Ali is our Head of Content and Blogging Trainer. She is author of 'Publishing E-Books For Dummies' (Wiley, 2012).
You’re stuck for an idea. Perhaps you’ve sat down to do some mindmapping – but there’s nothing to map. Your mind is blank.
Or perhaps you’re doing OK for ideas – but it wouldn’t hurt to come up with a few more.
Here are 21 ideas that you can take and run with. We’ve made them specific (not “write a list post”) but we’ve also made them broad enough to apply to almost any field. For each, we’ve given an example, so you can see that type of post in action.
All these posts are types of lists, and they’re all designed to offer great value to your reader.
#1: Define Key Terms
Your industry has specialised terms – and customers may feel daunted or put off by them. Explain key ones in a post, and it’ll become a handy resource for them to refer back to.
#2: List of Useful Tools
Would your customers find life so much easier if only they had the right tools? Depending on your industry, these could be digital (e.g. websites, software) or physical (e.g. the right crafting supplies). Bring together some your favourites in a post.
Example: 13 Handy Content Marketing Tools
#3: The A-Z Guide to…
This type of post takes a bit of work, but it’s often well worth it for the attention you’ll get – not just from potential customers but also from fellow bloggers in your industry. It’s a great way to cover big topics (like “The A-Z of Baking”) in a single post.
#4: Top Blogs (etc)
Whatever your area, there’ll be other blogs about it – or Twitter accounts, Pinterest boards, and so on. Bring together 10 or 20 of your favourites and tell readers what you love about them. This shows you’re on top of your industry – and can foster good relationships with the blog owners.
Example: The UK’s Top 20 Gardening Blogs
Many bloggers find answering questions an easy way to put a post together. You might use a single question, or take several questions on a particular topic (“choosing a camera”).
#6: Post Roundup
This is another good way to avoid doing much writing! Link to some of your favourite posts from the past week or month (or choose them by topic). You can write a short summary, or just quote from each post.
Example: The Weekly Optimiser
Not every post needs to be a list. Sometimes, you’ll want to dig into a particular topic in detail – and these posts are some ways to do that.
#7: Book Review
Whatever industry you’re in, there’ll be books coming out on a regular basis that relate to your work. Review one you’ve read recently: it’s useful to your readers, it showcases your expertise, and it’s potentially a way to build a relationship with the author.
#8: Pros and Cons
There’s rarely a one-sided argument for something: instead, there’ll be various advantages and disadvantages. A “pros and cons” post presents both sides (and, often, draws a conclusion).
#9: A vs B post
This type of post is similar to pros and cons – but it compares two different solutions to a problem. For instance, if you blog about social media, you might compare two major platforms – Facebook vs Twitter.
#10: How I… / How We…
You’ve probably written some “how to” posts already. A great variation on these is to write a “How I…” post or “How We…” post. These dig into something you’ve accomplished (which could be big or small) and help readers see how they could do the same.
Although longer posts (500 words plus) tend to be better for traffic and for engagement, short posts can be a great way to mix things up.
#11: Reader Discussion
Why not let your readers do the work? Ask a question – and get them to answer it. These posts are often great for engagement, and they can also provide you with loads of new ideas.
Creating a checklist is a great way to produce a post that’s likely to be linked to, shared and bookmarked … without having to do much writing. You may even have checklists that you already use in your business that you could publish on your blog.
#13: Announcement or Reminder
Obviously you don’t want to fill your blog with promotional content – there’s no faster way to turn readers off. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of forgetting to mention your products / services. An occasional announcement (e.g. for a sale or new product) or reminder is a good idea.
Borrowing from Other People
#14: Quotes on a Topic
Bring together a bunch of great quotes on a particular topic (it could be quite broad, like “writing advice” or even simply “inspiration”). If you’re struggling to write, this is a great way to put together a post: you’ll just need to add a brief introduction and conclusion.
#15: Reader’s Comment
Perhaps one of your readers wrote a great comment that you want use to start off a post. It could be a question, a thought-provoking point, or a great piece of advice. By “promoting” their comment in this way, you show your potential customers that you really care about helping them.
Authors, bloggers, conference speakers and other experts in your field may well be willing to contribute to your blog. An easy way to make this work well for both them and you is to write a list of questions and get their answers.
Sometimes, you’ll want to shake things up with a different look at things. These types of post are often full of energy, and can become very popular.
#17: Unusual Perspective
Take on a different perspective – perhaps that of a child, a Martian, or even an inanimate object – then write about a fairly familiar topic. This can make for a thought-provoking and refreshingly different post.
#18: Personal Story
Tell a story about you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be closely connected to your business – the point here is to give readers a glimpse into your life. You may want to use the story to start your post, then discuss broader implications.
#19: Letter to Your Younger Self
What do you wish you’d known when you started out in your industry? Write a letter to your younger self – it’s a great way to help readers with problems they might not even realise they’re facing.
Example: Six Inspiring Experts Answer Five Questions on Writing and Blogging (question #3)
#20: What Not to Do
If you want to have a bit of fun, write an anti-advice post: think along the lines of how to lose friends and alienate people instead of how to win friend and influence people. To get it right, readers simply need to do the opposite of what you suggest.
Example: Top 10: Fastest Ways to Get Fat
Perhaps everyone in your corner of the blogging world has jumped onto the same bandwagon … but you disagree. Write a post explaining why they’re wrong. (Depending on the tone of your blog, you could do this gently or not…)
Hopefully this list has sparked off some great ideas for you! And if you want a bit of extra help with some of these – plus a few extras – check out our post on 8 Under-Used Blog Post Structures.