by Mark Satterfield, author of “The One Week Marketing Plan: The Set It & Forget It Approach for Quickly Growing Your Business“
As any experienced business blogger will tell you, one of the toughest parts of the job is thinking of a steady stream of interesting topics. Whether you’re on your 5th or 55th post, it’s equally important to offer value (and to some degree, entertainment) to your readers.
Whenever you can write about current events or trends, do so—connecting to what’s going on in the world will help you establish your business’s relevancy and credentials. But for those times when you’re fresh out of newsy ideas yet you still need to publish something that piques readers’ interest, you need a good list of evergreen topics.
Here are 17 blog post ideas that will help you to attract new clients (and strengthen your relationship with existing ones!) by establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field (The blog post titles I suggest here are purposefully generic; feel free to adapt them and jazz them up wherever possible!):
1. X Things You Should Be Doing Now.
This post showcases three to five items everyone should be doing on a regular basis, whether they’re a client or not. Ideally, you want this to be something that isn’t commonly known. If you’re a dentist, you can write, “You already know to brush and floss twice a day, but here are some things that you might not know.” Then tell readers something like, “Instead of using toothpaste, you’re much better off brushing with a mixture that’s half hydrogen peroxide and half mouthwash.” Let readers know what benefits this strategy will give them and briefly mention the fuller benefits they would get if they came to see you.
2. X Mistakes (or Bad Habits) to Avoid.
This idea is the opposite of the previous post. Again, try to think of mistakes that would surprise most people, explain why they’re detrimental, and close with an explanation of how you and your company can help.
3. My Mistake! Where I Went Wrong and What I Learned.
Let your readers know how you got through it and how it’s influenced you today. Demonstrating that you have personally experienced the pain your prospective clients are facing shows that your knowledge is more than theoretical. My wife has said to me, ‘It would be great if you got it right the first time, just once,’ but the fact that I’m willing to share mistakes makes my recommended solution all the more credible.
4. Survey Says… and the Results Are…
Conduct a survey and then report the results. This will give you two pieces, one in which you conduct the survey and one in which you report on the results. SurveyMonkey.com is a great resource. You can also make it super-simple and ask people to send their replies to your email address.
5. How to Solve [Insert Common Problem].
Five ways to cheer yourself up when you’re depressed or sad. Three great questions to ask in a job interview. Seven places to go to hire the best copywriters. People love resource lists and find them incredibly helpful. It’s an easy blog post to write if you know what your readers’ “point of pain” is.
6. Making a List (and Checking It Twice).
Can you put together a convenient list that people in your niche will find relevant or useful? It could be books and articles to read, things to do, or things to avoid. And don’t forget social media. Maybe you could make a list of groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ that your audience should be members of. Or perhaps you can make a list of people they should follow. A client of mine put together a list of Twitter handles for literary agents, which was retweeted heavily.
7. How I Became a [Insert Whatever You Do].
This is a great way to showcase your credentials and experience. You’ll get SEO benefit when people search for the job title that the post references, and there is usually a high degree of curiosity about these types of articles. Plus, you’re the ultimate expert on the path you took to get where you are today. Just make sure your post doesn’t read like a résumé in sentence form—be sure to infuse your story with interesting personal details, like the mentor who changed your focus in school or obstacles you had to overcome.
8. Frequently Asked Questions.
Most of us who have some type of expertise get asked certain questions about ourselves, our jobs, our products, and/or our companies repeatedly. It’s old hat to us, but for those who don’t have our level of expertise, having answers to FAQ in one place is very helpful. Think about the typical questions you get asked a lot once people find out what you do, or the questions someone asks you when they’re sitting next to you on a plane.
9. Case Study: Overcoming [Insert a Problem].
Tell the tale of a real or hypothetical company in your industry that’s facing a problem, then describe what they can do to make it better. (Ideally, highlight how your company is planning to avoid this problem altogether.)
10. You Asked; I Answered.
Again, this can address a legitimate question from a reader — or you can use questions you think your readers are asking themselves. Make this post a bit more scenario-specific than your general FAQ post.
11. A Look at Current and/or Future Trends.
Talk about current trends in your industry, or be really brave and talk about what those trends could lead to in the near future — or even 10 years from now.
12. My Take: Commentary on [Insert Title of Article or Presentation].
Report on articles you’ve read in trade publications or items you’ve learned at conventions you’ve attended.
13. Mythbusters: Revealing the Truth Behind a Common Misconception.
Isn’t it time to set the record straight? The truth, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, starts with you.
14. Dear Diary: A Day in My Life.
This may surprise you, but many readers will follow your posts simply because they become interested in you as a person. Satterfield recalls that he did one of these types of posts on a dare, never thinking it would be of interest, and received a surprisingly large amount of positive response.
15. Welcome to My World: A Look at Where I Work.
What’s it look like where you work? Take photos and write about them, or better still, make a video. Remember, people will hire you not simply because you can do what needs to be done. (Frankly, there are always a lot of people who can jump that bar.) They’ll hire you because of your technical capabilities and because they feel connected to you. This is a great way to facilitate that process.
16. Meet My Mentor.
Write about a mentor (or someone you admire in your industry). I was initially reticent to mention others in my blog since I thought it would take away from my own credibility. I was wrong. Talking about the role that others have played in your life makes you more real in the eyes of your subscribers. It demonstrates that you’re always learning and growing. People want to hire those who display those characteristics.
17. Coming Attractions: What You Can Expect from Me (or from My Company) Soon.
There’s a reason why so many of us love the previews at movie theaters almost as much as the feature attraction: People love to know what’s coming next. Give them an inside peek at what’s on its way in your business. “Internet marketer Ryan Deiss posts a blog every Friday about what he’s reading that weekend,” says Satterfield. “Even if my personal reading list is packed, I still find that I can’t resist taking a peek at the blog.”
Mark Satterfield is the founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing, Inc. He specializes in working with consultants, advisers, and small businesses on how to get consistent streams of new business. Since 1992, he has helped clients in financial services, insurance, health care, consulting, real estate, advertising, training, recruiting, and more than 75 niche industries grow their businesses without cold calling or hard selling. He is the author of “The One Week Marketing Plan“.