When I first started my blog I never thought it would be easy. I knew a lot of work was ahead. But when I considered the challenges I never thought just coming up with fresh topics was going to be one of them.
There will be days, weeks even, where I have no idea what to write. News in the industry will be slow, or I will feel like everything has already been said. That is one major reason that blogs will begin looking for other people to write for them as they grow; they need fresh eyes.
It isn't a problem that goes away. Instead it will magnify the longer you blog, and you will find yourself having to get creative in discovering new topics. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do it.
1. Explore Niche Questions
I have two sources I look for when I want to know the questions people ask. The first is the fairly recent social network Quora. You can search by category, so you see what people care about in specific topics.
The second course is SERPstat, which is a keyword research tool that has a handy filter to find those keyword sets that include a question word. By knowing what questions people have, I can easily write a post meant to answer it.
2. Hold a Tweetchat, Document The Questions and Answers
Tweetchats aren't as popular as they were a couple years ago, but they are still awesome. You can dedicate a hashtag to a chat, announce the date, and get people talking. Create an itinerary with plenty of time for readers (or potential readers) to ask questions of you or other experts in the field.
Then take the whole thing and write a post that details what was said, the answers given, and help hype up the next chat. A single Tweetchat can generate a half a dozen posts if done right.
3. Repackage Old Content
Your blog itself probably has quite a few good ideas lurking on it. Old contained that gained a lot of visibility and links will hold the key to what your readers themselves care about. So you should try and get as much as you can from those posts, by repackaging them.
There are several ways to do it: create new content in a different medium (infographics, slideshows, videos, audio podcasts, etc). You can write an entire series of more in depth information about the topic itself.
You can even write an update that takes a topic that was popular a year ago or so and say what is happening now. This also gives you a chance to interlink to old content and draw new clicks to something that might not have any traction now.
4. Hold A Blog Interview
Expert interviews are always valuable. They take the expertise of someone who has a name that might already hold clout in your industry, and gives your readers direct access to their advice.
I am personally fond of holding interviews annually during conferences I attend, when I am more likely to gain access to influencers who have both the time and inclination to speak. But they can be done any time.
MyBlogU is my number one source of anything inspiration: Explain where you are stuck and users will come and help you find the way out offering unique angles, ideas, etc.
It can also be used to facilitate interviews on any topic and collect answers from experts making your life much easier.
Followerwonk is another great tool to try here. My favorite use is tracking down the top influencers on Twitter within my industry. I search them out, then look at recent posts made within the past few days. As you can imagine, it isn't hard to discern what topics are gaining the most visibility that way.
First Site Guide is a great example of expert interviews turned into a great editorial calendar asset:
5. Look at Trending Niche News
Featured tool: BuzzSumo Trending
You can search across all networks and start picking out the most common trends circulating on all of them. It gives you a wider perspective than on a single network, so you get an accurate picture of what people want to know about. You can find some killer blog topics that way.
Find more tools and tricks here: How To Productively Monitor Trends & Write Newsworthy Content
6. Go Through Old Comments For Inspiration
Both social media and blog comments are a great place to find ideas. Your readers are talking about things they care about or know about. They are asking questions and providing feedback.
You can also look through comments on other people's social media pages and blogs in order to see what the industry as a whole wants to talk about. I personally try to go through the comments of the biggest posts and social media pages at least once a week for input.
7. Bring Up Topics You Were Once Fascinated With
Remember that time when you had more ideas than you had time to cover? It's time that you bring up those stories that once inspired you!
ExpressCurate for Chrome is fantastic. It will search through your cookies to see what web pages you have been on in your recent history. Then it will give you a list of suggested pages to check out.
With content always being posted across the web, you will have fresh ideas all the time to draw from. You can do more than research, though. You can write, edit and publish to you WordPress right from the plugin itself.
(Ed.: the ExpressCurate site has gone dead. Work on the extension seems to have ceased. However, the curation aspect of the plugin still seems to function)
You can even search your Facebook Activity log and use it for inspiration too!
8. Browse Hot News Beyond Your Niche
While browsing niche trends can be useful, sometimes you need to look beyond your industry to find cool things to blog about.
There is a common joke out there that everyone, like Buzzfeed and Vice, just steals off of Reddit which is absolutely true, and there is a reason why. Reddit is a huge, insulated community of people who are sharing content, ideas, and stories. It is a great place to find ideas for blog topics. In fact, you can make whole topics with credited comments from the site itself. AskReddit threads in particular are a gold mine for amazing blog post ideas.
9. Ask For Reader Contributions
One of my favorite ways to get new content is from readers themselves. Contributions are easy to come by, just ask! Request stories, or even hold a contest for visual content. This is also a great move for social media engagement, which of course spreads awareness and will draw more clicks to your blog.
Have any tips for finding killer blog topics? Let us know in the comments!
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