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5 Sources of Ideas for My Blog Posts

Posted By Darren Rowse 26th of November 2014 General 33

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On a recent webinar over at ProBlogger.com I was asked by John:

“Where do you get your ideas for blog posts?”

It’s a question we get a lot so I thought it might be a good one to write up here on the blog.

Discuss: I’m also keen to hear your experience on the question because I’m very aware that my approach is just one of many ways to go about generating blog post ideas.

1. Questions from Readers

Perhaps the #1 place I get inspiration for blog posts is the inspiration for this one – a question from a reader.

As I look back at the most popular posts here on ProBlogger I can see this pattern over and over again. While I might not always start with the actual question (as I’ve done above) questions often stimulate me writing a post.

If one person is asking a question you can bet that it is something that others are wondering about too.

Questions come from a variety of sources including:

  • Emails from readers
  • Comments on blog posts
  • Webinar Q&As
  • Real life events (both in conversations and in Q&As)
  • Social Media
  • Conversations
  • My own questions (both present and past ones)

Taking note of questions is something that you need to get in the habit of noticing, capturing and responding to – once you get into this mindset you’ll have a never ending supply of ideas.

Example: How to Convince Someone to Be Interviewed on Your Blog

2. Reader Surveys

One of the most powerful things I’ve ever done to collect reader questions and understand what topics I can write about that will solve readers needs is to set up surveys.

Over on Digital Photography School if you sign up for our email newsletter you get an invitation three months after joining to do a short survey.

The survey has a handful of demographic questions to help us get a picture of who is reading but also has an optional open ended question that asks readers if they have any questions, problems, challenges that they’d like us to write about.

Since setting up this survey we’ve had tens of thousands of people complete that question which gives us invaluable ideas.

Here’s a screen shot of the question we ask and some of the most recent responses.

Blog post ideas survey

This survey gets new responses every day and is ongoing but the other option is to do a one off survey. Here on ProBlogger we tend to do this as an annual ‘census’ where we invite readers to complete a similar survey all at the same time. This gives us a snapshot of the readership. It also enables us to compare where our readers are at today as compared to last year and the year before.

Updating Previous Topics

Once you’ve been blogging for a few years you’ll potentially have hundreds (if not thousands) of posts in your archives – some of which will become dated or even obsolete.

Going back through your archives to examine old posts that are out of date can serve as great inspiration for new posts.

Perhaps you’ve changed your opinion on the topic, or maybe there’s fresh information you can share, or maybe there is a new trend, technique or tool that you can write about.

In some cases you might want to delete the previous post (if its now completely wrong) or you might also want to update it or link to a new post on the topic.

Either way – your old dated posts will quite often give all kinds of inspiration for new ones so go hunting in your archives!

Related Reading: How to Repurpose your Content and Why You Should Do it

3. Stories/Experiences/Experiments/Learnings

Another source for many of my own most popular posts over the years have simply come from my own experience.

This has been especially the case here on ProBlogger where many of my posts have simply been me sharing what I’m learning.

Take for example some recent posts here I have shared:

How Our eBook Launches Have Evolved (after 235,000 eBook Sales) – reflections on what I’ve learned over the last 5-6 years
My Experiment with Starting a 2nd Facebook Page for My Blog – a case study on a little experimenting I was running
Tapping into Joy and Disappointment: Lessons from Our Biggest eBook Launch Ever – lessons learned in a recent launch
Spend 10 Minutes Doing This Every Day and You Could Transform Your Blogging – sharing an activity that I do that helps me
My Top 5 Mistakes as a Blogger – don’t just share the good experiences and successes!

4. Evolution of Previous Posts

Pay particular attention to previous posts that you’ve written and how people respond to them because this is often a source of great inspiration for future posts.

Let me give you an example.

Recently I noticed that an old post that we published on Digital Photography School was getting a surge in traffic from Facebook.

The post was titled How a Humble 85mm Lens Became my Favourite and was written by one of our regular paid writers.

Blog post ideas example

The post had been popular when we first posted in back in 2012 but after I’d shared it again on our Facebook page (I highlight 1-2 posts in our archives every day) it had been really well received by our Facebook community.

It struck me that perhaps we could get some of our other writers to write similar posts about their favourite lenses.

We have a private little ‘group’ on Facebook for our dPS writers so I posted the idea there.

Ideas blog posts

Our other writers liked the idea and began nominating the lenses that they’d write about and got to work on writing the posts. We’ve already published the first of these favorite lens posts and have got another 7-8 of them being written to be published over the coming months.

Want another example? Check out this post I wrote on ProBlogger last year on how I turned a simple guest post into a series of posts that generated over 3 million visitors to dPS.

This principle of watching how people react with your previous blog posts can be extended to see how people react to your previous social media updates.

A good example of this is a post I published earlier in the year here on ProBlogger titled 10 Quick Tips for Entrepreneurial Bloggers which was actually based upon some of my most popular Tweets. I looked back over the previous years of tweets from my ProBlogger twitter account to find the most retweeted and liked updates – which then became a blog post.

5. Talks/Presentations/Twitter Chats

Another source of numerous recent blog posts that I’ve written have been talks and presentations that I’ve given.

I invest many hours on preparing to speak at a conference or event so it makes sense to take that work and turn it into a blog post (or series of them) wherever possible.

An example of this would be my recent post – How to build a Blog that has Lasting Impact Upon its Readers in which I took a reader question (point #1 above) and shared my answer to it using some ideas from a recent talk I gave.

Creative control broken down

I also included some of the slides (like the one above) from my talk as graphic in the blog post to give it some visual punch.

Another example of this is a post I wrote here on ProBlogger recently titled – How to Build a Blog Worth Monetizing – in which I shared a series of tweets from a Twitter Chat that I’d co hosted (the #BlogChat twitter chat). In fact many of those tweets also had slides from a previous talk also!

Where Do You Get Ideas for Blog Posts?

I’m scratching the surface of this topic here and know there are many more ways to generate ideas – but I’m keen to hear your experience!

Where do you get your ideas for blog posts?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Hello Darren Sir,

    It is really difficult for most of the newbie (including me :( ) to generate new post ideas. Generally, I visit similar blogs, forums and sometimes question and answers site to find new post idea.

    You mention here some great idea to generate post idea. Thanks for the nice post.

  2. Sometimes they come from problems I’m facing–I like to write to learn, and to teach others at the same time. But I’ve never run out of personal problems to solve yet, so I guess these will be good when I do :)

    • Great idea Anabelle – many of my best posts come from that source too. It’s one of the benefits of making a lot of mistakes and being very imperfect :-)

  3. Hi Dareen,

    How you doing ?

    Even now I’m thinking where do you get ideas for blog posts? You’re awesome blogger !!! , number of questions rolling up in my mind.
    How do you brainstorm your mind and come up with the new thing ? ,Even I was pretty thinking of it.

    My experience of where do I get ideas for blog posts is, I do search in blogging communities which post has the greater audience attention, and will read all readers comments. And will get the exact essence of post stealer may be key words, catchy title and number of points or guidelines described in the post.

    With that I do some research on that and ill come up with the new things I.e. ill imagine how this post could have been visualised ( info graphic manner/presentation manner) ,so that it draws larger audience like that.

    Do you never heard about the content idea generator tool ?

    Thanks
    Siva

  4. I always get my idea from Stories/Experiences and talk with my friends. Thanks for the post bro

  5. That was a pretty inspirational post Darren. I particularly like the idea of using readers’ surveys to get writing ideas. What resources do you use to publish and manage the surveys?

  6. Hey Darren,
    Really this post answered my query that used to arise while reading the blog post written by you. As I am your regular follower, I was also one of them who was also curious about the idea behind your each blog post.

  7. Talking to people on social media – twitter, looking at whats new

  8. Hi Darren,

    We always think of generating new ideas and concepts while blogging and sometime we are out of ideas and don’t update our blog for long. You have mentioned great tips and tricks here of how we can generate more ideas for content for our blog. Thanks a lot.

    Regards,
    Ovais Mirza

  9. Great advice here, Darren. It’s tough sometimes to come up with a fresh idea but drawing on these definitely helps, especially if you capture your thoughts in Evernote as soon as they come to mind.

  10. Questions from readers and updating previous post. I like that most.. Its really great advice.. Thanks for it bruh. Great one

  11. Darren,

    I am just starting out and have 0 subscribers. I am a web marketing consultant and would like to get feedback on the types of content small business owners would like to learn about concerning their online marketing strategy. What do you think about sending surveys out to business owners even though they are not truly engaged with your site? Sort of the cold call of surveys.

    Thank you,

    John

    • Hi John – thanks for the comment.

      It’s a tough one. The problem with emailing people out of the blue is that those emails can often be seen as a bit spammy. I’d probably be looking at other methods.

      One idea – and it may or may not be relevant – might be to head to some small business meetups/events to meet those types of people in person and ask them your questions in person. Also following those people up with an email is much more likely to get a response than a completely cold call.

  12. Great post, Darren. Personally, I draw from my life for blogging ideas. Whatever project I’m working on, whatever issues my clients have, it all becomes fodder for the blog mill.
    Cheers!

  13. I have a truckload of story drafts, blogs I frequent or personal experiences.

  14. Thanks for sharing your source of new blog post ideas, there are many a times when I just can’t find an idea for the new post. I’m sure this will be helpful to me!

  15. Hi Darren,
    Great post, as always.

    Most of my posts come from me noticing the things that my target audience regularly struggle with, and I then share my professional opinion and or personal experiences in the hope that whoever reads my post will benefit.

    Plus I look at unrelated blog titles etc and try altering good ones to make it about my topic which can spark some great ideas.

    My list is longer than my available time to write them all :)

  16. I’ve found that going back through my old google searches yielded fodder for blog posts. I figured that if I’m curious and or interested in it that there has to be others interested in it as well.

  17. I can’t speak about others but it is really very difficult for me to generate post ideas. i always go through the other posts to get some ideas. here you have mentioned very good useful ways to get best ideas. It’s really worth reading.Loved it.

  18. Great idea Anabelle – many of my best posts come from that source too. It’s one of the benefits of making a lot of mistakes and being very imperfect

  19. Hi Darren,

    Great post.

    For the most part, I’ve been getting my topic from forums in which people have questions that no one seems to have the answers to. And the way I determine if it’s a good topic to write is the amount of views the post receives.

    But other than that, I agree with you about questions from readers. And it doesn’t even have to be questions you ask. If you look around and pay attention, there are many people asking various types of questions on different communities that’s not getting answered.

    All you have to do is provide a suitable answer really.

    Lastly, I look at what others have done before and are popular. That gives me a great indication on what information people really want to know. And if it’s feasible, I’ll break it down into multiple posts. Like I’m starting to do with list posts because each number in a list post is a potential topic on it’s own … depending on the type of list.

    Great post here again and I’ll be sure to use some of your ideas you shared here as well.

    – Andrew

  20. as a new blogger or Internet marketing it’s really not hard to come up with useful ideas for blog posts. The Internet is centered around all kinds of great content designed to empower readers. That said, it gives unique content marketers the grand opportunity to put out all kinds of quality information in helping people see what they’re looking for. And, it gives bloggers the opportunity to monetize their blogs and make money from affiliate programs while putting out good information from their blog posts.

  21. Hello Darren !
    I don’t know whether am the only one but sometimes it seems to me that what to write about is finish and there is absolutely no new thing to tackle on..

    Some days back, I was able to get a new idea of a new post from a written interview. It was a wow, What a new enlightenment you have given me.. great advice…

  22. Yes,this is what I was thinking to do.Before posting anything on the blog we should analyze what user wants.Even in my site wapism.com I am trying to put some repevent content based on user requirement.I actually don’t know how to interact with user ,I mean how to know there questions.

  23. Hi Darren, it’s actually really nice to see how we can find ideas for so many blog posts! :D
    I will surely try these methods, being a freelance content writer myself I found this post really awesome. There’s this sense of burnout every once in a while and these tricks would surely keep my writing edge sharp!

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