(Want to forget about your blog for 3 months and let someone else figure out which blog topics to write about? Learn about my content strategy service.)
How do you come up with blog post ideas?
Let's ask this again... How do you come up with blog ideas that reach your target audience? These are the people that you want to grow and connect with, but that you ultimately want to convert.
This is a challenge I'm consistently facing with clients. They tend to focus a lot on traffic and less on conversions. Likely because achieving and measuring conversions from a blog is a lot harder, and traffic numbers are a lot more impressive most of the time.
One of my clients produces content 3 times a week. Their site ranks for more than 32,000 keywords. Their site hits nearly 23,000 users from organic traffic each month.
Know how many of them convert from their blogs?
After I posted one of their most relevant articles in a Facebook group for productivity tips (which their product serves), and a Reddit post, they earned 5 right away (last column below).
Notice that the traffic (that first column) isn't particularly high, but that the visitors actually converted. Traffic from organic sources wasn't bringing in the same results.
Unless your blog topics are tailored to your target audience, they aren't going to convert.
The client in the example above has a lot of great articles, but the topics aren't connecting with the people actually signing up for their products.
Traffic is great, but conversions and long-term engagement with your brand is better. To achieve both, you need to come up with interesting blog topics that your target audience would actually be interested in.
Knowing your target audience isn't all that simple.
It's the key to writing lead-generation content, and it's honestly becoming a cliche phrase in the marketing world. But no matter how often marketing directors hear it, discovering and really getting to know a target audience is often a neglected part of content strategy planning.
Take my client example from above. They provide a time tracking solution for companies that want automated timesheets and streamlined project management. So they're a B2B company, which means their blogs should be focused on executives.
Yet, their articles focus more on individuals and some lower-level project managers.
I go into depth about how to find out who your real audience is, and what that means, in my B2B business blog ideas article, but I'll summarize it here.
To truly know your audience means you know:
Who your best and worst existing or past clients/ customers are.
Where your audience works
Where they hang out online
What type of media they consume and share
What their biggest pains are in their industry
What their biggest challenges, concerns, and questions are regarding your brand
Once you've determined all of this, figuring out what to blog about is a lot easier.
What are the best topics to blog about?
This is the wrong question.
Sure, you can look at the top blog topics for your industry and niche, but because those are top topics, it's going to be much more difficult to rank for.
Besides, popular topics don't exactly translate to leads. Heck, they don't even translate to target hitting content. Just because a topic is popular, doesn't mean your particular audience is going to read it.
With that in mind, there are certain formats, or types of articles that do better than others, including:
Explainer articles that tell how to use a particular feature of your product
Success stories of a company/individual in the industry
Comparison articles- your brand vs. other popular brand
Instead of searching popular blogs for things to blog about, remember that your smaller audience matters more than the masses.
How to come up with blog post ideas that actually reach your audience
Traffic is often one of the largest concerns for businesses producing content regularly, because traffic is far easier to measure than conversions from a blog.
If you can convert more people to sign up for your product or service on an article with lower traffic... why wouldn't you? Wouldn't that be preferable over a high traffic article with no conversions at all?
You put a lot of time, money, and energy into creating content. Make it work for you.
The way to do that is to choose the best blog topics for your audience, and consider their search intent. I have 5 methods of coming up with business blog ideas that your users actually want to read.
Method 1: Ask your existing, past, or prospective clients
One of the best ways to get to know your audience and what they want is to interview them. One of the reasons I'd written my guide to content promotion was because one of my clients, prior to signing on with me, had some questions about content promotion and how to get more views on some of her older articles.
Her audience is highly targeted, and finding groups to promote her content in was an ideal way to get her content in front of more eyes. When I'd posted the results of the efforts in a few Facebook groups on digital marketing, I'd received several more questions on the topic.
Talk with your clients about what they want to know, because it's likely that there are others in your audience that want the same information.
Method 2: Speak with your team & collect feedback
If you have sales representatives, a customer service department, account executives, etc. then you have the unique opportunity to easily and steadily collect feedback from clients and prospectives. This is also hugely beneficial if you don't have access to clients, or turn around is too short to schedule interviews.
Client-facing employees are continuously addressing client concerns, fielding questions, and collecting data.
Use the most common questions to create articles, or tutorial videos, or infographics.
Compile the information you collect to figure out your clients' biggest challenges and pains, and address them in any way possible. Your role is to prove that you are their solution. That they were right in switching from one agency, company, product, or service to work with you.
One great example is from a recent client- an agency that'd hired me out to write the articles for their agency website.
They'd received a lot of questions about sitemaps, and wanted to offer an easy to digest resource that they could link to whenever the question arises.
It's not a high-traffic article, by any means, but it does serve their clients.
***ps... You might also consider listening in on sales calls (recording them is a good idea), as an alternative or supplemental to speaking with your client-facing departments.
Method 3: Niche forums & groups
Someone on your team, if not you, should be engaging in the very communities that your clients are most active in. It helps you stay up to date on the latest trends and news in your industry, but it also helps you get business blog post ideas.
My client Kaleigh Moore is a great example of this. There are a lot of Facebook groups on digital marketing and freelancing. Those freelancing groups are her bread and butter. They are her clients.
One of the most frequent questions circulating in these groups is about pricing your services and raising your rates.
All found within short scrolls from each other on just one Facebook group.
Facebook, Reddit, Quora, and any other niche group are gold mines for blog article ideas. Kaleigh knows this well, and has created some really great resources for her audience on pricing, such as this article: Communicating Your Value Proposition.
Method 4: The "People Also Ask" section of a Google Search
The "People Also Ask" section on a Google search is just as good, because it's providing you with the most commonly searched questions related to the keywords you're typing into a search.
My article "Do I Really Need A Content Marketing Agency?" was inspired by one such search.
In addition to using these questions as blog inspiration, they work just as well as section headlines. For instance, you can write an article on what a content marketing agency does, with a section on "Is content marketing right for my business".
Method 5: Your Social media accounts
Social media engagement really serves a lot of purposes.
It helps drive engagement with your site and your site content. It helps raise brand awareness, connect with potential clients, and even provide ideas for blog posts.
I've mentioned social listening, and the act of using common questions on these forums as your post topics. Here, though, I'm referencing the method of taking your most popular blog posts and converting them into articles and other media.
Most agencies and companies use this method in reverse. They turn blog posts into social media posts, or simply share their articles.
I actually keep a spreadsheet with the article content, link to the post, and the number of likes and comments. I also keep comments that get a lot of likes as well, and links to the original post.
This post, the one you're reading right now, was inspired by this post on my LinkedIn account. It doesn't have huge engagement. Not even close to being significant in comparison with the heavy hitters like Daniel Murray, Liz Willits, or Camille Trent.
But in these early stages of my experiences with engagement on LinkedIn, this was a decent post that got a conversation going. Keeping track of what receives the most engagement with the people that already follow you is a great way to generate a topic to blog about.
Don't know what you should blog about next?
Or rather, don't want to think about what to blog next? I offer 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month content calendars tailored to your brand. They include user research, keyword research, blog topic ideas and calendar, content briefs, and a promotion checklist for each article.