Whether you just started blogging or whether you’ve been blogging for years, coming up with new topics can be a big challenge. It’s something every blogger has to deal with eventually. You want to keep your content fresh and new and you want to keep your readers engaged, but you’re not always sure what to write about. Sometimes if you’ve written 100 posts for your blog you might feel like you don’t have anything new to say.
So how do you come up with new blog post ideas? Here are eight brainstorming exercises and tips to get the creative juices flowing again! These tools will help you come up with new ideas consistently so you’re not struggling to create your content and you can push forward with your internet adventure.
#1: Subscribe to and Scan RSS Feeds in Your Niche
Download an RSS feed client on your computer or in your smartphone. Then go on a subscribing spree. Subscribe to every blog feed you can find in your industry. Subscribe to at least ten different blogs.
Now anytime you run out of ideas, all you need to do is whip out your RSS reader. Read through some of the things other people are talking about and use it as inspiration.
Of course you should never directly copy someone else’s title. But feel free to use other people’s ideas as stepping stones. You can even steal an idea, as long as you don’t copy the actual words, just make sure to add your own spin. Also, be kind in your blogging like you would in your daily life, link to the original source.
#2: Use Google Instant (aka Google Suggest)
Use Google’s Instant search tool to come up with ideas for what other people might be interested in. You can learn more about the tool at http://www.google.com/instant
For example, let’s say you’re in the cooking niche. You could do something like:
Just change out different words and different wordings to come up with a variety of different potential keywords to target.
#3: Play Around with the Linkbait Generator
This is a fun one. Linkbait Generator is a unique online tool that allows you to create very creative and attention catching titles at the click of a button. Now, some of these titles probably won’t make sense right out of the gate. Instead, use the ideas and words generated by Linkbait Generator to source your own title.
For instance, typing in “find a job” might land you a headline something like this:
While you might not be able to use this headline on its own, you might instead turn it into something like: 7 Bizarre Ways Looking for a Job Can Get You Fired Instantly.
#4: Pick Up a Magazine and Flip Through It
If you’re in an industry that’s large enough to have magazines, subscribe to as many of the magazines in your field as you can. In a few months, you should have a big stack of magazines that you can use as idea fodder.
Also, many public libraries keep archived copies of newspapers and magazines. You can literally browse magazines from months or even years ago for free at many major libraries.
Go through these old magazines and look for ideas. Look for things they covered that nobody on the internet is covering. Print articles often involve a lot more research to write than online content. Print content requires sources, quotes, statistics, verification, etc, that online content just doesn’t need. The print world and the internet world are quite different. That’s why it often pays to look in the offline world for inspiration for your online content.
#5: Set Up Google Alerts for Your Topic
Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) is a free online system that will alert you by email whenever certain keywords or phrases appear in blogs or news articles. You can use Google Alerts to come up with topics in one or two ways.
First, you can use it as a constant stream of ideas. Just put relatively broad ideas in Google Alerts and set it to email you once a day. Every day, browse through the articles and see what ideas you come up with.
Another way to use Google Alerts is to use it to write cutting edge, timely articles. Use it to monitor your industry. Anytime something changes, anytime breaking news hits the net, anytime something controversial happens, you want to publish a piece of content within hours. Often time’s the first person to publish content about something is the one who gets all the traffic.
#6: Take Questions from Your Readers and Answer Them
If you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas, why not have your audience do it for you instead? A lot of authors find that their best blog posts actually come from their audience rather than from their own minds. After all, if you’re trying to create content that your audience loves, who better to guide you than your audience?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know what your audience wants without asking. Also don’t make the mistake of thinking that what you want to express is always what your audience wants to know about. Ask. Ask for questions and make blog posts out of them.
I actually do this on several of my websites in different ways.
Right here on Niche Twitch I have a Q&A section where I take comments that I’ve received by email or as comments on the blog and I answer them in their own blog post. If you find yourself answering the same questions by email over and over again, use that content as blog posts or create an FAQ section for your site with it.
On my cross stitch blog I get all sorts of questions from Facebook fans and Newsletter subscribers every week. I started a series I call “Stitchqueries” where I answer those right on the blog.
On VA Helper Blog and Podcast we’re using the Speak Pipe plugin, which is really cool and lets you take voice messages from your readers. I’m actually adding that plugin here on Niche Twitch this week as well, so look for that soon.
That’s a great way to collect questions to use for content and it can be re-purposed into blog posts, podcast snippets, or as part of a presentation on the topic.
#7: Critique an Idea, Business, Website, Video or Trend in Your Niche
Look for something outside of you site that you can give your opinion on. For example, you could critique a trend of thinking in your industry. You could critique a video that’s making the rounds. You could also ask your audience to send in their work for critique.
For example, Writerly Rejects creates a lot of content out of having writers send in their pitches for critique. They dissect the pros and cons of the writer’s pitch and use real world pitches to illustrate important lessons on their blog.
You can see this example in action at: http://www.writerlyrejects.blogspot.com/2012/07/pitch-critique-3-4.html
#8: Use Your Subconscious Mind
Your subconscious mind is far, far more powerful than your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind is the part of your mind that can read the thousands of different muscles on someone’s face to determine what they’re feeling.
Your subconscious mind retains a copy of every experience you’ve ever had in your life. Your subconscious mind handles “intuition” by parsing data and ideas behind the scenes, working hard on problems without you ever knowing it.
One of the best ways to come up with new blog ideas is to harness the power of your subconscious mind. How do you do that? By thinking intensely about a subject, then completely letting it go.
Spend a bit of time thinking about your blog. Then, go for a walk. Or hit the gym. Or take a nice long bath. Relax and let your subconscious mind work on it. Then, when you come back to it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that ideas flow much more quickly. Alternatively, ideas might just hit you out of the blue as you’re relaxing.
Make sure you carry a notepad with you at all times so you can jot down these ideas. Ideas that aren’t written down are very frequently lost. Don’t overestimate your ability to remember an idea.
I have a notepad and a pen on my person at all times! Ideas are everywhere, you just need to be able to write them down.
If you’re not a pen and paper person, you can use an app on your phone or an audio recorder that you keep in your pocket – just have some way to make note of your ideas on the spot so you don’t forget them later.
Now go back out there and write an excellent blog post!
Armed with these eight idea boosters in your toolbox you’ll never have to worry about running out of blogging topics ever again. Find one or two brainstorming and writing techniques that work for you and put them into action now.
You can return to this list from time to time if you ever get stuck. (You can even download this list as a PDF by clicking here)
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Transcriptionist, passionate cross stitcher, writer at heart, wife, mom, and finder of lost shoes… Loretta Oliver, married to the comic book geek of her dreams and mother of four amazing young men, has been working from home full time since 2001. With a busy transcription service business, a few niche sites, and a handful of other internet marketing projects on the go, the computer is always fired up and the ideas are always flowing.
2 thoughts on “How to Come Up with Blog Topics When You’re Staring at a Blank Screen”
Great post! I’m Amanda from SquidsPro. I run a few blogs and magazines and RSS feeds quickly became my best friends. If all else fails, I find a great blog post, link to it, and blog about what I think it and what we can learn from it.
Magazines are great because you are taking advantage of the HUGE amount of money they put towards market research.
Amanda Thomas recently posted..Ordered a New Gadget and Back to Vlogging Tomorrow!
Thank you 🙂 I think magazines and print media are often overlooked as great sources of inspiration.