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Wax Marketing Blog

How to pick topics for your blog

By Beth Graddon- Hodgson

Once you have a focal point for your blog and have decided whether you’re going to focus on writing your blogs in a topical or personal style (or combination of the two, it’s time to actually sit down and start blogging. If you think making those decisions was a challenge, then you’re in for what’s the hardest and most essential part of creating an effective business blog. After all, some of those elements are decisions you only need to think about once; choosing a specific blog topic has to be on your mind whenever you sit down to write on a weekly or daily basis.

This is one topic that’s a bit harder for me to write about, because there are endless examples, so it’s hard to put a specific guide in place. What works for one company also won’t necessarily work for another even in the same industry either.  Since I can’t tell you WHAT you’ve got to write about, I will provide you the process I go through with my clients  determine which direction I should go with each of the posts.

To help you figure out each topic, it’s a good idea to keep the following in mind and ask the questions below when something dawns on you that you think your clients, existing and prospective might enjoy reading about on your blog.

  1. Who cares? – remember who your audience and really ask yourself if the topic you’re thinking about would matter to them. This philosophy works in more ways than one, because you’ve got to ask who cares, and don’t want your readers to think “who cares” because that’s not a reaction that results in repeat visitors and that’s a big blogging FAIL!
  2. What are they looking for? – think like your clients. If they were looking for information that relates to your service, what would they be plugging into Google? If you provide green home building services, for example, your prospective clients may be drawn to your blog by searching for green building materials, or the tolls of traditional construction on the environment
  3. What are others doing? – you won’t be authentic by following in the footsteps by another industry blog, but by being aware of what they’re doing you can get an idea for what is engaging to readers and what tends to flip and learn from it
  4. What comes up when you search for relevant keywords? – use Google or another search engine to your advantage. Search for keywords relevant to your industry. Using the example above, you may search for “green building”. Seeing what appears on the first search engine page gives you an idea of what people reading about your industry are most interested in online
  5. What’s new? – focusing on hot news in your industry means your blogs are current and relevant. Enough said
  6. What’s worked before? – once you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll have an idea about what sort of blog topics your readers enjoy. You can keep an eye on your stats and comments for this, but we’ll focus more on that later

If you’re reading this not because you’re blogging yourself, but you’re curious about how pro bloggers come up with the blog topics, this gives you a general idea. I find this is the most common question that I’m asked when starting up a new blog for a client because there are no rules or limitations and the sky’s the limit. So there you go, now stop reading and start writing because reading about it is all fine and well, but eventually you’ve got to write!

Beth Graddon-Hodgson is a professional writer/blogger and the founder of WriteSourcing a professional blogging, writing and editing service.

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40 Comments

  1. WriteSourcing Blog » Do Writers Need to be in the Industry To Produce Effective Blog Content?
    Posted on April 20, 2010 at 11:53 am

    […] we come up with the specific topics that we post to our clients’ blogs day-after-day, read today’s post on the Wax Blog that focuses on the subject. You’ll soon figure out that writers don’t actually need to […]

  2. Justin
    Posted on April 20, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Hey, I enjoyed what you what you’ve wrote in the, What’s worked before section. I think that is greatly overlooked I know I forget to look into that what choosing what kind of blog to make. Come check out my blog on the Chris Farrell Membership Review

  3. carpet cleaning Bellevue Says :
    Posted on April 20, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I think this is where bloggers make it or break it. It seems that the successful ones are writing about cutting edge technology that the writer has special insight on. Either that or news related blogs. Of course this is just my humble opinion, I admire those that can consistently write engaging, interesting stories.

  4. health FM Says :
    Posted on April 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    That’s right.We need to see which points can catach people’s eyes.

  5. Kim
    Posted on April 21, 2010 at 7:24 am

    I think #1 is really important. You can write the greatest article ever but if no one is interested in the topic, no one is going to read it.

    On my site, however, I am posting holiday themes so while I am trying to locate ones that are for holidays and events coming up, it’s not the same sort of topic based sort of site.

  6. Global Fence & Gate
    Posted on April 21, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    One of the things that I do is I use Google “News” searches to help me not only keep up-to-date with what is going on in the world, but up to date with what is going on within my niche. All you have to do is select the “news” icon and then type in whatever keyword matches up with your niche 🙂

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      That’s smart. I often add an RSS feed to my home page if I find a blog or site that often has topics I can riff off of in my own blog.

  7. Medical Assistant Says :
    Posted on April 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Google Alerts help me keep on top of current news that applies to the subjects I’m interested in. The age-old philosophy of doing more of what works is very sound advice for almost any situation. In terms of blogs, it gives the articles more consistency rather than leading readers all over the place.

  8. Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted on April 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    All of the above are fantastic ways to see what’s hot – I have at some staged used all of the above and would readily encourage others to do so too, so fantastic input!

    Kim – that is a more challenging niche, I work with a client in a similar situation that does general gifts (gift baskets, custom cards etc). What we chose to focus on, rather than holidays, was attracting their target market. In this case, they appeal to younger age groups so we decided to make it flirty and fun with a focus on dating since gifts can play a role in a relationship like it or not! Of course we tie it into upcoming holidays, creating that link is essential with every topic, but you don’t necessarily have to focus strictly upon the direction your product line seems to leave you in. Give us a shout if we might be able to help you out!

  9. Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted on April 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Carpet Cleaning Bellvue – I couldn’t agree more, but I do consistently find that engaging content for one business in the same industry in another isn’t always effective with another. In a future post I will be writing about how to judge what is effective, because if you don’t take a close look at the facts, like Kim mentioned in her comment, just because YOU like the topic, doesn’t mean your audience feels the same so you’ve got to do your research and adapt. Stay tuned 🙂

  10. Mike
    Posted on April 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Picking a topic for your blog is like picking a product to sell. Is the almost same thing.

    Now, if you’re passionate and you have the extra knowledge on some topic (and you can write well), you have a chance to succed.

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm

      Wow so true I never thought of it like that!

  11. Bruce Pott
    Posted on April 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I have been considering writing a political blog. I am a news junkie and can write “inteligently” on most political topics. This is a crowded field and getting noticed would be the biggest challenge. I am passionate on the subject, especially considering who presently occupies The White House. I do have some connections but I am not sure how forthcoming they will be. Please advise.

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 22, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      Approach it like any editorial project…see if you can come up with ten topics right off the bat. If you can, then you’re probably going to have enough material to keep going. Sometimes a strong opinion can peter out pretty quickly. But I think there’s always room for intelligent political commentary.

  12. Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted on April 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Mike, that’s a great comparison and applies in so many contexts here! For example, 2 gift shops selling the same product might not have the same sales. The hottest trends at the ones likely to fly off the shelves.And of course, sales and customer feedback take you a lot farther when it comes to success than what you personally think about an item. Love it! That is one I won’t forget!

  13. X-Blog Dofollow
    Posted on April 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    thanks for the tips on choosing the topic

  14. Beth Graddon-Hodgson
    Posted on April 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Bruce, I agree with Bonnie 100%; you’ve got to be able to keep the topics going! That being said as well though, I wouldn’t let connections or lackthereof have a bearing on your blog as long as you’ve got great topics at your fingertips. The benefit of a blog is that you don’t have to treat it like journalism and rely upon interviews etc for content. Some of that can be engaging and beneficial, but a lot of it can come from you. So, regardless of where they stand, don’t let that hold you back!

  15. Zahnaufheller Says :
    Posted on April 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    About the point “what worked before?”: I analyzed my traffic with Google Analytics and noticed that the 80/20 rule perfectly applies to my main blog. There are a few posts that go totally crazy, they get shared alot and get tons of traffic from Google. Others although I thought they were great FLOP!

    I love to make post like “7 ways to blabla”. People seem to like bullet points and stuff like that.

    Currently I am working on my review writing skills. Being able to write good reviews can bring in alot of money.

    Thanks for the nice structure for which questions to ask myself!

  16. Legal Email Marketing
    Posted on April 26, 2010 at 3:57 am

    If you can’t think of topics yourself, get some friends who have an opinion about everything.

    “Seed” the conversation with a news item you have seen recently.

    Dress up whatever your friends have said in good English, and there is your new post.

    However awful that sounds as an idea… it has worked for me!

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 26, 2010 at 5:59 am

      That’s really an interesting approach – here in the US we would call that capturing the watercooler conversation.

  17. Legal Email Marketing
    Posted on April 26, 2010 at 6:50 am

    “capturing the watercooler conversation”… that has sparked off a train of thought.

    So in the US people do gather around in the corridors like in Dilbert?

    The writer of Dilbert gets a lot of true points across by packaging them as cartoons. People love jokes, and if they convey a message too, it’s edutainment!

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 26, 2010 at 1:21 pm

      Yes, life in the US is just like Dilbert. 🙂

  18. Legal Email Marketing
    Posted on April 26, 2010 at 6:52 am

    And I need help! I have tried HTML, but I just can’t put color in my posts on this blog – it is ignored. How do I do it?

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 26, 2010 at 1:20 pm

      I’m sending the questions to our webmaster to see if he can help. In the meantime I can edit them from here, so if there’s something you wanted changed send me an email waxmarketing at gmail dot com.

  19. Legal Email Marketing
    Posted on April 26, 2010 at 6:54 am

    And… I can’t come back and edit my posts either! Is there a way?

  20. C0ldf1re
    Posted on April 26, 2010 at 3:11 am

    That was a good point about bullet points. Surfers seem to want to scan a page quickly before deciding whether to read on. The problem is that lots of people have been taught to write in proper prose. As in, “Doh! Why didn’t I write this comment in bullet points? Doh!”

  21. Enarcade Says :
    Posted on April 26, 2010 at 7:27 am

    I actually have been having troubles picking a topic for my blogs and i have been stumped any suggestions at all :|?

  22. ELAN Technologies
    Posted on April 28, 2010 at 2:37 am

    What you wrote here is just what one should think and analyze before writing any blog.
    Thanks for jogging it down …

  23. xtremewrs
    Posted on May 1, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Thanks for choose the nice topic, yes you are right when we find out topic for our blog we need to thought about readers point of view.

  24. Gabbie
    Posted on May 6, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I had this problem before since it is really hard to think of topic when you are thinking at the same time thinking about on who is our target reader.
    It is a good thing that we have this site to guide us. Keep it up

  25. Janeuree l Walking Canes Says :
    Posted on May 8, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Good tips!
    I try to write about the current buzz in my chosen niche often. I get to see high traffic volume when I do it.

    Sometimes I get out of my niche and incorporate off topic subjects like now, about Mother’s Day. People tend to write this on their search queries.

  26. how to create a social media plan | Wax Blog
    Posted on July 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

    […] under each topic. I will definitely write more on this later, but check out Beth Hodgson’s post on this topic back in April […]

  27. Brazilian Hair Wax
    Posted on September 10, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Write what you loe so you’ll stay motivated.

  28. Elayne @mobile marketing Says :
    Posted on October 4, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    We use a matrix which helps us get ideas for blog posts, I have found it really good as I have dozens of titles to work on. Once I have a title I know what I want to write.

  29. Best of 2010 – #2 | Wax Blog
    Posted on December 21, 2010 at 6:46 am

    […] picking topics for your blog. So here it is again – and be sure to read the comments on the original post – quite […]

  30. same day gifts
    Posted on December 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    All I can say is Amazing! This blog is amazing! Did you take all of the photos for this post? It’s great to find someone who likes things like this. Because I am a online florist I just find this sort of thing quite interesting. Do you I backlink back to your blog from my personal blog? Many thanks for writing. Natalie Hanson

  31. Sefi
    Posted on December 28, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Well written article, thank you for that!
    There are many bloggers out there they choosing they topic solely on a purpose of fostering high-payout AdSense campaign, then what the reader can get from their article is something but often not pleasant.
    Blogging is a passion and you should be blogging about to keep up the motivation an to present real values through your blog.
    Naturally there are people who can write just about anything with passion, but that is more-like a profession and one need to have the ability to do that. Unfortunately not everyone like that – I am a poor writer myself, and my English isn’t great either, hence I write nothing but technical stuff…
    Altogether, it is really good article I am happy to find it…
    Regards
    Sefi

  32. argumentative essay topics
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