One of the most common challenges facing both beginning and intermediate bloggers is coming up with blog post topics. You may have all sorts of ideas when you first start blogging, but these ideas can start to run dry over time. It's a fact that everyone will get hit with writer's block eventually. Thankfully, blog ideas are strewn everywhere, both in the virtual world and in the real world. You just have to know where to look for your blogging inspiration.
Write What You Know
A fundamental tip for most writers is to write what you know. By doing this, you are able to draw on your existing knowledge base and expertise, not having to perform extensive research before diving into a new blog topic. Your experiences are unique to you, and only you can write about them.
Some things you can write about include:
- Past experiences that tell an interesting story or have a valuable lesson
- Real-life story about when you made a mistake and what you did to fix it
- Useful guides or tutorials on subjects that you know well, like how to cook a turkey or how to jailbreak an iPhone
- Hobbies that you enjoy and know well enough to explain to others
- Tips specific to your personal areas of expertise
- Technology advances, movies, TV shoes, and books that you enjoy
Keep a small notebook with you to write down experiences that you may want to write about as they happen. You'll be able immediately jot down ideas to review later.
Review Products and Services
Many blogs review products, software, or other items. Use your blog to tell people about something new, something cool, or something unknown. When writing review blogs, be fair and be honest. If you hate what you are reviewing, that's fine, but ensure you've completely tested everything about the product. A review blog is extremely popular if you can review products not yet released or just recently released. When you are first starting out, you will likely need to buy or pay for the products that you want to review. As you build up an audience, though, you may be able to get free sample products to review directly from companies. Sites like ReporterConnection.com are a good way to reach out to publicists and public relations contacts.
Popular items to review include:
- Movies, including both theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray releases
- Computer software
- Online services like web hosting companies and e-commerce sites
- Consumer electronics like smartphones and cameras
- Children's toys
- Household products
- Gift ideas
Keep Up with Other Blogs
No matter what subject area you choose for your blog, there's a good chance that there are other blogs and sites writing about the same or similar subject. That's not a bad thing! What it means is that you can look to these other blogs for inspiration; just make sure that you write your own unique content and give credit where appropriate.
- What are other bloggers writing about? Is there a review about something you disagree with or an opinion you'd like to refute? Then blog about it!
- Expand on other blogs. Sometimes a blog writer just doesn't write enough about a topic. If you find a blog like that and you think you can do a better job, then write it.
- Don't restrict yourself to just blogs either. Giving your opinion or reporting on recent news items and other current events can be a great source of material too.
The easiest way to keep tabs on other blogs is through RSS feeds. These give you automatic updates for when new posts go up on these blogs. To find and subscribe to RSS feeds, follow these steps.
- Find relevant blogs using a tool like Google Blogsearch.
- Look for the RSS icon on the blog. If you don't see it, there is a good chance that the feed URL is http://www.domain.com/feed or similar.
- Use an RSS aggregator or RSS feed reader like Google Reader to subscribe to the feed. There is a button in the sidebar labeled "subscribe" for this purpose. Simply copy and paste the RSS feed URL in that field.
- Log into Google Reader every day to see what new items have been published.
Offer Advice or Guidance
Blogging about what you know can also mean offering advice or guidance to other people who may be interested in the same topics as you are.
- If you have a technology blog, you can offer buying advice for when someone is looking for a certain kind of product. What features are important? What should they be looking for?
- If you have a dating blog, you can have the occasional "advice column" blog post where you address common dating scenarios and situations.
- If you have a pet care blog, you can offer advice about how to best deal with house training a new puppy or how to deter the cat from scratching up your furniture.
Similarly, it can be worthwhile to brainstorm for experts in your field, searching for their contact information online. You can then get in touch and see if they are available for profiles and interviews.
Once you get a blog going, you'll get readers. Some readers will be kind and others will be critical. Regardless, a reader is a reader and without them, you wouldn't have a blog. Include a "Guestbook" or comment section on your site where readers can make suggestions or leave comments. Readers can give you the best ideas for blogs and they may not even know it.
Another tip on how to get topics for blogging is to ask your readers outright. What would they like to see you write about? A great way to do this is if you have a series of blog posts on a related topic. If you have a series of posts on grammar tips, it's easy enough to ask if your readers have a specific grammar issue you'd like to address.
Look through Google Trends to see what people are searching for. This is especially useful if you make money from the blog based on ads and clicks. By writing about popular searches, you can get people to your blog more often. This way, you can be sure that you are hitting on current, hot, and timely topics.
What forums do you frequent? Look through those forums and see what comments people are leaving. Better yet, what kind of questions are being posted? If the same question is being asked over and over (or in different) ways, that might be a good idea for a blog.
Idea Generation Strategies
One of the best strategies you can employ to come up with topic ideas is to just start putting words on the screen (or paper).
- Free association is a popular technique to generate writing ideas. Simply write anything and everything that comes to mind and eventually a worthwhile topic may emerge.
- Using writing writing prompts is a more directed approach. Start with a word, phrase, image, or some other very short point of potential inspiration. From there, write notes or ideas that come to mind in relation to the writing prompt. Who knows what you'll come up with, but it's possible that a nice blog will emerge.
Stay True to Your Blog
It's it's important that you stick within the confines of your blog's content niche. Do you have a certain theme for your blog? Stick with it.
- If you have a blog about movies, it only makes sense that most of your posts are going to be movies, actors, directors, Hollywood buzz, and so forth. Straying too far away from your main subject area can confuse readers.
- If you blog about food recipes, why would you have a blog post about a TV show? Of course, if there is an interesting dish on that TV show and you would like to provide a possible recipe for that, this could make a fantastic blog post idea.
Stay Open to Inspiration
The reason why you got into blogging in the first place is that you felt you had something you wanted to say and you wanted people to hear it. However, even if you start out with all sorts of great blog topic ideas, it's not unusual to hit a bit of a slump. Don't let this deter you. There are tons of great blog ideas out there just waiting for you. Using the techniques described above, start compiling a rainy day list of potential blog post topics. These can be written on a notepad, saved to a smartphone app, or saved as a simple text file on your computer. This way, any time that you hit writer's blog, you can turn to this topic list and be ready to write some great content.