How to never run out of blog ideas ever again
This post was originally published in July, 2016 and has been updated and re-loved for you. Enjoy.
The biggest mistake bloggers make is, well, they don’t blog.
Those gaping holes between posts make everything on your site look a little suspect – like going into a grocery store and seeing food past its due date. How long before you question everything in the store?
The bottom line is you can’t attract new prospects and build loyalty if you don’t consistently work to attract them. That’s why content marketing (sharing valuable, problem-solving resources) is still the best way to grow your business. And this is true whether you’re a food blogger or a baker, a keynote speaker or you teach online – it’s all about sharing your best content AND proving you are the best choice.
To avoid running out of ideas for your blog you have to have lots of ideas for your blog.
In this post, I’ll walk you through 5 ways to keep great blog ideas rolling in. Let’s jump in with reading…
1. Read blogs
Nothing beats reading other people’s blogs to stimulate ideas for your own future posts. I use feedly to pull my favourite blogs into one location where I can read them while I’m eating lunch. I also make it a habit to write comments on blogs I’ve read (hint, hint) to show my appreciation.
But, reading blogs is only the start—you need to think about your market. What problems need solving? What questions are they asking you? What has worked in the past?
For example, I got the idea to write posts about Google Analytics because I was searching for answers for my clients. I found a lot of articles answering my questions, but they were either too long or too technical. So I wrote this one and this one.
Now that you’re reading great content, you need to organize the best blog ideas…
2. Build an Inventory
In the old days (like 10 years ago) you might have saved magazines or used sticky notes to mark ideas in a book you’re reading. Those systems can’t keep up with our online world where a great idea might be in a blog post you read, an online magazine, a Tweet – even an Instagram post.
You need one place to collect, organize and retrieve your best blog ideas.
Evernote is a brilliant (free) online tool that allows you to easily grab articles off the web, store images, record audio or even accept pictures of hand-scribbled notes from your phone. It syncs in seconds on all your devices and, with the paid account, you can even search off-line as you head to the grocery store to collect ingredients for your favourite Thai salad with peanut sauce recipe.
To fully unleash the power of Evernote, install the Webclipper (I remember it as the Elephant head) extension on your favourite browser. That will allow you to quickly grab the article you found, strip it of advertising, tag it and store it for future reference.
And here’s my favourite trick with Evernote (h/t to Michael Hyatt):
Instead of creating lots of Notebooks in Evernote, which can get messy and confusing, I have all my notes in one Notebook and use tags to search for what I want. And I tag all future blog ideas (including articles I saved using the Evernote extension) with the tag “unused blog post”. The tag allows me to easily pull up all my unused ideas and choose the one I want to work on. As soon as I use that note I delete it.
Okay, you’ve collected lots of blog ideas, now it’s time to organize them on a calendar…
3. Build your Editorial Calendar
A simple way to organized future blog ideas is using a spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Sheets. Or you could use planning tools like Asana or Trello. That’s great, but I’m a visual person and prefer seeing future projects in a calendar format.
If you have a WordPress site, you can organize all your blog ideas with a clever (and free) plugin called Editorial Calendar (watch our quick video to learn how this works).
When you start putting dates to topics, think about seasons and buyer behaviour. What seasons do your customers respond to (like winter, summer, Christmas, etc.)? When are your customers more likely to buy? When does your customer have certain problems (like Spring cleaning, budgeting, staff hiring, etc.)?
Your Editorial Calendar doesn’t have to be perfect. The idea is to promote the writing and publishing by planning ahead and avoiding writer’s block.
Now you have lots of blog ideas collected in Evernote and you’ve started to plan future posts in your Editorial Calendar. Great! This next strategy is a way to boost traffic without writing a new post…
4. Repurpose old content
This strategy will save you time and could get you a big traffic boost. Here’s how it works…
Start by making a list of posts that are pulling in strong traffic but are over a year old. These are gems that could be working harder if they were “re-loved” and republished.
To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview.
This part is a little technical, but hang in there – you only need to do this research a few times a year to get the full benefit.
There are at least 3 metrics you can use to choose the blog article to republish:
- old posts – if your post is older than one year there’s a good chance you need to update the images, and facts in the article and maybe add more detail to the content.
- low Bounce rate – “Bounce rate” is the per cent of people who left your site after one page (they didn’t explore the rest of your site). A lower bounce rate (like 60-70%) can be a good sign. Think of it this way: out of all your published blog posts, there are some that keep readers on your site longer. Those posts could be worth updating and republishing.
- high time on page – “Time on site” is the minutes a reader spent on that page. The higher the time, the more likely the reader is to share the article and spend more time on your site.
You can combine the metrics. In other words, look for blog posts older than a year, with low bounce rate and high time on site. Find 3-5 of those posts and start with them.
Here’s another example:
We republished our post “Facebook Page vs Profile: Everything You Need To Know” and within 10 days our traffic increased by 229%!
The blog post you’re reading is another good example. It was originally published in July 2016 and I added more content and images and republished it in February 2019. It only took about an hour’s worth of chopping, adding, and changes to turn it into the post you’re reading – much easier than starting from scratch!
Whew! You’ve collected amazing ideas into Evernote, organized them with Editorial Calendar, planned a post you will refresh and republish. Now it’s time for a bit of psychology…
5. Give ‘em more of what they love
It might be tempting to pour a cup of coffee and just start writing your next blog post. But what about what your market wants?
Every day your readers are leaving bread crumbs – clues – about what they want. It could be a comment on a post, social shares or an email that asks a question about a recent post. You need to watch for these clues.
A simple first step is to check what posts are most popular (see #4 above). You can also think about the psychology of your reader. What keeps a person on your blog for more than a quick glance?
It’s about solving a problem.
Readers, don’t announce this – but they are looking for a solution to something. It could be a great travel destination or how to save for their retirement.
If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. But, there’s more…If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. Click To Tweet
The trick is to always give’em more of what they love. Blogs that wander off down rabbit holes about unrelated topics might work if you are already a celebrity off-line, but don’t work if you are trying to build a business online.
Stick to what your readers want and you will build valuable traffic that will come back for more.