Recently, a colleague and I talked about writing content. She understands the value of adding new blog posts, fresh content, on her website, but, but, but . . . she hesitated and then she said:
“I’d love to learn more about how to plan blog content out – I’ll be starting a blog this year and have no idea how to come up with topics. Okay, maybe I do if I think about it, but would love to learn tips and tricks . . .!”
If this sounds like you, you are not alone! Many entrepreneurs have not yet developed a trustworthy system for producing copy and content, and the reason why is their frustration around finding content topics. It’s hit or miss, mostly miss, and once started, people often find it hard to keep the content machine revved up and chugging out something worth reading.
If you’re not already a person who writes every day, or at least often, and you haven’t yet found the switch that turns you into a business writer ready to burn your keyboard with tantalizing ideas and content galore, read on for those tips my colleague requested above.
Finding content topics that will keep you in subject matter forever
First, decide that today is the day to start writing, and the first task has little to do with actual content writing. I want, instead, to show you a logical, sequential way to develop a content producing system. Let’s begin by answering my colleague’s question about finding topics. Here’s a list of 6 ways to do just that:
*Brainstorm topics, or mind map them, around your service and product offerings. If this sounds like a dreary process or one that’s been around since the Stone Age, do not despair. It continues to work and of course there are apps to help you. I personally love mindmeister, which provides plenty of oomph with regard to what it will do for you at the FREE level. You can create up to three mind maps, and unless you make them public, they are stored on the cloud for your eyes only.
*Mine your emails for topics. This is just about the easiest way to search for topics, and unless you delete all of your emails in order to keep a tidy inbox (vs. archiving or storing them in folders), you have a surfeit of wonderful ideas at your disposal. Search for your clients’ emails and see what they asked you and how you answered. Instant content!
*Survey your current clients. And if you are just starting your business, you can survey trusted colleagues or friends who may have the problems your business solves.
Ask survey questions that encourage specific answers like What is your biggest issue regarding ______________; How would you benefit from learning tools and techniques that would solve your issue? What other questions do you have with regard to ___________ and how would you like to receive the answers? A. blog posts. B. videos C. podcasts. And so on until you have some meaty topics to explore and data as to how it should be presented on your site and in social media.
*Expand, slice and dice, and narrow the topics from your current blog posts, presentations, one on one coaching, anything that you say or do to help your clients. Keep track of your content across all sorts of ways that you create it. Write a document, store it in a folder, and pull it up when you’re stuck for ideas.
*Use forums to find people with questions you can answer, including Facebook and LinkedIn groups and Google+ communities. Look at what is asked about and what people are seeking answers for. Join groups that contain your perfect clients. That way, your posts will draw attention, start conversations, provide you with clients. People like to purchase from people they know and trust and you can boost both of those factors in a community setting.
*Create a spreadsheet by month and add content to the months that make the most sense; use holidays, seasons, quarters of the year as a guide to topics as well, if relevant. Think of luminaries who you look up to for inspiration and center posts around their work; tie it in with their birthday, or tie in what they did for the world with a relevant topic you may have already written about. You are changing the hook to your content and it’s a clever way of reusing content in a fresh, inspiring way.
You may have noticed that I didn’t suggest that you search for topics via Google or some other browser. You can certainly do this, but the methods I suggest above are vetted topics. In other words, your clients and trusted colleagues have told you what is keeping them up at night, what is preventing them from succeeding, winning, acquiring happiness through weight loss, exercise, finding a mate. Whatever the topic and subject is that your products and services offer, there are people who will tell you what they want.
In the next post about content, learn more tips and techniques for staying inspired to write. Until then, please feel free to share this post with your friends and colleagues, and add your comments below on how you find topics for your content.