Welcome back to #Blogtober – where I am sharing 1 blog post per week all around the topic of blogging. By the end of this month, you will be able to blog with confidence for your business.
Today’s post is arguably the most important yet – especially if you are new to business blogging or are struggling to get the results you want from it.
Coming up with blog post ideas is a real pain, even for those like me who love to blog! The reason it’s a pain is that you can often fall into one of two camps:
- You’re bursting with ideas, but you’re not sure which will be most beneficial to your target customer
- Your mind goes blank when trying to come up with blog post ideas, and you don’t know where to start
This post aims to help both groups because it’s going to explore the process of finding the right ideas for blog content that will resonate with your target readers. Let’s get started, shall we?
Before brainstorming blog post titles, you need to think about who your customer is. Without knowing your target audience, you are “blogging for everyone” – and as with any marketing tactic that tries to appeal to all, it is likely to fail.
So, who are you looking to write for? Is it for someone who knows nothing about your industry and is researching a specific part of it, or is it someone who knows the industry well and simply likes to stay up-to-date with it? Perhaps they are looking for more information about a product or service you sell, or they don’t quite yet know what that product or service is to fill their need!
You could drill down as far as you like into who the target reader is, and I recommend using personas to really get into who they are and what they need. Here’s a template from my free resources library to help you – Small Business Customer Persona Workbook.
What do they want?
So we’ve touched upon what your target reader is looking for, but how do you find that out? Here are a few ways to try:
- Ask! You could run a survey or simply ask face-to-face what customers may benefit from knowing more about. For example, if you sell dog grooming products, some customers may want to know the best methods of dematting fur. That’s a great topic to write a blog post about as you could cover different breeds and products that will fit their needs.
- Search other sites. Look at other sites in your industry and see what topics they are covering. The idea is not to copy but to take inspiration from articles and how you could provide further value. For instance, if you are an accountant and an industry news site shares information about a big company receiving a fine as a result of an audit, you could take the area they failed on and write a guide detailing how to avoid those pitfalls.
- Use a tool. AnswerThePublic is just one of the many tools available to search the web for common questions on specific topics. If you type “healthy snacks” into AnswerThePublic, you will get a huge number of ideas based on what real people want to know.
Suddenly overwhelmed with choice? You need “content pillars”. Content pillars are the same as coming up with different categories for your blogs, to narrow down your choices but also to make sure that your blog posts each have a purpose.
I recommend coming up with 3 pillars, which you can then slot your blog post title ideas into. Here are three content pillars and how they can help narrow down your ideas:
This content pillar will hold any blog post ideas with the main goal to educate your readers. This will include any “how to” style posts, as well as any commentary on industry news.
If you are an independent mortgage advisor, for example, you could write a guide on how to find the right mortgage or the areas you need to think about when choosing a mortgage.
People like to feel connected to content – so this pillar will house any blog post ideas that are designed to really resonate with your audience, such as stories or more lighthearted content.
As an example of this, Buzzfeed-style list blog posts would sit under this pillar. If you are a dressmaker, you may write a relatable piece about proms or weddings, or a nutritionist might write about a list of realities of food prep around being a mum.
Let’s face it, you want to make sales from blogging. It’s not easy, but it can be done if you approach it properly. Posts that sit under the sales pillar will be product guides, or list pieces that compare products or showcase products that suit a particular need – such as the dematting fur example used earlier.
These posts should be used more sparingly than the other two pillars, to avoid your blog being too salesy. People don’t like feeling like they are being sold to – so the focus of these posts should be to provide value.
Bringing it all together
So now you know the importance of putting the audience first, and how to categorise your blog post ideas to make them feel less overwhelming to you and more valuable to your audience, it’s time to bring it together and start planning! Open up a notebook or spreadsheet, and write the following columns:
- Blog post title
- Target audience (who is the post for?)
- Call to action (what do you want the reader to do next?)
- Content pillar (which of your pillars does this post sit under?)
- Summary (list the key subject areas your post will feature)
Start filling in these columns as and when you get a new idea. Keep this stashed away somewhere safe to come back to whenever you are due to write a new blog post for your business!