You know an active blog is one of the best ways to bring traffic to your site. But where do you get ideas for posts?
We’ve all been there -- you've decided to start a blog on your site to engage your customers and attract new leads to your business. It sounds like the perfect plan...
That is, until you sit down in front of a blank Word document. And stare at the blinking cursor for twenty minutes.
Sorry, Clippy can't help you with this one. You’ve run into the most common hurdle for new (and experienced) bloggers -- what the heck do I write about?
The answer is, it depends.
I know. Not what you wanted to hear. But let me elaborate. Where you get ideas for blog posts depends largely on the purpose of your blog. In other words, why are you blogging?
You need to know the answer to that essential question first. Then coming up with ideas is a whole lot easier.
A blog is primarily a way to communicate with current and prospective customers. What you publish should be helpful, relevant, and interesting to one or both of those audiences.
For example, let’s say you run a bed and breakfast in a popular destination, such as Newport, Rhode Island. Your prospects will be people who are in the early stages of researching Newport as a destination for their vacation. You could write mini guides to some of the major attractions in the area with insider tips that they couldn’t find anywhere else.
Or maybe you’re an insurance agent. What would be helpful, relevant, and interesting to your current and prospective clients? Insurance is a topic of confusion for most people. Your blog could be a place where you share insight into how insurance works.
You may be sensing a trend here. A great blog is often a published version of what you do everyday -- help customers. So wouldn’t it make sense to get ideas directly from the source?
Chain yourself to a notebook.
How many questions from customers and prospects do you answer in the course of a week? I’m willing to bet it’s a lot. You need to start writing these questions down.
I mean it. Get out a notebook or a notebook app like Evernote and create a page called “Customer Questions”. This is where you will keep a list of every industry-relevant question you get from customers.
Everyone of these is a potential blog post.
The fact that they came from real customers and prospects means other people are probably asking the same questions. And many of them are searching for answers online.
Just imagine how powerful it would be if your website popped up in search results with the exact information they were looking for. There’s no guarantee that post will result in a new customer, but it certainly positions your business in good light -- as a helpful expert.
Using this technique will certainly result in more than enough ideas to keep you writing indefinitely. But don’t forget, you’re the expert. Sometimes your customers and prospects don’t know what questions they should be asking.
Keep them in the know.
No matter your business, you likely spend a fair amount of time keeping up with industry news, events, and trends. While the bulk of this information is uninteresting to outsiders, some of it will be. Why not share the important bits with your customers?
If you’re a bed and breakfast owner, you could blog about a new restaurant that just opened in town or an upcoming music festival.
If you’re an insurance agent, you could let your customers know when to expect a big increase in homeowners insurance premiums or remind them it’s time to review their auto insurance policies.
You don’t have to turn your website into an online newspaper. Just share what you think your customers will care about (and don’t forget to explain why they should care).
Make ‘ideation’ part of your everyday process.
I’m sure that many of you at this point could sit down with a notebook and write down several solid ideas for posts off the top of your head. That’s awesome, and you should. Just don’t let that be the end of your ‘ideation’ process.
Oftentimes, the best ideas come to us when we’re not deliberately trying to come up with them. Like on a walk or in the shower or during a conversation with a customer.
Be ready at all times to record these ideas, and store them in your notebook. When the time comes to write a blog post, the hardest part we’ll be picking which idea to use.