How to Generate Blog Content
So, is it better to write content for people or write content for search engines? I trust you know the correct answer to this question. However, writing content for search engines and writing content for people doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Take this article on ThisBlogRules.com for example.
This blog post gets a great deal of traffic from search engines primarily for the keyword “funny Christmas songs.” It sees a sharp spike in search engine traffic during the winter months. So, that article is an example of one that is both high in quality and designed to get traffic from search engines.
How to Pick Topics to Write About
If you were only writing content for search engines, you would only care about the following items when deciding on topics to blog about:
–how many searches the keyword phrase you are targeting gets per month
–how much competition there is for that phrase
–how high the adwords cpc (cost per click) is for that phrase
The difference between building a low quality blog and building a high quality blog is that if you were building a low quality blog, you would only care about the above items. You wouldn’t care about building and retaining an audience. You wouldn’t care about creating content that people actually want to share on social networks. You wouldn’t care about anything except getting drive-by search engine traffic. Low quality blogs are for low-lifes. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pay any mind to things like the average cpc and search volume of a keyphrase. In fact, you should absolutely consider those factors. What I’m saying is that those factors shouldn’t be your sole consideration when deciding on topics to blog about.
So, how do you find keywords to target with high search volume and low competition? How do you determine the perfect keyword phrases to go after? You need to use a keyword research tool like Wordtracker.com. If you use Wordtracker, you’ll become a keyword research maestro! Wordtracker is $499 a year and worth every penny. They even have a tool called SEO Blogger that helps you decide on keywords to use as you’re constructing your post in WordPress.
Two other tools I encourage you to checkout are SerpIQ.com and SemRush.com. SerpIQ “helps you assess a keyword 100 times faster than doing the research by hand” according to its sale page, and I couldn’t agree more. SEMRush is another top-notch keyword research tool: it offers a cornucopia of features and tools ideal for in-depth competitive research. I use SEMRush quite often. In fact, I used it when I was thinking about creating the “funny Christmas songs” post I mentioned. When the idea to do a post about that topic popped into my head, I headed to SEMRush to see what the search volume for the phrase “funny Christmas songs” was and how much competition there was. Because a post like that had strong viral potential, I probably would have created it even if there wasn’t very much search volume for that keyphrase, but the fact that there was search volume reassured me that the topic was a worthy one to pursue.
Beyond doing keyword research with the tools I’ve mentioned, how can you generate content ideas? Here are ten effective methods:
1. Read other blogs in your niche for inspiration. You can use their articles as springboards for your own ideas.
2. Try out BottleNose.com for an advanced look at what’s trending across social networks. You might be able to connect some trending keywords to your niche.
3. Read books that relate to your niche.
4. Read highbrow publications like The New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Time Magazine and The New Yorker. Reading highbrow publications will place you in a highbrow state of mind–the state you’ll need to be in if you want to dream up amazing article ideas and build one of the top blogs on the Internet.
5. Ask your readers what they would like to see stories about. Pose a question on Facebook or Twitter.
6. Exercise. Workout in a room with no access to television or go jog outside. As you are exercising, think about topics to blog about. Exercising increases blood flows to the brain, thus increasing your creativity.
7. Drink green tea or an extremely caffeinated cup of coffee. This works wonders to make you sharp as a whip, and it fills you with creative energy.
8. Use recreational drugs. Rumour has it that Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after a long night of casual drinking. Alcohol puts you in a relaxed state of mind, a perfect state to brainstorm article ideas if you ask me.
9. Listen to music. Listening to music causes your brain to release dopamine, which regulates your mood. If you are in a pleasant mood, you tend have a higher state of attention.
10. Ask random people on the street what they think you should blog about. Introduce yourself to them. Say, “Hi, my name is Pat Stevens, and I run a blog about agriculture called MeSoCorny.com. I assume you’re at least somewhat interested in agriculture. What topics relating to agriculture interest you?”
I suppose you could say that I went off the deep end a bit in that section. But sometimes it’s good to frolic in the deep end of a pool.
How to Find and Hire Writers
So, don’t feel like writing every article on the blog by yourself? When I owned ThisBlogRules.com, I only wrote about 1 article a month–sometimes even less. I had a team of stellar writers who I trained to use WordPress. Where did I find the writers? I used the following resources:
1. Freelancer websites like Odesk.com, Elance.com, and Freelancer.com. I found some excellent writers who I’ve maintained a relationship with for years on Odesk.com. These freelancer websites allow you to post jobs that contractors can apply to. When posting a job, be sure to be as specific as possible about what you want. You can also sort through a listing of contractors on these sites and contact people directly.
2. Craig’s List. You can also find top-notch writers by posting ads on CraigsList.org. I recommend posting the ads in big cities like New York and Chicago because you’ll maximize the number of responses you receive. (Of course, if you prefer to work with local writers so you can meet them face to face, then by all means, post an ad in your city). The disadvantage to using Craig’s List is that you will be inundated with applications, many of which are poor. So you’ll have to spend more time sorting through the responses you receive, but it will be worth it because many strong writers lurk on Craig’s List.
You can also look at other blogs in your niche and contact the people writing for them. For instance, if your site is a fitness blog, you can look at the people writing for Greatist.com, a health and fitness blog, and contact its writers to see if they also want to write for you. Many writers for popular blogs are freelance writers, which is why this strategy often works. I contacted several Cracked.com writers to see if they also wanted to write for ThisBlogRules, and they were happy to.
Contests are another effective way to wrest content. Run a contest in which you offer a cash reward (say $300) or a product that many people would want (like a Macbook Pro) to the person who turns in the best article. Generally speaking, the more money you offer as a reward the more entries you will get. The advantage to running contests instead of paying for individual articles is that you may receive many high quality articles that you can then run on the blog. So if you would normally have to pay a few freelancers $600 for 15 articles ($40 per article), you could get 15 articles for only $300, if that was the prize you were giving away. Make clear to the people entering your contest that you will become the copyright holder of their work after they submit it to you.
As your blog becomes more established, people will want to write for it for free, especially if they are allowed to link to their website in a bio section of their post. When I owned ThisBlogRules, I would occasionally get emails from people asking to write guest blog posts for free. The only catch was that I had to let them link to a site they wanted either in the article body or in the byline section. If the article they wanted to submit to me was high quality and exclusive to ThisBlogRules, I ran it for them. I suggest that you draw attention to the fact that you’re looking for guest blog posts.
When you’re dealing with writers who you have never worked with before, you should run the article they turn in to you through http://www.copyscape.com/ to make sure they haven’t plagiarized their work. Copyspape costs 5 cents per search.
If you don’t have working capital to spend on writers when you first start your blog, wait for your blog to build up, and then hire people. Hiring others to write will free your time and allow you to devote it to audience building and other tasks.
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8 Responses to “How to Generate Blog Content”
Thank you for sharing an excerpt from your book with us today.
Selling a blog for $30,000 IS quite impressive, so I’m sure your book is packed with insights. Hope you have great success with it!
[ Smiles ] The usage of recreational drugs can backfire on someone.
However, I am in full agreement with the pointers given.
Hi Will and Daniel,
I’m an avid reader these days. Have you read David Sedaris? The guy’s brilliant, so funny, and he’s inspiring me to step it up.
I find your advice to be golden, especially the reading top magazines piece. Find inspiration in simply reading the works of some top shelf authors/writers.
I read for 30 to 60 minutes daily. Since doing so my creativity has blossomed and I churn out more content each week, from posts, comments, eBooks and forums posting.
I’d add to meditate daily. Meditate keeps you grounded, and in the moment. When you’re present you’ll access an endless flow of ideas. That endless flow becomes more and more creative.
Yep, a few brews may help you discover the idea for the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but I prefer to sit, observe, and tap into the Infinite 🙂 But hey, we all use different vehicles to churn out content. To each their own.
Thanks so much Will and Daniel.
Tweeting this in a bit.
@Kevin thanks. My book is packed with insights 🙂 I hope you enjoy it.
@Renard, sure, but the use of almost anything could backfire.
@Ryan I’ve thought about starting daily meditation — I feel like I don’t have time to do it, but I know that’s a common excuse and the wrong way to think about. How many minutes a day do you meditate?
Thanks for the wonderful lesson. I would definitely follow your tips whenever doing content from now. I enjoyed reading your blog.
This is very useful for me. I will definitely follow your ideas when i am doing content. Thanks for sharing this article.
Thanks for sharing. Great post indeed. Topic and the matter must be relevant to each other. The most important thing is the post must leave a message to the audience. It must be useful, informative and unique in order to gain more exposure. But, this post described the key points how to generate a great blog content. This is really good.
I started another blog and now I don’ have time to be regular with content creation and that’s why I’m thinking about hiring the writers, thanks for this informational article.
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