The toughest thing about blogging? For many of us, it’s coming up with worthwhile blog ideas. Once you have the right topic, it’s all downhill from there. (At least, that’s how it usually goes for me.)
But, yeah, it’s the ideas that can be a killer. A good starting point is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What questions do they have? What problems are they struggling with? What issues do they care about? Keeping questions like these in mind — and thinking about ways in which you can help your readers — should spark some decent ideas.
Without further ado, here are our top 10 tips.
1. Give helpful advice.
Chances are, you’ve been doing whatever it is you do for a while. Share your wisdom with the masses. Stuff that may be second nature to you might in fact be enlightening to someone who lacks your expertise.
Over the years, for example, we’ve given advice on things like branding (Find Your Brand in Eight Questions), product naming (Honey, Can You Grab Me a Refreshing Ice-Cold Bottle of Death?) and white paper writing (Writing White Papers: Here Are the Basics).
2. Share useful tips.
This is just a variation on the above “advice” theme. The only difference: You’re presenting your advice in bite-sized “tips” form. Because everyone loves tips!
Two things: 1) Try to keep the tips practical (i.e. things that people can/will actually do) and not overly obvious. 2) Shoot for five to 10 tips — if you have more, do a second article on the topic.
3. Consider keywords.
Be strategic. Figure out which keywords people are using to find companies like yours. Then pick a keyword (preferable a long-tail keyword) and build an article around it. Be sure to include the keyword in the title, meta description, body copy (multiple times there), etc. A good approach for driving a little traffic your way.
For inspiration: How to Choose a Copywriter: Five Key Considerations
4. Tell a story.
All of us have stories to tell, right? It’s just a matter of picking compelling ones for your blog.
If you put your mind to it, you can come up with relevant anecdotes from your life. For example: why you got into your field … why you started your business … your biggest failure and what you learned from it … an inspiring figure in your life … something interesting that happened to you recently (business-related or not).
And you don’t have to write a 2,000-word opus, either. Keep it short, keep it light, state your conclusion and call it a day.
For inspiration: A Reminder of the Awesome Power of the Deadline
5. Talk about your work.
The case study has its place in your marketing arsenal, but the blog isn’t always the best spot for it. For your blog, you might be better served summarizing a client success story in a shorter, breezier fashion.
For example, Anna once wrote about her experience “Sexing Up Wheat Germ.” The article alludes to the client’s challenge and The Hired Pens’ solution, but doesn’t follow the standard case study structure. Rather, it covers all the essentials in a casual, entertaining way. It’s a lot more fun to read than the typical case study.
Also for inspiration: Feel Free to Ask Us How to Achieve and Maintain Healthy, Beautiful Skin
6. Go on a rant.
In his pre-“Tonight Show” days, Jay Leno was a frequent guest on “Late Night with David Letterman.” At some point during Jay’s visit, Dave would always ask, “So, Jay, what’s your beef?” And Jay was always ready with an extended riff on what was bugging him that day.
So, what’s your beef? We all have something we want to get off our chest, whether it’s an ad campaign that’s driving us nuts, a celebrity behaving obnoxiously or … well, the possibilities are endless. Let the world know what’s bothering you.
7. Do an interview.
Q&As are fun to read — and pretty easy to do. Think about all the interesting people you’ve come across in your professional life. There’s the seasoned veteran who’s seen it all during his decades in the field. The middle-aged mom or dad who somehow balances running a company with raising three kids. The 20-year-old who’s developing an app and dropped out of college to see if he can build a business around it.
Once you’ve identified a good interview subject, take the time to write five to 10 really good questions. Get your answers over email or a quick phone call, cut out the boring stuff and voilà: You’ve got yourself a nice little blog post.
For inspiration: Talking with a Talented Web Guy About the Value of Copy
8. Look to others for ideas.
What are the most frequent inquiries you get from prospects and clients? For instance, we’re often asked how we price projects, so I decided to write an article about it.
You can also solicit suggestions via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, your blog, etc. Ask followers and friends what challenges they’re facing these days, what new tools they’re using, what topics they want to learn more about, etc.
9. Give a client a shout-out.
You care about your clients and the success of their businesses. So when they’ve got something going on — a new round of funding, a new product launch, a mention in the media — tell your blog readers about it.
For inspiration: Support the Ortus Regni Kickstarter Campaign!
10. Comment on something timely.
What’s going on in your industry? Give your expert perspective on that trend or piece of news that everyone’s talking about. Or, did you recently attend a conference or other event? Put those notes you took to good use by sharing your key takeaways. Chances are, a few readers out there will appreciate it.
For inspiration: Inbound Marketing Madness: Highlights from HubSpot’s Inbound 2014
11. Bonus tip: Make yourself laugh.
Because there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun on your blog.
For inspiration: At The Hired Pens, People Are Our Fourth-Most Valuable Asset; An Ethical Dilemma in Copywriting, Sung to the Tune of ‘The Gambler’; Rather Than Getting Your Freak on, May I Suggest Getting Your Gruel On?
Have any tips to add to our list? Chime in below.