Like a forest without trees, or a restaurant without food, a blog without content doesn’t really accomplish much in the way of value. The point of a blog is to offer content to readers as a way to establish a connection with an audience. When the blog is firing on all cylinders, it can be the engine that drives visitors to your desired end goal. Without fresh, appealing content, a blog at best is wasting time and at worst is turning away otherwise interested customers.
The key is “fresh, appealing content.” When we all have hundreds of other responsibilities, it can be difficult to maintain a pipeline of interesting and engaging things to keep in your blog’s back pocket. So, what do you do when you just don’t have any ideas for blog content?
If there are two philosophical rules of blogging, they should be “First, know thyself,” and “Second, know thy audience.” The audience, in this case, is comprised of both the people who currently visit your site and the people whom you want to visit your site but don’t. Being stuck without content and an intended audience is like being dropped in the middle of a maze – you try things blindly without knowing where you’re going or if you’re getting closer to succeeding. By knowing your intended audience, you give yourself an outline of who you are trying to reach, which makes a world of difference in deciding what to write about.
Reaching a target audience means you need to be coming up with content that appeals to that audience, and knowing what your audience cares about and is discussing allows you to join the conversation. Tapping into the wants, needs, and thoughts of the people you want to reach will open up new content ideas that will not only fill space, but perform well and convert readers.
What to Write
So the question changes from “What do I write about?” to “How do I know what my audience wants to read about?” Fortunately, this is a much less abstract puzzle to solve, thanks to social media, the diversification of news, and your current interactions with customers.
If you want to know what’s on the mind of your audience, then social media, with a special emphasis on Twitter, should be on your radar in a big way. The real-time feed of Tweets can be searched, segmented and categorized through tools such as Hootsuite, allowing you to curate a stream of updates from influencers and customers in your area of expertise. Facebook trends, LinkedIn Pulse, and subReddits that are specific to the topics your blog addresses are additional places you can see what the water cooler is buzzing about.
It’s true that CNN may never broadcast information about your industry or specialization, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a news source out there that covers what you do or what your audience cares about. Many online news sites offer email newsletters featuring the day’s top headlines, which can be a sight for sore eyes when blog content is sparse. Just remember – your audience doesn’t always need to be educated on the issue; what you offer is your contribution to advance the topic.
Ask for Help
Many hands make light work, and many minds make diverse input. If you or your team is having trouble filling up the editorial calendar, maybe ask the opinions of some of your coworkers or colleagues. Customer Support is a big, untapped source of what is on your audience’s mind: talk to your team to see what some common issues or complaints are, then see if the blog is an appropriate place to address them. If what you need is ideas, then the more people you have contributing, the better.
The Bottom Line
Bad content is easy to write, but it’s also worthless. Good content not only takes effort to write, it takes effort to know whether your audience cares about it or not. By placing an emphasis on knowing what your audience wants and responds to, you can not only fill the empty spaces in your posting schedule, but bring your blog tangible success.
Where are some of your favorite sources for blog topic inspiration?