Q: I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave to make blogging easier — I have a lot of trouble choosing topics to write about. How do I know what my readers will like?
A: It may not be as simple as a spell from the world of Harry Potter, but there is a solution that works like magic: knowing your target audience. How do you figure that out? By knowing who you’re trying to reach with your website. If you’re selling something, that means knowing who you’re selling to, why you’re selling it, and having a brand framework.
Good blog posts should not all be about your business — readers will be turned off by the blatant advertising and look elsewhere. Instead, they should provide value to your readers. They solve a problem, answer a question, or provide some insight into your industry.
For instance, if you were selling wizarding products in Harry Potter’s world, topics like these would likely interest your readers: How to Choose the Best Wand (solves a problem); What Are the Advantages of Pre-Mixed Potions? (answers a question); The Origin of the Term Muggle (provides insight).
You also need to think about what doesn’t interest your audience: If you have a website geared toward would-be wizards, a post about fishing tips probably won’t hook any of them. A post discussing the use of fish scales in potions, on the other hand, would probably net quite a few.
A product such as Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner, or the free Keyword Tool can be helpful, too. By finding out which words people are using to search for services or products like yours, you can get an idea of what to write about. For instance, a search for “magic” turns up a long list of words, including, “tools”; “armor”; “dragon”; “amulet”; “genie”; “jelly bean;” and hundreds more. Using just these examples, we’ve already identified six potential topics — and simplified SEO, because we already know the best keywords to include.
If you’re having trouble coming up with blog topics, try these tips:
- DO find out some of the problems or needs that your target audience generally faces — it can be helpful to write down questions that customers ask your sales and customer service representatives. Then create content that offers a solution.
- DO use a keyword planner, or look for popular topics in the news and on social media that you might be able to relate to your audience. There are many websites and tools that can show you what’s trending, including Buzzfeed, Buzzsumo, and Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
- DON’T stretch a topic too far in an attempt to make it relevant —readers will see right through it.
- DO plan ahead by making a content calendar with topic ideas. This will take some of the pressure off when it’s time to sit down and write.
- DO jot down topic ideas as they come to you — oftentimes inspiration comes when you’re away from your desk.