Many people believe that while writing a blog is easy, knowing what to blog about is hard. After all, most of us have a wealth of knowledge in our heads, and would love to share it with the world. One of the perks of being a blogger is the ability to do this. However, the difficult part is knowing what to say and when to say it. Most experienced bloggers go through this phase, but they also learn how to overcome these obstacles.
My experience here is that the easiest way of knowing what to blog about is by strategically planning each post. While it isn’t built overnight, the best bloggers have a yearlong content calendar to draw from. Using these directions, they always know what topic is next. Here is my wisdom on how to create your content calendar, which should be both strategic and coherent.
Blogging Should Be Strategic
As a rule, determining what to blog about should include strategic decisions. One reason for this is that you need the blog to complement other aspects of your overall marketing efforts. Another reason is that your blog should be a place where customers and decision makers love to visit. Forming your blogging strategy, though, is relatively easy if you consider the following questions.
What role does your blog play in your business?
One of the most important strategic questions is what a blog can do to fulfill its strategic role. For instance, some corporate blogs are largely about company news. This is often with a view to performing shareholder and public outreach. Here, most of the blog posts will be designed to make the company look human, and like it’s a happening place for people. This is one of the reasons why blogging isn’t dead.
Similarly, many blogs are for consumer education purposes. Content marketing is a powerful aspect of corporate outreach, and one of the best forms of this is teaching people how to better use your products and services. As decision makers research a potential purchase, they want to know if what you’re offering is the best solution for their business. Knowing what to blog about, then, is knowing why you’re blogging in the first place.
What are you trying to sell or promote?
For most brands, the answer is that they’re trying to sell products, promote their company, or both. Topics for your blog should reflect the kind of business you’re in. For instance, a brand of makeup might blog about application tips and feature their products. Or, a construction materials company may discuss when to use which of their products. Service-based companies can talk about the benefits of the service they provide. Any sector may want to discuss industry news and developments, and so on.
Who is your target audience for your blog?
Finally, knowing what to blog about involves understanding your target audience. With the cosmetics company, the aim might be marketing to makeup artists and film studios. Construction materials purveyors might target homeowners or contractors, and so on. Your blog topics should reflect your audience, but so should the way in which each post is written.
Create Your Blog Content Strategy
One you have determined your goals and target audience, it’s time to actually formulate your strategy. Of first importance is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Although most established blogs and websites have regular readers who visit every week, finding new readers is critical. And, the best way to do this is with good SEO practices: most people don’t read past the first or second page of results. My blog bears this out: according to my analytics numbers, search traffic generates 82% of traffic for nealschaffer.com.
To achieve optimal SEO, determine the keywords that your target customers would use to find your products or services. Various SEO tools like SEMrush (affiliate) exist that can help you research relevant keywords in your industry. Ideally, you’ll customize for both general keywords and more specific ones. In addition, chosen keywords need to have a significant search volume. Finally, make sure your chosen keywords don’t have such stiff competition that you’ll have difficulty ranking well. This will get your content buried in results.
Create Your Editorial Calendar for a Year
Armed with relevant keywords, you’ll find that deciding what to blog about is easy. As a rule, I recommend that you start blogging on a weekly basis. Writing a blog post takes time and planning, so working time should be taken into account. The easiest way to pick topics is to list the top 52 keywords you find that match relevance to your company’s offering, search volume, and ranking difficulty when compared to the competition. Then, each week you’ll write on a different topic.
Although you may be inspired by bloggers who post several times a week, this is not a good way to start. In fact, it has been suggested that the biggest thing that kills 95% of blogs is when the writer does 5 or 6 posts too fast, then runs out of steam. Another reason to pace yourself is the building of domain authority over time. To that end, start with the least difficult post in terms of competition and work your way up blogging the more competitive ones later. Once more competitive keywords come up in your calendar, you will have built a track record with the search engines.
What to Blog About for Each Keyword
Of course, a keyword is not quite enough to know what to blog about. Rather, it’s a starting point that determines where you should be competing. Narrow down your topic by looking at the top 10 search results and understanding what is ranking well. This allows you to confirm search intent. Then, study your competition and use their posts as a way to understand what a searcher is looking for. These existing posts are what you’ll have to beat to achieve high levels of authority.
When writing, it’s important to give the topic your own, unique treatment. This means understanding what information the competition is missing in their posts. Give them that information and more using your own unique perspective and experience. Here, the idea is that people can find things on your website or blog that doesn’t appear elsewhere. Over time, this will help attract repeat visitors and let you build a following.
As you write, try to think about the kind of blogs or other material you’d like to read. Is it dry and boring, or does it show off the writer’s personality? If you’re like most people, reading the same old dry material isn’t your idea of fun. Be creative and focus on the issue in a branded and personable way that general blog writers don’t. Almost as importantly, use data sources, talk about your experiences, and include pictures or video. This way, your material will be memorable. One blogger found that conversational writing increased the time people spent on his website by 22.7%.
Finding New Blog Post Ideas
Writing something similar to everyone else’s material is OK on occasion, but you don’t want to do it all the time. Nobody likes a “me too” blog, and it doesn’t build your domain authority. Therefore, you need to find new ideas to go with your keywords. One option is to see what subjects tend to get more views or conversions and do more keyword research to find more content ideas. In other words, you’re looking for the “holes” in content that are begging to be filled.
At the same time, you should regularly revisit your SEO tool for keyword search volume as trends change regularly. Therefore, you should consider doing these checks on a quarterly or even monthly basis. You might find that customers are looking for specific information within your industry, or that your company has a solution to commonly-asked questions. This gives you an opportunity to revise your content calendar or adapt a keyword to different questions.
Over time, your search engine rankings should start to rise. Keep track of this, and over time you can target more competitive keywords with higher search volume. This works well, because as you rank higher on given topics it raises your “domain authority.” Finally, as your business gets bigger or adds new products and services, keep looking for new strategic keywords to target. Add them as appropriate to keep your content calendar competitive. Being at the forefront of a discussion is highly advantageous.
Other Places to Find New Blog Ideas
Going on the internet and looking for keyword usage isn’t the only way to decide what to blog about. In fact, relying too much on the same sources all the time can lead to the blog getting boring. We definitely don’t want that! By being the most interesting or informative blog in your industry, you can achieve a significant competitive advantage. Fortunately, this isn’t rocket science. Here are some further sources of inspiration.
Questions from readers, customers, or prospects
People in each of these categories are already interested in your blog, products and services, or both. For reader questions, consider something that indicates some insight on the part of the asker. A common example would be in automotive blogs, where someone might request insight into a particular make of car. Likewise, customers and sales leads ask questions about your products and services. If one of these topics comes up often enough, then it’s time for a customer education post.
Consider topics in the blogs you read and find interesting
Sometimes being better than another blogger isn’t the only reason to interact. I know of some bloggers, for instance, who have friendly debates through blog posts. While this is less common with corporate blogs, the principle is the same: borrowing other people’s topics and interacting with them can be highly useful. Bonus points if you get some backlinks in the process.
What people look for on your site
Here, you’re simply mining Google Analytics (make sure you set up GA Site Search) and any other tools you use to see what people are searching for. If they’re finding it, then you should consider expanding your treatment of that subject. A neglected topic should be written on as soon as possible.
What questions are people asking in Quora
For the uninitiated, Quora is a social question asking platform somewhat similar to Reddit. Look for sections that are relevant to your niche, and see what people are talking about. Then, write a post that answers these questions.
Look for popular post widgets on your competitors blogs or popular sites
An equally valuable source of information on what people want to know is competing sites. Many blogs have widgets that indicate which posts are popular. On occasion, you should mine this for information on what people are reading. Popular websites in your niche are also great sources. Knowing what to blog about is even easier when multiple sources of information are considered.
You Don’t Always Have to Reinvent the Wheel: Don’t be Afraid to Republish Blog Posts
There’s no question that some blog posts are only good for a short amount of time. Articles of this type include change of personnel announcements and other corporate news. However, much of what is written on a blog continues to be useful long into the future. To ensure the blog post remains current, you might find that revising old blog posts and republishing them is a great option. During your revision, be sure to upgrade keywords as appropriate.
Revisions can mean more than just changing keywords, though. Done right, revisions will often add content to make the post more valuable than before. At the same time, you’ll have an easier time keeping up with the competition. Blogs, just like products and services, are subject to competitive pressure. And, people go where they think the information provided is more valuable.
There’s little question that deciding what to blog about can be a challenge. Consumer demand changes, products change, and competition varies. As part of this competition, everyone is fighting for the best search engine results and regular readers. Fortunately, by following my suggestions you’ll have a great content calendar filled with a year’s worth of content in no time.
Hopefully you’re not still looking for ideas on what to blog about now, right?
Hero photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash