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Swift Six: Getting fresh ideas for great blog posts

By Nick Leech - September 3, 2014

Hello! In this Swift Six, I’ll be explaining six ways you can get ideas for blog posts (and other content). You’ll find plenty of quick and easy ways to get inspired, so let’s get started.

Hello and welcome back to another 123-reg Swift Six! This week I am going to be talking about six ways in which you can come up with ideas for blog posts. Now, on the 123-reg Blog, we talk about the benefits of having a blog for your website. Every company website needs one, it’s a great way to showcase expertise, to give your brand some personality, and to help customers tackle the problems that they might be facing. But it’s not always easy to continuously come up with ideas of what to write about, or what to post. So here’s six ways to make sure that that idea barrel stays brimming with ideas.

OK, the first thing is that you should try to note your ideas down when you have them. I used to carry a notebook around and then every time I had a good idea I would note it down, but now I use Evernote. It’s quite a common tool, if I have a good idea I make a note of it on my mobile phone or my laptop. If I see something that is inspiring, that I think would spark an idea I take a photo of it and I save it on Evernote. And that means that I can search for it at any time and use that for inspiration about what to come up with for ideas. They’re certainly not going to come to you when you’re sitting around having a brainstorming with a load of other people trying to come up with ideas.

The second thing that you can do is to make a list of websites that operate in your niche. Now what I mean by this – editorial websites that write about topics that your potential customers might be interested in. It’s probably the case that these websites have editorial teams of one or two people that are constantly thinking ‘What’s going to be interesting for my audience?’, ‘What should I be writing about?’, ‘What’s in the news?’. So you need to be inspired by what they are writing about and piggyback on it to a certain extent. So make sure you stay up to date with the latest posts they produce. Now that might be a case of checking their websites frequently, they might have a newsletter that you want to sign up to, or you can just use an RSS reader and get those latest posts, and filter them and bring them into your Outlook or email client and make sure that you are really up to date with whatever they are writing about and to be inspired by that.

The third thing is – make sure that you follow the journalists that are writing for those websites. It’s a good idea to follow them on Twitter and see what they are tweeting about. They would probably want to showcase their expertise and show the world how competent they are within their particular area and how knowledgeable they are. And you can be sure that they are going to be tweeting about topics before they get around to writing a blog post on something. So it might be that you can get inspired by the kind of Tweets that they are producing or the content that’s inspiring them, that they are linking to. So make sure that you follow those journalists on Twitter.

The fourth thing that you can do is that you can try to find out what questions your audience are currently asking. If you know what questions your audience are asking, then you’re going to know what kind of blog posts have come up with that answer those questions. So a really good place to do this is a website called Quora. So go on to Quora and then type in a topic that is going to be of general interest to your audience. Within Quora, people ask questions and have them answered by experts and those answers get voted for as popular or not by the community. So, when you search for a topic within Quora, you’re going to find the most popular questions that that community has had asked and the answers that users felt answered those questions really well. So go on to Quora, type in the area that your business is in or a topic that you think your audience is interested in and find out what questions people are asking. That will help you shape what kind of content that your blog posts should be answering.

Number five – try asking a question on social media, try asking a question on Twitter or on Facebook. Hopefully, your business has a few followers on Facebook or Twitter or hopefully you are active within a community that is relevant to your business. So try asking some questions of the people that are following you or your social media audience or community and see what kind of answers you get back. It might well be that you can be inspired by the kind of answers that you get that way.

Number six, and possibly my favourite way of coming up with content for blog posts, is Google Consumer Surveys. I really urge you to go and have a look at Google Consumer Surveys. This is a tool that, for a small amount of money (100 $), you can ask questions of a representative sample of the UK Internet population. Users answer these questions in exchange for access to premium content. And the cost is around ten cents per response. So, if you spend a 100 $, you get back a survey with a thousand answers. And a thousand answers is certainly statistically robust enough to release as a press release so you can be sure it’s good backing for a blog post or similar. So go along and take a look at Google Consumer Surveys. When you get the results back, they get presented in really nice graphs and infographics and data that you can just actually screen grab and then drop straight there into some blog posts.

OK, that was the 123-reg Swift Six ‘How to come up with ideas for blog posts’ and I’ll see you next time!