There’s no worse feeling than sitting down to write a blog post and then staring at a blank screen, wondering what to write. Every writer deals with the “what do I write about” dilemma—and fortunately, it’s a solvable problem.
The solution starts with research, thinking and learning. Writers who know what they’re experts in, who stay tapped into industry trends, and find useful places to insert their voice don’t have to hunt as hard to come up with blog topics.
In this article, we’ll break down how to choose blog post topics that boost your website’s traffic and attract new customers for your online courses. These tips are great for beginners, but they’re also perfect for professional bloggers who want a refresher.
So let’s dive in, and take your blogging skills to the next level. Here’s some shortcuts, if you’re eager to jump ahead:
1. Carve out your niche
If you’re new to blogging, your first step should be finding the niche you’ll explore in your blog content. A niche is a specific field (or “beat”) that you’ll focus on covering, so that people visiting your blog can know what to expect when they click on your article.
Generally speaking, your niche will relate to your industry.
However, you don’t have to be exactly on-the-nose with your niche. For example, You might run a company that sells homemade candles, but that doesn’t mean you have to write about different types of beeswax, the different types of honeybees, or how to pick a supplier for wicks. You may be a candle-maker, but your audience isn’t searching out information about the minutia of your industry.
Instead, pick a popular niche that your industry relates to, even if it’s not directly about your product. This candle making company we’re imagining would do better to pick self-care as a niche, since it’s more likely to resonate with their target audience.
Blog articles about ways to show yourself “a little extra love” will hook way more readers—and the odd product placement won’t clash when you slip it in. In fact, it’ll be helpful, and more likely to lead to customers running up a serious candle bill. (This isn’t a bad thing for anyone—after all, who doesn’t love a good scented candle?)
If you’re still stuck on defining your niche, we explore this crucial step in picking interesting blog topics in our article on starting your blog.
Reflect on your passions—and what you’re already an expert in
There’s a famous saying that every writer writes what they know. Depending on your goals for your blog, you may want to draw directly on your lived experience. If you’re blogging as part of a business strategy, you might want to flip that famous saying ever so slightly. Write about what you care about—or equally, what you’re an expert in.
Now that you’ve got a blog niche solidified, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Within my industry, what motivates me to get up and work every day?
- What can I contribute to the conversation that nobody else has or can?
If you want to start an interesting industry blog, these two questions will take you a step below the surface before you ever start writing. You’ll identify sub-topics that make you move—and crucially, that you won’t get completely sick of writing about. You’ll also start to think about your work life, and the stories that you may draw on for blog content.
Let’s play this out, so you can see what we mean. Imagine you’re a woman in her mid-40s working in the animal care industry, and you’re starting a blog to promote your new cat food brand. You ask yourself these two questions, and realize you could write about how veterinary science has changed in the last twenty years, or how your industry needs to change to become more inclusive.
Those are big, industry level topics that your lived experience makes you an expert in. And now you’ve got an amazing start to vital blog posts that’ll hook brand-new audience.
2. Read other blogs to stay on top of your industry
Reading other blogs keeps your ear close to the ground, and lets you know what’s driving conversation in your industry, what topics have been covered to death, and what hasn’t been explored yet.
Google search can quickly put you onto your industry’s key blogs. If you’re looking to start a fashion blog, for example, simply search “best blogs about fashion.” Within minutes, you’ll be reading GQ, Vogue, and learning from Givenchy and Belanciaga experts.
Once you’ve got plugged into other blogs in your space, set aside time regularly to read them. This will keep you close to the pulse of your industry, and point out valuable blog topics that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise think.
Returning to the fashion blog, for example: you might read a GQ article, and learn about a brand-new designer whose work you love. You might realize they’ve already been profiled, but that one of their contemporaries hasn’t. You reach out for an interview, get an emphatic “yes,” and bring that brand-new story to life for your reader.
Hard-pressed for time? Don’t worry—many industry blogs re-publish or summarize their content on social media. Once you’ve found two or three relevant blogs whose work you love, go follow them on Twitter and Instagram. You’ll come across their work organically as you scroll social media, and staying up to date won’t feel like work anymore.
3. Connect with other writers in your niche
Community makes the entire world go round, and this is just as true when it comes to blogging. Following other writers is a key way to learn about unexplored areas in your niche, discover new potential topics for your blog, and make sure you’re not retreading other writers’ work.
Unless your blog niche is specific to a small geographic area, like the Maine dairy industry, the best place to connect with other writers is on Twitter. It’s second-to-none when it comes to meeting new writers, building relationships and connections, and staying tapped into the conversation in your industry.
The first approach to finding writers to connect with on Twitter is searching for topics you’re interested in blogging about. Go to the search bar, and type in keywords related to your industry, like “content marketing” or “B2B writing.” Look for recent threads, and popular tweets, and follow authors (or posters) who grab your attention.
The second approach relies on those industry blogs you looked up earlier. Low down on their homepages, they should all have icons linking to their social media profiles. Find their Twitter icons, and follow them. Then, scroll through their published posts, look for the authors they tag in their articles, and follow them.
Now that you’ve got a Twitter feed full of engaged writers who cover your industry, scroll to your heart’s content. Engage with other peoples’ writing, share your thoughts, and jump into the conversation where appropriate.
Soon you’ll start to become more confident in your voice, build a following of your own, and spot gaps in the existing coverage around your industry. As it turns out, that’s the next step in regularly coming up with eye-catching topics for your blog.
4. Think about what’s missing—and what you can add
Nobody wants to read the same article twice. As readers, we all love novelty, and learning something new. When you’re writing for your blog, you should also be striving to cover new subjects—or explore familiar ones in new, novel ways. Keeping this end goal in mind while you’re sketching out potential topics can help you reliably brainstorm interesting, useful blog topics.
At this point, you know your niche better than most people. You follow the important blogs in your space, you keep up with their coverage, and follow a collection of writers on Twitter whose work you admire. You aren’t a total outsider—you know exactly what’s going on.
Now it’s time to ask yourself some questions that’ll help you come up with blog topics in record time. Here’s where to start:
- In general, what (or who) is the most exciting for you in your industry, right here and right now?
- What have you read lately?
- Did any article or post you read raise new questions for you—and if so, has anyone else answered them?
- Did you come across any concepts, pieces of terminology, or bits of industry history you discovered that others might want to learn about?
Answering these questions prompts you to revisit all the information you’ve taken in so far, and take a critical look at what you’ve learned. They invite you to quietly poke holes in other peoples’ work (in a friendly way!), and find places where your voice can slot in. Your responses will show you what your next few blog posts should focus on.
Put simply: read voraciously, ask yourself questions, think hard about your answers, and find the vacuums waiting to be filled. That’s where your voice belongs.
5. Imagine you’re teaching an outsider
Putting yourself in a reader’s shoes is another surefire way to come up with interesting, novel blog ideas and find fresh, unique angles on stories that’ve been told already.
Like like the previous strategies, this one requires you to do some background reading.
Think about an article, post or tweet you read recently—one that made you think. Once you’ve got one in mind, ask yourself these questions:
- What basic knowledge does an outsider need to have to understand the context or content?
- How did you pick up that knowledge?
- How would you teach that piece of knowledge to someone outside your space?
This framework will get you looking closely at what you’ve read, and thinking critically about how to break it down for someone who isn’t an industry expert. You’ll also get a closer look at how you became an expert in your space—which is valuable when you’re trying to let others in.
This sounds slightly abstract, so let’s explore what it looks in practice. Imagine you’re obsessed with synthesizers, you’ve just built your first synth, and you’re trying to show your expertise to attract buyers. (It’s an off-kilter example, but bear with us.)
To put yourself in your audience’s shoes, think about a recent article you read about the history of synthesis. You ask yourself what you knew that the writer took for granted. Maybe they assumed that you knew how sound waves work, or why sine waves sound different from square waves.
The answer won’t be something said explicitly—it’ll be something they don’t say. Once you recognize something that not everyone knows, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
You think for a minute, and you realize that to teach someone about synthesis, you’d have to go back to the early 1950s, when the first line Moog synths first launched. At the same time, you realize that your average layperson will need a primer on sonic waves, so you decide to write The Beginner’s Guide to Synthesizers, and tell the history while breaking down the science.
Now you’ve got a blog topic that’s laser-focused on a specific audience: the beginner. And it all comes from putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. You can repeat this process for more advanced topics within your industry, because creating guides for beginners ensures the widest possible readership.
6. Dive into SEO research
Sometimes you’ll end up stuck—we’ve all been there, and it’s completely normal. That’s when you should reach for the nearest, cheapest search engine optimization (SEO) research tool, and play around.
Basic SEO isn’t hard, and a little bit will go a long way. Start by firing up Google Trends. This tool lets you take a glance into what people are searching for, and check the how many people are looking up different search terms.
Start by entering some keywords related to your industry. You don’t need to get too granular—just keep it broad. You just want to find out what parts of your space are getting the most hits, not double-check if every single topic idea is a potential winner. Look at what’s getting the most hits, and write about it.
For example, if you’re a blogger who covers cameras and film technology, try searching for “best camera brands,” “new lenses 2022,” “worst cameras ever,” or “which camera to buy.” If people seem to be struggling to choose new cameras to buy, write an article that breaks down all the best options. It’ll be a winner.
The SEO-seeded approach gets you as close as possible to what people are searching for and want to know. Your own taste is valuable, and you should definitely trust it, but taking a more scientific approach to content creation makes it easier to choose blog topics that your target audience is interested in.
Sure, you’ll be writing what the robots at Google Analytics want you to write. But ultimately, you’re just searching for the core questions people have about your industry, and solving them.
Now that you’ve got a basic grounding on becoming a subject matter expert and choosing what to write about, it’s time to talk about different blog formats you can use and make your own. Here’s ten of the absolute classics:
1. Case studies
In a case study, you’ll break down a challenge you’ve helped someone in your industry overcome. Highlight where they started, why they decided to work with you, and what you did to get them exactly where they wanted to be. Along the way, break down your strategy and thinking.
This blog post format directly shows your expertise, and lets future clients know just what they can expect from you. They’re also super popular: HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report found that case studies are the fifth most common type of content marketers create. Whether you’re selling SAAS or home renovation supplies, case studies always make for great blog posts.
Reach out to an industry expert and ask if you can interview them about their life and work, or try talking to a teammate. Interviews are a great way to build connections, hook new readers and demonstrate your industry expertise. Plus, your interview guest will likely promote your blog post as well— being interviewed is great for their brand, too.
Make sure to do proper research and ask respectful, well-crafted questions.
3. Book, event or podcast reviews
Think about what’s going on in your life: did you listen to a podcast recently, attend an interesting event, or read an interesting book? If so, you’ve got the perfect starting point for your next blog post.
Summarize what happened for someone who wasn’t there, and then go one step deeper by offering a critique—which can be positive or (constructively) negative. If you loved the latest episode of a podcast you listened to, explain why—and if you attended an event that failed to put together a diverse group of panelists, call it out.
Reviews add nuance and depth to IRL experiences and other forms of content, and they’re always popular. And if your review’s positive, tag the creators. (They’ll probably share it, too!)
4. Bust an industry myth
Is there a widespread myth associated with your industry? If so, bust it. Explain where the misconceptions come from, why they became so pervasive, and then uncover the truth. Tell readers what they should do with this new information, too, so they know your takeaways.
Whether you’re explaining which hotel foods are actually safe to eat or why payday advance companies are
5. Beginner’s guides
Everyone’s searching for answers—which is why beginner’s guides are such a popular blog content format. They’re SEO-friendly, showcase your insider knowledge, and show you’re a door-opener, not a gatekeeper. Plus, they can easily be repurposed into short-form content for social media.
To figure out guide topics, think back to one of the earliest lessons, concepts or pieces of knowledge you learned when you joined your industry. Who broke it down for you—and how did they make that knowledge accessible? That’s where to start with a beginner’s guide.
6. Run an experiment
Science is fun. So try running an experiment, and then break down your process, your results, and any mistakes you make along the way. It’s all interesting to readers, even the messy parts.
If you sell skincare products, try a different moisturizer on each half of your face for a week, and journal about the results. If you’re a coach, try out two different methodologies with your clients, and compare the results.
There’s no rules. All you’ve got to do is find something you’re curious about and try it out!
Now that you’ve got some flexible content formats and brainstorming frameworks under your belt, let’s explore how monetization works.
Whatever the reason for starting a blog, it’s always nice to be able to make a little extra income from the hard work that goes into blogging. Blogging takes a lot of time and effort, and usually costs something, even if it’s a hobby blog.
1. Get commissions with affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a great way to turn ordinary blog articles into advertising, and get paid for your efforts. To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an affiliate marketing network, and then start including product links in your blog posts. Then, you’ll get paid every time someone buys a product they discovered on your blog.
Suppose you’re writing an article that alludes to a specific product—like a guide to home gardening that references a specific type of fertilizer. If you’re signed up for an affiliate marketing network, you can slide a link to the product into your article, and get a commission every time someone who buys that fertilizer finds it from your link.
There’s a lot of confusing information out there about affiliate programs, and you’ll want to stick to working with reputable affiliate programs. With that in mind, we’ve created a shortlist of our seven favorite affiliate programs that you can join today:
- Instagram Affiliate
- Thinkific Affiliate Program
- CJ Affiliate
- Amazon Associates Program
2. Activate Google AdSense on your blog
As your blog’s traffic starts to rise, you can start to generate passive income by enabling ads on Google AdSense. Unlike affiliate marketing, you won’t get paid via commissions, but you also won’t have to go through the work of sliding references to products into the body copy of your blog posts. Simply activate AdSense, promote your articles, and let the revenue roll in.
There’s a number of types of AdSense ads, including:
- Image ads: Still image ads that come in several resolutions.
- Rich media ads: HTML, video and flash ads.
- GIF ads: Flipbook style image ads.
- Text ads: Text-only ads that can display either one or multiple offers.
3. Turn blog content into online courses
One monetization strategy has more scaling potential than any other: course creation. You take the subject area you’re an expert in, structure the must-knows into a course you can sell, and then promote it.
Once you’ve created an online course, it’s yours to sell forever. You can edit it, update it, promote it, and refresh your branding to make sure it stays current.
That effort is beyond worth it. Many Thinkific customers charge over $50/course, and they’re not hurting for customers at all. (Learners actually respect the higher price points, we’ve found.)
You’d have to get a lot of blog clicks or affiliate referrals to earn what you can from selling courses online. Well-organized, engaging courses are massively popular. Right now, there’s a growing market for on-demand education, and the global e-learning market is projected to reach $457.8 billion by 2025, according to a recent GlobeNewsWire report.
So skim back through your blog articles, look for how you could group the subjects you’ve written about into a course, and then start shooting. (We’ve also got all the tools you’ll need to structure, publish and promote your online courses—stick around and we’ll spill all the tea.)
So, what’s next?
Now that you know how to come up with eye-catching blog topics, you might be looking for ways to turn subjects you’re an expert on into profitable online courses. (Especially if you’re an entrepreneur or educator.)
That’s where Thinkific comes in. We make it easy to scale your business by offering self-guided online courses and membership sites. Our easy-to-use course design platform helps coaches, educators, and digital content creators build engaging, custom eLearning experiences and grow sustainable online businesses.
Try Thinkific for free and get the course creation, marketing, and selling tools you need to take your business up a notch.