Blog Post Idea Generation: 20 Options You Can Use

Blog Post Idea GenerationHave you ever found yourself praying for inspiration to strike while you stare at your computer’s blinking cursor the night before your blog post is due?

Don’t worry—You’re not alone.

Did you know that if you learn how to generate blog ideas on a regular basis, you can avoid the curse of the blank page while providing a starting outline for your post?

To help you fill your blog editorial calendar, use these 20 blog post idea generation approaches. If you use one per day, you’ll have a month’s worth of posts to fill you blog!

Blog Post Idea Generation

Whether you’re at a loss for what to blog about or seeking to expand your current blog or content offering, this list of blog post ideas will help you generate new content. Go through this list of blog post idea generation examples to spark new ideas for your blog.

1. Update and republish existing content

Take a page from Backlinko’s Brian Dean who makes sure that every piece of his content is up-to-date before creating new content.

Make sure that all your existing content is up-to-date before creating new content. @Backlinko #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


Content Marketing Institute follows a similar approach. They spruce up their top performing content. According to Michele Linn, when they do this, the posts continue to be among the strongest for the period following the update’s publication.  They add an editor’s note and add “Back By Popular Demand” to let readers know it’s updated content.

Highlight the fact that you’ve updated your content – Example

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Ask readers to contribute quality content suggestions where appropriate. To do this, put a note at the end of your content requesting input with the caveat that you will vet the content to reduce bloggers looking for backlinks.
  • Schedule content updates. If you’re high performing content is related to specific events, include them on your editorial calendar.

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


2. Create core resources

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark calls this cornerstone content since it’s fundamental to the overarching content strategy of your blog.

Neil Patel has published a number of 40,000+ word Advanced Guides to provide useful information that keeps generating visits and links. (To put this in perspective, a book is roughly 80,000 words.)

Cornerstone Content-resource example-Blog Content Idea Generation

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Determine what your blog will be known for. Then outline the information and related articles you need to create. This should be content people will continue to seek over time.

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


3. Do research

Create new research or do a deep dive on someone else’s because customers actively seek research according to Content Marketing Institute’s findings.

74% of B2B buyers consider original research to be influential in the buying process but only 37% of B2B marketers create original research.

Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina created an annual blogger survey to answer the question that’s often asked but rarely documented: “How long does it take to write a blog post?”

While a time-consuming piece of content, it positions Orbit Media as the go-to source for blogging data yielding traffic and links. Even better, Crestodina explains how to create a survey that generates traffic and links.

Blog Post Idea Generation

At the Actionable Marketing Guide, analyzing research and showing marketers how to use the results are a regular part of our blog content. To stand out find a unique approach as I did with Content Marketing Institute’s B2B content marketing research.

[clickT0Tweet quote=”To stand out when analyzing research, find a unique approach.  #contentmarketing” tweet=”To stand out when analyzing research, find a unique approach. #contentmarketing”]

blog post content ideation example -other people's research

How to create a unique hook for research analysis

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Break down  research concepts beyond the press release bulletpoints. Most non-marketers never take a course on surveys and research.
  • Include charts. Don’t forget the eye candy.

4. Create valuable resource lists

Lists are a form of foundational content and resources.

The key to quality blog post list is:

  • Include relevant links to content or product.
  • Add screenshots to explain.
  • Provide additional commentary and/or tips.
  • Keep your list information up-to-date. (Note how Brian Dean includes the date to show that it’s timely.)

Backlinko’s Brian Dean is a master of the list post.

List post example includes screenshots, commentary and links.

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tip:

  • Do your homework. Don’t create another me-too post. Use a hook that’s unique for your blog offering.

5. Round-up other people’s opinions

Despite what you may think, you don’t have to do blog post creation alone. Get your employees, customers, influencers and/or social media followers to help you.

Since roundup posts have become a key element of crowd-pleaser content that many blogs and content marketers use, you must make yours standout:

  • Think big. Given the content saturation in some categories, the biggest posts risk becoming me-too content. If you’re not a major player, this option may not be for you. For example, Content Marketing Institute does an annual content forecast.

    Blog Post Idea Generation - Round up example

    Content Marketing Institute’s Annual Forecast – Roundup example

  • Be highly selective. Vet the people that you ask for input. In this case, you want to reach out to the biggest known people in your niche. It’s the approach many columnists use for big name publications like Forbes, Inc and Entrepreneur where they select 10 people.

    Blog post idea generation - selective list option

    Heidi Cohen in Entrepreneur’s Top 10 Online Marketers To Follow

  • Give it a new twist. With this type of roundup post, you get contributors to answer questions that have a new focus rather than the same ones that every other roundup has. For example, Mike Allton created a massive roundup on entrepreneurship.

    Annual Content

    Annual Roundup Post: Uses targeted hook to stand out

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Select your topic carefully. You don’t want your round-up to be a me-too list.
  • Include a due by date. Let contributors know your timing.
  • Plan for input follow up. Don’t assume your roundup post is top of mind for your contributors.
  • Link to their blogs or websites. Show that you value their input.
  • Let people know that you published the piece. Make it easy for them to share.

6. Provide in-depth product related information

Customers seek detailed product information before purchasing. LinkedIn research found that this deep product information was a disconnect between customers, marketers and sales people.

3 B2B customer-vendor disconnects

Think like a librarian to collect all of the information related to your offering.

The key to making your product information blog posts stand out is to go deep and explain what makes your offering unique. Your goal is to convince prospects to buy from you rather than other suppliers of the same, similar or substitute product.

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Explain every major product. Get help from your product marketers. Start with their one-pagers and improve the content.
  • Offer A vs B comparisons. Everyone wants to know why to select one product over another.
  • Compare different products. They can be in a single category or a head-to-head comparison. Help your readers to decide which one to purchase. Marcus Sheridan grew his pool business by creating us versus them posts.
  • Explain how to use and maintain your products. Be the answer man. Include questions related to your products.

7. Review other people’s products

This approach isn’t new. It was at the core of Consumer Reports.

Customers trust experts and other customers as reported by Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

Influencer Relations

Write an entire blog post that’s an unbiased review of other businesses’ products. If you generate income via affiliates, this is a great way to support potential customers.

Socially Sorted’s Donna Moritz shows her readers how to use products with detailed posts. Note that she includes an affiliate disclaimer!

Blog Post idea generation - review products

Product review example by Donna Moritz for affiliate product

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Skip the sugar coating. Don’t be a shill. Customers can tell a fake a mile away.
  • Include FTC disclaimers where appropriate. If you’ve received the product for free or will generate income you must let readers know. (Note: Check with your lawyer.)
  • Create a special list of products you recommend. This is a great way to drive revenues on your blog.

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


8. Answer every customer question (aka: FAQ Content)

This is pure Marcus Sheridan, They ask, you answer!” 

Even better: beyond not needing to be creative, you can get the questions and answers from internal experts like customer service and sales!

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Collect questions people ask your customer service and sales people. Establish a method to gather these questions formally. It can be as simple as a Google document.
  • Search your blog’s comment section. This may not work if your readers don’t engage with you on your blog or social media.
  • Check the comment section of active relevant blogs. Use these questions as a starting point for a new article. Don’t write a me-too piece.
  • Ask readers to submit their questions. Create a special email address that someone is responsible for reviewing.
  • Use your email responder to ask prospects about their current challenges. Find out their pain points when they’re most likely to respond. Here’s our autoresponder. (BTW, we’d be thrilled if you signed up for our weekly newsletter.Reader Blog post Idea generation

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


9. Put your customers and readers in the spotlight

We all learned how to do this in nursery school with show and tell.

Let your customers tell their stories about your business and products.

For B2B content creators, this is often known as case studies while for B2C marketers, it can be user-generated content.

Here’s an example from Karen Templer’s Fringe Association. It focuses on getting her readers to knit their version of a pattern she created. (In knitting terms, it’s called a knit along or KAL for short.)

Blog post idea generation - customer stories

Spotlight your customers – Fringe Association Example

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Ask customers for their stories related to your product. Of course, you have to transform this information into stellar content.
  • Get your legal team to provide a release. Don’t get overly legalistic or you won’t have any content. But you do need permissions.
  • Collect photographs at company events. Everyone loves seeing themselves.

10. Create content to support your marketing efforts

Use your marketing calendar as a point of inspiration for your blog posts including  product rollouts, promotions and conferences. (Here’s a full examination of conference content.)

Top Rank’s Ashley Zeckman does a great job of promoting their team’s participation in conferences before, during and after. Check out the influencer photograph that appeared on various social media streams.

Blog post idea generation

Top Rank example of marketing related blog posts

While this content may be short-lived and garner low shares, it provide another outlet for letting your audience know about your marketing promotions and public appearances.

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Plan ahead. Brainstorm marketing-related content when you create your marketing calendar.
  • Brainstorm blog post ideas in marketing planning meetings. This is a win-win. Your blog can support marketing efforts before, during and after.
  • Get help from internal sources. Include posts about all public presentations made by senior executives and others. Often you get a heads up since marketing and communications are often asked to create the presentations.

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


11.  Interview people

Imagine you’re Ellen DeGeneres and invite your employees, influencers, customers and social media followers to share their stories with your readers.

The beauty of interviews is that you don’t need to create the content on your own.

Spin Sucks has tapped into interviews for Twitter followers and influencers. Although Spin Sucks has stopped creating this type of post, it doesn’t mean that your readers won’t like your interviews.

Content Marketing Secrets-Actionable Marketing Guide

User Generated Content Curation Format

The big win on interview content is that it provides a way to allow different voices on your blog without accepting guest posts. 

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Create a consistent interview format. This streamlines your content creation. For example, I regularly interview book authors to get their behind-the-scenes input.
  • Schedule interviews in advance. Give people lead time to provide you with their input.
  • Tap into live events to get people face-to-face. Where appropriate schedule appointments.

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


12. Tap into the power of calendar-driven content

The calendar is a great way to generate at least one blog post a month. Even better, this content can be evergreen so that you can use it every year for a specific holiday or event.  (Here’s the full user’s guide for annual calendar content planning. It’s chock full of inspiration.)

Make a connection between your business and holidays. Don’t overlook smaller, fun days like National Donut Day. (Yes I didn’t make this up!)Holiday Inspired Blog Post-Blog Content Idea Generation

In addition to the major holidays, seek lesser celebrations and milestones related to your business, location and history.

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Integrate seasonal content into your blog editorial calendar. Coordinate these posts with your promotional calendar and major content creation. Make the information relevant to your audience.
  • Develop posts related to major events in your field. Include conferences and other observations.

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


13. Look back to spotlight the year’s best content (aka: Best of BLANK content)

While year-end posts provide limited opportunities, they’re great for highlighting your best performing content. Remember people may have neglected to read it when you first published it.

For example, Michael Brenner curated his best of list based on other people’s content.

Blog post idea - Best of content

Michael Brenner’s example of Best of Content – Curating other people’s articles

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Expand your Best of Content offering. Focus on different categories or writers. Alternatively, publish your content on other platforms.

14. Look into your crystal ball for the coming year

Putting together a list of predictions is part of every content creator’s must have list. You can do your own predictions or gather them from influencers in your field.

Contently took another approach by asking their colleagues for their input.

Annual Content Planning – Get input from your employees

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Publish your forecast post to maximize results. Consider when your readers are most likely to pay attention to your forecasts. 
  • Find a unique angle if possible. To avoid being another me-too post, position your forecast to stand out.

15. Report the news for your category or niche

Take advantage of interest in an event or topic by writing a blog post with an angle that’s relevant to your audience.

Unless you’ve got a weekly column, these posts are difficult to plan in advance. You need to be nimble and able to change your blog’s editorial calendar. Further, these posts may have a short lifespan so be prepared to promote them as soon as they’re published.

Take a page from “fake” newscasters such as The Daily Show. Watch how they spin the news. Apply these techniques to your content. (BTW, you may be interested in Jon Stewart: Content Curation Master.)

Tread lightly, especially where politics and people’s lives are involved. A topic you consider humorous may backfire and anger your readers and customers.

For example, Jon Loomer writes about every Facebook change including visuals and videos. While not a weekly column, this information is core to his audience. Here’s an example.

Jon Loomer writes about every change on Facebook – Example of Report the News Blog Posts

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Monitor trending topics on Twitter. Is something happening that you can associate with your business?
  • Stay current with the news. Ask yourself: “How can I present this to my blog audience that’s different?”

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


16. Develop regular columns

This can be an employee giving insight into their area of expertise or an outside influencer. Generally expect to compensate outside experts for their blog posts.

Tap into ideas from traditional media like Letters to the Editor. For example, Contently has an “Ask A Content Strategist” column. The beauty of this type of content is that you don’t have to come up with the idea. 

On a different note, Moz’s Rand Fishkin shares his knowledge in his highly useful Whiteboard Friday. Fishkin initially started his column as an experiment and it became successful over time.

Regular Employee Column-Blog Content Idea Generation-2

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Provide support to experts where appropriate. Offer editorial support and technical support to make their posts appear stellar. Remember not everyone writes well.
  • Step into a newstand to check magazine offerings. Adapt their ideas for your blog.

17. Include other forms of media

Take advantage of blogs’ ability to include a wide range of content formats: photographs, videos, infographics, audio and presentations.

Using a different format as part of your regular blogging content calendar is a great way to appeal to a larger audience that doesn’t necessarily like text.

Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner hosts a podcast every Friday where he interviews social media experts.

How Mike Stelzner uses other media options to expand Social Media Examiner’s offering

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Post non-text content on appropriate sites to maximize reach. Stelzner’s podcast allows listeners a variety of options.
  • Add text to aid searchability. Assess whether your content can be transcribed for your listeners.

18. Recommend your favorite books or blogs

This topic is a favorite since writers and bloggers are always looking to books for inspiration. In fact, if you’re looking for the best marketing books, here’s a list to help you.

If you think that favorite reads is old hat, then check out Ann Handley’s article on 12 Books That Will Make You A Better Writer and Storyteller. Not only is Handley’s writing gripping, but also you’re guaranteed to discover something new.

Ann Handley’s list of 12 books to inspire your writing

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Ask colleagues for recommendations. Here’s another place where you don’t have to go it alone.

19. Share your opinion

While opinion pieces are straight out of newspaper and magazine editorial pages, very few bloggers can pull this off. Often most opinion blog posts are actually guest posts.

But one blogger stands out in terms of opinionated posts – that’s Mark Schaefer who has consistently focused on his blog while others have tested various social media platforms.

Schaefer’s most well known opinion post is on Content Shock.

Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Understand that opinion posts generate a lot of controversy. Be prepared to handle reader and social media feedback.

20. Curate other people’s content

According to Curata data, about 25% of your content marketing should be curated. Apply this finding to your blog. Here’s how to add content curation to your content plans.

The easiest type of curated blog post is the weekly round up. Gini Dietrich has named her post: Gin and Topics. Dietrich curates the items based on videos shared in her Slack group.

She adds a personal note, spotlights 5 items with commentary, and gives credit to the folks who alert her to the content. Additionally, Dietrich has a great, consistent graphic.

Example of weekly content curation for your content curation plan


Actionable Blog Post Idea Generation Tips:

  • Add context to your blog post curation. Go beyond just a list of links. Explain why they’re important for your readers.
  • Let people know you selected their content. Be polite. Don’t expect them to share your content because you highlighted their article.

Download The Ultimate Blogging Checklist


Blog post idea generation conclusion

The key to avoiding blank screen syndrome when you sit down to blog is to have have a set of potential blog post ideas ready.

Filling your blog with useful, quality posts on a regular basis to keep readers coming back for more requires planning in the form of blog content idea generation.

Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, make blog post idea generation a habit.

Even better, improve your blog ideas and develop an outline when you vet the ideas.

Still at a loss for content ideas?

Then take this blog post idea generation list and create at least one post for every idea.

I bet you can’t do that in less than 10 minutes!

What’s your favorite tip for blog content idea generation?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Editor’s note: This post has been expanded and updated since it was initially published on October 7, 2015

Photo Credit: cc zero

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