If you’ve spent much time stumbling onto popular blogs—or better yet, if you’ve ever maintained one yourself—you know that most blogs suffer from the same problem. Though formed with the best of intentions, in almost all cases, their momentum rapidly sputters and stalls.
In fact, according to the New York Times, about 95% of blogs have been abandoned (read: haven’t been updated in at least 120 days). From your best bud’s woodworking diary to corporate blogs that never found a consistent readership, the Internet is a veritable graveyard of blogs that never made it past post number two.
So why is that the vast majority of blogs lie dormant and orphaned, like so many Furbies and Giga Pets? In fact, there are a few reasons. In some cases, the idea has simply run its course—maybe you started a blog for your trip to France, and it became irrelevant the day your trip ended.
But more often than not, blogs die out because of poor organization and planning. True, your blog needs to have a mission—but even that isn’t enough.
In order to maintain a successful blog in the long term, you’ll need to generate a LOT of compelling topics—potential posts (or series of posts) that you’re excited to write about.
Ideally, you should start with enough topics to keep your blog moving forward for several months, even when you feel like you’re running out of steam. After all, the practice of blogging is still alive and well—and it’s a crucial component of how both individuals and businesses brand themselves and gain a loyal following.
In fact, maintaining a regular blog is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your web site and build your business’s brand. A well-maintained, well-written blog achieves a wide range of marketing objectives, from positioning you (or your business) as experts, to boosting SEO, to filling your pipeline with qualified leads. Who knows—you might even have a post go viral!
At MarketSmiths, we offer blogging services. We ghostwrite blogs for numerous clients, but we also know that many people prefer to write their own blogs—if nothing else, it’s a fun hobby that helps you to connect more directly with your online following.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of tips for developing A+ blog topics that can accomplish all of your objectives at once—and hopefully keep your blog from biting the dust.
1. Do your research.
As a blogger, you should always remember that Google is your friend and ally. The best place to begin your online research is with other, similar blogs and relevant sites that cover your subject, topic, or industry.
There’s no need to abuse the search engine as a tool—simply think of it as a jumping-off point. The idea isn’t to steal topics from other writers, but to keep your finger on the pulse by gauging what’s fresh, interesting, and exciting to others in your particular space.
2. Keep a running list of all of your topic ideas, good and bad.
Topic generation is essentially brainstorming. Whether it’s a document or a flow chart, you should maintain a running list—ideally online—of all of your topic ideas. Here’s the key: Don’t remove anything, even if it’s not your best idea. Cross out the ideas you’ve used, but keep them on the list, too.
The first reason to do this is so that you don’t accidentally write the same blog post twice. (That might seem silly, but I’ve done it—when you write the same blog 8x/month for two years, these things happen.)
Of course, when you submit topics to your client, you’ll separate the shimmering wheat from the ugly stepchildren. So why keep the bad apples? That brings us to the second reason…
3. You can easily develop new topics from old ones.
There are a million ways to re-fashion an old topic idea into a fresh, exciting concept that will drive readership. You’ll likely learn some strategies of your own, but here are just a few to get you started:
- Try to narrow or broaden the topic’s scope or audience. Example: Turn “How to Cook Healthier Foods” could become “5 Foolproof Ways to Cook Healthy Foods this Weekend.”
- Change up the timeframe. Try a seasonal option, or a weekly, monthly, or yearly roundup. Example: Try “5 Foolproof Ways to Cook a Healthy Meal This Thanksgiving” or “Our 10 Favorite Healthy Recipes from 2016.”
- Flip the idea around—try a slightly different angle, or an opposite version of a topic. Example: “5 Ways to Improve Chronic Pain” becomes “5 Causes of Chronic Pain” or “5 Mistakes Not to Make If You Have Chronic Pain.”
- Change the format. At MarketSmiths, we especially love FAQs, lists, DIY instructions, announcements, news bulletins, and reviews.
4. Try on the reader’s shoes.
When you’re brainstorming topics, try to imagine your blog from the perspective of your ideal reader. What are they struggling with? What are they curious about? What might you Google in their shoes?
If your blog centers on one of your personal passions, then you should already know the answers to these questions. If you’re ghostwriting for a client, don’t fret. Remember that the reader, customer, or client is probably a lot like you.
As you browse relevant sites, blogs, and news sources, consider what sticks out. What specific topics or posts leave you perplexed, incensed, or hungry for more? From there, you can write the blog post that everyone’s dying to read—but which no one else has written yet.
Blogging is a great way to build your online brand, and it isn’t going anywhere soon. The best blogs will get you noticed and sell your business for you—but in reality, most blogs never take off.
However, if you begin your blog with a list of topics that engage and enthrall both you and your readers, you’ll vastly improve your chances of joining the 5% that makes it out of the gate.
Want to develop a bulletproof blogging strategy but don’t know where to begin? We can help! MarketSmiths offers a unique blogging course that helps business owners with small teams transform their blog into an effective traffic generation tool.
Contact us about our 3-session DIY blogging course today.