Never think of writing posts as merely scribbling down yet another article just because everyone else does and then hoping that readers other than you actually read it…as if it were another Facebook post…
Think of your blog as a major, nationally-published magazine written by yourself for yourself…you are its most faithful reader…you are its most dependable subscriber…you are the editor-in-chief, writer, photographer, budget analyst, and whatever else you wanna call yourself.
Think of the couch you’re most likely sitting on as a real office…
Think of who you are now, where you would like to be, and how you are going to get there…
Even the most researched and best written blog post will be an epic fail… if you are not answering the questions people in your niche are asking… and talking about the right subjects and issues.
So it is important that you take the time to make sure that the blog topics and posts that you are writing actually answer the questions that your target readers may have and provides them with timely, relevant information.
Once you have established your niche and checked out what topics your particular niche are interested in, this is a time to start building your so-called editorial calendar.
An annual editorial calendar helps keep yourself accountable, if only to yourself, and makes posts more predictable for your audience.
I have started grouping my posts into the following three categories…
- Timely Pieces
- Rotating Topics
- In-Depth Material.
Timely pieces are holidays and events that you will probably write about every single year such as…
- January…New Year’s Day
- February…Valentine’s Day
- March…St. Patrick’s Day
- May…Mother’s Day…Memorial Day…Cinco De Mayo
- June…Father’s Day
- July…Independence Day.
- August…Back to School…Labor Day
- September…Labor Day
- November… Thanksgiving Day…Black Friday…Veterans Day
2. Rotating Topics
These are the general topics that you will blog about every single month—those topics that you will never get tired of writing about and that you will never have trouble finding new ideas to write about.
Rotating topics can help you attract a loyal following by setting expectations for readers who will want to return for the next post about this topic.
These are short-term blogs based on topics that usually only take one or two posts to discuss. These topics do not require major “research” or planning.
Here are some ideas as to where/how to come up with these rotating, or short-term, topics…
First ask yourself a series of questions and come up with your “Big Idea.”
- Is your main objective to…entertain and make your readers laugh…inspire your readers…offer advice based on your own past experience and expertise…teach your readers how to do something?
- What and who inspire me the most?
- What are your own favorite blogs? Why?
- What do you hope to accomplish by offering this product or service?
- What topics am I truly passionate about, not merely interested in?
- What topics am I truly gifted in and already know a lot about?
- Who you are now? What exactly are you offering? Is it a particular service or product? Is it tangible or intangible?
Based on these questions, come up with your ONE “Big Idea”—that one topic sentence or mission statement that lays the foundation from this point forward, and defines exactly where you ultimately want to position yourself in your niche.
- Now that you have recognized your “Big Idea” as your “Big Idea,” make a list of potential keywords or topics that can be used as topics for actual posts. Two great places to look at when starting this brainstormed list of potential topics are your About Me page and your Pinterest boards.
And for those days you find yourself staring at a blank screen, unable to think of any topic whatsoever to talk about, here are several tools that can help you come up with just the right idea for just the right topic for the just the right blog post.
These tools include…
1. Alltop…Browse through this collection of the best blogs covering hundreds of topics. Check current post titles shown under your topic for inspiration. I looked under the Baking category specifically for muffins and found these articles…Bake or Break—JULY 28, 2016—Coconut Cream Cheese Oat Muffins…Technicolor Kitchen—Banana Peanut Butter Muffins
2. Blog Title Generator—This tool generates fill-in-the-blank titles about no particular topic at all..not sure how helpful this will be….three of my title ideas were…How to Make Muffins Suck Less…Want to Be Truly Muffin, End Each Day Like This…Weighing The Pros and Cons of Muffins.
3. Buzzfeed…Buzzfeed covers almost every topic that you can imagine… my search for muffins led me to this article 19 Muffins Worth Getting Out of Bed For and this recipe for Double Chocolate Coconut Oil Zucchini Muffins with Caramelized Buckwheat.
4. BuzzSumo—BuzzSumo allows you to enter a topic and see the top articles about that topic…and how many times those articles have been shared across various social media platforms…such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. My search for muffins came up with 2,278 pages of post in descending order by number of shares…the most shared of these top articles is this recipe for Toddler Muffins from AllRecipes.
5. Content Forest is another idea generator. Simply type in your keyword for a list of previous posts about your topic…My results for my search for “muffins” began with this recipe for Cornbread Muffins from Scratch.
6. Google Correlate find associations between search trends and the keyword that you want to write about…It also shows which states that keywords is researched most frequently…Muffins are most often linked with “chocolate chips.”…Muffins are most frequently searched for in Maine…and least searched for in the states of Mississippi and Texas…
7. Google Shopping offers the top stories, top products, and most trending items as far as shopping online.
8. Google Trends collects data from Google Search, YouTube and Google News and then ranks the most searched for stories. These “top stories” shown as soon as you open the site can be about any topic or category…
- The Latest Topic
- Time…minute-by-minute data about your topic from different time periods
- Location…the popularity of the topic in searches by geography—a certain city, the entire US, a different country, or worldwide
- Top Related Topics
- Breakout Related Topics
- Related Queries…other topics being looked for that are most related to the topic that you are looking for
9. HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator—Input three different nouns…get five blog topic ideas that will get those creative juices flowing…
10. Pinterest—of course…
11. Portent Title Maker—Honestly not so sure that I like this brainstorming tool…my search for the keyword “muffins” resulted in three simplistic titles that I would never actually use…such as “Why MUFFINS ain’t As Good As They Used To Be”…
12. SEO Pressor is another Blog Title Generator spookily set up like Portent Title Maker…not so sure how helpful this tool could be either…My search for “muffins” resulted in the following titles…You Will Never Believe These Bizarre Truth Of Muffins….Five Muffins That Had Gone Way Too Far…10 Ideas To Organize Your Own Muffins…Why Is Muffins Considered Underrated?…How Muffins Is Going To Change Your Business Strategies.
13. Tweak Your Biz—Think this might be the most useful and interesting generator on this list…My search for “muffins” came back with tons of ideas for blog post titles divided into categories such as List, Best, How-to, Questions, Love, Sex, Celebrities, Secrets, Snarks, Business, Motivation, Problems, and “The Kitchen Sink.”
3. In-Depth Material
These are topics that you are truly interested in, actually want to learn as much as possible about, and are willing to spend time doing research on.
The amount of information on these particular topics can be overwhelming and confusing. The following six-step process has become my new best friend whenever I am tryinh to learn more about those “big topics” that I want to explore…
- a. Amazon…What markets are popular within your niche?…What are people searching for?…What are the most popular items related to this topic?…What the main companies are that make these products?…What are the best-selling books about this topic?…Who are the most prominent authors writing about this topic?… What can I learn from the table of contents and any other pages that I am able to “look inside”?
- b. Prominent Authors…Who are the most featured “experts” on this topic?…Which of these “experts” also have their own websites?… Do any of these authors give book recommendations about your topic on their websites?…Can you find these books on Kobo or some similar app?…Do any particular books about your topic honestly seem worth reading or are most of the books a total waste of time?
- c. Magazines…Which magazines are most likely to have published an article about this topic lately?…Now find the search engine for the particular magazine’s website ASAP(ignore everything else)…Now have any of these magazines actually written about this topic lately?
- d. Websites…Who are the manufacturers of the products that you initially found on Amazon? Which of these manufacturers have their own websites? Which of these manufacturer websites have articles regarding my topic worth bookmarking?…(not just the products themselves…I can analyze that better on Amazon)…Which of these manufacturers have blogs that might be worth following?
- e. Now look at trends by using trend forecasters…Google Trends, News Me, NowRelevant, OneRiot for the Social Web, Repinly, Trending Topics on Wikipedia, Trends Buzz, Trendsmap, Trendpedia, What The Trend, and Viral Video Chart can all help you find current information on what people are searching for and popular trends.
- f. Keyword research tools, such as Market Samurai, can help you identify whether your content idea is a good one or not, and give you ideas for more related keywords and more potential blog post ideas.
- g. Other hlogs related to your topic…Use Alltop, Best of the Web Blog Search, Blog Catalog, and Bloglovin’ to find the blogs that are most likely to have posted about your given topic…bookmark these also..
Once you have done as much research about a topic that you feel like you need to…or just can’t take it anymore…it’s time to actually start writing.
The first step in writing about long-term topics is to arrange the notes that you’ve collected during research together and figure out what information you will include/not include in your writings.
Two great ways to do this are mind-mapping and outlining.
Benefits of taking the time to “mind map,” outline, or even both include helping you to…
- decide if you even really wants to write about this topic
- decide if you really can write an article or series about this topic
- decide if you needs to wait on writing about this topic
- keep from going off on some irrelevant tangent
- plan ahead
- provide even more value to the reader
- save time, stress, and worry
- stay organized and on track
Mind mapping is an educational technique that can help you see how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together into an article…and help every creative mind be even more creative.
Basic mind mapping involves writing a single keyword or main thought in the center of a whiteboard or piece of paper….and then linking associated ideas, words, and concepts around that keyword or main topic as you think of them.
Mind mapping apps currently available include..
Outlining…Almost all of us had to create outlines in high school and college, ifnot even before that…but for a quick reminder…
Choose three main points to focus on about the topic at hand. Dedicate one paragraph per main point….one article per main point if writing a series. Sketch outlines for each of these three sections. Start putting together rough drafts.
In conclusion, it’s up to you if you actually want to take the time to come up with an editorial calendar or not…this is not the key issue.
The “Big Idea” is that you create a blog that you yourself would follow.
Never post anything that you wouldn’t want to read yourself.