There is often a bit of debate about whether or not a blog belongs on a website that offers services, is it necessary, is it important, does it even matter. I’ve seen it work both ways where a blog helps bring new clients into the website and also where it sort of just hangs out and doesn’t do much of anything at all besides collecting virtual dust, causing stress, and giving the service provider a headache.
Ultimately, this is a decision that only you can make. I think it depends on your goals with your website and why you want to blog. You might not want to add a blog section to your services website depending on what those goals are.
In the beginning, blogging regularly is going to feel like a lot of effort and extra work – because it is. That said, once you have a website that’s stuffed full of useful content you’ll start to get lovely free traffic from search engines.
That traffic can very quickly turn into more sales and more business. Having a high quality blog that answers industry questions and provides useful information will help you build credibility. People who read and enjoy your blog are going to immediately feel that you’re a credible person to work with.
I see guest blogging as the win-win-win option here. You don’t have to blog super frequently, you’re helping another person with fresh content, and you’re reaching people that need your services. It’s all good in the end and you don’t need to maintain a strict editorial calendar for consistency.
If you decide to blog on your own website, consistency really is a key factor. If you’re going to have a weekly post, stick to that schedule. If you’re going to have a monthly feature article, stick to that schedule.
This way readers know what to expect and you’re keeping a constant supply of fresh content. Including an Editorial Calendar plugin (like the one mentioned previously) can help you plan and schedule posts accordingly.
You can use your blog to educate clients and potential clients on industry topics. Share how you can help them solve their problem, relieve a pain point, and how you can do it in a unique way that others don’t offer.
Don’t be afraid to add your personality to things. It’s what makes you and your services truly unique in the marketplace and will attract like-minded clients to work with you.
Coming Up with Blog Topics:
Whether you just started blogging or whether you’ve been blogging for years, coming up with new topics can be a big challenge. It’s something every blogger has to deal with eventually.
You want to keep your content fresh and new and you want to keep your readers engaged, but you’re not always sure what to write about. Sometimes if you’ve written 100 posts for your blog you might feel like you don’t have anything new to say.
So how do you come up with new blog post ideas?
Here are some brainstorming exercises and a few tips to get the creative juices flowing when you feel stuck. These tools will help you come up with new ideas consistently so you’re not struggling to create your content.
Subscribe to and Scan Relevant RSS Feeds
Open your favorite RSS reader and then go on a subscribing spree. Subscribe to relevant blog feeds in your industry. Try to find and subscribe to at least ten different blogs.
Anytime you run out of ideas, all you need to do is whip out your RSS reader. Read through some of the things other people are talking about and use those topics as inspiration.
Of course, you should never directly copy someone else’s title, but feel free to use other people’s ideas as stepping stones. You can even steal an idea, as long as you don’t copy the actual words, just make sure to add your own spin. Also, be kind in your blogging like you would in your daily life, link to the original source.
Use Google Suggest
Use Google’s Instant search tool to come up with ideas for what other people might be interested in. You can learn more about the tool at http://www.google.com/instant ~ This is as easy as just typing something into the search box…
All I did there was type in how to and some suggestions started popping up immediately. Just try different wordings to come up with a variety of different potential keywords to target that people are actually looking for in Google.
Play Around with the Linkbait Generator
This is a fun one. Linkbait Generator is a unique online tool that allows you to create very creative and attention catching titles at the click of a button.
Now, some of these titles probably won’t make sense right out of the gate. Instead, use the ideas and words generated by Linkbait Generator to source your own title. For example, typing in “find a job” might land you a headline something like this…
That doesn’t make much sense and you probably want something a little more positive than sudden death by job hunting. While you might not be able to use this headline as is from the generator, you might instead turn it into something like: 7 Bizarre Ways Looking for a Job Can Get You Fired Instantly.
Use Answer the Public
This is my favorite tool when I need blog post ideas or when I’m doing research for articles and need to know what bullet points to cover. I visit this site multiple times per week, every week, to get ideas and to help me brainstorm. Just enter your main idea or keyword and watch the magic happen…
Here I just entered the word spreadsheets and it came back with 138 questions that people ask the internet about spreadsheets. You can download the visualization wheel that’s displayed or you can download it as a CSV (spreadsheet) file 😉
Pick Up a Magazine and Flip Through It
If you’re in a broader industry that has magazines being published about it, subscribe to as many of the magazines in your field as you can. In a few months, you should have a big stack of magazines that you can use as idea fodder. Many magazines now allow you to subscribe to a digital version if you prefer. If you don’t want to subscribe, many public libraries keep archived copies of newspapers and magazines. You can literally browse magazines from months or even years ago for free at many major libraries.
Look for things they covered that nobody on the internet is covering. Print articles often involve a lot more research to write than online content. Print content requires sources, quotes, statistics, verification, etc, that online content just doesn’t need. The print world and the internet world are quite different. That’s why it often pays to look in the offline world for inspiration for your online content.
Set Up Google Alerts for Your Topic
A free online system that will alert you by email whenever certain keywords or phrases appear in blogs or news articles. You can use Google Alerts to come up with topics in one or two ways.
First, you can use it as a constant stream of ideas. Just put relatively broad ideas in Google Alerts and set it to email you once a day. Every day, browse through the articles and see what ideas you come up with.
Another way to use Google Alerts is to use it to write cutting edge, timely articles. Use it to monitor your industry. Anytime something changes, anytime breaking news hits the net, anytime something controversial happens, you want to publish a piece of content within hours. Often time’s the first person to publish content about something is the one who gets all the traffic.
Take Questions and Answer Them
If you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas, why not have your audience do it for you instead? A lot of authors find that their best blog posts actually come from their audience rather than from their own minds. After all, if you’re trying to create content that your audience loves, who better to guide you than your audience?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know what your audience wants without asking. Also don’t make the mistake of thinking that what you want to express is always what your audience wants to know about. Ask. Ask for questions and make blog posts out of them.
I do this in different ways on all of my websites. I frequently answer questions here on VA Helper ~ the post on where to find your Paypal total payments and the Paypal fees is an example of that.
On my cross stitch blog I get all sorts of questions from Facebook fans and Newsletter subscribers every week, so I started a series I call “Stitchqueries” where I answer those right on the blog. The questions that I answer from readers often turn into the most popular blog posts!
If you find yourself answering the same questions by email over and over again, use that content as blog posts or create an FAQ section for your site with it.
Critique an Idea, Business, Website, Video or Trend
Look for something that you can give your opinion on. For example, you could critique a trend of thinking in your industry. You could critique a video that’s making the rounds on social media. You could even ask your audience to send in their work for critique.
For example, Writerly Rejects creates a lot of content out of having writers send in their pitches for critique. They dissect the pros and cons of the writer’s pitch and use real world pitches to illustrate important lessons on their blog. Similarly, Pinterest Fail is a site where people submit photos of all those amazing Pinterest projects that didn’t turn out quite right. Loads of user generated submissions, a little bit of commentary on the part of the blog authors, and magical fun content for readers.
Use Your Subconscious Mind
I’m not being woo-woo here. Please don’t dismiss the idea. Your subconscious mind is far more powerful than your conscious mind.
Your subconscious mind is the part of your mind that can read the thousands of different muscles on someone’s face to determine what they’re feeling. Your subconscious mind retains a copy of every experience you’ve ever had in your life. Your subconscious mind handles “intuition” by parsing data and ideas behind the scenes, working hard on problems without you ever knowing it.
One of the best ways to come up with new blog ideas is to harness the power of your subconscious mind. How do you do that? By thinking intensely about a subject, then completely letting it go.
Spend a bit of time thinking about your blog. Then, go for a walk. Or hit the gym. Or take a nice long bath. Relax and let your subconscious mind work on it. Then, when you come back to it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that ideas flow much more quickly. Alternatively, ideas might just hit you out of the blue as you’re relaxing.
Keep a Notepad Handy!
Make sure you carry a notepad with you at all times so you can jot down these ideas. Ideas that aren’t written down are very frequently lost. Don’t overestimate your ability to remember an idea.
I have a notepad and a pen on my person at all times! Ideas are everywhere, you just need to be able to write them down.
If you’re not a pen and paper person, you can use an app on your phone or an audio recorder that you keep in your pocket – just have some way to make note of your ideas on the spot so you don’t forget them later.
Homework and Action Steps:
- Consider whether or not you would like to blog, how often, and on what topics.
- If you’d like to blog, make a rough editorial calendar for the rest of the year to stay on track.
- Drop a comment below to tell us about your blog when it’s ready for visitors!
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