Previously, I posted about forming your business blogging strategy - first about forming a strategy for starting a blog, then about your writing strategy as it relates to getting traffic. I think what I should have done in between those posts is written about how to find topics to write about. After all, you can't implement a traffic strategy if you don't know what you're going to write about!
Creativity is extremely important when it comes to writing blog posts. What you have to realize when you're writing for a blog is that the content needs to have an authoritative edge, as well as a certain tone and style, in order to effectively engage readers. I think this gives bloggers a lot of latitude for the types of posts they can write - news pieces, opinion pieces and reviews, lists, advice and tips...the list goes on and on.
This means that you have a wealth of sources available for generating topics related to your niche. Here's a list of sources that I use:
- Blog search engines - search on sites like Technorati, Bloglines, and Google Blog Search to find the latest topics other bloggers in your niche are talking about. Search using a broader keyword (like "social media" or "digital photography") so you can sift through the results for more specific topics. Don't limit your results to what was blogged about recently either - if you can find topics that were written about several months (or years) ago, you have the opportunity to write a fresh take on the subject.
- Press releases - search through PRNewswire or PRWeb to find the latest press releases in your industry, then write either a straight news piece or an opinion piece. Here's an example of a post I wrote in response to a recently released report.
- Twitter - what's the Twitterverse tweeting about? The people you follow can offer fodder for topics, or you can check out conversations across the Twitterverse using Twitter Search.
- Social bookmarking sites - search sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, or niche bookmarking sites to find popular blogs and topics that are being bookmarked. Take a look at the comments and reviews that are posted as well - these provide valuable insight into the topic or individual post that can play a part as you write your own post.
- Your RSS feed subscriptions - what feeds are you subscribed to? Check out your favorite feeds for possible topics.
- Online forums and Q&A sites - if someone is asking a question or looking for advice, then you have the opportunity to address that issue through your blog. This can be especially effective if your business website already has its own online community forum - you can use your blog to answer questions from visitors on a personal level. Otherwise, look for forums (using a forum search engine like Omgili) in your industry or niche and scope out the questions that seem to be asked often. Check out Q&A sites like Yedda, Wikianswers, Yahoo! Answers, and LinkedIn Answers as well - you can write a blog post to address the issue, then answer the question on the site with a reference back to the post.
- Newspapers and/or industry pubs - possible topics aren't just found online. Write your take on an interesting article you read in the paper that morning, or in a favorite magazine or trade pub.
- Life experiences - remember what I said about creativity being important? Here's where it plays a major part. Take a look at what is going on around you - at work, at home, on planes, trains, or in automobiles - and think of ways you can relate those experiences to something happening in your business, industry, or niche. Metaphor can go a long way in blogging.
Do you have a blog? What are your favorite sources for generating blog post topics?