Having all the best blogging tools and resources, having a plan to share your amazing content on social media, having everything in place to put your marketing strategy into action still requires one thing: You must create the content to be shared, loved, and engaged with. The blank page must be conquered.
Coming up with an endless supply of blogging and writing ideas would be great, right? Fortunately there is a solid list of useful strategies, techniques, and questions that can always keep a blogging idea on the tip of your tongue.
I’ve captured as many helpful resources here as I can. Let me know if you have any extras you think could have made the list.
How to come up with blogpost ideas that will go wild on social media
When it comes to collecting ideas for new blogposts, I’ve found three systems that tend to cover a pretty wide variety of thoughts and ideas and should help get your mind around what to write. In general, these can be split among the following three categories.
- Article types
- Questions to ask
Here’s an in-depth look at all three.
7 Strategies for coming up with more writing ideas
We had a lot of fun sharing our blogpost idea strategies in a post for the Social blog (a bonus blogpost idea: Write about your idea process!). To recap, here are the ways we curate ideas and come up with our blog content.
- We aren’t shy about taking inspiration from others.
- We spend a lot of time reading, thinking, and sharing the stories and ideas we love.
- We save all our ideas—no matter how small.
Here is a bit more depth into the strategies that we’ve tried and the methods that other bloggers might use to come up with new blogpost ideas.
1. Keep a swipe file
When an idea pops into your head, jot it down. When an image grabs you on a blogpost, clip it and save it. All of these whims and breadcrumbs can be just the thing you need to put together a complete blogpost later on.
We collect our ideas on Trello and review our ideas list on a weekly basis to see what strikes us.
2. Ask your friends and followers for ideas
Wherever you get feedback from others—in blog comments, on social media, via email replies, etc.—use these places as idea centers. You can drum up ideas by listening to the topics discussed by others, the questions they ask, and the areas that interest them. You can share a seed of an idea on social media to see if it’s something people might like—a strategy used to great effect by Andrew Chen. Here’s a tweet Andrew sent to gauge interest in “Growth Hacker is the New VP of Marketing.”
3. Use the skyscraper technique
Step one: Find high-performing content. This can be on your site or on someone else’s. Posts with high numbers of social shares (see “perform link analysis” below) or posts that rank high in search results pages might be good ones to start with.
Step two: Create something similar, but take it to the next level. Brian Dean has a great list of ways that you can improve on an existing piece of content. He recommends doing all four of the following:
- Make it longer
- More up-to-date
- Better designed
- More thorough
Step three: Get lots of links to your new story. Step Three goes a bit beyond the idea stage; you’ll have some pretty good ideas about what to write and how to write after going through steps one and two. For gaining links, you can check out some content distribution strategies like email and social sharing.
4. Perform link analysis
Check into the content that is performing the best. Find ideas about topics, headlines, and new angles to cover the subject matter in your niche.
BuzzSumo can help you find content with the most social shares.
Quick Sprout can show you the most-shared content from any given blog or domain.
5. Share from your experience
John O’Nolan calls this strategy “telling the story so far.”
Sometimes the best post is the one that tells the story of all the other posts. Regardless of what you blog about, you’ve probably been doing it for a while now.
- What have you learned in that time?
- What has changed since you started?
- If you had to go back and give yourself one piece of advice at the start of your career, what would it be?
6. Share your mistakes and your failures
We love to experiment with new ideas and strategies here at Buffer. And we love to blog about our learnings—both the wins and the losses.
7. Keep up with trending topics
One of our most popular posts from the past spring was a quick post we put together on the changes to Twitter’s profile pages. It landed just before the changes were rolled out to all users, and it picked up a fair amount of traffic from folks who were interested in the topic. Timeliness—no matter the industry—can be a great factor in the idea process.
32 Types of blogposts to kickstart your idea process
We’ve settled into a nice rhythm with our Buffer blogposts. Our core content includes list posts, how-to posts, “ultimate guide” posts, and thought leadership posts. It’s a fun way to brainstorm ideas when you have a little direction toward what the post might look like.
With that in mind, here are 32 types of blogposts that might just kickstart some good writing ideas for you. (Looking at headline formulas is another way to envision a potential blogpost.)
- List post
- How-to post
- An ultimate guide
- A science-backed post
- A research-backed post
- Case study
- A survey
- An interview
- A quiz
- A news story
- A glossary
- Pros and cons list
- An a-to-z post
- A profile
- A blog carnival
- A link roundup
- A guest post
- An FAQ
- A visual post
- A cheat sheet
- A checklist
- A comparison post
- A review, critique, or commentary
- A makeover or before-after post
- A diary entry
- A liveblog
- A giveaway or contest
- An open letter
- A webinar
- A timeline
- An event recap
56 Questions To Ask To Come Up With More Blogpost Ideas
One of our simplest ways of coming up with ideas for blogposts is asking questions. We aim to write blogposts that help people. To get at these topics, we try to empathize with our audience, to put ourselves in their shoes. We ask questions that we think might make for some useful, helpful, actionable answers.
Asking questions is a blogging method used by some of our favorite bloggers. Darren Rowse recently put together a huge list of blogpost ideas, and there’s some good overlap between his list and ours. Here’s a collection of 56.
- What are your customers’ most frequently asked questions?
- What are the biggest myths about your industry?
- What are the biggest misconceptions about your company?
- What is something about your industry that you know and others might not?
- Describe the way you and your team use your product.
- How did your company come to be?
- What early lessons did you learn along the way that might be useful to share?
- How did your company get its name?
- What was your first sale?
- What was your first big “a-ha” moment? How about your first moment of doubt?
- What type of complete guide would be useful to help your ideal customer?
- What makes your company/product distinct?
- How did you choose the distinguishing features of your company/product over others?
- Tell a story about customer success.
- What is a typical “day in the life” for your ideal customer?
- What things keep you awake at night? What might keep your customer awake?
- Describe a process of your day that might resonate with your audience.
- How did your new product or service come to be?
- What is a counterintuitive bit of advice that you can share?
- What is an unpopular piece of advice that you can share?
- What must someone know to become an expert in your field?
- What would you say to someone just starting out in your field?
- What are the essential tools you use every day to get work done?
- What are the mistakes you made when you were just starting out?
- What mistakes do you see others making?
- Introduce your team and how they came together.
- Explain how you hire.
- Explain how you collaborate as a team.
- Explain your product creation process.
- What is on your recommended reading list?
- What are you reading right now?
- Who are some of the leading voices in your industry?
- What articles from the past week caught your eye?
- What articles did you read from inside your industry that you think you could maybe improve on or take in a new direction?
- What are some statistics about your industry?
- What are some statistics about your customers?
- Where do you see your industry headed in the next year?
- How about the next five or 10 years?
- What are the current trends that are taking hold in your field?
- What do your customers have a hard time doing?
- What have your customers suggested you add/change about your product? (And why have you made the change or not?)
- Which quotes inspire you?
- Which people inspire you?
- What is a useful checklist that would provide value for your audience?
- What is a useful pdf, ebook, or guide that would provide value?
- What have you presented on lately? Turn it into a blogpost.
- What are you company’s goals for this year? Next year?
- What were some of the biggest obstacles and challenges from this year?
- Which two products could you compare and contrast?
- Which two strategies could you compare and contrast?
- Which causes do you participate in?
- What tips do you have for your industry for next year?
- What 10 customers, peers, staff could you ask a single question of and create a wrap up article on?
- What is the history of your industry – from inception to today.
- What were the key takeaways from a conference or industry event that you attended?
- What are you most passionate about?
Plus a few others that aren’t exactly questions but are super stellar ideas from Darren.
- Sum up the year that was
- Review a book your customers should read
- Review a tool, product or service relevant to your customers
- Create an award for your industry
By Kevan Lee for Buffer.
Originally published on Dec 8, 2014 7:25 PM, updated Sep 26, 2016