Finding Topics to Write About

writer's block

Writer’s block is a fearsome affliction that drives even the most gifted novelists into a state of creative unrest. The rise of blogging has spread this condition over the Internet and into the homes of online marketers all over the world. Like the common cold, it has no known cure, but with a few harmless meds, it’s effects can be drastically subdued.

If you’re currently suffering from a bout of this horrible condition, these tips will help you out.

Take Your Search Offline

Topic hunting often kills more time than writing. It’s a constant struggle and the number one reason why new bloggers often get discouraged and fail. The more you delve into your niche the narrower the research funnel becomes, and before you know it, you’re left with a topic that can barely fill a paragraph – this is actually a good thing! If you find a topic with little information available online, you could have something quite unique.

The Internet isn’t the only research tool. Think like a journalist and try to arrange some interviews with industry experts. A Skype video chat or telephone conversation will do the job. Asking for someone’s opinion is one of the highest forms of flattery. You’ll be surprised by how helpful experts can be after complimenting their stature in the industry.

Follow Trade Publications

Trade publications are a gold mine for hot, reliable topics. Unfortunately, the Internet is riddled with low-quality, watered-down content that does nothing but obscure its original meaning. The more people pick apart and rewrite articles, the more bogus they become. Fortunately, articles in trade publications don’t suffer the same fate.

Subscribe to well-known industry trade magazines and keep a watchful eye on their regular contributors. Most magazines will have a list of contact details on their front page, hidden in the small print. Here you can find personal email addresses and possibly even phone numbers. Use this contact information to connect with contributors and pick apart their brains.

Create Trending Topics

Finding trending topics is a skill, but creating them is an art. To become a genuine figurehead in your community you must pursue the latter. If you just publish trending material you’ll never establish yourself as a primary, go-to resource. Individuality is crucial. Tackling controversy and debating problems will help you stand out over all the mundane bloggers who simply rehash each other’s bland content.

Don’t be afraid to shake things up a little. If you have a controversial idea, publishing it could get your blog quite a bit of attention. While you may alienate some readers in the process, you’ll turn others into avid followers, which is far more beneficial. Make predictions about where your niche is heading, especially if you have an opinion that other authority figures find disagreeable. This can be a great way to ruffle some feathers and start a dialogue with a big name.

Outperform your Peers

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes the best ideas are right there in front of you. It could be a simple “how to” that’s already been written about time and time again, an idea that’s so blatant and obvious nobody else is covering it with the detail and attention it deserves — take this post for example!

There are countless 500-word SEO-centric articles out there on virtually every topic known to man; however, genuinely informative articles with good quality images, statistics and infographics that support the content are hard to come by. Don’t exclude topics that have been tackled if you can one-up other writers in your field. Sometimes expanding on another topic in greater details is all it takes.

Connect with Influencers

How can you expect to become an influencer if you don’t connect with them yourself? Get to know the big players in your niche. The occasional email or Facebook comment will put you on their radar. Eventually, with enough repetition and tenacity, you may be able to persuade them to let you write a guest post for their blog, giving you the chance to reel in their readership and get some valuable link-juice along the way.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you don’t mind giving yourself a rogue-like image, challenge your competitors. Expressing your thoughts and opinions in a “reaction” post could bring attention to your blog – you could even convert some of their readership in the process. If taking this approach, keep your writing honest, professional and respectful. A blog isn’t a place for expressing personal vendettas.

Review the Past

We learn from the past to look to the future. Serialize your most successful content. If you’ve written a blog post that’s performed well in the past, perhaps it’s time to write another in a similar vein? Read the article and comments and try to find a brand new angle to focus on. In addition, look at who shared the content. If it only succeeded because another successful blogger put it out there for the masses,  get in touch with them and see if they’d be willing to re-share an updated version.

If you don’t have much blogging history, look at successful posts by your competitors. Think about all the pieces of killer content that you’ve already read on the Internet. Why did they stick in your memory? Did other people actively engage with the content? Do you have the skills to write something even better?

Use Social Media

It’s called “social” media for a reason, so use it to communicate with your readers! Too many bloggers and online businesses see Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as promotional tools and fail to understand that their true value lies in what happens afterwards – commenting, sharing, hashtagging. Followers tend to verbalize their thoughts and opinions more on social networks than on blogs, so set aside some time every day to connect with your fans, answer their queries and support the claims on your blog. When you engage with your readers you’ll naturally find more subjects to write about.

Get yourself on Reddit – just don’t get addicted! Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Reddit has specific sub-sections for virtually every topic. It also utilizes a system which lets users vote “up” or “down” their favorite posts and comments. The general atmosphere is a little less serious than other forums and social networks; however, if memes and quirky information is what you’re looking for, there’s simply no alternative.  

Conclusion

Write to engage, not to satisfy the search engines. Uninspiring content will reflect poorly on your blog and inevitably harm your rankings and readership. Whenever you write a blog post, read it back and ask yourself “what did I learn by writing this?” If you can’t answer this simple question, it’s not ready for publication.

And finally, follow your intuition. Keyword tools and monthly search figures can certainly help, but don’t take them as gospel. If you have a hunch about a particular topic that doesn’t have the “right SEO statistics,” it may still be worth pursuing; after all, you’ve got nothing to lose but a little time!

Helpful Tools

Google Trends — find out what topics are currently trending online.

Buzzsumo — analyze content and locate key influencers within a specific niche.

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