A blinking cursor stares back at a stone-faced writer. Isn’t that what most of us picture when we think about writer’s block? However, when it comes to sourcing topics for your blog through the year, a ticking clock might be a more suitable metaphor. Timing is everything when selecting the best trending topics for your blog, and time in the marketing world is famously limited. What’s fresh today won’t stay fresh forever.
The thing is, the perfect trending blog topics aren’t going to drop into your lap out of nowhere. The good news is that there are more ways than ever to find them — the trick is knowing where to start. From there, you’ll quickly pick up the scent of the trending topics you need to write about.
Start By (Really) Focusing On The Basics
Consider this hypothetical: The marketing team at a large hospital group is planning the blog editorial calendar for the upcoming quarter. “Okay,” says the marketing manager, “what topics are hot right now in the health care industry?” It seems like a sensible place to start, and it might even lead to some blog-worthy topics. However, this kind of strategy will only bear fruit for so long.
Instead, the marketing manager at our large hospital group needs to take things a level deeper to find more fruitful starting points. “Who do we actually want to read our blog?” she might ask instead. “And what topics are those people looking for from a large hospital group like ours, specializing in obstetrics?” The marketing team might find that, instead of the same old blog posts about finding a pediatrician or basic pregnancy timelines, the pros and cons of vaccinations are what’s hot. Or how to help avoid a cesarean.
The difference is subtle but important: A lot of business owners and entrepreneurs think they know their industry and target audience, but a different reality sets in when it’s time for a closer look. Here are two starting points for doing just that:
• Niche down as much as possible. You’re not just a hospital. You’re a hospital specializing in obstetrics serving a large metropolitan community. Again, take it a layer deeper to see where your company blog should live.
• Be specific about your audience. They’re not just potential patients with internet-enabled mobile phones. They’re 20- or 30-something city-dwellers who are expecting a baby and looking for specialized care. When you know this about your audience, it’s easier to consider what kind of topics they’re looking for here and now.
Seven Strategies To Source Engaging High-Traffic Blog Topics
When you invest the time in gathering detailed information about your business and audience, what you’re really doing is narrowing the field. Think of it like putting filters on a search engine experience. Don’t show me everything for all audiences and industries, only my own.
From there, you can use a variety of methods and strategies for sourcing topics. Here are seven of my personal favorites:
1. Check the news.
What are the latest developments that directly and indirectly affect your industry and customer base? Which new technologies, legislation or sociopolitical developments do your people care about most these days? Major news outlets and industry publications are a good starting point.
2. Tune into industry experts and analysts.
Alongside news, people turn to thought leaders, experts and analysts for new information. These people are often at the forefront of your industry, both in terms of prevailing headwinds and new trends. Reports, publications and blog posts written by experts can be a goldmine.
3. Keep an eye on your competitors.
No, I’m not saying to steal topics and create an echo chamber. But the content your competitors put out might reveal opportunities to differentiate yourself on a trending topic, or build on a concept and approach it from a new perspective. Plus, if all of your competitors are talking about something, you probably want to at least know about it, right?
4. Peruse the forums and fracas.
People post all kinds of topics and questions to forums like Quora and Reddit. Most of these forums and communities have specific sub-forums dedicated to certain industries, niches or professions. Just add the name of the forum to any Google query, and boom: You get threads upon threads containing a lot of inspiration for blog topics (and all of it written in the voice of the customer).
5. Do some deep-dive into keywords.
What are the keywords driving the most volume to your blog already? What are people within your specific industry searching for most on the leading search engines? Finally, put yourself in the shoes of your prospect or customer: What kind of content would you look for were you at the same point in the journey as them?
6. Take the pulse on social media.
Like forums and communities, social media channels are full of millions of posts. To sort through the madness, I like to search for keywords and hashtags relevant to my industry or niche, then drill down and see what people are talking about. LinkedIn and Twitter are particular good sources, as people tend to engage with and respond to articles and posts organically.
7. Don’t forget the comments.
The comments section can be a goldmine for voice-of-the-audience information on a given topic. Try a keyword search for something in your interest and pick a recent, top-ranking blog post, then read the comments to see if anyone has followed up with anything more relevant.
Final Takeaway: Know Thyself And Always Bring Value
All of the nifty, nitty-gritty strategies for sourcing content topics aside, it really comes down to knowing your business and audience with as much specificity as possible. The more detailed and specific you can get about your industry and your target audience, the better suited you’ll be able to select and write the most relevant and valuable blog posts.
Then, all that’s left to do is to write and post the darn things.