As a content writer, I have lots of conversations with people about ideas for their blogs that I’d like to write. Sometimes this happens because the business owner wants to outsource the writing as they don’t have time. But often I hear the words: “I don’t have any ideas to keep a blog going. I don’t know what to write.”
And this makes me sad. If you run your own business, then you’re passionate enough about the thing you do. Most business owners can talk for hours about what it is they do. So, finding something to write about should be a doddle, right?
If you’re stuck for blog ideas to write about, here are some ways you can find inspiration.
1. Talk to your customers
When you write your blog, it’s a forms a piece of the bigger marketing puzzle. Therefore, your blog needs to speak to your customer. And if you do talk to your customers, you should get an idea of the things that crop up a few times.
Okay, you might not want to pick up the phone and call someone (although I recommend this as a way to get into your customer’s heads) but you can read the messages and emails you get from them. Or find your potential customers and stalk them a bit online. See what they’re saying and questions they are asking.
Here’s a couple of examples…
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to three or four people about working with them. We’ve chatted about their businesses, who their target market is and what they want to achieve from the content.
Then they’ve said the same thing: “you make it seem so easy to come up with blog ideas, but I’ve no idea what to write.”
And now you’re reading a blog that’s based on several conversations I’ve had with my customers. They’ve told me their problem, you’re currently reading one of many solutions.
Or another client. She’s got a product-based business selling beautiful homewares. Now, we can create a whole series of blogs around the products themselves. You know, ‘here’s some great plates and this is the story behind the makers.’
All great but that’s going to get a bit boring after a while. It’s not going to get people coming back to read. And it’s certainly not going to solve any problems.
So instead of writing about her products, I’m creating some ‘How-To’s’ around how to use, style and care for her products. And this has come about because in our weekly meeting she told me she’s had lots of phone calls that week from different customers asking if they were better getting a small, medium or large basket.
“I’ve said the same thing five times this week,” she says, “given out the inside and outside basket measurements, asked them to measure the current plant pot and space.”
Instead of writing a post on how these baskets make great planters, I’ve produced a guide on how to get the right planter size for your space. And then added in a free download on how to care for it.
So the next time someone calls up asking about the right size, my client can tell them and point them in the direction of the blog so that they can follow the instructions online.
2. Do some SEO research
If you want people to find your business on a search engine, then you need to know what kind of things they are searching for. You’re going to need to do a bit of research.
There are some free tools you can use to get an idea of what people are looking for around your business. KW Finder, SemRush, Answer the Public and Keyword Planner are a few. They usually have a free trial or give you some basic information on search volume and how many other people are writing about this topic.
Start by putting in some words that describe what your business does. Get specific about it and see what suggestions they come up with. It will show you what people are typing into the search engines. This should then give you a question or two that you can answer with your blog.
Not only are you getting ideas to write about, but you also know that it’s about a subject people want to read about.
3. Go out and interview someone
I love doing interviews. There’s not enough blogs out there that have interviews or quotes included. I’m very much guilty of not doing enough of this on my blog.
“But wait,” I hear you say, “who on earth do I interview?”
Good question. Think about the people who work in your industry that inspire you. Who do you look up to? Or who is doing something extraordinary that you can get a quote from?
Maybe your work depends on a network of other people. As a content writer, I often need to talk to web developers, graphic designers, branding agencies as part of my work. So, I might interview one of these people and ask them what they think about an idea I’ve had or a shared problem.
For one of my blogs, I spoke to another copywriter to get her perspective on my angle. It added a richness to the article and gave it a higher degree of authority. Not just one person is telling you this but two.
You don’t even need to interview someone in the same industry. You could ask someone who is doing something interesting in a completely different industry and ask them what we can learn from how they did it.
As long as your audience cares, it’s worthwhile.
4. Have a bit of lateral thinking
Lateral thinking when it comes to blog ideas is my favourite. You can make your life easy by scouring through subjects on places like Reddit or Quora, where people ask the most wonderful questions.
I’m a big fan of Glosters in Porthmadog. Their blog doesn’t talk about how they make their ceramics. It doesn’t cover glazing techniques or behind the scenes of running a business. It shows their customers how to fold napkins into cute shapes. Or what flowers to pick. And recipes for food that you’ll be eating off their gorgeous plates.
I want to see them do a blog on how to make the perfect brew in one of their mugs. Maybe some peppermint tea that’s been homegrown and dried.
You see, it doesn’t just sell the product but the feeling that goes along with owning the product.
5. Read more
This is usually my advice for anything writing-related. But if you’re stuck for writing ideas, then one of the best things you can do is to read more. Find out what your competitors are posting about. Do you have a different take on it? Is there anything you can add to it?
When you’re reading articles online, think about what made you stop and read them. What is your take on it for your particular industry?
Even things happening in the news and on TV can give you some inspiration for content. You can use popular culture as an analogy or illustrate a point you want to make. Or even make a parody of it.
The weird cousin of this is to use Awareness Days as a source of inspiration. And get yourself signed up to Google Alerts. I once used a news story about the influence of colour on children as a source for a blog on a lighting website. Sounds a bit far fetched but it drew interest and attention to the site.
6. Use your interests
If you’re passionate about something, then you are going to find it far easier to write about. Think about how your interests have influenced your work to date. I’m a huge music fan and love it when I get a client who’s into the same stuff as me. It means I can sneak in a few song lyrics or references to brighten up the copy.
But it’s fun to use your interests as a source of inspiration for a blog idea. For example, I was commissioned to write a blog about social media. It was a broad brief for a website promoting their marketing services. I took an example of a knitting website going viral in the national news, along with a couple of other case studies to pick apart what makes a post ‘go viral’.
If you have a website selling your services, then think about what you’ve learned from your hobbies and how you can apply them to your business. What can you use as a case study?
In my blog about SEO and record labels, I took a subject I’m passionate about and a conversation I’d had with a friend, then looked at how I could apply it to other businesses. The message is pretty universal to all industries. The record label is simply an analogy to demonstrate my thinking on the subject. But because it’s something I’m knowledgeable about, I could write that longer blog without difficulty.
If you get super stuck
I am a firm believer that there is no business too boring to write about. If you are getting stuck on ideas, get in touch, and I might be able to help. Or you can check out my top 10 blog writing tips here, and if you’re short on writing confidence, this might help.
But before you get stuck into any of that, I’d like you to go back and re-read point one of this blog and talk to people. Talk to your customers, your network and your peers. Listen to what they are saying. Go back and read comments and emails. I bet there’s lots of seeds in there that can sprout up into an interesting blog. Because that’s all this is really, a conversation between me, the writer, and you, the reader.