based on these lessons.

Here are a few tips on how to make it work:

  • Don’t focus on success – it’s hard for other people to learn from your successes. On the other hand, when you write about your failures, people can learn from your mistakes and avoid making them.
  • Be detailed – sharing your experiences without the details is useless. Don’t be ashamed of any mistakes you have made – we all make them. Instead, be fully transparent so others can learn.
  • Make it actionable – when I share stories from my past, I like to tell you not only what I’ve learned, but also what you can do to prevent the mistakes I’ve made.

Step #2: Look Under Your Nose

Some of the best ideas are right under your nose. All you have to do is start spying on your competition.

Just take your competitor’s URL, type it into the homepage of Quick Sprout, and then click on the “Social Media” tab at the top of the report.

What’ll you see is a report that looks like this:

Running Out of Topics to Blog About? Follow These 5 Simple Steps

 

The report will list all the pages on your competitor’s site and the number of social shares each page has. You can even sort the list by popularity of each page on all major social media platforms.

This information is useful because it shows you what topics your visitors want to read. You can then take those topic ideas and see if you can come up with variations of them.

For example, I got the idea for this blog post from Copyblogger. They wrote a post that did well. The post was titled 5 Ways to Prevent Business Burnout When Your Inspiration Starts to Flicker.

I then took that title and created a few variations from it:

  • 5 Ways to Prevent Blogging Burnout When Your Inspiration Starts to Flicker
  • Running out of topics to blog about? Here’s what you should do when your inspiration starts to flicker
  • Running out of topics to blog about? Follow these simple steps
  • Running out of topics to blog about? Follow these 5 simple steps

If you use a similar process, you should be able to generate ideas quickly.

Step #3: Surf the Web, Systematically

Just like Google is a search engine you use to find answers to almost anything out there, Buzzsumo is a search engine that helps you come up with ideas to blog about.

All you have to do is type a phrase into Buzzsumo, and it will show you a list of all the blog posts that contain that phrase from around the web. It displays those posts in order of popularity.

Running Out of Topics to Blog About? Follow These 5 Simple Steps

 

Now, you can go to Step #2 and spin the titles Buzzsumo shows you.

When picking articles from Buzzsumo, keep a few things in mind:

  • Don’t pick very recent ideas – unless you spin the title a lot, don’t copy the titles published only a month or two ago.
  • Search for similar topics – the best way to come up with content marketing ideas, for example, is to search beyond the phrase “content marketing.” Also search for: seo, social media, and other related phrases. Keep this in mind when searching for phrases related to your industry.
  • Sort by social channel – Buzzsumo allows you to sort the results by total shares or by a particular channel. Sort by the social channel where most of your readers are hanging out.

Step #4: Outline Before You Write

Just because you have a topic or an idea to blog about doesn’t mean you’ll be able to create a blog post around it. Sometimes, you just don’t have enough information to make a great blog post out of an idea…

For this reason, you shouldn’t start writing your post until you create an outline. Here’s how I structure my outlines:

  • Start with a title – once you have your title, it’s much easier to write a blog post. Just follow steps 1 through 3 to come up with a title.
  • Introduction – write an introduction, 2-3 paragraphs, that explains what you will discuss in the post. You should pose a question within the introduction to hook your readers.
  • Body – list the main points you want to discuss. Make sure there are enough points, or else you’ll have a short post.
  • Conclusion – summarize what your readers should have learned from your post. This way, if they skim your post, they can get the gist of it from the conclusion.

Assuming your outline looks good, you can now turn your idea into a solid blog post. If your outline is a bit skimpy, you either need to expand it or dump it and move onto the next topic.

Step #5: Ask and Engage

My favorite way to come up with blog post ideas is to listen to you. Every time I write a blog post, I ask a question at the end.

Doing this encourages you to leave a comment, and in many cases, those comments suggest ideas. Even when you don’t suggest an idea through a comment, you ask questions that could be expanded into blog posts.

For example, someone left a comment the other day, asking what a newbie should do to get started in conversation optimization. That question spurred the creation of this blog post.

And if that strategy doesn’t work for you because you don’t have enough comments on your blog, you can use Qualaroo to ask your visitors what you should write about.

Running Out of Topics to Blog About? Follow These 5 Simple Steps

 

You’ll see what the most common topics your visitors want you to blog about are. And if enough people want you to blog about a particular topic, you know there is enough demand for you to start writing about it.

Conclusion

If you follow the 5 steps above, you’ll never run out of ideas to blog about. Your own web research and your visitors’ feedback will keep giving you fresh topics.

Blogging isn’t rocket science, and there is no reason for you to ever have to deal with writer’s block. I follow the steps above, and I can say it works well. Just look at this blog post. I created it by using steps 2, 4, and 5.

So, what do you do when you have writer’s block? How do you consistently come up with new ideas to blog about?

 

This post originally appeared on Quicksprout, and is re-published with permission.

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.
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  • http://www.scottseo.co.uk Scott

    Great post Neil – on writing content, I tend to use a step by step route I made which is…

    1. what do I want the user to do, benefit from the page, what action to take

    2. with the above in mind, list all the reasons to use the product / service and why not use any competitors, then list in order of importance

    3. write the content hitting those points in order with call to actions throughout

    4. then for me, as I’m not the best writer I then give to a proper writer to clean up and improve ūüėČ

  • http://thedailyexposition.com Scott Hartley

    I also recommend stepping outside of your niche and explore. Instead of focusing on that one topic that you have beaten into the ground so many times find a topic that is closely related, but is still different. This can open up hundreds of new ideas or branches to your keyword tree.

    • http://www.polkthree.com Chad Polk

      Scott – good point. Often times we look at other verticals in search of different ways of doing things, but often times come across new ideas on what to write about. We get so locked into our routine or industry that we need to come up and look around from time-to-time.

  • https://expresswriters.com Julia McCoy

    These are so real some of them made me laugh out loud. Walk away from the computer – true advice when the mind really gets stumped! I’ve had to do that a couple times. Looking at what’s directly in front of you and constantly surfing the web are excellent ideas. Going a step further, I use different tools, specifically for content curation (like Quora, Scoop.it) to see what ideas are out there in my niche (i.e., copywriting).

  • http://webmade.com Nico Lauria

    Thanks for sharing Neil! I agree that sometimes personal experiences offer the most value when it comes to content.

  • http://krimwajahyangaman.com/ soezzie

    I agree, we should walk away from the computer first to get some fresh air

  • http://www.tractleads.com Caitlin Vandewater

    Walking away from my computer is the most helpful–and hardest thing to do. It does usually help spark some new ideas.

    Taking a look at what others are doing is very useful as well, and I’ve found that it helps me to find topics that can be infused with each other, which creates unique content that still falls under the umbrella of what others are writing about, and what visitors want to read about.

  • http://www.agencyanalytics.com Michael

    I have been using Buzz Sumo for quite awhile. It is a goldmine for creating new ideas and getting a sense of what it trending. It also shows what social network it did well on.

    I also agree that I think of my best blog topics when I am away from the computer.