People who don’t write a lot think that writing — the act of creating sentences and paragraphs — is the toughest part of being a blogger. In reality, the mechanics of writing are not all that difficult. It takes some practice, but most people can get the hang of structuring and writing a blog article without much trouble.
The really hard part of blogging is finding something to blog about. When you sit down to blog, you are faced with the task of reducing an infinity of potential topics to one topic. That topic has to be relevant, interesting, and it has to fit within the format of a blog. The journey from infinite choices to writable topic is often painful. A desire to avoid taking that journey is a major cause of writer’s’ block and procrastination.
First, the bad news: there’s no easy fix that will reliably deliver subjects for your blog articles. However, there are simple techniques for funnelling the infinite field down to a manageable size.
I’m not enthusiastic about tying business blogging too closely to search engine optimization, but keywords are an important link between potential readers and your writing.
Let’s say you want to write a blog article for your business, which sells custom cupcakes. Before you get to the point of writing, you should have spent time researching relevant keywords. I’m not going to go into keyword research here, because there are many excellent articles on the subject.
Keywords are more than just an SEO tool, they’re an insight into the minds of your readers and a source of inspiration. If your research revealed that “cupcake for Valentine’s Day” is a suitable keyphrase, there’s your topic.
Often it’s not quite so clear as that example, but an understanding of the keywords relevant to your business reduces the infinite possibilities down to a subset of relevant topics you can play around with.
Be creative with keywords: there are any number of fascinating, funny, educational, and enticing articles that could be written around the basic theme of “cupcakes for Valentine’s Day”.
You might write about how the custom of Valentine’s Day gift-giving began, or the psychology of gift-giving, or great movies with a Valentine’s Day setting — all of which present the opportunity to include the keyphrase.
Use your imagination and don’t be tempted to write a boring article about “Buying Custom Cupcakes For Your Partner On Valentine’s Day” in which you hyperbolically extol the virtues of your custom cupcakes. No one wants to read that.
Marketing personas are fictional characters that represent the leads you are interested in attracting to your website. In our cupcake example, we might have a marketing persona called Esmeralda: a twenty-something woman who works as a lawyer and would love to bake cupcakes to give as gifts, but can’t find the time.
When you are developing topics, think about what Esmeralda would like to read about. There are lots of cupcake-related topics she isn’t interested in, and just a few that are likely to get her to click when she sees them in her Twitter feed.
Bring It Together
You have a product (custom cupcakes), a keyphrase (cupcakes for Valentine’s day), and a persona (Esmeralda).
The intersection of these three inspirations is powerful. Hopefully, you can see how much easier it is to generate topics in this way. We’ve cut away the infinity of topics, and now we have a small space of potential topics to choose from.
Pick the most interesting, and start writing.