Last week, Becca and I brainstormed for almost an hour about the topic of this blog post. We stumbled around in circles, totally stumped, until I realized—if coming up with topics is sometimes difficult for us (and we do it all the time), maybe it’s a challenge for you, too!
Even if you’ve hired a ghostwriter, you’ll still need to brainstorm and provide topics you want your writer to cover for your blog. Occasionally, I’ll stumble upon a brilliant topic idea in my research that I’ll happily suggest to the client. But ultimately, you’re the one who knows your prospective customer and your field the best, so you’ll likely have the best ideas when it comes to blog topics.
Right now, I write between four and six blog posts per week. Clients send me a lot of different topics each month to write about. Some of them are great, and some… well, let’s just say we wind up tweaking the headlines a little bit to achieve the result the client was looking for.
So, how exactly does one come up with fantastic blog topics week after week? Here’s what I’ve noticed in topics that seem to work the best.
Consider What Questions You Hear Often
One of our brilliant DPM friends, Tom Martin, suggests in his book The Invisible Sale that any question you’ve ever been asked about your product or business, no matter how specific or random, is a great option for blog content. Because if one customer is asking the question, it’s likely that at least ten more have wondered the same thing.
So, make a list of your most frequently asked questions—especially the “how” or “why” questions—and turn those into blog topics. A bonus here is that next time you receive one of these questions over email, you’ll be able to direct your customer to your helpful blog post! (Instead of rewriting the same email response for the fourteenth time…)
Be Aware of Your Ghostwriter’s Knowledge Base
If you’re using a ghostwriter and you work in a particularly obscure or technical industry, keep in mind the depth of your writer’s knowledge, and the accessibility of research, before you commit to a topic. I promise we’re smart folks, and we do our best, but if I have to Google “What is [insert keyword of your blog topic]?” before I get started, you might not be thrilled with the result.
If you find that you’d like help putting together a post about a topic you don’t think your writer will know much about, consider providing extra research, or scheduling a quick conference call to explain what you’d like to say. Then your writer can take your brilliant technical knowledge and frame it into an interesting piece that’s fun to read.
Keep Your Lists Under Control
List style posts are hugely popular, and with good reason. Readers find them catchy and fun to read. They’re easy to write (thanks for that!) and they tend to click really well. So long live the list posts! Keep them coming. But…
As you’re brainstorming topics, do consider your numbers. Most contracts for ghostwritten content are by word count, so you likely have a set length that each post will be. The longer the list you ask for, the less in-depth we can go in each section. You’re paying for us to tell a story, to delight and inform your readers about the topic at hand. But with a headline like “37 Ways Your Mattress is Slowly Killing You,” you’ll end up with a lot of sub-headers and very little actual writing.
If you’re struggling, I find that a great rule of thumb for lists is one per 100 words. So if your contract is for an 800 word post, anywhere between seven and ten is a great target. Or, many of my clients leave it to me to decide the number, which works just great. I can tailor it to the research I find and to the appropriate length for the post.
Don’t Forget That SEO!
Of course, the point of your blog is to inform your readers about your product and industry and answer your questions. As content creators, we have to keep that goal as the first priority in order to maintain the quality of our content.
But, we all know the other major purpose of your blog is to drive content to your website. And the way you do that is through search engine optimization.
As you choose your topics, keep in mind the keywords that customers looking for your product or service are likely to search for. Then design your topic slugs to include those keywords, preferably towards the beginning of the slug. If you let your ghostwriter know exactly what keyword you’re trying to rank for, he or she can be sure to also include that keyword in a few subheadings and throughout the post, which will help with your SEO ranking.
What is your system for coming up with great blog content? What do you find most difficult about the brainstorming process? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.