27 Killer Strategies for Brainstorming Blog Post Ideas
Remember when you first started blogging?
Your mind was flooded with great blog post ideas – coming up with them wasn’t challenging.
Instead, executing on those ideas is probably what was keeping you up at night.
Then one day, you’re not sure how or why – your flow of ideas started to slow.
Your posting schedule became less consistent, and the pressure to come up with new topics only increased your anxiety.
But you were no closer to a solution.
We’ve all been there.
Some call it writer’s block, others just chalk it up to a lack of inspiration. But whatever you call it, one thing is clear: you need new blog post ideas, and you need them quick.
Here are 27 strategies that will help you come up with more blog post ideas, and fill up that content calendar.
1. Mine your hobbies
I love reading posts that offer a unique perspective on a popular topic – your audience might be the same.
Make a list of hobbies and cross reference them with your industry. It’ll result in a headline like: 7 Things I Learned About [industry topic] from [your hobby].
2. Read a great book
Non-fiction books feature tons of information, studies and antidotes that you can use to brainstorm new blog post ideas.
One easy technique for using this tactic is to go through the Table of Contents and use the chapter headings as new blog posts.
3. Get another perspective
Nothing quite says brainstorming like gathering a group of people together around a whiteboard.
If possible, find people in parallel industries to offer different perspectives (e.g. If you’re writing about marketing, get small business owners, web developers and graphic designers to contribute).
4. Review old content
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you should have a list of popular posts on your website.
Look through your archives and brainstorm new ways to attack old content.
Repurposing your content can open up the door for tons of new posts.
5. Word association
An age-old favorite: word association.
It’s a simple process.
Start with an industry-related word or phrase. Then write the first thing that comes into your head upon reading that word.
Keep going until you’ve found several angles that will make for some unique posts.
6. Use Google’s suggestions
You know how Google suggests phrases as you type your search query? That’s right – we’re going to use it to brainstorm.
Type in your phrase and use the suggestions to come up with blog post ideas:
7. Read the news
You can newsjack stories that directly affect your readers.
Or you can take an indirect approach by finding a popular news story outside your industry and writing about how it could affect your audience.
For example, as a marketer, the drought in California isn’t directly related to my niche. But I could still use this newsworthy topic to write a story like How the California Drought Will Affect Silicon Valley Startups.
8. Go somewhere else
Some places are just more inspirational than others. That’s why I love the idea of PeerSpace (it’s like AirBnB, but for creative spaces).
Even something as simple as a park pavilion or private room in a restaurant can do the trick.
9. Use freewriting
Freewriting is the foundation of several brainstorming techniques.
You simply write nonstop for a set amount of time. Don’t make corrections or edits along the way. Just keep writing until your time ends and see what ideas have come out of your session.
10. Dive into Quora
Quora is a wonderful community, full of people asking and answering questions.
You can follow interests related to your industry and then when you need new blog post ideas, dig through the stream and look for questions or answers that could help your audience.
I’m such a huge fan of this technique that I’ve actually incorporated it into the strategy documents I share with my content marketing clients.
One tab on the document automatically pulls in a list of related Quora questions, giving us plenty of ideas that we know people are looking for information on.
11. Keyword research
Solid keywords are the cornerstone of blog posts, which make them a perfect brainstorming tool.
I try to make an effort to discover new keywords on a regular basis.
12. Make a mind map
Start with big ideas or general keywords (e.g. Internet Marketing). Then, break it down into smaller sections (e.g. Content Marketing, PPC, SEO).
Continue to get more specific, giving you a bunch of topics that will make for great posts.
13. Use an idea generator
14. Mistakes and learning
Make a list of the challenges, mistakes and failures you’ve overcome.
Chances are, your readers are facing similar things and need the concrete solutions you can provide from your experience.
It’s a perfect opportunity to create helpful content.
15. Use a brainstorming spreadsheet
Hubspot has a brainstorming spreadsheet that adds a bit of structure to the process. It’s a visual, detailed way to generate ideas based on a general topic.
16. Search social media
Tools like Topsy help you search through the topics that are being shared most on social media. Go through the popular posts related to your industry and mine them for content ideas.
17. Write down your ideas
The best ideas seem to happen when I’m not trying to create them. Carrying around a notebook helps me capture my ideas – whether I’m out and about or waking up from a dream.
When you get in the habit of writing down ideas, you may find that they flow a lot easier as well. Give it a try!
18. Take advantage of your comments
Find a blog in your industry with an active comments section (or, if you have a discussion section on your own blog, use that).
Read through each comment and look at what people are asking. Those questions can lead to great ideas for blog posts.
19. Use the Medici Effect
The Medici Effect refers to the way in which seemingly unrelated things often intersect. When coming up with blog post ideas, look for commonalities across different topics.
For example, let’s say I ran a blog about helping freelancers succeed. If I came across a post about the best morning routines for executives, I could then translate that topic into something specific to my audience.
20. Do competitor analysis
Go through the content that your competitors are creating. I like to start in their Most Popular Posts section, or use one of the many tools online that make this even easier.
Analyze the post topics and their relative popularity. Then, look for ways you can expand on the topics, include better research or create a piece of content that’s better overall.
21. Take the headline challenge
Sit down and commit to writing 50 new headlines for blog topics.
Get started by using some of the web’s basic headline formulas.
Take the formulas and create headlines that are related to your industry – don’t stop until you have 50 options.
It might seem difficult at first, but once you get in the groove, ideas should start flowing quite freely. It may take you until you’ve got 50 versions written to come up with something good, but trust me – your great idea is in there.
22. Take notes as you write
When you’re writing a post, it’s easy to get off topic and start talking about something else. But before deleting that section and refocusing, make a note of what you were veering off about.
Come back later and make a new post from that idea.
23. Put on the pressure
I work better when I’m under pressure. If you operate the same way, give yourself a deadline for the post (or list of ideas).
You can up the ante by using an app like StickK, where money is on the line if you don’t make the deadline you set for yourself.
24. Interview your target readers
The best type of content directly helps and educates your readers. Use an interview to uncover their challenges, questions and knowledge gaps.
Not only is it great fodder for blog topics, but you’ll gain deeper insight into the mind of your audience, which will strengthen your overall positioning and voice in the new content you produce.
25. Attend an industry conference
Attend a conference, debate, or discussion group within your industry.
You’ll learn plenty from the experts that share their thoughts, as well as gain some great new insight by speaking with other conference attendees.
It’s the perfect atmosphere for coming up with great new ideas. Make sure to bring something to take notes with!
26. Skim through Google alerts
Create a Google Alert for keywords that are related to your industry to have the search engine’s top headlines delivered straight to your inbox. Sift through them and see if anything sparks an idea.
27. Write up a list of questions
Write down questions about your industry.
Question everything: the future, current tactics, the validity of present beliefs… Use those questions to springboard new blog post ideas that will engage your audience and interest your readers.
This is a big list, but it’s certainly not comprehensive.
Do you have any other brainstorming strategies you’d like to add? Share your suggestions by adding a comment below!
Author: Aaron Agius is an online marketer, web strategist and entrepreneur and you can check him out at AaronAgius.com