So, you know you should be blogging.
The top question I hear from business owners is — What should I write about?
Businesses in some niches or industries may simply feel that there isn’t anything “exciting” to write about that will generate an audience.
If your business has customers, it has an audience, and chances are there is something that will interest them. If you want your blog to lead to conversions, find topics that will attract the kind of readers that could become customers.
There are five tools I use every day to find blog topics that will generate traffic and sales.
Tool 1: Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Did you know you could have, at minimum, 50 great topic ideas for the keyword fishing lures? I’m not kidding you – fishing supply stores need to jump on top of this! Visit the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and enter fishing lures in to the word or phrase search box. You’ll get 100 results, and I’m sure that you can make a blog topic out of at least half of those.
As you can see, over 5,000 people search for information about old fishing lures each month.
If you happen to have a Google AdWords account, you can sign in option to get even more ideas. By signing into my own Google AdWords account and using the same keywords, the results went from 100 to 800. When you get more results, you will also get some longer phrases to play with that make for great blog topic ideas. How to make homemade fishing lures and how to paint fishing lures jumped out as neat ones to tackle.
Tool 2 – Quora
A business that sells fishing lures would likely cater to fisherman as their customer base. Therefore, topics that interest a fisherman would be great for their blog. You can use question & answer sites to find people who are asking question about your industry to see what topics they want to know about. For starters, there are 46 open questions in the Fishing section of Quora, a popular Q&A network.
Tool 3 – Yahoo Answers
Next, you can travel over to Yahoo Answers. This network can be a bit iffy as it is not as professional as Quora, but for certain niches or industries, you might find just the right kind of questions to spark some ideas.
Tool 4 – LinkedIn Answers
LinkedIn Answers also has a great question and answers section. These questions are generally more business oriented.
Consider these results that could drum up some blog topics for an accounting firm.
Tool 5 – A Spreadsheet
When you have generated the blog topics, the next step is to get organized.
For this part of the blog topic generation process, you can use a spreadsheet. I have an example blog topics spreadsheet that you can download for Excel or Open Office in Google Docs. Just go to File > Download As to choose how you would like to save it to your desktop. If you have a Google Account, you can also make a copy to your own Google Docs.
This spreadsheet has four simple yet important columns.
- Category – If your business has more than one focus or area of interest that you could tackle in your blog, separate your topics by category (such as the blog category the post will fit under on your website). Once you have a strong list of topics, you can use the filter option in your spreadsheet software to display only topics for a particular category when you are ready for a post about that category.
- Site – Some businesses are not only blogging on their own site. A great way to reach a new audience is through guest blogging on other blogs and writing articles on industry-related sites. You can use this column to sort which ideas you would like on your own business blog and which ones you want to use for other blogs and websites.
- Title – When you’re in the idea generation stage, you can put the first title idea that pops into your head and use headline formulas on it later when you’re ready to write the article. Sometimes the title may shift as the content is being developed. Plus you want to generate as many ideas as possible for future use and not get too stuck on one.
- Conversion Point – This is key. Whenever a great topic idea springs into your mind, you will probably want to use that Aha! moment to think about how that topic will lead to a conversion. You can enter the link to the product or service that this blog post topic will most likely convert into, or you can enter things such as Spring Promotion, Father’s Day Gifts, or other notes that will point you or your writer in the right direction when crafting the post.
- Date Needed By – If the conversion point for a particular blog topic is in relation to a specific holiday or time of the year, be sure to enter a date for it that way it doesn’t get lost. For your own blog, a due date seven days in advance is good for editing purposes. Be sure that if you’re writing a post for another site for a date-sensitive promotion that you get the post to the site in time for approval – some sites may take longer to publish your post once it is sent to them.
- Additional Notes – This is where you can continue to make notes based on that Aha! moment with a particular topic. I find that no matter how specific the blog topic may seem, having those additional notes such as outline points will help the writing of it happen much easier.
- Source – This is where you note where you found the blog topic idea. This can be useful for future reference if you find yourself stuck in a rut to come up with more blog topics. It can also be helpful for the Q&A sites – enter a link directly to that question and, once you’re ready to write the post or assign it to a writer, you can get more ideas from any answers the question might have received.
The result? Here’s a little sample I put together using ideas from Google AdWords Keyword Tool (GAKT), Quora, LinkedIn, and Yahoo Answers. Click the image to enlarge it!
Using this kind of model, you can create blog topics that are ready to go and ready to convert!