Do you ever feel like you’ve hit a big red “pause” button on your blogging when it comes to the ideation process?
You sit behind your computer, contemplate your next big idea but…get nowhere?
You want to write something great. You want your readers to find value in your content. Your idea is key. Except, you know…your ideas kind of suck. Or maybe you don’t have any ideas at all.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to settle with those less-than-ideal topics. Take a deep breath, clear your desk, and prepare to start over. Use the following tips to help inspire your next blog post topic.
1. Explore Existing Questions, Then Answer Them
All across the Internet people are asking questions that you can answer in your blog posts. Just some places to find these questions include:
If somebody is asking a particular question, chances are a whole bunch of other people are, too, even if they haven’t voiced it yet.
So enter a niche-targeted keyword into any one of these forums and see what types of questions come up that spark a blog post idea.
2. Expand on a Recent Blog Comment
Do you get blog comments asking specific questions? Do people send you private mail asking for personalized advice? Then you have a blog post waiting to happen right there!
I’ve heard people say that great bloggers don’t go looking for questions to answer. The questions come to them. So if you’re fortunate enough to get your readers asking for your advice, don’t be afraid to answer it publicly!
Jennifer Mattern of All Indie Writers does this frequently, and each time her blog comments prove that other people are grateful she has answered the question publicly. Here’s just one example of a Q&A posts and how you can format yours similarly.
3. Dig Through Your Archives
Recycling your previous ideas can offer a lot of benefits to readers. Plus, it saves you the hassle of whipping a brand spankin’ new idea out of thin air. By looking through your archives, you can inspire new blog posts in these ways:
- Build off your original idea by looking at it from a different perspective. Let’s say one of your articles is titled “5 Successful Networking Tips for Introverts.” You might stick with the same idea–networking tips–except write a new post for extroverts.
- Dig deeper into one section. Let’s take the same networking example and say one of your five tips was to practice your elevator pitch before networking events. You could write an entire post about various techniques to help you practice and perfect your elevator pitch.
- Consolidate your ideas. Taking an opposite approach to digging deep, you might go a bit broader and incorporate a few previous ideas into a new post. (Make sure to link to these other posts as resources!) Allison Boyer explains how to do it at BlogWorld.com. (Check out tip #5!)
- Write a sequel. Have you come by more tips to help introverts in networking? Write a second post on the subject, like “5 Successful Networking Tips for Introverts (Part 2).”
4. Tap into Your Network
Sometimes picking someone else’s brain is all you need to spark spin-off ideas for yourself. Ask your friends for advice about new ideas. This is often most effective if you can narrow your topic a bit first and then ask for guidance on coming up with more valuable ideas in that topic area.
As an example, you might tell your network that you’d like to write an article about networking but are looking for suggestions on how to dig deeper into the topic.
This technique of inspiration is often utilized best in a forum setting. This way you’re not bugging your friends but instead collaborating. A great place to brainstorm ideas with other writers and people in your niche is at MyBlogU.com, a platform that’s all about learning from others and brainstorming blog post ideas.
5. Read Other Articles
Reading and writing go hand in hand. Reading doesn’t only help you become a better writer, but it can help inspire your writing, too. When your ideas feel “stuck,” take a mental break and read a news article, a blog post, or a magazine article.
The idea here isn’t to steal other people’s ideas or to even repurpose their content. It is simply an exercise that can inspire your own ideas.
As you’re reading, take notes on phrases or topics that are interesting. You might even highlight passages you want to share with your readers, making sure you give credit where credit is due. Consider keeping a running list of these passages and ideas in an Evernote folder so that you can go back and explore them when you’re feeling out of ideas.
You might also use and RSS reader (I use Feedly) to subscribe to blogs in your niche and to follow their ideas.
6. Cheat With a Topic Generator
HugSpot offers this really cool Blog Topic Generator tool. All you have to do is enter three keywords, and it will give you a boat load of titles that you can use for your blog. If you like these ideas, use ’em!
But since some of these ideas might not be completely unique, especially when other bloggers are using the tool, you can use these suggestions as a starting point and then build off of them to make your post one of a kind. Or stick with the same idea and tweak the headline.
Here’s a sample of what came up when I typed in the keywords “blog,” “ideas,” and “inspiration.”
7. Explore Recent Trends
No matter your niche, you can almost always connect your main blog’s topic to a trending news story. Start by exploring trending topics in some of these places:
As you explore these topics, ask yourself if you can create a blog post with niche-related topics or if you can draw parallels between your industry and unrelated trending ideas.
8. Poll Your Readers
If you’re really unsure of where to go with things, get your readers involved. Run a poll asking about their ideas. What do they want to know about your niche? What are they struggling to understand? What topics do they feel are too overdone?
Use their answers to create blog posts geared toward their interests. Not only is this a great way to come up with new ideas, but it’s a super effective way to make sure you’re offering value to your readers and not regurgitating content they’ve heard a million times.
9. Spark Ideas with Headline Prompts
Just Google “headline templates” or “headline formulas” and you’ll be greeted with numerous articles detailing various headlines you can use for your articles. All you have to do is fill in the blanks to make your post niche-specific. Use these headline formulas to spark new topics.
I’ll make it easy for you. Here are a total of 94 headline templates. Use them well.
- 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
- 41 Classic Copywriting Headline Templates
- 43 Powerfully Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Blog Post Headline Templates
10. Recruit a Guest
If you really, really can’t come up with any ideas after exploring all these other options, consider having someone else come up with one for you. Ask someone you know if they would be interested in sharing their ideas and contributing a guest post.
Can’t think of someone off the top of your head? Consider hiring a freelance blogger or consultant to help you explore quality post ideas.
Even with all these ideas, you’re not alone in feeling completely stuck when trying to come up with ideas. So do your friends a favor and Tweet this post so that they can grab these ideas, too.