In the modern business era, every business and brand has a website, and every website has a blog. It's assumed that you will provide a flow of interesting, valuable, and relevant content as part of a typical inbound marketing campaign. But how do you actually plan to create this great content? How do you rise above shotgun-keyword targeting to create a body of work that elevates your brand as an authority?
It all starts with a simple brainstorming session.
'Brainstorming' is the effort to generate as many ideas as possible. Then you can go through and pick out the best ones. Brainstorming doesn't need to be complicated. It can be done with just pen and paper or on your laptop or smartphone.
But first things first: What is the purpose of your blog?
Consider what function your blog performs by pondering the following options: Is your blog's purpose to...
- becoming recognised as an industry authority?
- create a searchable information centre?
- offering up client-level communication?
- geotarget local communities or interest groups?
- provide backlink-worthy guides, charts, educational, infographics, etc.?
Once you're set on 'why' you're blogging, you now need to consider what really makes your blog valuable. It's probably not just monthly interesting articles. Your blog can become an authoritative source on your specialty. You can showcase your community connections and provide helpful, often-referenced guides and tips - the sky's the limit.
But to help your blog reach its full potential, take stock of the following tips to help you perfect the art of brainstorming ideas for the year's content.
Brainstorming an editorial calendar is not hard to do. All you need are a few good ideas mapped into this year's blog strategy.
1. Pick a Potential Blog Topic for Your Brand
First up, consider what would make a good blog topic. It should relate to your industry, the services you offer, and/or the motivations of your customers. Most brands start with what they know best and then build up an information centre that becomes an industry-authority source.
Many brands publish market news that might be relevant to customers. Others share the internal story of their company with behind-the-scenes posts. Why not let your brand's purpose and personality suggest the type of blog you might want to start with.
"Why not let your brand's purpose and personality suggest the type of blog you might want to start with."
2. Write down everything
With that first topic idea, write down everything that relates to it. It doesn't have to be organised, but if an organisation comes to mind you can write that, too. Many like to draw or sketch to brainstorm. Others type their sequence of thoughts in a simple text document. Whatever option you choose, don't hold back! Let any and all ideas come through.
"Whatever option you choose, don't hold back! Let any and all ideas come through."
Then you should think about how your idea could be expanded, perhaps into a series, or even an e-book. Consider the sentiment you want to generate; whether it's a feel-good piece, a helpful guide, or a surprising fact. Think about what entertains or helps your audience and address the greatest need. Consider how to provide expertise from your organisation’s perspective.
"Think about what entertains or helps your audience and address the greatest need."
Another important consideration is to see if you can tie it in or relate it to a special date or milestone event? (See our 'HOW TO NEWSJACK A CURRENT STORY OR TREND' guide for tips on how to newsjack milestone events to generate publicity for your business.) Can it become the pillar of an information hub, or one spoke on a different pillar?
Why are your readers searching? What questions are they seeking answers to? What topics naturally precede those questions or follow? What do you want your prospective clients to know and be able to look up on your blog?
"Why are your readers searching? What questions are they seeking answers to?"
3. Craft creative titles for each blog idea
Now it's time to flesh out each idea into a blog-like structure starting with a creative title that has your keywords in mind. Note that some phrases are more ‘powerful’ than others when it comes to their ‘clickability’. Build titles based on how your clients will search. If you come up with more than one title per idea, consider if they'd make a good blog cluster, or a more detailed e-book style article.
"Build titles based on how your clients will search."
Title-building also helps you organise your thoughts and consider how you would present the ideas you've brainstormed.
4. Choose your best ideas and map your editorial calendar
Look at all the ideas and titles you came up with and consider your editorial calendar. Pull your best ideas, the ones that stand out as good sources of information, value, and entertainment to map your content. Don't forget to consider seasons and holidays. Throwing in an industry-style seasonal article is often a good move.
"Throwing in an industry-style seasonal article is often a good move."
You'll be surprised how quickly your editorial calendar fills up with brainstormed ideas until you have a complete catalogue of topics/titles scheduled to be converted into interesting, authoritative blogs.
5. Start blogging!
With your editorial calendar ready to go, you can start writing and/or assigning blogs to fill out your concept map. For each idea, you can do the market research, expand on what customers want to know, and share your professional knowledge. Many business topics practically outline themselves when you take a closer look and blog posts will flow if you write in the natural way you would if you were talking to a non-expert friend.
"...blog posts will flow if you write in the natural way you would if you were talking to a non-expert friend."
And of course, if you're interested in interviewing experts on related topics on your blog, connect with them on SourceBottle. You can always post a free call out for experts to interview and let SourceBottle do the heavy lifting for you and deliver them straight to your inbox.
Oh, and if you're someone who prefers the structure of a tool, download our handy BLOG BRAINSTORMING TOOL while you're here.