According to Contently, 41% of inbound marketers struggle with the task of content creation. One of the biggest reasons for this is because they don’t know what to write about.
No matter what your niche or industry may be, there are content topics that will make a lasting impact on your readers and customers. These ideas give you an edge over your competition and leave them wondering what content marketing hacks you’re using to attract clients and retain them.
The stakes are high. Low-quality content is the major reason for getting a search engine penalty and a decrease in search rankings.
Conversely, when your blog content is highly useful, you’ll enjoy all the benefits – accolades, links, traffic, brand improvement, and an increased conversion rate. You’ll also become an authoritative voice (or influencer) in your industry.
So if you’re ready to build a successful blog and make a living writing about what you’re passionate about, here are five strategies you can use to steal ideas for your next blog post.
You can use this worksheet to come up with loads of ideas for your next blog post.
Strategy #1: Understanding Blog Writing
A well-researched and properly structured blog post can do wonders for your online business. I wouldn’t be where I am today without content marketing.
I poured my energy into making sure that my readers always take something significant and valuable away from each blog post that I write.
Random musings on various topics will not grow your blog. You need a solid framework and a good content strategy to guide your efforts.
Since 2007, it’s been upward and forward for me. Of course, there have been challenges, but once you put your customers first, and understand that without making an impact in their lives, you’ll soon be out of business, you can meet those challenges successfully.
Blogging isn’t supposed to be full of hype or gimmicks. This is one of the reasons why most internet marketers who create scammy push-button software never succeed at blogging.
When you’re creating content for your business, your focus should be to educate and nurture a loyal audience.
This is how successful bloggers such as Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Darren Rowse, Marie Forleo, Danny Iny and so on become influential. They were ordinary people (and still are) just like you, but they learned how blogging works.
If your blog content is useful and solves a specific problem for your users, they’ll share it willingly. As a result, Google will index more of your content pages and send more targeted search visitors to your site. The result will be more leads and customers.
Note: You always have to measure results. That’s the only way to make smarter decisions that will grow your blog audience.
Forget about vanity metrics like page views and search visitors.
Those things don’t matter if those users are not joining your email list, buying your products, or sharing your content. Those are actionable metrics that you have to measure consistently and over time.
Strategy #2: Get Ideas From Competitors
Why not spy on your competitors and learn from them? Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to stand on the shoulders of someone who is ahead of you in the game.
That’s exactly how Navid Moazzez grew his personal branding blog into a successful community. He started connecting, learning, auditing, and questioning authority marketers who were his competitors. You can read his 2015 review here.
As a smart content marketer, you should stop perceiving other blogs and bloggers as your competition. Even though they may be up against you, you should befriend them instead.
That’s how I grew this blog to 80,000 monthly visitors, and that number is growing.
When you’re conducting a competitive analysis, focus on the social activities of your competitors, too. That way, you can easily map out strategies to complement and outsmart them.
Strategy #3: Extract Ideas from Non-Internet Marketing Publications
Despite the decline of print journalism, the newspaper and magazine industry still enjoys great loyalty from readers. According to Statistica, on average, people in the U.S. spend 21.7 minutes each day reading newspapers. And on an annual basis, U.S. consumers spend $44.41 on newspapers.
If you’re in the internet marketing industry, you may struggle to always get viable and unique content ideas. I quite understand how that feels. In fact, this used to one of my biggest challenges.
But the good news is that you can make your mark and become a trusted authority if you can think outside the proverbial box. New ideas can make an awesome blog post topic. That’s how I’ve been able to boost my search traffic by 6.9%.
Offline and online newspaper circulation is actually increasing. For example, State Of The Media found that in September 2012 The New York Times’ total circulation went up by 40% – the result of more than 600,000 digital subscriptions.
1). Check for recent publications: Some of these magazines publish quarterly, while others publish monthly. Check for recent publications, because the world is constantly changing and you only want recent and current information.
I’m sure you prefer to read blogs that are regularly updated with useful content, rather than blogs that are dormant. And you may have noticed that publishing content regularly means that your search traffic increases as well.
The same is true of publications. Issuu, a digital publishing platform, contains current issues of hundreds of magazines and online publications.
Fresh content that’s based on current trends and new developments will always get you initial traction online. If you’re smart, you can later repurpose the content to attract offline users.
2). Study their magazine cover headlines: Once you’ve identified the recent publications, it’s time to study their headlines. Here’s what David Ogilvy said about headlines:
Most of my headlines have garnered over 1000 comments and social shares. Take a look at this one:
The headline is critical to the success of your copy, blog posts, and information products such as ebooks, ecourse, software and so on. Motion Media increased search traffic by 157%, in part by focusing on writing powerful and clickable headlines.
According to copywriter Ted Nicholas 73% of all consumer purchasing decisions are made at the point of the headline. If you can write a great headline that persuades people to click, you’ll ultimately increase your conversion rate.
Effective search engine optimization also begins at the headline, after you have researched long-tail keywords, assuming you want to quickly get organic traffic.
By studying magazine covers, you can generate lots of headline ideas, topic ideas, and even models for style and structure for your blog posts. So, let’s study some magazine covers:
Step #1: Go to Issuu.com. Click on one of the magazine covers and study it.
Step #2: Study the headline. Look at the structure, then model it to create a better headline for your blog.
The two powerful headlines on the cover above are:
- Power Up Your Linux Skills: The Kernel ~ Networks ~ Servers ~ Hardware
- 180 Pages of Tutorials: Master New Skills You Can Apply to Any Project
Now let’s create some unique blog post headlines from the ones above. Let’s assume that you’re a search engine expert, and your target audience consists of small business owners, Fortune 500 companies, and professionals. You could use these headlines:
Magazine headline: Power Up Your Linux Skills: The Kernel ~ Networks ~ Servers ~ Hardware
Fresh blog post headlines:
- How To Power Up Your Search Engine Traffic By 113%
- Six Steps to Power Up Your Web Design for Search Users
- 25 Ways to Power Up Your Organic Click-Through Rate Faster
Initial headline: 180 Pages Of Tutorials: Master New Skills You Can Apply to Any Project
Unique and clickable headlines:
- 59 Conversion Rate Optimization Tools You Have Neglected
- 30 Pages of Long-Tail Search Tutorials to Drive More Traffic
- 12 Pages of SEO Tutorials to Help You Master New Skills
Alternatively, you can also check the magazine covers at Magazines.com for well-crafted headlines, especially Reader’s Digest Magazine.
Using the magazine cover above as inspiration, here are a few great blog post ideas:
Original headline: The Most Heroic Dogs in America
- The Most Powerful Social Media Strategy in 2015
- The Most Influential Content Marketers on the Web
Original headline: I Owe It All to Community College
- I Owe My Blogging Success to These 3 Simple Secrets
- I Owe My SEO Success to These Keyword Research Techniques
Original headline: 13 Things Gyms Won’t Tell You
- 13 Things Content Marketing Experts Won’t Tell You
- 13 Things Search Engine Optimization Experts Won’t Tell You
Original headline: A Day in the Life of Your Feet
- A Day in the Life of a Blogger Who Wants More Search Traffic
- A Day in the Life of a Struggling Small Business Owner
3). Flip through the pages to get ideas: If you’re not satisfied with the ideas on the magazine cover, don’t give up.
Simply flip through the magazine by clicking the right arrow icon and explore the publication. Keep flipping until you get some workable ideas.
While flipping through an Android SmartWatch publication, I stumbled on this:
No matter what your topic is, the idea above can help you craft a better headline for your blog post. Let’s do it:
Getting Started: Control Your Life With Voice Commands
- How to Take Control of Your Blog Visitors With Social Media Tools
- Getting Started: Control How Much Your Blog Earns With My Fail-Proof Secret
4). Reverse-engineer topics to suit your audience: Make sure to align off topics to suit your readers, because 99% of the specific topics that you’ll get from non-internet marketing publications will definitely not be suitable for your audience.
You may have noticed that the headlines from the magazine covers were templates for me. This is how I create most of the headlines for my blog posts – it definitely works.
You can also use analogy to create powerful headlines. For instance, I just created one at QuickSprout, where I leveraged Instagram celebrities. Take a look:
John’s Waste and Recycling significantly increased their search traffic by conducting keyword analysis, incorporating social media, and creating awesome content.
Content that’s full of anecdotes, guides, and analogies increased their lead generation rate, because the content appealed to their target audience. Take a look at their growth rate:
Another site that uses analogy in their blog posts is Montreal Blog. Virtually all of their popular blog posts include analogy.
And finally, Golf understands the power of using comparisons in their blog posts. Take a close look at this:
Strategy #4: Niche-Specific Kindle Books
Kindle books are a huge source of ideas for bloggers.
And make no mistake: the competition is getting even stiffer in mainstream niches.
A whopping 6.7 million people write and publish new blogs on blogging platforms and another 12 million people actively publish new blogs using social media networks. By 2013, it’s projected that 128 million Americans will read blogs, and that figure just keeps increasing.
It doesn’t matter what your industry is – there are a lot of other people who want a slice of the profit, too. But you can still make a huge impact in a smaller niche. There is so much profit to make from small niches.
Whether you’re a professional golfer, a personal trainer, a public speaker, or a CPA, you can and should use smart marketing to scale the hurdle. This is why targeting a smaller sub-market is important.
More people now read ebooks with their ebook readers. A recent survey by Scriptorium was sent to 78 respondents and showed that 48.2% of them prefer to read Kindle ebooks.
Before you can successfully get ideas from Kindle books, you have to “niche down” and understand what Kindle books are made of, in terms of the research that goes into producing a bestseller.
1). Understand Kindle books: Steve J. Scott is an expert Kindle publisher. He’s published over 20 books, which include Bad Habits No More, Level Up Your Day, Daily Inbox Zero, and How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 21 Days.
Each of these books took lots of time to brainstorm, research, write, and format. What readers are familiar with is how useful the content is, and not the effort that went into making it a reality.
But if you can find a Kindle book written by the same expert, you can tap into their vast knowledge base to help you write more powerful blog posts.
You may well stumble upon some insanely useful ideas that will blow your readers’ minds, because you’re standing on the shoulders of a successful and reputable marketer who is passionate about the niche.
Do bear in mind that not all Kindle books are well-researched. I’ve come across Kindle authors who are busy traveling the world, but they still generate passive income from their Kindle books. It begs the question of how they managed to write over 50 books … and the answer is “outsourcing.”
Sure, outsourcing your writing could work for you. But don’t outsource all of it, especially when you want to share personal case studies or stories. Social media outsourcing is on the rise as well, because of the time it saves business owners.
As a result, you should only use Kindle books from authors who you trust and hold in high esteem. If their blogs or advice have helped you in your business or your life in any special way, their Kindle books are worth checking out.
Look for Kindle books in the $2.99 – $9.99 range. I’ve found that ebooks that are more expensive tend to contain better researched content. And customers are not bothered by price, because 60% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience.
2). Preview Kindle books: The easiest way to steal (get) ideas for your next blog post from Kindle books is to preview the first few pages, as well as its table of contents. Of course, if the book is truly helpful, you should simply buy it and read it, but you don’t always have to just to use it for blog post inspiration.scarce resource. So before you buy and commit to reading it through, just preview it.
Here are the steps to extracting blog post ideas from a Kindle book:
Step one: Visit Amazon.com. In the search box, type your main topic, remembering to keep your niche narrow. Instead of typing “internet marketing” into the box, focus on the topic that you want to write about – e.g., email marketing.
Step two: Select one of the books. Just click on it, and you’ll be taken to the book’s product page.
Step three: Preview the book. Simply click the image to preview the table of contents and the first 3 – 5 pages.
Step four: Extract blog post ideas. Flip through the preview pages and table of contents for viable ideas that would make a great blog post.
Here are ideas from the table of contents:
Note: You’re not allowed to outright copy what someone else created. That’s plagiarism and copyright infringement, and could get you into serious trouble. But you can learn from the headlines and make yours unique, better, and more clickable.
Killer headlines with numbers generate more clicks and more engagement for content marketers, especially when you use storytelling to share a case study or experiment.
Let’s create some headline ideas from the table of contents:
The Currency of Modern Marketing
- The Currency of Blogging to Attract Leads is Long-Tail Keywords
- The Currency of Social Media Marketing That You Didn’t Know
The Rule That Separates Legitimate Marketers From Spammers
- The Rule That Separates 6 Figure Internet Marketers from 5 Figure Earners
- The Rule That Separates Authority Content Marketers From Strugglers
You may not have all the time in the world to carry out the research yourself, but you can leverage what other people have done.
The first strategy you should consider is using infographics. Infographics, which have been a major source for driving search and social media traffic to KISSmetrics and QuickSprout, usually contain a lot of marketing statistics.
For example, the section of the infographic below contains viable marketing statistics that you can leverage to create a data-driven blog post and position yourself as an authoritative voice in your industry.
The marketing statistics above read:
Contextual Link Has 5 – 10x More Ranking Power Than the Author Bio Link
Now let’s craft a few headlines that have the above data in them:
- 5 Effective Ways to Increase Search Rankings by 10% With Contextual Links
- Contextual Linking Strategy: How to Boost Search Rankings by 7% in 30 Days
- 30 Experts Share Their Contextual Linking Strategy [Get a 6% Search Ranking Boost]
- How You Can Increase Search Traffic by 9% in 42 Days
Let’s get some more blog post ideas from AdWeek’s infographic below:
From the infographic above, you can extract the data/statistics below:
52x Average Increase in Reach When Social Posts are Syndicated by Your Channel Partners
Let’s leverage the above statistics to create some social media headlines that would make for great blog posts:
- How to Increase Your Social Media Reach by 52%
- Case Study: How I Reach 52x More Customers on Social Media Networks
- 10 Smart Ways to Reach 52x More of Your Social Media Audience Easily
Beyond extracting marketing data from infographics, you should also check out marketing blogs that frequently mail out survey questionnaires to their users and conduct studies or experiments. An example is HubSpot’s marketing statistics page:
You may want to check out Yahoo Small Business Marketing Statistics, too:
You can share results, conversion rates, and experiences that other people generated from a particular marketing campaign. For example, Rand Fishkin of Moz generated a 170% increase in sales by using the services of Conversion Rate Experts.
Don’t just skim the above statistics – leverage them to create a data-driven blog post headline and content for your users. Carefully read the case study to identify the challenge, the goal, the implemented strategies, and the results.
Share everything and link to the main case study. Your readers will love this type of post, because it’s relatable and contains actionable ideas they can put to work instantly. ACTion changes things.
Let’s extract some blog post ideas from Rand Fishkin’s results of “170% increase in sales.”
- How to Increase Your Sales By 170% Through Competitor Analysis
- Step-by-Step Guide to Increase Sales By 170% in 3 Months
- The Beginner’s Guide to Increasing Online Sales by 170%
Strategy #5: Mainstream Platforms
I’m sure that by now, your head is swimming in ideas for your next blog post. Well, there is one more strategy to consider – mainstream platforms.
You have to frequent platforms that share articles and news items, where community activity is going on. You also have to consider social media platforms, especially Facebook, the #1 source of social media traffic.
We’ll be taking a deep dive into active blogs. They can give you lots of different viable ideas for your blog posts.
Remember that if you don’t have enough time to read other blogs and social media networks in order to generate blog post ideas, you can always outsource the task. The majority of your fellow marketers are doing it.
1). Industry and influencer blogs: Why do you ever need to struggle to find great ideas for your blog, when industry and influencer blogs have everything you need? According to Nichevertising, 52% of top influencers run more than one blog. This means that you should never worry about what to write.
Before I show you how to extract ideas from industry blogs, let’s clarify what we mean by “influencer.”
The above definition gives us an idea, but it doesn’t cover everything about an “influencer.” An influencer commands attention. They’re usually very popular in their industry and whatever they write about becomes a popular marketing best practice.
According to Lee Odden of TopRankBlog, “an influencer creates popularity.” An influencer can think of something or carry out an experiment and before you know it, that idea becomes a popular keyword. An example is the “content upgrade” by Brian Dean. See how many searches this term now has:
Remember that industry and influencer blogs have social media power as well. They generate thousands of social shares for every piece of content they publish.
If you’re not sure who the influencers are in your niche, use Buzzsumo.
In the search box, plug in your main keyword (e.g., list building). Click the “Go” button:
Below are the industry and authority blogs on list building that you can learn from:
So when you’re looking for great ideas for your next blog post writing, you can check out the industry blogs with the most shared content, such as:
- Search Engine Journal
- Content Marketing Institute
- Convince and Convert
And so on
2). Getting blog writing ideas from industry blogs: Having identified the influencer blogs that are updated regularly with useful and well-researched content, it’s time to explore the blogs.
Here’s a typical example: When you visit Copyblogger and click on any of their recent blog post or podcast, look at the sidebar and you’ll find archived posts. Like this:
Great and magnetic headlines abound at the sidebar above. Don’t reinvent the wheel by trying to create an exceptional blog post headline from scratch. I learned many SEO copywriting skills from Brian Clark (founder) and other contributors.
Some of the headlines mentioned in the sidebar are:
- A Brief Guide to Fixing Your Old, Neglected, and Broken Content
- How to Create a Deep Connection with Your Prospects and Customers
- 7 Steps That Will Hook Your Audience Through the Magnetic Force of Fascination
- Do Lower Prices Lead to More Sales?
Here are some of the headlines I just created off the ones above, without copying them outright:
- A Brief Guide to Fixing Your Email Opt-in Box and Getting More Subscribers
- How to Create a Deep Connection With New and Repeat Blog Readers
- 7 Steps That Will Hook Your Customers as They Read Your Copy
- Does High Bounce Rate Lead to Low Click-Through Rate?
What about Moz’s recent blog posts? How can you take one of their headlines and craft a more clickable one without stepping on anyone’s toes?
The catchy blog post headlines above, along with some uniquely-crafted ones, are right below:
- The Nifty Guide to Local Content Strategy and Marketing
- Google Told Me I’m Pregnant: From Strings to Diagnosis
Note: One technique for crafting your own headlines from model headlines is to substitute synonyms for specific words.
- The Agile Guide to Local Email Marketing Strategy
- The Effective Guide to Local Content Strategy for Marketers
- Amazon Told Me I’m Pregnant: From Being an Affiliate to Being a 5 Figure Kindle Publisher
When it comes to social media and connecting with influential entrepreneurs, LinkedIn is the best place to go. LinkedIn has lots of members who are active business entrepreneurs.
I found that LinkedIn members are emotionally driven, considering that many of them are business owners and professionals. And the platform is producing great results for lead generation and acquiring clients. For example, Josh Turner got a 447% ROI by leveraging LinkedIn.
3). Subscribe to insider email lists: Many A-list bloggers, apart from sending their latest blog posts, also send great tips to help you drive traffic, as well as private case studies they will never share on their blog. You can get lots of great ideas to grow your blog by subscribing to their email lists.
I’ve been on Derek Halpern’s email list for some time, and it’s been a great resource. He just redesigned his homepage to make room for you, if you want to join and learn how to turn cold traffic into customers.
Depending on your industry, you’ll always find authority bloggers who know their stuff. You should definitely subscribe to their lists. Ideally, create a new Gmail account, and use that email address solely for this purpose to avoid getting your official or primary email choked up with marketing newsletters.
Of course, there are also topic-specific email lists that you can join. For example, if you’re interested in creating digital products that sell, subscribing to David Siteman’s list via his blog, “The Rise To The Top” may help you learn the pros and cons of digital product marketing.
Or if you want to increase your search traffic and stay up to date with recent happenings in the SEO world, my own email list or Moz will do.
If you want to learn about conversion rate optimization, and how to conduct A/B split testing starting from the scratch, authority sites such as ConversionXL, Conversion Scientist, and Optimizely will come in handy.
If you want to learn about customers, and how to create a great experience for them, Help Scout and Shopify are your best bets.
And last but not least, if you want to learn about affiliate marketing or create awesome content based on what’s working right now, you may want to opt-in to Charles Ngo’s blog. Charles talks about legitimate ways to get traffic such as buying traffic through retargeting, Facebook, and Twitter, but his strategies don’t use hype in any way.
4). Attend marketing conferences and events: It’s time to get off your blog and mingle with other people. According to Convention Industry, “Over 200 million people in the U.S.A. attend conferences, trade shows, incentive events, exhibitions, and business meetings every year.”
Everyone needs inspiration. Inspiration is like the fuel that powers your engine. Anytime you lack inspiration, you’ve got to refill your creative tank.
Attending workshops, conferences, and seminars that cover specific niches such as SEO, social media, branding, digital marketing, or content marketing can do just that for you.
Marketing conferences that I’ve attended since I started out have been quite impactful. Of course, some of them are a total waste of time and money, but a handful of them will inspire your creativity – and help you to think outside the box.
You’ll find several examples of blog posts where the author shared their experiences from a particular conference. For example, Matt Sweetwood published this article at LinkedIn on the 1st of April, 2015. So far, the post has generated over 900 views and hundreds of social shares.
Remember to have your pen and paper with you so you can jot down ideas during a keynote session. You don’t want to miss out on any thoughts or ideas as they occur to you. Write them down because those could form the basis of your blogging career – you never can tell.
Strategy #6: Measure the Impact of Your Blog Content
Make sure you consistently measure your impact. This habit can help you decide whether or not to move on to a new kind of content or niche.
For example, when I started creating and promoting infographics, my goal was to increase search traffic and social shares with detailed content.
I needed to add some visual marketing to my arsenal and it worked. Within 2 years, I’ve increased KISSmetric’s blog traffic to 100,000 per month. By my measure, infographics contributed about 65% of this monthly traffic.
So make sure you’ve set a specified time frame to gauge your results. If you’re writing case studies and they don’t increase your search, social, and direct traffic after a time, go back to the drawing board.
Every marketing activity that you engage in should improve your conversion rate, either directly or indirectly. It may not happen overnight, which is why you must monitor your Google Analytics dashboard over a period of time.
As you can see, it’s really not too difficult to generate ideas for your blog posts. If you can implement just one of the strategies mentioned in this in-depth post, you can find more than a year’s worth of ideas to keep your readers engaged.
Bear in mind that no matter where you get your blog writing ideas from, and how powerful those ideas seem, you need to be consistent. Don’t expect overnight results.
If you see thousands of visitors to your blog in one day, celebrate it, but don’t stop there.
Find out what made it possible. Then replicate the same strategy. Blogging success is all about discovery. Each day, you can discover new ways to write better content that will appeal to your customers as well as search engines.
How else do you find ideas for your blog posts?