One of the biggest problems people encounter when writing a blog for their business website, is idea generation. There are two problem areas: coming up with enough ideas, and coming up with the type of ideas that will make interesting reading. Many rush at the first topic that comes to mind – especially if they have only a little ‘spare’ time to write a blog post. The end result can be a blog that isn’t particularly effective at drawing traffic or interesting readers. Here are our four tips to make coming up with great ideas a little easier.
Allow more time for writing a blog post
It does take time to write a good post – if you don’t set aside enough time and end up writing ineffective posts, then the time you did spend is likely to be wasted. Better to write one good post a month, than four ineffective ones. Give yourself a break from the everyday and set aside an hour or two for the task. Immerse yourself in the challenge and enjoy being creative!
You need time to run through a few ideas, do a little research, write and edit, and create a good headline. Sometimes writing a blog post takes less time than deciding which idea you’ll use, and which points you’ll include. Don’t worry – the more time spent in the planning phase, the less time the writing is likely to take.
Plan ahead: create a content plan
Minimise the time that choosing topics and planning posts does take by preparing a content plan for your blog. You can then refer to this each time you turn your attention to writing for your blog. A spreadsheet can be an ideal format for this type of plan. Here are some of the basics you might like to include:
- Topic categories: spend some time identifying the range of topics that might interest your site visitors, then group them into categories, for example, if you are an accountant, your topic categories might include ‘budget’ and ‘compliance’.
- Post types: these might include ‘how to’ posts, announcements/news and explanatory.
- Potential ideas: once you’ve listed some topic categories you can then add potential topic ideas under the relevant categories. Just looking at the plan can help the idea generation process.
- Reference sites or articles: when you do add topic ideas, if you’ve come across the idea after reading another article, or visiting a blog, add the website address to your spreadsheet so you’ll be able to locate it when you’re ready to write your blog post.
For a more detailed look at planning blog content, you might like to read The Ultimate Guide to Content Planning on The Moz Blog.
Get into the habit of noting down ideas
When you do come across a good idea for a post topic, there’s a good chance you’ll be in the middle of another task and can’t afford to drop it and write up the idea. No need: open up that spreadsheet, make a quick note, and if the idea is related to something you’ve read, make a note of the source. Get into the habit of doing this, and when the time comes to write a post, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Narrow down those ideas
This is one of the most crucial aspects. When you first get an idea, it’s likely to be quite broad. Broad ideas often result in very general posts that lack sufficient detail to be of much help to the reader. You may need to narrow the idea down by looking for different angles, or thinking about how you can turn a small piece of interesting information into a meaty post.
Stepping back into the shoes of the accountant, let’s say you spot a brief news article about the number of people who have been prosecuted for taxation fraud and you think that topic would be great for a blog post. You really don’t have much information other than what you’ve read – but you could make use of that snippet of information to introduce a post on 3 creative tax mistakes that could land you in court. Add a little humour and you could have a great post that readers will share via social media.
If you’d like some more examples on narrowing down ideas and choosing angles, there’s an excellent post on this topic on Progblogger.
Writing a blog doesn’t have to be the most dreaded chore of the week or month. Create a content plan, develop the habit of adding ideas to the plan as you think of them, and be generous in how much time you allow yourself to write – you might even begin to see the task as a pleasant break.