The best way to come up with epic blog post ideas using three pillars.
With millions of pieces of content being uploaded to the internet each minute, it can be tough for businesses to come up with blog post ideas that not only answer the right questions but also stand out amongst the crowd.
After working with hundreds of businesses, we noticed that there is one big reason a lot of them have trouble standing out with their content – businesses often fail to put the time aside to create a solid framework that guides them towards unique and creative blog post ideas. Instead, businesses glance at articles on how to come up with good ideas for blog posts, research trends within their industry, and then try to curate their own content in a “better” or “different” way. The reality is, if you don’t put the time and effort into creating a solid foundation and strategy for coming up with blog posts ideas, your content will often fall short of what we consider “epic.”
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For example, the following resources are amazing for coming up with blog post ideas and brainstorming new and useful topics for your blog. These resources include the Skyscraper technique, social platform analysis tools like BuzzSumo, or articles such as Optin-Monster’s “103 Blog Post Ideas” and Mention.com’s “47 No-Fail Ways to Come Up With Blog Post Ideas.”
However, most businesses don’t spend enough time on these suggested methods. They end up writing shallow content that resembles everything else online. In order to reach your content marketing goals, you have to add unique value that your target audience can’t find anywhere else. And to create unique and valuable content, you need to come up with blog post ideas that are customized to your target audience’s wants and needs. This all starts with tailoring the blog post ideation process to your business.
How do you do that?
The goal of this blog post is to provide you with the tools you need to come up with blog post ideas that are actually “impactful” for your business. This will help you achieve whatever it is your goals may be as it relates to content marketing.
In the article that follows, we will give you an in depth walkthrough of our 3-pillar framework for creating great blog post ideas. To get started, let’s start with a quick introduction to the 3-pillars and what they include:
- Make sure that you have all your foundational bases covered: This involves taking a look at your content creation goals and creating a strategy for your blog that guides your content in a meaningful, engaging, cohesive, and sustainable direction that attracts your ideal customers.
- Create a framework for eliminating bad blog post ideas: This involves coming up with a framework that outlines which ideas you should and should not move forward with when creating your blog content.
- Ask yourself questions that will assist you in the brainstorming process: This involves coming up with brainstorming questions that lead to blog post ideas that truly add value for your audience.
The main idea we want you to takeaway from this blog post is that in order to create truly valuable content, you have to take the time to come up with a strategy and framework that guides your blog post ideation process through creative and unique avenues that will have a real impact on your customers, internal team, and content creation goals. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck, like a lot of businesses, with topics that only hit the surface level and fail to catch their reader’s interests.
Let’s get started!
Pillar A: Foundation
Make sure you have all of your foundational bases covered.
“The best CEOs I know are teachers, and at the core of what they teach is strategy.”― Michael Porter
First things first. Make sure that you have a solid understanding of how to create a strategy for your blog.
Strategy is the foundation of blog ideation. It’s what guides your content in a direction that attracts your target audience. A solid content strategy makes the entire content creation process (ideation, writing, and publishing) easier. It also makes it more streamlined by narrowing down what you want and don’t want to see from your content. Without a strategy, you’ll be starting on shaky ground for coming up with ideas that are in line with your content marketing goals.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Thirty-six percent of companies with a documented content strategy indicate their content marketing is ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective.’”
HubSpot created a fantastic article on how to create a successful blog strategy. We won’t go into too much detail in this post, but here’s a summary of what they came up with for creating a foundational strategy for your blog:
- Why does your blog exist?: Create a statement that articulates the overall purpose of your blog. Do you want your blog posts to direct people to a workshop your company is hosting? Are you looking to increase website sales? Do you want customers to schedule sales conversations? Do you want to become an authority in your industry?
- Who are your ideal customers?: Outline a clear, detailed description of your ideal customers that includes customer background (i.e., job history), demographics (i.e., age, gender), and identifiers (i.e., personality traits, communication preferences). Check out HubSpot’s blog post on how to create detailed buyer personas.
- Which keywords are you targeting?: Create a list of keywords and long-tail keywords that are relevant to your industry but unique to your business. Use Wordstream’s free keyword tool to find your own niche keywords.
Pro Tip: Don’t get too carried away with SEO. Once you come up with epic blog post ideas that add real value, SEO will eventually take care of itself and you’ll be flooded with more organic traffic that you ever imagined possible! We will dive more into this in the “wrap up” section of this post.
- Which of your competitors have blogs?: Create a detailed list of 5-10 of your competitors with blogs and take note of the kind of content they’re producing to see how you can differentiate your own blog posts. Use tools like Buzzsumo to find the content that your competitors are sharing.
- Where will you distribute your blog content?: If a company publishes content and no one is around to read it, was it ever really written? The answer is no! Research and document where your target audience has an online presence to determine where you should publish your content.
- How will you promote your content? Identify key influencers in your industry and start building relationships with them. These influencers can promote your content with their relevant, extended network. You can start building your relationships by commenting on their blog, signing up and responding to their email list, and more. Tools like Buzzsumo can help you find key influencers in your industry.
- Who will run your blog?: Identify who is accountable for what within your blog strategy. For example, who is in charge of keyword research, copywriting, editing, strategy and editorial governance, promotion, and repurposing?
- How many blog posts can you commit to scheduling?: Create an editorial calendar that outlines the number of posts you can create each week/month. Here’s HubSpot’s guide for creating an editorial calendar using Google Calendar.
- Which metrics matter to you?: Create a list of metrics that align with your overall goals. For example, do you want to see an increase in traffic, likes, retweets, follows, etc.?
Pro Tip: Content marketing is a long-term and organic growth strategy that takes time, patience, and hard-work before you’ll see concrete results. Set goals over a 60-day period to leave room for organic growth. Don’t be shocked if it takes you 12 months or more to get the results that you’re looking for.
This first pillar takes some time and effort, but once completed, it will make the entire blog post ideation process faster and more efficient.
Pillar B: Framework
Create a framework for eliminating bad blog post ideas.
“If you can get good at destroying your own wrong ideas, that is a great gift.” – Charlie Munger
Charlie Munger, the famed partner of Warren Buffett, created a framework and mental model that he used to determine whether or not he should make an investment. Munger created a list of questions that the pair had to answer “yes” to every time before making an investment. The results? Well, Munger doesn’t have a net worth of 1.6 billion for no reason!
We took a lesson from Charlie Munger and created our own framework. It helps us determine whether we should move forward with the blog post ideas we previously brainstormed. Using the framework has helped us stay away from chasing “trendy” and shallow ideas for blog topics. Do you think Munger made any money chasing “trendy” stocks?
Before moving forward with a blog post idea, we have to say “yes” to four main questions that ensure the idea will hit home with our target audience and help us reach our content marketing goals.
To summarize, the four major questions we hit in our framework are:
Will this blog post:
- Immediately be beneficial to our customers or prospective customers?
- Immediately be beneficial to our internal team members?
- Be written on a topic that contains enough valuable information that it could potentially be packaged into something more in-depth like a course in the future? Is it good enough that people are willing to pay for it?
- Be “evergreen” and useful to our customers, prospective customers, or internal team member in 10 years?
Pro Tip: Always make sure that you do the foundational groundwork required to come up with epic blog post ideas first. Take the time to get extremely clear on your overall blogging strategy and developing a framework on eliminating bad blog post ideas. If you don’t, you’ll end up spending much more time in the long-run trying to brainstorm topic ideas. There is a reason why we have not gone over brainstorming techniques yet. We’ve saved that section for last 🙂
Let us show you how we used our framework to decide whether or not to create this very blog post:
Will this blog post immediately be beneficial to our customers or prospective customers?
Yes. One of the questions we get from customers all the time is how they can come up with blog post ideas on their own. Creating this blog post makes sense from the perspective of our own customers.This kind of information is valuable to them.
Will this blog post immediately be beneficial to our internal team members?
Yes. Creating this piece of content is helpful to our internal team members. It provides them with a useful resource to share with our customers and prospective customers. We have a customer success team that deals with our existing customers’ questions and concerns. The next time a customer asks “how can we come up with our own blog post ideas,” we will direct them to this resource. Furthermore, if our prospective customers have this question, our sales team can share this piece with them.
Will this blog post be written on a topic that contains enough valuable information that it could potentially be packaged into something more in-depth like a course in the future? Is it good enough that people are willing to pay for it?
Yes. There is potentially a whole course worth of information here that we can elaborate on in the future. The fact that this topic is just scratching the surface lets us know that we are digging into something worthwhile. Additionally there is a lot of demand for help coming up with blog post ideas. We can potentially leverage this information and sell it in the future. For example, we could downsell our resource for coming up with epic blog post ideas to customers that are not interested in signing up for a monthly blogging package with us but are interested in doing it on their own.
Will this blog post be “evergreen” and useful to our customers, prospective customers, or internal team member in 10 years? Note: “Evergreen” Content is content that will always be relevant no matter when you read it.
Definitely! The principles that we are laying out in this blog post would have been useful 100 years ago. And as long as humans are still making purchasing decisions ten years from now, this content will be useful in the future.
Each question allows us to determine whether our blog post idea will add value to our current customers, prospective customers, or internal team members both now and in the future. Furthermore, we can determine if creating each blog post will be a worthwhile return on our investment – such as the potential to go more in-depth and package the information in this blog post to sell it as a course, etc.
Your framework can be modeled after our own, or it can be adjusted to better suit your content marketing needs. The overarching idea, however, is that your framework should help guide you towards saying “yes” to epic blog post ideas that add value for you and your customers now and in the future, and saying “no” to blog post ideas that fall short.
Pillar C: Brainstorm Questions
Ask yourself questions that will assist you in the brainstorming process.
We use three questions to help us in the brainstorming process. Each question acts as a “resource” for where we can find relevant and valuable information to spark blog post ideas.
To summarize, we will hit three major brainstorming areas:
- The most frequently asked questions from your current customers.
- Questions your sales team gets asked the most by prospective customers.
- Things you need to train your internal team on in order to help enhance your product or service offering in some way.
As an example, we will show you how we used our brainstorming questions to find the inspiration for this very blog post:
- What are the most frequently asked questions from your current customers?
Occasionally, our existing customers reach out to us to help them come up with new ideas for blog topics. We do offer some assistance in this regard. However, we believe that the overall blog post strategy and ideation process is best handled in-house. The client understands their industry, product, and customers better than anyone. We landed on this resource as a means to help our customers come up with epic blog post ideas. So even though we don’t sell blogging strategy as part of our core service, this blog post acts as a supplemental resource that adds a lot of value to our current customers. Here are some of examples of additional questions that we get from our current customers that we could turn into blog posts:
What is the best way to implement my blog content and publish it on my website?
We receive this question a lot from our current customers as we don’t handle blog post implementation. We can create a blog post titled, “How to Implement Your Blog Content with Ease” and share it as a resource with our customers.
How should I promote my content?
There are many methods and avenues for promoting blog content and, therefore, this question has the potential to be turned into an entire course. We can create a resource titled “Our Favorite Method for Promoting Blog Content,” and later create an entire e-course on the different ways to promote blog content. Subsequently, we can create a blog post titled, “How to Know if My Blog Post Promotion Efforts are Working?”
I know you guys don’t write emails, but do you have any good resources on where I can hire someone to do that?
This is a question that can be turned into a blog post titled, “Top 5 Ways to Hire a Good Copywriter,” where we can rate our favorite copywriting services based on price and quality of work.
What are the most frequently asked questions from your prospective customers?
The question “Will you guys come up with blog post ideas for us?” is a big one our sales team gets all the time. We don’t directly assist in ideation for our customers. It’s important that we put together a resource for people interested in our service. The dividends that a piece like the blog post you are reading now can produce for our business are huge. It’s realistic for a prospective customer to decide to work with us once we provide them this resource. Always keep in mind that your blog doesn’t solely exist to help in generating organic traffic to your website. Well-written blog posts about impactful topics can offer direct assistance to your sales team in closing new deals! Take a look at the FAQ section on our homepage. Notice how a lot of the questions can be used to create in-depth blog posts. Those will be of value to our prospective customers. This blog post was inspired by the FAQ, “Do you guys come up with ideas on what to actually write the blog posts about?” You can get creative using FAQs and customer pain points to help you come up with blog post ideas. To demonstrate how we draw inspiration from our FAQs, here are some blog post ideas:
What is the difference between you guys and hiring a writer from Upwork, Fiverr, etc.?
Based on this FAQ, we could create an article titled “Agencies vs. Freelancers: A Guide to Outsourcing Your Content Creation.”
How long will it take to see results?
Based on this question, we could go into more detail about how content should have an immediate impact on your business in terms of adding value for your customers and internal team. However, metrics like your organic search ranking and website traffic generation take time before showing results.
How does your process with revisions work?
Based on this FAQ, we could create an article titled something like “The Ultimate Revisions Checklist.”
What things does your internal team need to be trained on to help enhance your product or service offering?
The reason we wrote this blog post is not only because it is beneficial to our current and prospective customers, but also that it is valuable for our internal team members as well. We already mentioned that this blog post is helpful to our customer success and sales teams. Both of them can leverage this content and offer it as a resource to current and prospective customers. Our internal team can also benefit from this blog post by learning from it. For example, if our writers and editors are all familiar with the process of how to create epic blog post ideas, then that knowledge will ultimately trickle into the content that we are creating for our customers and help enhance the overall quality of our finished product. Similarly, if our customer success team has this knowledge then that will enable them to provide a higher level of service to our customers. Here are a few other examples of blog post topics that our internal team could learn from and improve our business:
How can we standardize training for our writers?
To help our writers create consistent, streamlined blog content, we could write a post titled “How to Write a Badass Blog Post” that all of our writers could refer to. Furthermore, prospective customers who are thinking of writing their own content could use it as a resource for their writers.
How can we standardize training for our editors?
If we have our writers go through and editing and proofreading checklist, our editors will have less “back and forth” with the writer, saving us and the client time. We could write a blog post titled “The Ultimate Editing and Proofreading Checklist.” Furthermore, prospective customers could use the article as a guide for their own editing and proofreading.
How can we get better at building our content writing team?
To put together a team of amazing writers, we have to create a process that breaks down how to recruit and manage writers. Based on this question, we can write a blog post titled, “How to Build an Amazing Outsourced Team of Content Writers.” It’ll be a useful resource for our content writing team manager. As a bonus, this resource could also be useful for prospective customers who don’t want to use our services right away. They might want to figure out how to put together their own amazing team of content writers.
Creating epic content requires coming up with epic blog post ideas that really help your prospective customers, current customers, and internal team. Furthermore, creating epic content helps out your own content goals by having an immediate impact on your business.
Remember when we mentioned in Pillar A not to get too caught up in SEO? Well, even if your goal is to create massive amounts of organic search and website traffic with your blog posts, they should first and foremost be useful to current and prospective customers and your internal team. If those pieces of content are useful, then the blog posts will undoubtedly perform on their own. Search engine ranking and website traffic are important for your business’ success. However, it takes a while to start ranking organically and seeing the number of visits to your website increase. Content marketing should be something that you can leverage and use to add value to your business right away, even
Our 3-pillar approach to blog post ideation will help make sure that every blog post you move forward into creation will not only be epic but also guarantee the best return on your investment!
Here’s a recap so that you can get started right away:
- Make sure that you have all your foundational bases covered: Create a blog strategy that will help guide your content in a meaningful, engaging, cohesive, and sustainable direction that attracts your ideal customers.
- Create a framework for eliminating bad blog post ideas: Use our framework as an outline to create your own framework that will help you determine which ideas you should and should not move forward when creating your content.
- Ask yourself questions that will assist you in the brainstorming process: Ask yourself questions that will spark the brainstorming process in a direction that aims to add value to your prospective customers, current customers, and internal team.
When you’re coming up with your own blog post ideas, refer back to this blog post as a resource to help guide your blog post ideation process in the right direction. When using this post as a resource, make sure to start at Pillar A with your blogging strategy. Start by reading through each strategy question answering them to the best of your ability. Next, develop your framework. Use our sample framework as a reference. See how you can tailor each question to relate back to your own business. Finally, end with Pillar C by coming up with your own set of brainstorming questions. Again, you can reference our questions and tailor them to suit your needs.
Bonus Pillar D:
Time for the very last step. Present your ideas in a way that enables your content marketing and writing teams to easily understand your vision. Once you have your basic idea down, it’s crucial to describe exactly what you’re looking for. This will ensure the blog post fulfils your expectations.
Coming soon we will have a blog post that walks you through exactly how to best set up your external writing team for success when laying out new blog post ideas for production. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts about what we’ve written here in the comments below!