Trust me, I feel your pain. We live in a world where generating interesting, useful, quality content is essential to success. But, damn it, that’s hard. Even if you understand your product and your audience inside and out, it can be very challenging to pick the topics most likely to engage your audience. To help myself get over the “tyranny of the blank page,” I’ve developed a series of questions that I ask myself when I’m thinking of what to write about. Perhaps they will help you.
What do I know that might be helpful?
This is the divergence of marcom and content isn’t it? Marcom is all about your company and your products. Content is all about your audience. What matters to them? What keeps them up at night (or at least irritates them during the day)? When thinking about blog topics, consider those that put you in the position to offer your reader some tidbit of knowledge that will improve their life in some way, however small.
There are some websites, like Buzzsumo, that will give you great insight into which posts related to your industry are doing well in terms of engagement right now. This is a good way to uncover potential topic ideas that will get interest and momentum.
What’s going on in the world?
People love information that is topical. It’s August right now. It might make sense to start thinking about back to school related content, or perhaps something about Labor Day. California is in a drought, the first Republican primary debate is coming up, and the federal fiscal year ends in September. Do any of these things (or others you find) matter to my audience? If so, you have topic ideas.
What am I trying to do?
I’m pretty sure you aren’t writing your blog because doing so is a laugh riot. (If I am wrong, please call me out in the comments.) You are more than likely writing your blog because you want someone to do something. Maybe it is fill out a lead form, or subscribe, or even just hang out on your site for a while. So, ask yourself, what can I write that just might get a person to do exactly that.
What else is awesome?
We never, ever suggest plagiarizing someone else’s work. That’s awful. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a post that you think is awesome and making it your own. It’s even OK to write about how awesome someone else’s post is (assuming that you properly attribute any quotes).
Is my idea good enough?
One of my favorite sayings is, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” In this way, content writing is a bit like baseball. In most things, if you are only successful three out of 10 times, you suck. In baseball, if you bat .300, you’re in the hall of fame.
Sometimes you are going to strike out. That’s ok. You only fail if you let that fact keep you in the dugout.