In September I wrote a blog titled “How to Create a Highly Valuable Blog.” In it I described what makes a blog valuable and how you can add value to your own blog. As I was reading over it again, I noticed that I went over a couple ways to come up with valuable blog ideas but never went into depth with any of it. Adding value to a blog is one of those things I continually have to better myself at and without a doubt struggle with from time to time. As a social media manager, I find it important to stay on top of current trends when blogging. I finally decided to take some time and give my methods for finding blog topics in the hopes that I can ease some frustration to fellow bloggers.
Yahoo! Answers is a question and answer site that you’ve no doubt stumbled upon in one or more of your web searchers. The concept is simple: Yahoo! members post questions and other Yahoo! members provide answers. People ask about nearly everything imaginable so, no matter your business’ niche, you’ll likely find more than a few questions relating to your industry.
Just use the program’s filter options to locate relevant questions and skim through them to see if you can expand on any or provide a more accurate response in a blog post.
Quora is another Q&A site that works very similarly to Yahoo Answers; although Quora arguably has better quality feedback than Yahoo. Another big difference is members tend to use their real names on Quora, and you’ll often see business owners, executives, etc. trying to get their answers voted to the top.
But in regards to coming up with blog ideas, it serves the same basic purpose as Yahoo Answers. Simply type the keywords you’re looking for in the program’s search field, and you’ll see a range of questions to serve as inspiration.
Instead of trying to individually monitor what’s happening on all the different social networks, Bottlenose does all the work for you. It constantly analyzes activity across all the major social networks and provides you with live insight, so you always have a finger on the pulse of the world’s conversations. And with the ability to stay hyper-current, you may be the first in the blogosphere to cover a trending subject.
To use Bottlenose, type a topic into the search box or select one of the displayed subjects. Then the program will show you (under the “Now” tab) everything that’s trending at the moment, including blogs, comments, links, and images. You can also use the “Sonar” tab to find related topics that may also spark your blogging imagination.
LinkedIn is the online place where over 100 million professionals gather, and while it has many great networking features, it’s also useful for coming up with blog topics. It has its own question and answer forum (find it under the “Answers” tab), which you can use in the same way as Yahoo Answers or Quora.
However, since the questions are mostly business related, LinkedIn usually works best for those whose blogs are directed at people within the industry and not consumers.
Google Keyword Tool
With Google’s Keyword Tool you can research a particular keyword to see how people are searching for it online. It lets you find the most popular search phrases related to your word, and allows you to click on the phrases to see what kinds of search results they evoke.
Knowing what keyword phrases are most commonly is helpful for generating blog topics, because it tells you exactly what most searcher are looking for and the type of terminology they use. Also, by looking at the search results you can see what other bloggers have already written, which may inspire a new idea or motivate you to cover a subject better.
TweetChats are Twitter’s modern day equivalent of a chat room. They are prescheduled events available to any Twitter user, and the discussions cover a whole gamut of themes. By participating in a TweetChat you can learn what folks are thinking about now, and since the conversations generally revolve around questions and people’s opinions, you can find a lot of material to expound upon in a blog post.
To find a TweetChat, open the Twitter Chat Schedule Google Doc, open the “Find” box (click control + F or command + F), and type in your keyword of choice. Once you find a TweetChat of interest, get more information and the chat link by clicking the adjacent links.
Google Alerts is a free program that notifies you via Gmail whenever subjects you’re interested in are discussed on the web. You can tell the program what type of content to monitor (blogs, news, videos, etc.) and setup how often you’d like to be alerted.
Knowing what others are writing about may ignite your own imagination and, because people are currently talking about the topic, there’s a strong chance it’s of interest to the masses (check comment feeds and social shares for greater insight).
Read Other Industry Blogs
Reading other people’s blogs (especially your competitor’s) helps you stay current and provides you with a steady stream of inspiration. Naturally, you don’t want to copy or steal someone’s material, but there’s no reason you can’t explore the subject from another angle, deliver a higher quality article, or discuss something you think was left out. Also, if you have a strong opinion about someone’s posting, instead of responding in the comments, voice your thoughts in a blog post of your own (this is a good way to start a friendly debate and exchange links).
Read Comments on Other Blogs and Respond
While you’re reading other industry blogs, don’t forget to read the comment feed as well, as it’s a great source for finding unanswered questions. Offer a genuinely helpful comment then explore the idea in more depth in a posting on your own site. For optimal results, target popular blogs, since most in-demand authors simply don’t have the time to respond to everyone’s comments. Also, you can become recognized within the industry and among consumers by being a regular commenter on the most frequented blogs.
By searching through popular bookmarks you can learn of people’s interests and discover ways to add your own expertise.