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Oh no . . . it happened again! You sat down at the computer to write an article for your website and . . . your mind went blank. If this is a familiar experience, keep reading.
Related: Writing Tips: How to Come Up With 50 Topic Ideas in 30 Minutes
For those of us who use content as a tool to drive traffic to and engagement in our businesses, coming up with fresh ideas for content can be challenging. As someone who writes over a hundred blog posts every year — averaging over 1,500 words each — I’ve learned a thing or two about choosing topics.
So, here are eleven things to write about when you don’t know what to write about.
1. Ask, 'What’s hot right now?'
What are people in your industry talking about right now? What's a "hot topic"? By knowing the popular trends and topics in your industry, you'll likely find some great topics for posts.
Not sure what those trends are? Take a look at BuzzSumo.com. Type in any website or topic, and you’ll quickly see a list of the most-shared posts for your target market.
2. Teach readers how to do something.
One of the easiest ways to get your pen flowing (or keys clicking) is to teach something that you already know how to do well. Simply pretend that a friend of yours emailed you, asking for advice on how to do something. Lay out the steps, and you’ll find yourself with a great piece of content in no time!
Additionally, “how to” articles have the benefit of ranking well in Google, as many people use the search engine to learn how to do something. For example, I recently wrote a piece on "How to Become a Millionaire" — because I knew a lot of people were searching for that topic and it was something I could teach.
Related: 5 Fast, Easy and Free Blog Idea Generators That Will Change the Way You Write
3. Steal from competitors.
No, I am not encouraging you to rip off someone's content word for word. However, reading the content from other niches can be a fantastic way for you to generate ideas of your own.
Maybe you are a consultant who works with SEO, for example. By taking a look at what Moz.com is writing about, you’ll likely gain some good ideas for an article. This week, Gianluca Fiorelli from Moz wrote, "Wake Up, SEOs — the NEW New Google is Here. So, having read that, you might be inspired to write “Google has Changed… Are You Keeping Up?”
4. Read forums in your industry.
Most industries have popular forums or community boards where people discuss topics relating to their niche. Look for popular topics that are getting a lot of posts and you’ll likely find a good topic for an article. For example, most of the real estate articles I write come from the largest real estate forum online, the BiggerPockets Forum.
5. Write a sequel to a previous popular post.
Take a page out of Hollywood's book: Write a sequel! Yours would be a followup to a previous post that did well.
Take a look back on your content from the past several years. For most blogs, at least a few of the posts stand out above all others. So piggy-back on the success of that post and write a follow-up!
6. Use a keyword planner.
No one wants to write a post that no one will read; why not write about stuff people are actively curious about?!
One of the best tools for this is the Google Keyword Planner. You can type in a word or phrase and instantly get a list of related topics. Best of all — you’ll be able to see how popular these topics are by looking at the number of searches each month for various terms.
7. Write about your biggest mistake.
We all make mistakes, and although they can be painful to discuss, mistakes can often be a great source of help and entertainment for your readers. So, swallow your pride and help others avoid making the mistakes that you did.
For example, my post, "The Worst Real Estate Deal I’ve Ever Done (And How You Can Avoid the Same Mess)," was one of the most popular I had written up until that point.
8. Interview someone successful.
One of the easiest ways to knock out a post is by interviewing someone else, via email, and posting their replies. Find someone in your niche that you can interview that way (or else phone that individual, recording the conversation for transcription later.) Then, write up a two-paragraph introduction, followed by your Q&A.
Ryan Holiday (author of the new book Ego is the Enemy, which I highly recommend!) recently wrote a post for The Observer that illustrated this tip perfectly.
9. Summarize and review a great book.
Have you read anything amazing lately? Why not create a quick summary and review that book? Book reviews can help the author reach more people and also help you introduce your audience to something that was life-changing for you.
10. Write a counterpoint to another article.
Have you read a post online lately that you completely disagreed with? Then, vent your frustrations to your audience! Create a counterpoint article that lays out a case for an opposing view.
Next, be sure to let the original author know; if you were respectful in your counterpoint, you just might start a great dialogue in the comments section.
11. Create a listicle.
Next time you're standing in line at the grocery store checkout, take a look at the magazine covers that line the shelfs. Then, look at the most common blog posts on BuzzSumo.com. Most have one thing in common: lists.
List posts, often called "listicles," are the most common type of blog post in existence, and for good reason: People love to read them! They are fairly easy to write and easy to read.
When you are searching for your next blog post idea, think of a list you can compile. Then, simply write a few sentences below each post; and before you know it, you’ll have 992 words. Just as I did in this post!
Related: 5 Ways Google Analytics Finds You Relevant Topics for Your Social-Media Campaign
So, now you have no excuse to stare at that blank screen. Next time you sit down to write an article, simply choose one of the above 11 topic ideas and start writing. Trust me: The task will be easier than you think!
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