I just took 30 minutes and came up with 16 blog topics – some of which will become three or four posts as I begin to write – and they are all things that my target readership feels passionate about.
That’s 3-4 weeks’ worth of hot blog topics for half an hour of work – and it was fun, too.
Blog Topics For Your Niche – Free!
It’s a little sneaky, but I don’t mind admitting it: I eavesdropped.
Generating Ideas Through Social Media Snooping
I used my favorite social network -Twitter – to find out what my potential readers are craving. And here’s how (it’s so simple that if you’re not already doing this, you’re going to kick yourself).
- Go to Search.twitter.com and typed in a keyword (in this case “writing”).
- Read 3-4 pages of complain-y and celebratory Tweets that contained your keyword.
- Make lightning-fast notes about the teeny sub-topics each Tweet represented, and how you might address them.
- Pop them into a mind-map document and add sub-topics to them as the ideas occurred to you (I use IThoughtsHD on my iPad. You could also use XMind or a simple spreadsheet or bullet list. I recommend Google Docs because you can access them from anywhere you have an internet connection, and you never know when you’ll have a spare half hour to compose a blog post.)
- Whenever your typing slows, go back to the search results page and look for another topic. The point of this exercise is to capture only ideas that interest both your and your readers. If you’re bored so are they. Move on.
Why Snooping Is Better Than Surveying
Sure, I could have sent out a request asking my readers what they wanted to know.
The problem with asking people for their opinions is that they
- Think about it for too long
- Want to impress you because you were nice enough to ask for their opinion or
- Are too busy to answer and you end up only getting responses from the people who aren’t your real customers.
By snooping on social media, you have access to the raw, knee-jerk, 140-character exclamations of your audience when they are delighted, outraged, pissed off, passionate. In other words, you are finding out what they really care about.
And doesn’t that sound like the perfect launch-point for your next blog post?
If you are writing a business blog, you might be better off searching through Linked In status updates. If you are writing for an industry niche, check out the most active industry forum online (you know the one).
If you’re really stuck, really in a hurry, and don’t need topics targeted specifically to your customers, check out Chris Brogan’s Blog Topics Service: it’s not free but it’s not an outrageous amount to invest in your business, either.
If you exhaust this technique and are ready to be a little overwhelmed, take a look at Copyblogger’s 50 Can’t Fail Tecnhiques for Finding Great Blog Topics.
Keep Up The Good Work
Life moves quickly.
Don’t waste your time coming up with more than a month’s worth of post ideas at a time. For all we know, some kind of seismic shift might occur in two months that will change the way you and your readers look at the world. You’ll want to write about that instead of whatever matters to you today.
Commit to doing this idea-generating exercise once a month.
Store the information somewhere that is easy for you to access (Google Docs, or just email it to yourself)
Throw out old ideas that no longer excite you.
Oh, and write the damned articles and post them every day.