You’ve decided to blog—so what to blog about?
We aren’t talking specifically about writer’s block, a condition that causes a writer’s creativity to dry up. Instead, this article is all about finding ideas that will help you acquire readers, connect with your audience and start turning your website’s visitors into clients.
We’ll provide lots of examples from various industries—perhaps your industry. But the techniques we employ will work in any industry, so you can make small adjustments to our examples and create the perfect topics for your own blog.
As you go through this article, write down the ideas spring into your head. Keep a notepad close by or open a note-taking app on your mobile device. Whatever you do, don’t ignore all the ideas you get as you read—you might forget about them by the end.
After reading the first section of this blog, you should have at least 100 ideas. That’s enough for one blog a week for two years! By the end, you should have over 200 ideas.
20 Years of Writing
Chris Cooper and I have literally written thousands of things over two decades in media and business.
Sometimes the topics were assigned, but in many cases it was solely up to us to come up with ideas for stories. For example, I wrote an opinion column in a local street magazine for years, and each week I had to come up with a topic. Anything. But it had to challenge and engage readers.
That freedom is exciting, but it can also be terrifying.
Imagine standing alone in the middle of a giant field that stretches from horizon to horizon. You can go anywhere. So which way do you go? And what do you do if someone tells you that you must arrive at some unknown by important destination in exactly one hour?
In business blogging, the pressure is always on. Entrepreneurs are busy, and they need to be able to create content fast. Their time is valuable, and they can’t afford to spend it staring at a blank page.
Here’s how to make sure it never happens again.
What to Blog About: 100 Easy Ideas
Over on TwoBrain.com, Chris Cooper has created a course called the Authority Ladder.
In the course, Chris—who has written four books and has been blogging daily since 2008—lays out a simple but very effective plan for creating 100 pieces of content. He calls it The Power of 10, and we’ll give you the short version here.
Your prospective clients are out there asking all kinds of questions—and in the digital age, you get to be part of the conversation. Or you can at least listen in on the conversations.
In the Authority Ladder, Chris tells you exactly how to find “congregations” of potential clients by asking your current clients about the groups and forums they’re part of. In those public groups, you’ll find all sorts of questions. Write down every question you see that relates to your business or industry, then select the top 10 questions.
Next, answer each question 10 different ways on your blog.
Remember: No one sees everything you do, and it’s important to create consistent but creative messaging. So you don’t need a new topic for every blog. You need a new way to address a popular topic.
For example, McDonald’s has sold hamburgers for decades but hasn’t ever run out of things to say about those burgers.
Use the same principle: Write 10 answers to 10 questions. That’s 100 pieces of content!
Here’s a detailed example so you see exactly how this system works.
Imagine you run a home-repair business that specializes in basements.
If you search online for “basement finishing forum,” you’ll find lots of sites, lots of questions, and literally hundreds of blog topics.
On the first site I visited, I saw this: “I’m going to carpet my basement. Should I install a subfloor first?”
If you’re a home-repair expert, alarm bells should be ringing in your head. You know the answer—so write a blog!
On one site, I even found a list of the top five questions people ask about finishing a basement. Here’s the most common question, according to the site: What will it cost to finish my basement?
Let’s apply the Power of 10 to that question so you can see how to attack it from 10 different angles and figure out what to blog about.
What to Blog About: One Topic, 10 Blogs
Here are 10 blogs you can write from a single forum question on costs of finishing a basement:
- Overall estimated cost of finishing a 1,000-square-foot basement (general overview).
- Five ways to save money when finishing a basement.
- Five places you should never cut costs when finishing a basement.
- The best money you’ll ever spend when finishing your basement.
- The most expensive part of finishing a basement.
- How much money will you save if you finish your basement yourself?
- Basement finishing costs: contractors vs. do it yourself.
- How to estimate the costs of finishing your basement.
- The best spreadsheets and apps for tracking basement-finishing costs.
- Where to buy materials to reduce the costs of finishing a basement.
That’s 10, and you could probably come up with more variations.
Then move on to another question and do the same thing.
Here are nine more common questions:
- How do I wire a basement?
- Do I need a permit to finish my basement?
- How do I waterproof a basement?
- What’s the easiest way to frame around plumbing?
- How do I install plumbing in a basement?
- Should I install a gas or electric water heater in my basement?
- Do I need an egress window in my basement?
- Do I need a sump pump?
- How do I patch cracks in a basement floor?
And so on.
The Power of 10 Again
To make sure you get the idea, we’ll crank out 10 more blog ideas based around the question about waterproofing.
- Does “waterproof paint” work?
- Tips to improve drainage through landscaping.
- How long should downspouts be to prevent a wet basement?
- Seal windows to prevent basement leaks.
- How to repair a crack in a foundation wall.
- The cost of repairing cracks in a foundation wall.
- How to remove mould and mildew from a leaky basement.
- Exterior foundation repair: installing waterproof membranes.
- How window wells can prevent a wet basement.
- Five signs you definitely need a sump pump.
Stop Here If You’re Inspired
If you need topic ideas fast, I’d encourage you to stop reading now and head into some forums related to your business. Find 10 questions people are asking, then perform the Power of 10 exercise to come up with 10 ways to answer each question.
Then start blogging.
When you run out of ideas, come back to this article and start reading here.
Running Idea Total: 100
Quora, Yahoo Answers and Similar Sites
The question-and-answer site Quora can probably fuel your blog forever.
In just a few minutes, Two-Brain Media co-founder Chris Cooper came up with the post “31 Blog Topics for Gym Owners” simply by finding the top 31 questions about exercise and fitness. Read the article and think of variations that relate to your industry.
Here’s an example of how to make the jump from fitness to your industry. Topic from the fitness industry: “What are some hacks to build muscle fast?”
Similar blog topics by industry:
- Automotive: Hacks to find a good used car fast.
- Beauty: Things that will make your hair grow faster.
- Food: How to prepare meals faster.
- Pets: Tips for training your stubborn dog faster.
- Gardening: How to make grass grow faster.
- Education: How to learn faster.
And so on.
Just for fun, we’ll Power of 10 the meal-prep topic for you.
- The secrets to batch cooking.
- Five essential kitchen tools for batch cooking.
- 10 fast batch-cooking recipes.
- How to use a crock pot.
- The secrets to quick kitchen clean-up.
- The fastest lunches/dinners/breakfasts/snacks you’ll ever make.
- Veggies and cold cuts: 5 lightspeed lunches.
- How to create a shopping list for batch cooking.
- Five ways everyone loses time in the kitchen.
- Chef secrets: How pros do things faster in the kitchen.
Running Idea Total: 147
Search and Ye Shall Find
Stuck for ideas? Simply spend some time on any site like Quora and see what questions are common. Then start answering them on your blog.
As another example, check out what Yahoo Answers would produce if you were running a beauty business:
- Should you thread or wax your eyebrows?
- How much should you tip a hairstylist?
- What is the most damaging hair color?
- How should I pick a wig?
- What shade of lipstick complements discolored teeth?
- Should you wash your hair before dyeing it?
- Is hemorrhoid cream effective for treating puffy eyes?
- Should I use shampoo every day?
- Does hair dye cause hair loss?
- How often should you wash makeup brushes?
It took less than 2 minutes to find all those questions.
Running Idea Total: 157
Google’s predictive search almost makes it too easy to generate blog topics.
Start typing literally anything and see what Google supplies as it guesses to figure out how it can help you.
Example: I typed “why is” and entered a C. All sorts of stuff popped up:
- Why is college so expensive?
- Why is coffee called joe?
- Why is communication important?
That alone should give you three more ideas for blogs:
- Why does a product or service cost X?
- Why is something in your industry called X?
- Why is a product or service important?
Running Idea Total: 160
If you go further and actually enter something in the search, Google will give you a list of sites that contain answers, as well as similar questions.
I entered “what to blog about.” Here are related questions supplied by Google’s People Also Ask feature:
- What can I blog about to make money?
- What are the most popular blog topics?
- What is a blog?
Then I scrolled down to find “searches related to what to blog about”:
- What to blog about today.
- How to know what to blog about.
- What to blog about as a teenager.
Those are just three of the eight related searches.
Hard up for ideas? Type anything into Google.
Running Idea Total: 166
Current Events and Trends
As a variation of the technique described above, enter your industry or topic into Google and click the “news” button.
That will show you what’s currently grabbing people’s attention.
I entered “basement finishing” in Google News and found a USA Today article about vinyl flooring. If I were a basement contractor, I’d use the Power of 10 principle and write articles about that immediately:
- Where to find vinyl flooring in (insert city).
- Why you should (or should not) install vinyl flooring in a basement.
- How much should you expect to pay for vinyl flooring?
- What are the best kinds of vinyl flooring?
- How to install vinyl flooring.
- What will a contractor charge to install vinyl flooring?
- Tools you need to install vinyl flooring.
- Mistakes to avoid when installing vinyl flooring.
- How to obscure basement cracks with vinyl flooring.
- Five tips to make installing vinyl flooring easy.
If USA Today or other major outlets are writing about a topic, people in your area will look for more info. So supply it.
Running Idea Total: 176
Here are more Power of 10 ideas based on an article supplied in a Google News search:
- What to do if your tires get slashed.
- How to change a tire.
- How long a temporary spare tire will last.
- Can/should you repair a slashed tire?
- How/where to dispose of damaged tires.
- How much does it cost to replace slashed tires?
- Are slashed tires covered by insurance?
- Do tires explode when slashed?
- What is the penalty for slashing tires?
- How to prevent slashed tires.
Can you imagine what would happen if police reported a rash of tire slashings in your area and your blog had these 10 articles?
Check the local and national news, as well as social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see if anything related to your industry is trending.
Running Idea Total: 186
Five W’s and One H
Most people have heard of “the five W’s”—short questions you can use to get info about any subject. An “H question” is sometimes tacked on.
Parents are usually hit with a stream of W and H questions all day as kids learn about the world. Good news stories usually contain answers to all the questions. Police reports do, too. And so do research papers.
Blogs are also a great place to deal with the W’s and the H.
The questions: Who, what, when, why, where and how.
You can always use these questions to generate blog topics fast.
Here’s an extensive example, this time for a nursery/gardening business.
- Who grew the largest tomato in history?
- Who invented fertilizer?
- Who can grow an orchid?
- What flowers should I plant in my garden?
- What kind of tomato grows best in (insert city)?
- What is the best time to harvest peas?
- When should I fertilize cucumber plants?
- When should I sow seeds indoors?
- When should you leave a garden fallow?
- Why do people plant tomatoes in cages?
- Why do the ends of my zucchinis rot?
- Why do squash leaves turn white?
- Where should I put a garden in my yard?
- Where can I find the best potting soil?
- Where should I plant impatiens?
- How much does it cost to grow a green pepper?
- How many potatoes will one plant produce?
- How do I know when to pick strawberries?
Running Idea Total: 204
I could probably come up with 50 more questions in 10 minutes, and each one would make a great blog.
More W’s and H’s
To get your creative juices flowing, I’ll fire out six more questions on nutrition:
- Who needs to eat more vegetables?
- What foods should you eat to gain muscle?
- When should you consider a low-carb diet?
- Where can I find sugar-free sweeteners?
- Why do people try the keto diet?
- How effective is the Zone Diet?
And here are six on fitness:
- Who is the fittest person on Earth?
- What is “full depth” in a squat?
- When is the best time to work out?
- Where can I find the best personal trainers in the city?
- Why do people work with a personal trainer?
- How do you know if you’ve worked out enough for one day?
Running Idea Total: 216
Bookmark a Great Site
Great bloggers produce mountains of content, and their output can inspire you.
Of course, you shouldn’t cut and paste another person’s content and call it your own. But when a clever blogger in the finance world writes a great piece about investing, a personal trainer might use the idea of long-term saving to talk about fitness and health.
In your own industry, you can offer a fresh or local take on a topic, come at it from a new angle or even offer a contradictory opinion.
- A dentist sees a blog that lists the top five toothbrushes, but three of them aren’t available locally. So what’s the local top five?
- A dentist sees a blog about the best toothpaste but believes the article left out some important elements. So he or she writes his or her own review of the toothpaste.
- A dentist sees a blog on the best dental floss but disagrees with it. He or she could offer another opinion based on research and experience.
Running Idea Total: 219
By reading other blogs, you’ll come up with scores of things to talk about.
Over at Twobrainbusiness.com, Chris Cooper produces an endless stream of high-quality blogs intended for business owners. Check out how he talks to his audience, then take a similar approach to yours.
You can find great blogs simply by googling “best blogs” and adding an industry or subject. “Best blogs cars” will give you hundreds of blogs to review, for example.
Check great blogs regularly, and every time you read a good one, ask yourself a question: “How can I create something similar?”
Or, “Can I add more information to this topic?”
Or, “Do I agree with what the author wrote?”
Talk to Five Long-Term Clients and Five New Clients
Your current clients can give you a host of ideas. Even better, you’ll answer questions for some very important people and involve them in the creative process.
Let’s say you run a massage studio. Talk to the five clients who have been around longest and ask each one for his or her top questions about your business or industry.
Here are five questions (blog ideas!) you might get from a client who’s been connected to your brand for a long time:
- Has anyone developed any new techniques lately?
- Are more or less doctors and physiotherapists recommending massage as treatment for pain these days?
- What are your favorite massage YouTube channels or blogs?
- Do the muscles of a long-term client feel different than those of a new client?
- What are the top five things you’ve learned about the body in your career?
Similarly, here are five questions a new client might ask. And remember that new clients were very recently prospective clients, so they’ll give you great insight about what people want to read about.
- Should I get a massage even though I’m pain-free?
- What are the benefits of long-term massage care?
- How is your business different from any other massage clinic?
- What are the names of the muscles that usually cause people the most trouble?
- Should I work out before or after a massage?
Running Idea Total: 229
Get to Your Keyboard!
I’ll stop there so you can get writing. You know what to blog about now.
But I’ll offer one final tip that’s more helpful than any other when trying to come up with blog topics:
Forget you’re an expert and start asking questions related to your products, services and industry.
Then put your expert hat on and answer them.
Then answer them in 10 different ways.
Mike Warkentin is the co-founder of Two-Brain Media and the founder of CrossFit 204.