Generating New Ideas for Blog Posts

Blogger's blockIt is blog publishing day and you are staring at a blank screen but your to-do list has reached epic proportions. All of your contributors are mysteriously offline. What can you do to get the creative juices flowing so you can post something other than a blog about writer’s block?

Here is the list I run through when all else fails.

1.     Interview Someone

I know from experience that it is almost impossible to push someone (especially someone who isn’t a professional writer or marketer) into sitting down and quickly turning out an insightful post. Instead, schedule a 15-minute call and submit questions in advance. Then take notes on the conversation. You’ll be able to ask follow-up and clarifying questions much easier this way. Then you can get some supporting research and other opinions while your subject scurries off to other tasks. You can also interview outside contacts, customers, analysts, etc. Just decide in advance what you want to know so your conversation has focus.

2.     Read the News

Find some great conversation starters in the news. Ken Swanson found inspiration with a Wall Street Journal article last week and, within a day or two, he was published. You can be specific to your industry or customers. But you can also talk about more general or business news. Here are some great places to find both hard and soft news: Huffington Post, popurls, Buzz Feed and Digg. Use RSS and alerts to stay in touch with what’s happening.

3.     Address Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a folder of comments from your customers (good or bad)? For example, we often get questions from new users of our order management system, IDEA. You can cull out several topics that arise often and you’ll do a favor for your customer service team by getting ahead of the questions they often receive. Why not bring in the reps’ comments as well? Depending on the complexity of your offering, this would make a great series of posts that you could use as tools anytime and/or put on your website under the heading of FAQs.

4.     Answer Questions

Check out Google Trends, Quora and Yahoo Questions. They’re great pools of post ideas, because they’re questions that real people are asking. Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, you can advance the conversation in some way. You can link to the original question, give your response and then ask readers to offer their opinions.

5.     Make Predictions

What are the trends you predict in your industry for the next year? Where do you see business growing and what new products are in demand? This could be written entirely from your perspective or bring in the words of other front-line team members or clients. Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen next.

6.     Create a List Article

We’ve all read articles that start with: “Top 5 Reasons . . .” or “10 Things about (blank) you didn’t know”. These articles are great for search engines because they are keyword-rich and readers love them because they provide fast, actionable information. They appeal to people who are looking for specific information on a subject.

7.     Go Video

Give viewers a tour of your facility or your products (preferably in use). You can’t beat images for engaging potential customers and employees. And more people are using video ads than ever before. eMarketer projects that some 164.7 million people are expected to watch online video ads in 2011.

8.     Share Customer Success Stories

How has using your products or services improved your customers’ businesses or their lives? Where did they start, what did they hope to accomplish, what were the results? I find it interesting to hear what surprises or unexpected benefits there were along the way because it sounds less like a heavy sales pitch. Another tip is to fess up to any challenges and how they were solved.

These are the approaches that get my brain working. What suggestions do you have for coming up with interesting posts that get lots of views?

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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