Why did you start writing your blog? You thought you had a lot to say? You felt like there was a gap in the blogosphere and you wanted to fill it in with your own contributions? You thought blogging was a great way to earn some money out of your writing talent? That’s all good.
Many bloggers start their sites for the same reason: they can write and they have good ideas. However, most of them make a huge mistake: they turn the blogs into personal diaries.
This is the main thing you need to remember: you’re not blogging for yourself. You’re blogging for your target audience, so the interests of your readers should remain your top priority.
When you’re filling in the content calendar with upcoming topics, you have to pick the right ideas. How exactly do you do that? We have a few tips that will help you tickle the curiosity of your audience.
Step 1: Understand Your Target Audience
Nido Qubein, a successful businessman and motivational speaker, grasped the importance of choosing a target audience with his words: “Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.”
Bloggers commonly make a major mistake: they fail to identify a narrow target audience. You clearly want your content to reach as many people as possible, but who is your ideal reader? Your target audience can have subcategories, but they should all be connected with common factors.
You are not trying to please everyone with your blog posts, and you’re definitely not just writing about the things you care about. You are supposed to focus on a specific target audience. That’s the first step towards defining the right topics.
Richard Millord, a marketing expert at ResumesPlanet, says that bloggers have to understand whom they are writing for before they start considering topic ideas. “The whole purpose of marketing is to understand the customer. For bloggers, readers are just like customers. Thus, the activity of picking topics should be approached as an important aspect of the overall marketing process.”
Step 2: Identify What Your Audience Wants
When you’re sure that you have the right target audience to write for, you can continue with the next step: understanding what those people need and how you can meet those needs. There is a simple method that will help you get there: watch, think, and talk.
First, you observe your target audience on forums and social media. One of the most straightforward ways of finding out what your audience wants is reading the comments under competitors’ posts. They ask questions and give their opinions, so use those comments as a source of inspiration.
You can easily locate your audience on Reddit. Find the subforums for your niche and see what problems and interests your potential readers have. Quora is another great site for collecting ideas. For example, let’s say you picked tourism as your niche. You can simply observe the activity in that category, and you’ll get plenty of ideas on what to write about.
That was the watch part. The think part is simple: figure out how you can bring value to this community. Now that you know what they want to read, you need to find a way to serve the right topics to them.
As for the talk part, it’s pretty straightforward: get engaged in discussions. Write answers on Quora and Reddit and build your online authority. When people get the impression that you know what you’re talking about, they will be more curious about your blog.
Step 3: Give Them What They Want
You already learned your lesson: trying to force topics to your audience never works. They know what they want to read about. Hopefully, you discovered their interests through the previous step. Now, you should keep in mind that you should never imply something they would not read at this moment.
HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator is a nice tool that will give you some ideas. For example, let’s say your audience is still interested in European trips, but they are not sure about the safety. You enter three nouns in the tool: Europe, travel, and safety. Let’s see what topics it generates.
As you can see, the topic generator gives you some ideas you can easily work with.
Another strategy that helps you settle for the right topics is researching the most popular blog posts in your niche. BuzzSumo is the tool that will help you with that. Just write your theme in the search bar and you’ll get a list of posts with the biggest number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.
Of course, you can’t copy your competitors. You can, however, take their topics as an inspiration and add your own twist.
Step 4: Connect with your audience
You can already see what questions your audience has if you observe Quora, Reddit, and other resources. However, you also get direct questions, which are even more important. Your readers and followers post comments on your blog and social media channels.
If you pay attention to these comments, you’ll notice that your audience has specific questions, and you’re expected to answer them because they perceive you as a source of knowledge. Sometimes you receive questions in person. Your friends want to know what you think about a particular topic related to your niche.
All these questions are great sources for blog topics, but you have to develop a strong connection with your audience if you want to start getting them. There is no better way to start connecting with your audience on a deeper level: you need to build strong social media presence. Twitter is a really important channel to take into consideration, since it offers the easiest flow of communication.
Remember: your goal is not to get millions of followers by tweeting about random popular events and posting memes. You have a goal to promote your blog by tweeting authoritatively and continuously about the topics related to its niche.
The CoolCatTeacher is a good example of a blog with successful presence on social media. You’ll notice that the updates direct the audience towards the blog, but they are also clear and informative. That’s the impression you should be aiming for.
Step 5: Start Taking Notes. Make It a Habit
When you blog, you get new ideas all the time. Some of them are lousy, but you’ll find some hidden gems in the sudden flows of inspiration you get. Sometimes you get ideas for several great topics, but you can’t write all those posts at once. In such case, you can take two different approaches:
Choose the best idea and write the blog post, and keep all other ideas in your head. Of course, you’ll forget all about them over time.
Keep track of all ideas and develop a blogging calendar that covers them all. Needless to say, this is the better approach to take. If you’re successful in taking notes and keeping track of your ideas, you’ll never go out of inspiration for blogging.
You come across great online resources on a daily basis. Use Trello or a similar online tool to organize them in different categories and return to them whenever you need to write a new blog post. It’s important to note down not just your ideas, but the sources that inspired them as well. If you don’t keep track of those sources, you may easily end up plagiarizing someone else’s ideas just because you don’t remember where your inspiration came from.
Step 6: Take Some Risks and Turn Them into Blog Posts
You know what? All people would love to take risks, but they are afraid to do that. However, they love reading about other people taking risks, since it helps them make the final decision. If you’re the one who takes some risks and writes about them, then you’ll certainly get tons of clicks on your blog posts. Risks are a great inspiration for blogging.
If, for example, there is a new product on the market and everyone is scared to try it, you can be the first one to test it and review it. If you’re maintaining a leadership blog, you can start implementing some new business psychology techniques into your practices, and then inform the audience about the effects. If you’re maintaining a health and fitness blog, you can test a new scary diet, just to show everyone what results it can lead to.
We may underestimate beauty bloggers, but we must give them credit: they are the masters of taking risks. That’s how they attract their audience – by not being boring. We can all follow that example and implement it in our own blogging niche.
Learn from Your Experience
The 6 steps explained above will help you identify some topics your audience will be interested to check out. However, your own experience is still the most powerful indicator you have. If there is a particularly popular topic, you can develop a series of posts around it.
The important thing is to keep listening to focus on your target audience, listen to their needs, and deliver exactly what they expect!