Are you struggling with thinking up blog topic ideas for your small business?

Many business owners are learning that they need to blog to market their local business.  Recent studies show 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing and businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors.

I often get a blank stare from business owners when I recommend they use blogging to market their business.  One of the first questions they have is “What should I blog about?”

This blog describes the process we use for coming up with blog topic ideas for dozens of local businesses, both in Colorado and nationwide.

First things first: Who is the blog for and how do they search for you

Marketing is about building relationships with your prospects. Therefore, the goals of each blog post are to first attract prospects to your blog and second to create a positive impression.    

With these prerequisites in mind there are are two steps you must take before coming up with blog topics ideas. The first is to define the “persona” of your ideal customer. The second is to perform “keyword research” to figure out how these personas search for you.

Customer Personas

Defining your customer persona’s is an industry in of itself with hundreds of blogs, guides, and books dedicated to answering what is a buyer persona.  We are not going into detail on this subject in this short blog.

But I will share a tip for how to visualize the persona for an individual blog post.  Here is the quick and dirty format for the customer’s persona I like to use.

As a prospect of your company, I would like to read about the main idea of this content so I can achieve this outcome.

Here is an example of the above format I used to brainstorm blog topics for an office breakroom equipment and supply company.

As the facility manager of a building with 100+ employees and multiple breakrooms, I want to find a local bottleless water dispenser company to determine if they can save us money and be less hassle than the 5-gallon bottled water dispensers.

Now you have a visual of the audience for your blog post. Let’s figure out what keywords they might use to search for a bottleless water cooler provider.

Keyword research

What keywords does the above persona use to search for your business?  You figure this out using a process known as keyword research.  Like personas, there is a vast collection of how to do keyword research articles on the web.

There are dozens of keyword research tools out there, some costing thousands a year.  Here are two awesome tools that are free and easy to use:

  • Google Keyword Planner – The granddaddy of keyword research tools. Find popular search terms your prospects use to search Google. Requires a Google AdWords account.
  • Keyword Tool –  Another easy to use keyword research tool that can provide lots of keyword ideas

I used the above tools to research keywords around bottleless water dispensers.  Here is what I came up with:

Keyword Avg. Monthly Searches
best bottleless water cooler 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler for office 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler reverse osmosis 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler service 10 – 100
water filtration cooler 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler companies 10 – 100
bottleless water cooler installation 10 – 100
water dispenser filtration system 10 – 100

 

The “Avg. Monthly Searches” column is a relative indicator of the popularity of these search terms.  The more popular a keyword the better it is for sending prospects to your website. These terms have decent popularity so are good keywords to build a blog post around.

Brainstorming topics around the audience and keywords

So now I have 8 keywords I can blog around that will both address the needs of the persona and drive traffic to my client’s website.  

Let’s see if we can come up with some specific topics for the blog post.  We will do this using the keywords from above and try a few of my favorite automated content idea generator tools.

Answer the Public – I love this tool. You enter a keyword and in seconds you have a list of popular “what, why, how, when, where” search phrases related to the topic. Here are popular questions from Answer the Public I can answer in my blog post:  

  • where to buy bottleless water coolers
  • how do bottleless water coolers work
  • bottleless water cooler rental
  • bottleless water cooler installation
  • bottleless water cooler with reverse osmosis
  • bottleless water dispenser hot and cold

Soovie – Similar to Answer the Public with a superfast interface.  This tool shows the popular search phrases by source i.e. Google, Amazon, Youtube, Bing, and Wikipedia.

Amazon – I often use Amazon to research products, reviews, and books on my keywords to get ideas for blog topics. I love scanning reviews to find customer pain points.  The table of contents of related books can be a gold mine for ideas.

This pain point is from an Amazon customer review:  “it stops working once the filter needs to be replaced. now I have to buy its Expensive filter to keep it working”

I learned from this reviewer that bottleless water cools may be expensive to maintain.  I can use this pain point in my blog post to connect with readers.

Brainstorming blog post titles

At this point, you have nailed the audience, keywords and several topics to address in the blog post. Now it’s time to brainstorm titles for your post.

Below are several websites and tools I use when I’m stuck for a good catchy title.

Buzzsumo – This tool shows you the most shared content on your industry topics.  Enter the keywords and see titles for content that uses those keywords.  This is an excellent source for narrowing the topics into a working title.  

Here are two example pieces of content I found on Buzzsumo:

Tweak your biz title generator – This tool gives you every possible generic blog post title word combination ever written.  It also groups the titles into categories for quicker review and lets you download the suggested titles.   

  • Here is one of the hundreds of titles suggested:  “What Donald Trump Can Teach You About Bottleless Water Cooler”

Hubspot Blog Ideas Generator – Headline generator. You enter up to 3 nouns and the tool spits back Buzzfeed style headlines.

Blog Title Generator by SEOpressor. Comes up with generic blog title ideas.  Worth a look.

Blog Post Title Idea Generator by FatJoe.com. Generic titles but some are pretty good.

Bonus:  This tool analyzes your blog title and makes recommendations.  Pretty cool!

Great articles on coming up with ideas

You are not the first person to struggle with coming up with blog ideas.  There are thousands of business owners and content marketers that overcame this challenge and lived to write about it.

Here are 5 of my favorite articles on coming up with blog ideas.

Create the Working Title for the Blog Article

The final step I take before sitting down and writing an article is to create a working title.

A working title is a temporary title that sums up the message of the blog post.  Sometimes the working title does become the final title, but I find that the working title often evolves during the writing process.

I like the working title to include a hook or promise that grabs the reader’s attention and compels them to click to read more.  The hook helps drive the content of the article.

Examples of Working Titles

Let’s use the persona, keywords, and idea generators to brainstorm working titles.  Here are 4 examples I came up with using what we have so far.

  • The pros and cons of bottleless water dispensers for office break rooms
  • 5 ways bottleless water dispensers are better and cheaper than old-fashioned 5-gallon jug office water coolers
  • Sick and tired of bottled water jugs cluttering your office? Learn the 5 advantages of renting bottleless water dispensers.
  • 5 facts every office facility manager should know about bottleless water dispensers

Get the idea?  Each of the above working titles addresses the persona, the keyword and hook or pain point and voilà you have a working title and topic for your blog post.

Conclusion

In this article I addressed defining a persona, identifying keywords and using several tools to brainstorm blog topic ideas.

Hopefully, this article gave you ideas and tools for generating great topics for your blog, and you are now excited to use blogging to help market your business online.