Has this ever happened to you?
You lower the bucket into the well and it comes up dry. You’ve run out of ideas! There’s simply nothing left to write about. At least that’s what it feels like.
It can be terrifying, especially when your list of loyal subscribers is waiting for your next update.
But the truth is, there are always masses of topics to write about. You just need to think outside the box.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you today – a list of 27 tried and tested techniques that will unlock your creativity and get you writing. Even when the bucket came up dry!
1. Find Something You Don’t Understand
Is there something you know you should be doing, something you know you should understand better? Write a blog post about it and kill two birds with one stone.
Take Google Analytics, for example. If you’re like most people, there are large parts of it you aren’t using and don’t understand. Perfect opportunity! Write a blog post about it.
Or maybe you’ve been meaning to put a feature box on your header but it just seemed too complicated. Perfect – write a tutorial!
2. Develop a Niche Topics List
One of the keys to coming up with new ideas for blog posts is to develop a ‘Niche Topics List’. This is simply a list of all the topics within your niche.
I’ve found the best way to do this is to use mind-mapping software. I use a free program called SimpleMind.
Create a central topic labelled ‘Topics Within My Niche’ and just brainstorm the topics within your niche. These are the topics I identified within my niche:
Some topics may be a sub-topic of another topic. For example on my mind map ‘auto responder sequences’ is actually a sub-topic of ‘email marketing’.
But don’t worry about that – all we are interested in a list of standalone topics that could be the subject of a blog post.
If you’re having trouble doing this, visit major websites within your niche and see if they list categories of blog posts. These categories will be the sub-topics for your mind map:
Another technique for coming up with more topics within your niche is to type in a topic you’ve already identified and visit the first 2 or 3 sites that come up in the search results.
Chances are those sites will mention topics that are related to the topic you typed in or are a subset of the topic you typed in.
Here’s an example. I went to Google and typed in ‘email marketing’. The 7th result on the page was this Kissmetrics post:
I scroll down the page and come to this heading:
‘Segmentation and Analytics’. Bingo! Another topic within my niche - I add it to the list.
Once your mind map is complete, copy the topics into a Word document and sort them alphabetically.
This is my ‘Niche Topics List’:
- ad monitoring
- affiliate marketing
- auto responder sequences
- blog post titles
- collaborative content
- content marketing
- content promotion
- creating graphics for blog posts
- creating infographics
- creating online courses
- creating optin bribes
- email marketing
- finding topics for blog posts
- finding your niche
- finding your tribe
- forum commenting
- guest posting
- influencer marketing
- link building
- list building
- monetizing blogs
- optin popups
- sales funnels
- seo espionage
- social media espionage
- wordpress plugins
- writing blog post titles
- writing blog posts
We’ll be using this list as the starting point for some of the other techniques in this article, so make sure you complete this step before going any further.
3. Spy On Your Competitors
Follow your competitors on social media and see what they are writing about. One way to do this is to make a list of 10 Influencers in your niche and then go to Twitter and create a ‘List’.
Log into your Twitter account and then click on your account picture. In the drop down menu, click on ‘Lists’:
Click ‘Create New List’:
Give your list a name:
Hit ‘Save list’ and then use the search box on the next screen to add your 10 competitors:
Once you’ve added the 10 competitors, you can just check on this list once a day and see what blog posts they’re tweeting.
Another way to monitor the content that’s being produced in your niche is to use Feedly.
On the Feedly dashboard, click on the cogwheel in the left sidebar and then click on ‘New Collection’ in the main window:
On the next screen, type in the name of the blog you want to follow:
On the next screen, click ‘Create a Collection’:
Then give your Collection a name and hit ‘Create’:
Add nine more blogs to your ‘Influencer’ Collection and check the feed in that Collection every morning.
You don’t need to read each blog post in the feed – just look at the titles and see what topics people are writing about.
You can be pretty sure that these key Influencers know what’s in demand in your niche. So these are going to be trending topics.
As you scan the titles, ask yourself: could I write on this topic? Is there an angle they’ve missed?
4. Use BuzzSumo
Go to BuzzSumo and type in the topic or sub-topic of your niche. Check the ‘Past Month’ radio button (left sidebar) so you know the results are up-to-date:
The free version of BuzzSumo gives you 10 results, which should be enough to trigger some ideas for your next post. Scan the listed posts and see if there’s an angle they’ve missed.
Alternatively, could you bring together information from all of the posts to create something that’s bigger and better than any of them (i.e. Skyscraper technique)?
5. Use Ahrefs
Find the keywords of your competitors’ top ranking web pages and you’ll get some great ideas for blog posts that are in demand.
It’s easy to do.
Just go to Ahrefs and either sign in or start a free trial. Type in the URL of your competitor or an Influencer in your niche and then click on the ‘Top Pages’ tab in the left sidebar:
On the next screen you’ll see the top pages on that website, ranked by volume of traffic. The free version of Ahrefs will give you the first 20 results and that should be enough for this exercise.
In the right side column you’ll see the keyword associated with that page:
In this instance the top 10 keywords for this URL are:
- how to increase download speed
- starting a blog
- how to create an ebook
- about us page
- how to start a fashion blog
- blog hosting
- what should I blog about
- seo for blogging
- blogs for sale
You're now armed with the some very valuable information - the most popular topics on this blog. If you write about any of these topics, you can be sure of an eager audience.
Now look at the blog posts that correspond to these keywords and see if these are topics you could write about. Is there any angle they missed? Could you cover the same topic but in greater depth?
6. Use UberSuggest
UberSuggest is a keyword tool based on Google Suggest.
Have you noticed when you start typing a search query, Google starts making suggestions before you’ve even finished? That’s Google Suggest.
These suggestions are not random ideas pulled out the air – they are based on the most frequently searched terms.
So when you find a keyword in UberSuggest, you can be confidant real live people are actually searching for that term.
Just go to UberSuggest and type in a broad keyword that represents the general topic you want to write about and then hit ‘suggest’:
In the list of suggested keywords I can see eleven keywords that could form the topic of a blog post:
Put a check mark against each of your potential blog post ideas and then click the ‘View as text’ button:
You can then just copy and paste these blog post topics into a Word document:
Now just go to Google, copy and paste your chosen topic, and start researching your next blog post!
7. Interview a Key Influencer in your niche
Like roundup posts, this is fantastic blogging technique because you get a fascinating blog post and you build vital relationships with Influencers in your niche.
And like roundups, the success of your interview will depend to a great extent on the questions you ask. Research the topic well and spend some time crafting your questions.
If possible try and conduct the interview live, not via email. One advantage of this is it allows you to ask follow-up questions.
For some great tips on writing interview blog posts, see this article by Nicholas Tart.
8. Expert Roundup
This is, in my opinion, the most powerful type of blog post ever invented.
Just contact some experts in your niche and ask them their opinion about something that your readers are interested in. For example: “If you could only use one technique to promote your next blog post, what would it be?”
The post consists of their responses to the question and a brief analysis and summary by you. Simple!
For a detailed guide to writing Roundup posts, see my article The Definitive Guide to Writing Roundup Posts That Go Viral.
The reason this kind of post is so powerful is that most of your experts will share the link to your roundup post amongst their followers. And those experts usually have large followings!
If you have 40 experts sharing out your article, that’s a huge audience reach!
9. Content Roundup
A content roundup is like an expert roundup. But instead of gathering together opinions of experts you assemble a collection of blog posts on a particular topic.
Let’s say your content roundup consists of 10 blog posts on affiliate marketing. All you need to do is summarise each article in 2 or 3 paragraphs, pulling out the most valuable tips. Mention the author and include a link back to the article.
These are great posts for getting shares because once the article is live, you can tweet the authors of each of the 10 articles. There’s a good chance that they will tweet it out to their followers.
10. Write a Review of the Best Books in your Niche
Go to Kindle and get the top 5 books in your niche. Read them and then write a brief summary of each.
If you’ve never done a book review before, head over to GoodReads and type in the name of your book(s). You’ll quickly get an idea of the style and format of a book review.
11. Profile Key Influencers
Take 5 Influencers in your niche and write a post that sets out:
- What they do on the Internet
- How they started outHow many years they’ve been blogging or running an online business
- What they were doing before
- What’s their most recent business venture
You’ll be able to get some of this info from their ‘About’ page or from their Bio at the end of their articles.
If you need more information about them, search on Google and see if someone has interviewed them.
When the article is live, send them a Tweet with a link to the post. There’s a good chance they’ll share it out to their followers!
12. The Best Advice You Ever Received
At one time or another we’ve all been given a piece of advice that has changed the way we approach blogging.
When I started out blogging I firmly believed that success in blogging depended on writing skills and knowledge of marketing techniques. Until I took a course by Jon Morrow, who explained that connections with other bloggers are actually far more important than anything else.
What’s the best blogging advice you ever received? Great topic for a blog post!
13. Review a List of Tools
Take a category of online tools, such as:
- backlink checkers
- search engine optimization tools
- content marketing tools
- email marketing tools
- conversion rate optimization tools
- web analytics
Then write a review of each tool. This kind of post can become evergreen content. Sprinkle your post with affiliate links and it could generate some passive income for years to come.
14. Read Blog Post Comments
Go to one of your competitor’s blogs and read the comments at the end of the posts. What sort of questions are people asking? What are the problems people are asking about? Blog post comments are often a gold mine of ideas to write about.
15. Find a Broken Link
This is actually a link-building technique but it’s also a very good way of coming up with a new blog post.
First go to Ahrefs and type in the URL of a leading website in your niche.
In the left sidebar click the ‘Broken’ Backlinks tab:
On the next screen you’ll see referring domains on the left side and the broken links on the target domain on the right side.
Let’s take the first listing that appears:
A page on Copyblogger has linked to a page on Quicksprout that no longer exists.
I can see from the left-side column that this is a topic I could write about: ‘How To Create Smarter Content Using Semantic Keyword Research’.
I need to write a blog post that replaces the one that no longer exists because I’m going to be asking the referring website (in this case Copyblogger) to replace the broken link with a link to my web page.
Of course, if I click on the link for the original post, I get a missing page message:
But thanks to a site called Wayback Machine, I can see what was on that page before it went missing.
Go back to the Ahrefs broken link checker and place your cursor over the link for the missing page and right-click. Then select ‘Copy link address’:
Then go to Wayback Machine and paste the broken link into the search box.
I can see that this page was created in 2012 and that it received most of its web traffic in that same year:
So click on the year that shows the most activity (in this case 2012).
On the next screen you’ll see a calendar for that year (2012) with coloured dots indicating when Wayback Machine took snapshots of the URL.
Click on one of the blue dots (Orange = URL not found, Green = redirects).
When I click on the blue dot, I find this snapshot of what was on the broken link on that date (30 March 2012):
Now all I need to do is write an article that covers the same topic.
Important: never copy and paste the archived content from the broken link.
Firstly, it’s unethical.
Secondly, although the page doesn’t exist anymore, Google may still have a record of what was there in 2012 and if Google finds a duplicate of that page on your site, you could very well end up with a Duplicate Content Penalty.
So always re-write the article using your own research and from your own perspective.
Once the article is published you can send an email to the referring website – point out that they have a broken link and suggest that they replace it with your link.
This is a powerful technique because:
- You get an idea for a new blog post
- You know that the blog post idea is a winner because other sites have linked to it
- You’ll very likely get a backlink to your new post from the domain that linked to the missing page.
16. Your Worst Mistake as a Blogger
This is always a great topic for a blog post because people love reading about other people’s mistakes. There’s so much hype and spin on the Internet, it’s a relief when people are honest and open up about their failings.
In fact, failure is a precondition for success. Albert Einstein once said: “Failure is success in progress.” Some of the most innovative companies in the world actually seek out employees with resumes that contain both failure and success.
Take my most recent failure, for example.
I wrote a 4,600-word guest post and submitted it to a leading blog with an Alexa Rank of 49,600 (that’s very high by the way!). Ten days later I still hadn’t heard back from them. In my impatience, I submitted the same guest post to a much smaller blog.
The smaller blog snapped up my guest post within 24 hours.
Just as the guest post was about to go live, the editor of the first blog replied and said they wanted to publish my post. I had to tell him that it had been accepted by another blog.
Really bad for me. For two reasons:
- I lost the chance to have that epic post featured on one of the biggest blogs in my niche with a massive readership
- That blog will probably never accept another guest post from me.
The lesson I learned? Be patient and never, ever, submit the same guest post idea to two blogs.
Very painful lesson!
But in my experience, the more painful a lesson, the more valuable it is! That’s why failure is part of every success story. I could have read that as a tip in a course or been told it by someone else. But it’s not the same as learning it first hand.
Anyway, it’s a great topic for a blog post.
So keep a record of your fails and use them as ideas for blog posts.
17. Use Quora
Another great way to get ideas for your next blog post is to do a search on Quora.
Go to Quora and type in one of the topics from your ‘Niche Topics List’ and click on the ‘Questions’ tab in the left sidebar:
Now just scroll down the list of questions that people have asked in relation to that topic.
These questions could all be turned into a blog post topic, or at least sub-topics of a blog post:
18. Use Reddit
Reddit is a goldmine of ideas for blog posts.
Don’t believe me?
Consider the following:
- Reddit is an entire eco-system within the Internet. Currently (in 2017) it gets about 542 million visitors a month.
- It has nearly one million subreddits, each of which is a niche forum.
- Reddit users are very active and they are constantly upvoting and downvoting. That means it’s an easy place to find what topics are trending at any given time.
Here’s how to find your next blog post topic on Reddit.
Search for a subreddit within your niche or close to it: https://www.reddit.com/subreddits
In this example, I went to the ‘blogging’ subreddit, r/Blogging.
Type ‘How To’ in the search box at the top right of the screen and check the box that says ‘Limit my search to r/Blogging’:
On the first page of results, the following questions could all be used as blog post topics:
Here are some results from doing a ‘How To’ search in the r/content_marketing subreddit.
Again, these could all become topics for a blog post:
Here’s a list of subreddits loosely related to blogging:
If you want to take your Reddit research to the next level, there are various online services that will track specified keywords on Reddit, such as:
19. Your Favourite WP Plugins
One of the most powerful aspects of WordPress as a blogging platform is the ability to extend its functionality by adding on plugins.
Everyone has their favourite WP plugins that they couldn’t do without. Many bloggers won’t know about some of the plugins you are using – it’s information that they may find very useful.
This kind of post is extremely easy to write – it’s essentially a list with a one- or two-paragraph introduction.
20. Attend a Free Webinar
I’m a bit of a free-webinar junkie – I never lose the chance to attend one. And the amazing thing is that they’re usually packed with valuable tips.
Before the webinar begins set up a folder and name it with the title of the webinar. If you’re like me, you won’t have time to take notes so just take screen shots as the webinar progresses.
The great thing about webinars is that Influencers and industry leaders know that the only way they’re going to keep your attention is if they give away tons of valuable information. And some of that information is absolutely cutting-edge.
When the webinar is over you’ll probably have anywhere from 50 to 150 screenshots sitting on your desktop. Select them all and move them over into your webinar folder. Because the screenshots are time-stamped they’ll always be in the correct order, so no need to rename them or anything like that. Then just take the main points and write a blog post on that topic.
Always credit the webinar presenter at the beginning of your blog post and include a link to their site.
Here’s an example, a blog post I wrote about a free webinar given by Neil Patel.
21. Do a Weekly Roundup
A weekly link roundup is simply a list of new blog posts published by your fellow bloggers in the previous week.
It’s a great option if you’re running out of time to meet the deadline for your next email broadcast. They’re easy to put together but at the same time, they contain valuable information.
Just summarize each blog post in 2 or 3 sentences and include a link back to the post.
Doing a weekly link roundup is a good discipline as it keeps you abreast of what other bloggers in your niche are writing about.
22. Compile a List of Definitions
These posts are easy to write because they are just a list.
Take the key terms or jargon in a particular niche and provide a definition for each.
Here’s an example by Jeanne Hopkins titled The Ultimate Glossary: 44 Email Marketing Terms Marketers Must Know
A variation on this is to take the same term and provide definitions by different experts.
Here’s an example by Heidi Cohen titled 72 Marketing Definitions.
23. Have a Peep Inside a Kindle Book
Did you know that you can ‘peep’ inside a Kindle Book and see the first few pages, including the Table of Contents?
Here’s a tip: if a topic deserves a chapter or a sub-section in a book, you can be pretty sure it will make a good blog post.
In this example, I found a popular Kindle book on web marketing and peeped inside at the Table of Contents. The following headings are all topics that I could write a blog post about:
- Branding with signature blocks
- Letting autoresponders do the work
- Choosing HTML or text
- Optimizing Blog Posts for SEO
- Video as Marketing Tool
- Optimizing Images for SEO
- Generating Leads with Podcasts
- Optimizing Facebook for Search
- Understanding a Twitter Feed
- Advertising on Twitter
- Optimizing for Search on Twitter
Here are some blog post ideas that I pulled from the Table of Contents in a popular Kindle book on ‘making money from blogging’:
- How to Choose a Profitable Niche Topic For Your Blog
- Tools for Helping You Choose a Niche For Your Blog
- Choosing a Domain Name
- Introduction to Buying and Selling Blogs
- Gaining Attention Through Link Baiting
- Guest Posting For Links, Reputation, and Traffic
- How To Grow a Sticky Community
- Determining Which Social Media Sites To Use
- Engaging Your Followers with Social Media
- Knowing Your Audience
You can see that this is a fantastic way to jog your brain on those days when you simply can’t think what to write about next.
The brain works in funny ways – sometimes just reading a Table of Contents will trigger an idea that is completely different to what you’re reading.
The main purpose of this technique is to get those brain cells firing!
24. Rookie Mistakes
Take a topic you’ve already written about and focus on common rookie mistakes.
Let’s say you wrote a post titled ‘15 Ways to Double Your Email List in 30 Days’. Look at that topic again, but with a fresh perspective – what are beginning bloggers doing wrong?
25. Write a Statistics Based Blog Post
Benjamin Disraeli once said: “There are three types of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
But the fact is, readers find statistics hugely persuasive. They’re more likely to read a blog title containing a number than one that doesn’t. And they’re more likely to read a blog post that contains statistics.
Statistics-based blog posts are typically short (less than 1000 words) and are easy to write.
Here are some examples:
- The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics
- 14 Surprising Statistics About WordPress Usage
- 25 Direct Marketing Statistics Prove Direct Mail Works
- 25 Mind Blowing Email Marketing Stats
- 20 Compelling Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Blog |Small Business Sense
How to research your statistics-based blog post?
The obvious way is to type: keyword +statistics:
As always, make sure to check the Google Auto Suggest Box – those search terms may yield better results than the one you typed in:
26. Write a Tutorial
Writing a tutorial is another excellent way to come up with a blog post topic.
As bloggers, we’re constantly solving technical problems. It might be:
- Changing the header in your WordPress theme
- Linking your website to Google Analytics
- Creating a favicon, setting up Google Authorship
- Transferring a Table of Contents from a Word document to a WordPress post
- Any other technical challenge
Once you’ve done it, don’t waste it! Use it as a tutorial post.
Tutorial posts are easy to write. Nothing abstract, no fancy ideas. Just step-by-step instructions.
Always illustrate the steps with screenshots. And mark up the screenshots with arrows or rectangles so the reader knows what it is they’re supposed to be looking at in the screenshot.
I use Skitch to annotate screenshots but there are plenty of alternatives. Some are free and some are paid, with free trials:
Skitch alternatives for Mac:
Skitch alternatives for Windows:
27. Use Google Alerts
Google Alerts are a fantastic source of inspiration when you’ve run out of ideas for blog posts. But don’t just use Google Alerts when you’ve run out of ideas. Use it on weekly basis and you’ll have a never-ending fountain of new post topics.
Here’s how to set it up.
Head over to Google Alerts. If you’re not already signed in to your Google account, do so by clicking on the button in the top right corner:
In this example, I’m setting up an alert for the keyword ‘link building’:
Click ‘Create Alert’.
Next, click on the pencil icon:
You’ll be prompted to set the frequency of alerts:
The correct frequency will depend on how much content is produced for your keyword or niche. If it’s a popular niche, you’ll probably need to set it to ‘Once a day’. Otherwise, choose ‘As-it-happens’.
Leave the other settings as indicated.
If the volume of emails from Google Alerts becomes a nuisance in your Inbox, you could set up a Smart Folder so that all your Google Alerts go straight into a dedicated folder.
Now just schedule a time, once a week, to go through the Google Alerts for the previous week and see what news and what content is being generated for your chosen keywords.
Of course, you’ll probably want to set Alerts for more than one keyword.
Just pull up your ‘Niche Topics List’ and set alerts for a handful of key topics in your niche.
Do this every week and you’ll never again run out of ideas for blog posts. More than that, you’ll always be up to date with what’s trending in your niche.
These 27 ideas are all you’ll ever need to create a constant flow of quality blog posts.
Download the PDF of this article and keep it handy for the next time your mind is a blank and your weekly deadline for new content is approaching.
Let me know how you go in the comments below. I’d love to hear your experiences coming up with new blog post ideas.