Running out of blog topic ideas can be a bummer, but it can also be kind of exciting. Exciting, because it’s a chance to come up with a bunch of fun, new ideas to talk about. A bummer, because brainstorming enough topics to last you for a couple of months can be difficult and time-consuming. Sometimes it really can feel like everything there is to say has already been said somewhere online, but there’s always a unique topic or angle just waiting to be discovered.
Over time, I’ve figured out which practices and habits help me best maintain my blogging routine. Whether it’s dealing with writer’s block or checking blog performance, I typically have a go-to procedure for blog maintenance. The same goes for coming up with new blog topic ideas. While it is certainly not the most groundbreaking or innovative brainstorming activity in the world, it does keep the production wheels moving. Next time you find yourself struggling to come up with a list of blog topics for your editorial calendar, give this brainstorming exercise a try.
Step 1: Put Your Heads Together
I’m a firm believer in teamwork, especially when it comes to brewing up new ideas. That’s why my first step is always to get some creative thinkers together in front of a whiteboard. For this blog, I like to reference my coworkers. A creative department brain, a PPC brain, an account manager, and so on. Having all the functions of our business represented in one room helps me stay in touch with the bigger picture rather than just the blog. This kind of collaboration is especially helpful for coming up with blog topics, because it broadens the conversation to a wider range of topics.
You can do this even if you’re a solo blogger by tapping into your audience or collaborating with other solo bloggers. More often than not, people are quick to collaborate and eager to help. Try asking your audience what they want to know more about, or try and find guest bloggers/like-minded individuals you’re not in direct competition with to collaborate with.
Step 2: Develop Categories
For some reason, if I don’t remind myself of all the broad categories this blog represents, I end up with topics about the same thing over and over. For that reason, I keep a list of all the categories I can write about in front of me (SEO, PPC, social media, search engine updates, blogging, analytics, etc.). Simply by having a visual reminder in front of you, you prevent yourself from the tendency to narrow in on one specific area.
In developing your broad categories, it can be helpful to add subcategories. For example, if you run a political opinion blog, and you have a broad category on education, it might be helpful to have a sub category of the latest policies or news. The development of categories and sub categories sets up specific areas that you can later fill in with a bunch of blog topics.
- Content Types: Similarly to how you develop your category lists, develop a short list of the different content formats you can do in order of the most common to the least common (article, how-to, Q&A, infographic, tutorial video, etc.). When you use your categories to come up with your blog topics, you can then decide what format you want the content to have. This will help you prioritize the production of your blog topics on your editorial calendar once you have your complete list.
Step 3: Toss Around Topic Ideas
Surprisingly, once you complete steps 1 and 2, step 3 comes pretty naturally. You have your collaboration team or input from your collaboration team, the categories you want your topics to fall within, and the content formats you can work with. From here, tossing around topic ideas is the fun part! If you’re struggling for a place to start, strike up a conversation about a recent development in your industry. See where the conversation takes you, and turn some of your discussion thoughts into blog topics. Ask yourself: What should my audience know about recent industry developments? What’s something I haven’t covered on my blog before? What’s my brand’s opinion on current trends or practices?
- Find the Negative: To mix up how you talk about your topics, try and find the negative angle. For example, instead of or in addition to “10 Ways to Mix Up Your Wardrobe this Spring”, try “10 Wardrobe Mistakes Not to Make”.
Even though I use this method for brainstorming, it can definitely be applied to other aspects of digital marketing. You can tailor this process and use it to come up with ideas for new marketing campaigns, ways to attract customers, social media ideas, and whatever else your brand needs. The key is to collaborate and avoid thinking in a confining and linear way, so you can bounce ideas around and strategize for your business.