It’s easy to be stumped about what to post next, not to mention what to blog about on a regular basis. More than simply coming up with a topic, any topic, you need to figure out what will interest, engage and even compel your potential customers.
Here are six methods for figuring out what will please your audience:
1) Keyword Tools
Find out what terms related to your business are driving the most searches, using one of many free or paid keyword tools. Not only are you likely to uncover tons of topical ideas, but also you’ll improve your post’s chances of being found through search.
Start exploring the most popular relevant search terms (post topics!) for free with:
- Good Keywords apps for Windows
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner
- Bing Ads Intelligence
- Wordpot – free for 25 searches per day
2) Reader Recon
Really listen to your customers to find out what they like to see, read and share. Interact with them on your blog, and investigate what they’re up to when they navigate away from it. Find and follow some of your best customers on social media to see what they post and what interests them most.
Here are a few ways to become more in touch with your audience:
- Reply to comments – Respond to questions and comments left on your blog, indirectly vetting visitors’ interests or directly asking what they’d like you to write.
- Check out your readers’ blogs – See what they write about. Contribute to conversations there, winning over new audiences.
- Cruise your readers’ social media profiles – As with their blogs, checkout their social presence if public. Friend, follow and interact with them if you can. See who they like, follow, etc., then check out those people and companies too.
- Tune in to your site’s search – Track which visitors are typing into your blog’s search function. If you don’t already have search, add Google Custom Search Engine.
3) Competition Monitoring
Check in on your competition to see what they’re up to. It may give you ideas for topics to pursue. See what they’re posting on their blog, as well as on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Sign up for their newsletters.
If you don’t already know what businesses you’re up against, start by conducting a simple search for your type of business and see who pops up. It’s important to review your competitors. Also check out the social profiles of people in your audience to see what companies they’re “liking” or “following”. Visit their blogs to see what companies are in their posts or on their blog rolls.
4) Your People
Ask your employees for insights about your customers and what might interest them. Talk to your people in sales, customer service or any other public-facing role. They’re on the front line, so will know a thing or two about customer pain points, frequently asked questions, common topics of conversation and such.
Also ask them and others in your business about what they personally would like to read in the blog. Your business is their specialty, so they’re likely to have valuable ideas and opinions on related blog subjects to cover.
5) News & Trend Research
Generate endless, timely and popular post ideas by tracking your industry’s latest in relevant media and social venues. Subscribe to or follow paper periodicals, e-zines, blogs, forums and businesses’ social accounts. Take note of social shares and likes to help you identify what’s hot.
Here are some good tools to help you with blog ideas:
- News aggregators – LinkedIn Today is great for finding news related to your industry.
- Google Trends – Explore what’s getting attention on the Internet. Also search industry-related terms to see what people are searching for.
- Social network-specific search – Conduct targeted searches in Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Note activity, such as repins, comments and retweets. Check out Twitter Trends.
- Social meta-search – Search a variety of social media at once with Topsy, SocialMention, Talkerwalker Alerts or Who’s Talkin?
- Group and forum search – Look for mentions of your specialties and competitors in forums and other groups, using Google blog search and Omgili.
TIP – Stay on top of seasonal subjects and special events!
6) Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is great for brainstorming up new blog topics or extending on existing posts. Use it to unearth ideas you didn’t know you had, further develop ideas and organize thoughts in a useful way. Not familiar with mind mapping? See how to do it here.
A number of good online mind mapping tools are out there, like:
- Coggle, Mindmaps and FreeMind – Free
- XMind and MindMeister – Low Cost
- MindNode – Low cost, Mac/iOS
- Mindjet – Higher cost, good looking
Or you can just use paper and pencil (even colors and pictures) go ahead and get creative.
Having trouble starting your mind map?
Place the name of your business at the center, then work outward on various thought tangents. Don’t edit yourself, overthink, over analyze or critique. Let your thoughts go on an unbridled free-for-all. You can go back and develop the best ideas later.
Are there any other methods you’ve used to come up with post topics that really resonated with your audience? We’d love to hear about them. In the meantime, we hope these ideas help you create the kinds of posts that turn blog visitors into fans.