I recently celebrated two years since I left my corporate job to build my own business full-time. One piece of advice I desperately wish I could go back and give myself is to put a higher priority and focus on creating amazing blog content than on building a social media following. And I probably would have done just that if I would have known how many blog posts I could brainstorm in one hour!
In the beginning days I hustled hard to grow my social media followers on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter… but several things happened: these platforms each got more popular, algorithms were introduced, reach started to decline and it became harder to get followers… which is fine! I still love social media and think it’s really important.
However, something crazy happened one day. I logged in to my Google Analytics account to check out my website traffic and my website traffic had TRIPLED that month. What the heck?
A blog article I had recently written was getting thousands of views. It had been indexed by Google and was the top result for the keyword I had been targeting. When I started to focus on blogging and keyword research, this started to happen again and again, dramatically growing my blog.
The truth is, search still drives the majority of web traffic – 60-70% depending on the data you look at. Social media only drives a sliver in comparison.
So without further ado, let’s get in to how I brainstormed 111 blog posts topics in one hour! For me, if my goal is to publish a blog post once per week, that is actually TWO YEARS worth of blog post, video or podcast ideas. Watch the video below or read on for more!
If you have a lot of experience blogging/vlogging/podcasting, this process will probably come easily to you and you can likely come up with as many topics as I did, or even more! Regardless of your experience level, if you follow this process, I promise you’ll walk away with at least 50 new ideas for blog posts, videos or podcast episodes.
Gather Your Supplies
First, let’s gather some supplies. I encourage you to put pen to paper for this because hand writing has been linked to improved creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills… all beneficial for this process!
If you are interested, you can up your nerd-factor a level by reading this Lifehacker article all about the benefits of hand writing: https://lifehacker.com/the-benefits-of-writing-by-hand-versus-typing-1778758792.
You will need a big pad of paper like the one I used (from Amazon): Post-it Super Sticky Tabletop Easel Pad. You can also use several blank 8.5×11 sheets of paper. I’m going to reveal my inner weirdo here and also tell you that I think it needs to be plain white paper without lines. In my journals and stuff I always opt for non-lined. It just gives you more freedom. You aren’t confined to lines and you can create lists, or web diagrams, or whatever gets your brain to really turn the creativity on.
You also need a set of markers with several colors. I have small children at home so I had lots to choose from!
Step 1. Identify What You Sell
On the first page of your big paper pad, I want you to make a list of everything you sell, or plan to sell in the next 12-24 months. Maybe you are just getting started in your business, and you don’t have this all figured out yet. That’s totally fine, and I applaud you for already thinking about blogging!
For me, I made a list of all of the “off the shelf” services I sell on my website, like Social Media Strategies and Instagram Account Reviews. I also put the courses and workshops that I sell on the list, as well as some courses that I plan to create soon.
As a consultant, I also customize service packages for new clients all the time. I didn’t put that on my list, but you could if that describes your situation.
One mistake I see people make in blogging is being too random with their content. One of the most powerful uses of your blog is to demonstrate your expertise and mastery of the subject related to what you sell. Your blog can be an incredible tool for putting people in to your sales funnel.
The ideal scenario is that someone researches a solution to a problem they are having and finds your blog post. They are impressed by what they read, so they sign up for your freebie or lead magnet. You send them the lead magnet and proceed to send them through your sales funnel – like you invite them to a webinar or simply send them a few emails about the product that would help them with their problem.
Every time I blog I ask myself two questions:
- What problem can I help people solve?
- Does this piece relate to the various products that I sell?
This should take about five minutes.
Step 2. Identify Your Areas of Expertise
On the same page, I want you to make a list of everything in your niche you have experience in. What are you an expert on? You probably have expertise on more topics than you cover in your products or services.
For example, even though I’ve built Molly Marshall Marketing on teaching businesses about social media, I also know a lot about the various aspects of building an online presence. I know about email marketing, sales funnels, copywriting, and personal branding.
On this list you should also look carefully at your products and services and write down the different topics that they include.
For this, I could look at my Instagram marketing course and say that it includes information on Instagram, social media tools, content creation, and branding.
When we create these lists we are going for whatever pops in your head. Even if it seems small, insignificant, or downright dumb, this isn’t the time to edit. Just write it down!
Again, don’t spend more than five to seven minutes on this section.
Step 3. Break Down One Topic at a Time
Now we are ready to turn your topics into several blog post ideas each. Pick one of the topics from your second list that feels the easiest to you. There should be one or two items on the list that you are such an expert in, you know you could come up with a handful of post ideas without thinking too hard.
A few questions you can ask yourself to keep the creativity flowing are:
- If I was going to download the entire contents of my brain about this topic to someone else, what would they need to know?
- What have I, myself, learned about this topic in the last couple of years?
- What didn’t I know when I started in this industry or niche?
- If someone asked to “pick my brain” about this topic, what would I tell them?
- What is my process, or what are the steps, for completing this task? (For example, when I want to write about social media, sometimes I carefully document everything I do for a client as I prepare their social media content for the month, so that I can teach it to others.)
As you write, you can do one of two things:
- Write down “working titles” for blog posts – so, a title idea, but it might not be what you actually publish as the title, or you can just write down a few key words. If I was creating ideas for blog posts for Instagram, a working title might be, “How to create a channel trailer for IGTV.”
- Or, I could jot down keywords like: profile, good pictures, captions, hashtags, Stories, and IGTV to come back and come up with specific titles later.
Don’t edit your ideas in this step, just get them down!
When you exhaust all of your ideas on this topic, move to the next topic that feels “easy” to you.
Step 4. What to Do if You Get Stuck
So what happens if you get stuck? First, don’t panic! I would suggest moving on to another topic and just keep going. Try to just keep writing, even if you only get one or two things for a topic and move on to the next.
After you’ve exhausted your ideas, you might feel like some areas could be filled out with more ideas. While you don’t want to copy other Creator’s content ideas, you can definitely trigger your own creativity. I love going to Pinterest and searching on a topic to see what the popular pins are.
You don’t want to blatantly copy someone else’s title and write your own version, but think of another way to riff off of their ideas. What personal experience and expertise can you bring to a similar topic?
Step 5. Organize & Keyword Research
Whew! You should have tons of ideas now, and hopefully you’ve used your full hour.
This is a bonus step, and I completed it outside of my brainstorm hour.
At this point, I wanted to organize my ideas, so I took them to spreadsheet form. I put them in a spreadsheet with three columns: Category, Title or Idea, Focus Keyword.
I wanted to be able to sort and group according to category, like having all of my email marketing topics together, all of my topics about copywriting, and so forth.
In the second column I put a brief description of the topic, or the working title that I came up with.
The third column is for a focus keyword. Every blog post I write has ONE keyword that I am focused on optimizing for, however that is a topic for a different video!
Step 6. Make a Commitment
Now I want you to make a commitment in the comments. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to get this done. When will you schedule one hour this week to come up with one year’s worth of blog topics?
Molly Marshall teaches small business owners and online entrepreneurs how to systematically and simply grow a profitable online presence through social media. Get your FREE 2018 Instagram Strategy Guide now!
2018 Instagram Strategy Guide
What will you do different in 2018 that will help you stand out, build your brand and increase your authority on Instagram? The answers are in this free, 11-page guide.