It’s true: Publishing content on a regular, frequent basis can help boost your SEO, while also providing your audience with fresh reading material. But what should you write about?
Since fiction authors are coming at this whole blogging thing from a different angle, the following list might not be as pertinent to you as it is to nonfiction writers or those with businesses. A post about ideas for fiction authors will follow.
For my clients, I recommend several different ways to come up with content ideas, in addition to keeping a list (I use a plain ol’ text app) where they can add ideas as they think of them, even when they’re not in front of the computer. For my own blog posts, I sometimes add my ideas as blog drafts, then toss in supplementary info, links, photos, etc., as I come across them. This way, when it comes time to write the actual post, it pretty much writes itself.
You also don’t have to worry if your particular post topic has already been covered a gazillion times on other websites. What’s important is your fresh take on the topic. Heck, this post is a perfect example of that: I bet you can find thousands of other sites that already cover this very topic. (Thank you for coming to mine!)
Although I also work with businesses, most of my clients are writers and authors, so part of the purpose behind blogging is to build their author platform, which you should start working on as soon as you even get an inkling that you might want to write a book, as it takes time to build your platform.
Here are some ideas to help you break through your writer’s block and get started writing your blog.
1. Answer a Question Long-Held by Your Audience
When people have questions, they often Google them. If your blog contains the answer, you stand a good chance that it will show in the SERP (search engine results page) for that question. So try to think of common questions in your area/industry — even the most basic ones — and write posts that answer those questions. For example, a jeweler client of mine wrote about the most common ways people damage or lose their jewelry — and how that can be prevented.
Another benefit is that if you get asked this question a lot, you can simply send the inquirer to your page rather than craft a reply each time. I get asked the same questions by clients and prospects all the time. Rather than repeat myself, I simply send them a link to a webpage I’ve created or article I’ve written. Articles I often share with prospective clients include my article about hiring a ghostwriter and my post on the differences between a Facebook Page and a Profile.
My clients do this too. Envera Consulting says it acquired nearly a third of its clients through content marketing, which the company centered around questions that prospective clients commonly asked. Envera is now considering compiling these posts into books that they can give away as calling cards.
And remember: Just because something seems basic to you doesn’t mean it will seem that way to everyone. After all, you’re writing about the subject because it’s your area of expertise, so it’s quite probable that others are not as familiar with it.
So save yourself time and energy by publishing answers to all your commonly asked questions on your website and sharing them on social media and with clients. You’ll get the most bang for your buck with this one.
2. Answer a Question That You Saw on an Online Forum
Sites such as Reddit and Quora are chock-a-block with questions in need of answers. Search through the forums for your topic/industry, find a question being asked, write a post that answers the question, then reply to the forum post. Be sure to include a short answer before you include the link to your post (otherwise you’ll look spammy). You can reuse the post this way anywhere you see the question crop up — on other forums, Twitter, Facebook, you name it.
3. Explain a Process (i.e., How to…)
Providing the steps to a process — or even just providing a broad overview of a more in-depth topic — can be extremely helpful, both for you and your audience. You benefit by not having to repeat yourself to clients, while your audience has the instructions readily available.
As an editor, I rely heavily on Microsoft Word features such as Track Changes and Comments. Since some of my clients aren’t familiar with these, I send them a post written by my friend and editor colleague Kate Zentall, who is a member of Los Angeles Writers and Editors Group. (As am I.) This helps the client understand what to expect in the editing process as we work together.
How-to posts can also benefit greatly from accompanying videos. Not only does that make your content available in more search types, but you have yet another medium for your audience, as some people prefer watching rather than reading. If you have enough video-worthy content, you might even be able to gain a following on YouTube or Vimeo.
4. Discuss a Recent Topic and How It Relates to Your Expertise
I’m currently co-authoring a book on sexual assault prevention and have been encouraging my co-author, a former police detective, to blog regularly on relevant current events. For example, when the Harvey Weinstein trial was making headlines, Det. Escalante wrote about the case from the sexual-assault perspective: What are the steps victims can take? What can they expect from the process? What tips does he, as a former detective, have for victims?
Or you can write about current events in your particular industry and provide your take. Is their a new product or service that your colleagues are talking about? Review it! Is there a new law or regulation that affects your business? Outline the ramifications and what can be done about them.
5. Provide Industry-Specific Holiday Content
Another great source of inspiration are holidays — and not just the ones that you find on everyday calendars. There are a slew of offbeat and quirky unofficial holidays and observances — so many that it’s likely you can find one almost every month of the year. Some good resources to find holidays, unusual and otherwise, include:
- Awareness Days
- Days of the Year
- National Day Calendar
- National Today
- Time and Date (which also lists by country)
The best part about writing about a holiday is that you can repurpose the post year after year. Just make sure that your site’s metadata shows that the post has been updated.
These are the most common ways to conjure up ideas for blog posts. Share your suggestions in the comments below.