10 places to find content ideas for your blog

Writer's block by photosteve101

Finding content ideas for a blog can be a nagging source of frustration and is a common problem for many. ‘Blogger’s block’ can affect both newcomers and seasoned pros alike.

Despite having a theme, subject area and raison d’être for my blog, I still find it difficult sometimes to find inspiration for ideas.

If I don’t happen to have a post planned in advance, I often find that the following places are great for generating blog post ideas:

1. Other people’s blogs

Take inspiration from thought leaders and experts in your industry, sector or niche.

There have been numerous occasions when I’ve read a great post by Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel or Copyblogger and it’s given me a kernel of an idea to elaborate on.

2. Blog comments

Whenever I’ve read a thought-provoking blog post I always check out the comments to see how the conversation has developed. A lot of the time comments from others take a subject into interesting new directions and this can offer inspiration for further posts of my own.

Ideas for follow-up posts may also be generated based on a comment someone leaves on your blog. Great comments can offer a different insight or perspective on a subject and open up a swath of opportunities to expand on a new idea from someone else.

3. Social bookmarking

Bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Digg and Reddit contain millions of posts on a huge range of topics.

Simply visit one of the sites, type in a keyword/ phrase and see what people people talking about. From there, you can pick a subject and run with it.

4. Social networks

Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Google+… all of these social networks have a wealth of content floating around that can provide you with some very topical and timely subject ideas to blog about.

As well as getting ideas from people you follow directly, you can also use many social networks’ own search engines to look for specific topics being discussed in real-time.

For example, Twitter Search can be used to discover trending topics. If the X-Factor or Premier League football are being talked about why not write a post related to those topics and use a hashtag (e.g. #xfactor) to create awareness when you tweet about it?

5. YouTube

When I’ve watched a great TED talk, presentation or webinar on YouTube, I’ve often been inspired to blog about it afterwards.

YouTube videos can also be used to form the centre-piece of a post. For example, Mitch Joel based a recent post of his about presentation skills around a humous video parodying some many of the common mistakes people make when composing and delivering a presentation.

6. Podcasts

I listen to a lot of business and marketing podcasts and I rarely come away from one without a few ideas of my own to blog about afterwards.

The great thing about listening to a diverse range of podcasts is that I’m able to collect ideas on a variety of subjects – from the latest in technology trends to macro economics!

7.  Events

Events are brilliant for picking up blog post ideas. For a start, good events will have a variety of different speakers with a nice mix of content. And secondly, they’re often the first places where people present new research and trends.

You can blog about the topics and issues raised at an event or even about the event itself.

8. Books and magazines

Books, industry magazines and journals are great places to find blog post ideas. They’re very subject-specific and contain high-quality content.

I’m a big fan of the Harvard Business Review. After a reading a very interesting article on social media strategy in July 2011, I was inspired to write a blog post of my own in which I reviewed and commented on the research I read in the journal.

9. The news

Newspapers, discussion programmes and news bulletins can be good for getting blog ideas about mainstream subjects or trends.

Back in the summer of 2011 there was widespread rioting across London and several other cities in the UK. At the time, some people suggested social media was partly to blame as it allowed rioters to organise themselves. This gave me the impetus to write a post on why social media wasn’t to blame.

10. Family and friends

Most of my friends and family don’t work in marketing. Because they’re not caught up in the intricacies of branding, social media and SEO, they often ask very simple, direct questions about what I do.

Although the answers to their questions might seem obvious to me at the time, they usually suggest that there might be a knowledge gap that could be filled with an informative blog post.


  • Susan Alexander

    Gavin:

    This topic interests me for a reason I suspect is different from most people’s.

    The reason is that I NEVER have this problem, and I don’t expect that to ever change.  

    I’ve thought about why this is and I’ve come up with some theories, foremost among them is how I’ve approached my work and my blogging: Before I got started (and continuing every day), I’ve thought very hard about WHY I do what I do and WHY I blog about it.  The level of WHY I’m talking about is very high.

    My WHY theory was confirmed to me in a book I read recently: Simon Sinek’s Start With Why.  Sinek explains with great precision the huge difference it makes when we start with a preliminary sort of why, like “to make computers” or “to make money” “or to help people” versus the real, deeply thought out sort of WHY.  Apple, not surprisingly, has that sort of WHY.  It’s this: to challenge the status quo in everything we do.

    Sinek’s point is that when you have a WHY like that, it drives what you think, what you do, what you make, what you say, how you say it, and who you are.   

    So, based on all of this, my blogging theory is this: people who draw a frequent blank on what to write about may not have crafted their why carefully enough.

    Apple is used so frequently as an example for practically everything, so let’s look at a completely different example – a blogging example:

    Mark Sisson says he’s posted every single day for 6 years (his blog is marksdailyapple.com).  His initial goal, I read, was to blog for 1 year on his topic, but the more he wrote, the more there was to write.

    Sisson is someone whose WHY is very well crafted – just look at the “Start Here” page on his blog.  I think that’s not a coincidence.  I think his precisely crafted WHY it’s the very reason why he’s never run out of things to write about.

    Interested to know your thoughts, Gavin.  Great post.

    Susan

    • http://twitter.com/gavinllewellyn Gavin Llewellyn

      Hi Susan

      Thank you once again for stopping by and commenting. You’ve always got something interesting and productive to say and I really appreciate your thoughts and perspectives.

      Before I respond, I think it’s safe to say that we’re both Simon Sinek fans! I haven’t read his book (yet) but I have seen his TED Talk in which he talks a little about ‘The Power of Why’. I was inspired enough by his talk to blog about it back in November 2011. The post is called ‘The Golden Circle: a formula for inspiring action’ http://www.onetoomanymornings.co.uk/the-golden-circle-a-formula-for-inspiring-action/

      I completely agree with the point you’ve made and I think it’s something any aspiring blogger should aspire to. As you say, if we can establish WHY we’re going to start blogging then the subject matter will flow more easily than it would if one were to just set up a blog without thinking it through properly to begin with.

      However, I have two small points I’d like to make in reference to yours:

      i) Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability or inclination to consider the more meaningful ‘why’. As Simon Sinek points out, for every Apple there is a TiVo or Dell that focus on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ rather than the ‘why’. This means that the majority of people out there will need help finding blog post ideas.

      ii) Although I believe I have a fairly robust ‘why’ for my blog (inspiring marketers to develop and improve), I still struggle on occasions to find specific ideas and content to blog about. Even though I know what the big picture is (the ‘why’) I sometimes need a little help getting the variety of subjects and topics to blog about. That’s where podcasts, news, YouTube and other people’s blogs and comments (like yours!) come in so handy. They give me inspiration and a nudge along the road I’ve already mapped out for myself.

      Thank you again for your excellent comment. As I mentioned above, I wholeheartedly agree with the point you’ve made and I’m glad we’ve found yet another person we both admire and respect to go with Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the Beatles! 🙂

      • Susan Alexander

        Good points, Gavin.  As you said, not everyone has the ability or the inclination to get to a bigger WHY.  In fairness to them, it’s pretty hard to nail it like Apple. Some people and companies still function quite well with more of a WHAT and HOW approach.

        And, as you point out, even those with a robust WHY (even you!) may still struggle for things to write about.  Which is why it’s your post is so useful, and you’re good to write it.

        My theory, as it relates to blogging, is only that – a theory (i.e.  simply the idea that too little WHY thought could be some of the reason why bloggers find themselves at a loss on what to write about).

        It could also explain (at least in part) why there are so many similar posts out there (and similar blogs out there, for that matter). Bloggers, it seems, resolve their blanks by looking to each other and to things around the web that have already been covered.  Then they write about things without adding a lot of themselves, because they haven’t really nailed down yet (to paraphrase Sinek) who they are, why they do what they do, and why anyone should care.

        All of this said, ideas have to come from somewhere.  Mine primarily come from books (research geek that I am).  I like to think I have the WHY thing covered, and that there’s a ton of me in what I post.  That said, I see WHY as an ongoing, organic thing. A work in progress.  I think it should be for everyone.  And I think that those who don’t really have much of a WHY could still get one – if they want one, and they try.

        I’d like to close by saying that you and your blog rock.  Your do indeed have a robust WHY, and it’s OK to struggle with what to write about sometimes.

        Susan

        • http://twitter.com/gavinllewellyn Gavin Llewellyn

          Thank you again, Susan. Your comments, opinion and point-of-view are very much appreciated 🙂

          You made another interesting point in your last comment, this time about originality. If too many people copy or mimic others (intentionally or not) and do not include enough of themselves in their writing then it all becomes a little too familiar and dull. As you say, a good ‘why’ will ensure that this problem is minimised.

          Following this conversation I’m going to to continue looking at my ‘why’ as an ongoing, organic thing. Blogs evolve and develop and I think you’re right that we should keep an eye on them as time goes by.

          By the way, have you considered writing a post of your own based on ‘The Power of Why’? I’d really like to see you expand on this as I think you’ve got a really interesting perspective on this idea.

          • Susan Alexander

            Gavin:

            All good thoughts.  Let’s keep working on our WHYS and compare notes.  It’s important stuff.

            A pillar post is coming up in which the power and necessity of WHY will factor in heavily.  It’s been a long time coming, that post.  The pillars are hard to write.  It’s my latest posts (500 to 800 words) that I’ve been enjoying more.

            Blogs develop just like bloggers.  Speaking of Mark Sisson, the blogger I wrote about earlier, I’ve been watching him and his blog evolve for quite some time, and evolve it has!  He just keeps getting clearer and clearer on his WHY (and, in turn, his HOW and WHAT).  When you think abut it, it’s the only way it can really happen – over time, organically.

            I think we’ve worked some good things out here, Gavin. Hope people take a look and tell us what they think 🙂

            Susan