Once upon a time, I had no idea what to write on my blog. Coming up with blog article titles was slow and painful.
That was 10 years ago.
Now, thousands of articles later, coming up with topics is easy. Not only do I publish articles on my two blogs, but I also publish hundreds of guest posts for dozens of publications.
Wondering what happened along the way that made this process so much easier?
I'm going to pull back the curtain on how I’m able to generate so many topics, and explain what it means to choose great article topics. I think you’ll find it helpful.
4 Simple Ways to Choose the Best Blog Topics for Your Audience
1) Know your target audience.
Let me deal with first things first -- the “best possible blogging topics” are the best ones for your audience.
Everything comes down to your audience. In fact, there is nothing more important, essential, and critical to blog success than knowing your audience.
The story of my own blog is a testament to this fact. The longer I write my blog, the better I understand my audience. I read and respond to blog comments. I take time to read emails from my readers. I listen to what they have to say.
It’s safe to say that I know my blog readers. And it would be almost impossible for someone else to come in and write an article -- even a really, really good article -- that connects with my readers in the same way.
The key issue is selecting topics and writing about those topics in a way that my readers know and are familiar with. So, what’s the key to selecting the best possible topics?
It’s simple, but not easy: Know your target audience.
One of the best ways to get to know your audience is to define that audience. If you’re just starting as a business, you get to decide who it is you want to reach and how to reach them. For established businesses, one of the best ways to know your target audience is simply to talk to them. Whether it’s online surveys or phone conversations, try to get in the mind of your users and figure out what makes them tick.
Once you get in your user’s heads, you can’t help but pick the best blogging topics.
Need help getting to know your audience better? Check out these free templates for creating buyer personas for your business.
2) Make relevance your guiding light.
I’m going to introduce a concept, and then explain how to do it: Relevancy.
Relevancy is nothing new. It’s popular to talk about relevancy and the need for relevancy in content marketing ... but hang on a second.
What the heck is relevancy? What does relevancy even mean in the context of blogging and article topics?
Here’s my answer in five (sorta) simple points:
Relevancy is focused on your audience.
Relevancy is a lot more focused than popularity. Instead, relevancy has everything to do with your specific audience. What are they interested in? What problems are they facing? What unique challenges are they trying to overcome? Trying to be relevant without defining your audience is like trying to go surfing without a surfboard and without a beach. (Refer to point one.)
Relevancy is focused on your niche.
The narrower your niche, the better you’ll be able to define and develop relevancy. For example, if you’re in the hamster pet care niche, then a relevant article will have to do with hamster care, hamster feed, hamster health, etc. You wouldn’t publish an article on Microsoft SQL Servers on your hamster blog.
Relevancy is focused on your objectives.
Relevant topics are focused on your audience and fall within the parameters of your niche. If you want to go a step further, you need to define relevancy in relationship with your objectives. Every blog has an objective -- a goal beyond just attracting eyeballs and getting traffic. You’re trying to get something else. What is it? Conversions? Subscriptions? Identify your ultimate objective, then create articles that help to meet that objective.
Relevancy is focused on the present time.
One feature of relevancy is its timeliness. You’re not going to be relevant if you’re dealing with old news and outdated techniques. Besides, Google prefers content that is fresh. Trending topics (and in the future, possibly current tweets) are favored in Google’s algorithm.
Relevancy is focused on solutions to problems.
Relevant content starts with needs, and develops solutions. When you can successfully solve real issues, then you’re really nailing the relevancy thing. That’s your goal.
Relevancy is important, but we must make sure that we understand relevancy if we are to come up with relevant topics.
3) Find a blog to steal from.
Someone once said, "Good artists copy. Great artists steal."
If you want to pick absolutely stellar topics, then go to the blogs that are already doing it and pilfer them. Lest you think I’m going nefarious, allow me to explain ...
I absolutely oppose anything remotely connected with stealing content or intellectual property. What I do suggest, however, is to identify a blog that is doing it right, and follow their example. Here’s the process:
- Make a list of five blogs that you admire. They can be in your niche or completely outside of it.
- Write down their article headlines, and repurpose them based on your own niche and audience.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to steal from Lifehacker. Maybe your niche is SEO, not hacking life. What do you do?
Find an article that’s trending.
Using this trending article as an example, create your own topic that is relevant to your site and your audience. Like this:
- 5 Best Free Link Building Tools
- Top 10 List of SEO Tools
- 7 Killer SEO Tools You Can’t Live Without
You get the idea. Lifehacker gave you an inspiration, and you did the rest.
Why does this work? Often, great topics are built on the things that universally appeal to people. Lifehacker has obviously figured out a formula for blog topics that are appealing. In this case, they are using the techniques of lists and free (or cheap). The article is also solution oriented -- which is yet another reason why it’s so appealing.
Create a list of great blogs, and visit them often to steal ideas, techniques, approach, and style. (But just don’t steal actual content or articles. That’s not cool.)
4) Leverage helpful content tools.
BuzzSumo is one of my favorite tools for identifying trending topics. Essentially, it serves as a place where marketers can discover the most popular topics that are relevant to their business. I use it in a couple ways.
First, I use it to find popular articles in my niche. For example, let’s pretend I’m writing an article on content marketing tools. What do I do? I go to Buzzsumo and type in “content marketing tools.”
I see that an article on Inc.com has pulled in more than 8,000 social shares. And even though the article is eight months old, it’s still earning top ratings from its social virality. What does this information tell me? It tells me that the article is great -- I’ll probably want to click through to see who wrote it, what he talks about, and the tools he covers in the article.
If I’m going to write on the subject of content marketing tools, I should probably reference this article, link to this article, and deal with some of the same tools as this article.
Why? Because this article is relevant. It is relevant socially, which is the highest form of relevance in the content marketing arena.
The second way that I use BuzzSumo is to identify popular articles on a certain website. Earlier in this article, I mentioned that I write guest posts for several publications. I obviously want to produce quality guests posts so that the website can get more traffic and the site owners will recognize my value as a contributor.
In order to do that, I figure out what’s hot and take my cues from that article. For example, let’s pretend I’m researching topics for HubSpot. I already know HubSpot’s readers, and I understand the niche in which I’m writing. Now, I want to narrow in on what’s going to be the best topic.
BuzzSumo tells me what’s popular on Hubspot. Since my articles normally appear on HubSpot's marketing blog, that’s what I’m narrowing in on. I simply search "http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing" and this is what I see:
Apparently, Lindsay knows what’s up. She’s written three out of the top four most-shared articles.
If I want to choose the best topics, I’m going to style them after the winners. They are winning for a reason.
Another tool that you can use for selecting great blog topics is Alltop. Alltop aggregates popular articles on specific topics. Instead of going to all the work of finding trending articles yourself, Alltop does it for you. By creating a free account and doing a quick search or two, you can figure out what topics are popular.
Here’s a snapshot of one of my searches. Instantly, I get 30 topic suggestions. The chances are very high that these are popular articles. I can use them as inspiration and motivation for my own topics.
If I don’t come up with some super awesome topics based off of 30 trending articles, then there’s something wrong with me.
Ready to Get Started?
If you’re looking for awesome topics, you’ll need to do some digging. It’s not really that hard to mine up great topics -- it just takes some time (and practice).
Back in my early days of blogging, it was really hard to figure out what to write about. Now, I don’t even give it a second thought. I know my audience so well that topics just come at me, and my problem is narrowing down my many topics -- not coming up with more topics.
Your experience can be the same. Follow the suggestions in this article, and I’m confident that you’ll be able to nail it.
What are some ways that you come up with great topics? Let us know in the comment section below.