Business blogging with minimal resources over a long period of time can be a challenge. Heck, for SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) blogging without the experience of writing on a regular basis can be a barrier to even start.
No matter how talented a writer your business blogger or contributors might be, it is inevitable that situations will occur where there is either uncertainty or a gap in what to write about.
To avoid those gaps, the most important thing to do is follow an editorial plan where topics are researched and planned out in accordance to marketing objectives AND that serve the information needs of your target audience. That’s just good content marketing.
Even then, there will be gaps, perceived or real. For these situations, I like to keep a list of ideas or tactics to fire up the creative juices and get something good created. Hopefully this excerpt will be helpful to you as well.
1. Curate – My motto is, “Always Be Curating”. Be on the lookout for useful resources, stats, news, visuals and especially examples. Keep a running list in every major topical category and application your readers might find useful. As you use the web, collect these individual (often tweetable) nuggets and then when you have 5-10 or even more, compile them into a blog post. I like to use Evernote for this but you could also use Storify or other social search, aggregation, curation and bookmarking tools.
This is how the BIGLIST of Marketing Blogs was created. I literally exported the list of marketing blogs from my feed reader into a text file and used that to create the post.
2. Review – Filtering information for your readers can save them time and boost their advancement of knowledge. Reviewing information sources is a great way to do that. There are many types of information sources to review from books to software to other blogs in your industry. Writing an opinionated and tactically useful review of resources that can help your readers do their jobs better is good for everyone.
We do a number of book reviews here and have also asked authors who pitch us to contribute tactical list posts as an alternative to our review. Authors often help promote the book review exposing your blog to a new audience.
3. Interview – There other smart SMEs at your company and certainly in your industry. Help them gain exposure by doing interviews. Start by making it easy and asking just one clever question. Compile answers from multiple people into one blog post. After they see the value in what you’ve created from that effort, industry thought leaders and busy executives may be more prone to do in-depth interviews. Text is convenient for the blogger but video via Skype or Google Hangout could be an option as well.
Interviews are great because there’s a wide array of repurposing and social engagement opportunities that can extend the use of the content and it’s reach.
4. Answer Questions – Mine questions from front line service and sales staff, your web analytics, on-site search, sites like Quora, or through social search tools. Find the kinds of questions that seem to resonate best and answer them in your blog post. This tip really should be the bread and butter of your social content strategy – engaging in social channels and then creating content in response to real time concerns and interests of your target audience.
5. React - If you read industry news, print or digital, then reacting to other editorial or news can be a quick way to add useful, meaningful content. If you agree or disagree doesn’t matter as much as simply having an opinion and backing it up with a position. This does not mean rant, especially on a business blog. In particular, print publications are a great source for this since many do not release digital editions until days or weeks later.
Another angle on reaction is to use real-life experiences, whether they are literal or metaphor. In other words, if you react as a consumer and reflect on the experience (good or bad) offering improvements or acknowledgements it can be a great way to empathize with readers and your target audience. Or, you might have an experience with something that can serve as a metaphor to explain something in your industry.
6. Live-blog Archives – There are numerous webinars archived to the web that you can “live-blog” as you listen and watch them. The vast majority of webinars are not live-blogged by anyone, so even if you do this with a webinar that’s 6 months old (and still highly relevant) you’ll be creating something really useful and unique. Reach out to the speaker and let them know or even ask them for a tip or quote to add to the live-blog post and that speaker might share it with their networks.
Just in case you’re not familiar with it, “live-blogging” means to write a story based on the presentation being given. There are many ways to liveblog an event (real time or archived) so here are some tips on that.
7. Explode Comments – Engaging with industry publications and blogs outside of your own niche should be a regular part of a business blogger and social media marketer’s online activities. Take comments you’ve left on other news and blog sites and expand on them as full blog posts. You can go back to the source comment and link to the elaboration of your thoughts too.
8. Recognize – Asking people for information or participation and then recognizing that effort is the cornerstone of social network development for business blogs. Make recognition of community members, employees (SMEs), and people in your industry a regular part of your business blogging effort. Who has gone out of their way to be helpful? Who is consistently creating value?
One way we do this is to feature top commenters from our blog both in our Friday news posts and in our monthly newsletter.
9. Oreo Cookie - If you subscribe to industry newsletters or can do a search on Google News, there will undoubtedly be something new you can elaborate on and give insight about. Write a short intro paragraph to set things up (statement of problem, empathy with audience) then post an excerpt from the news site with attribution and link, close it up with your observations and conclusion. That’s an Oreo cookie post – sandwich a news excerpt with your own cookie of an opinion.
10. Templates – Following a template can make blog post creation a more efficient process but it’s important that business blogs not over-rely on templates. A template provides a structure to follow and even pre-written opening and closing text. Fill in the key points with new content (get good searching Google and Google News) and you have a well formatted post in a lot less time. The key thing is to customize and add flavor.
Template types examples include: list posts, reviews, how to posts, problem/solution and many more. Here’s an example of a business blogging template that we use pretty often and it works quite well.
There you go – 10 ideas for coming up with topics to write about when you don’t know what to blog about. Some of these tips are no-brainers for the experienced business blogger. Others will hopefully get a bit of “ah, I never thought of that” going.
When you align the purpose of your blog with the content plan, there’s no end to what content you can create in order to connect with your audience. If you’re at a block and not sure what to write about, hopefully these tips are useful to you.
Or you can just write a post about what to write about