If you're a startup, and you need to increase brand awareness, find new customers, and demonstrate value in your industry, there's one practice you can't skip. Blogging.
The right mix of intriguing topics and post types can help bring in a substantial amount of traffic back to your website. But when you're churning through blog topics and keeping with a rigorous posting schedule, it's easy to run out of ideas.
Where To Find Blog Content Ideas
There's a lot of places to find blog topic ideas. The catch? Most of them are pretty well known. Articles about generating blog post ideas typically share the same recommendations. The real secret to coming up with great blog content ideas is 1) Writing content that your customer actually wants to read and 2) Being as creative as possible.
Here are a few unexpected, out of the box places I love finding potential blog post topics:
Take your keyword, topic, or potential title, and search for it in Amazon. See what types of titles come up, and see how you could potentially tweak or optimize those titles, and turn them into a post. For instance, if our topic is "Digital Marketing", there's a ton of titles to look through.
"Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital", for example, could easily be a blog post called: How To Move From Traditional Marketing To Digital.
Medium is a great place for posting articles and building up influence in an industry. But it's also a resource for blog content. Browse through the topics and subject matter you typically cover, and brainstorm ways to put a new spin on post titles.
If our keyword is "PPC Marketing", we could take a post such as "The 10 Best & Biggest New PPC Features of the Year", and easily adjust the title to be "The Top 10 PPC Features For 2018."
HubSpot Topic Clusters
HubSpot is changing the content strategy game. The platform released a content strategy tool awhile back, and the tool gets better and better. Essentially, you can map out broad topics to cover within your strategy, and generate recommended subtopics for each one. These subtopics only need a little adjusting to become full-fledged blog post ideas.
HubSpot even scores your selected keywords and pulls in relevant posts from third-parties for you to assess.
The result? All of your topic clusters are in one central location in HubSpot.
Print + Digital Magazine Titles
Magazines are good reading at the airport, but can you actually use them to think of topic ideas? Short answer, yes. Even the way writers format titles at The Atlantic or The New Yorker could inspire more exciting titles for your blog.
While the subject matter won't be the same, the titles are written to be intriguing. For example, "The Problem With Buying Cheap Stuff Online," can be tweaked to fit nearly any keyword, like "The Problem With Getting Funding," or "The Problem With Finding Marketing Automation Tools."
Influencer Social Profiles
In addition to where to look for new blog content ideas, there's also a lot of influencers to get inspiration from. The key is to look beyond their blogs, and seek them out on forums, social media, or in conference talks. Find where they're creating a dialogue, and get some inspirations from the topics and tips they cover.
For example, while Neil Patel has covered a ton of content marketing subjects on his very well-known blog, do you follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn?
Some of our favorite startup influencers include:
- Neil Patel
- Rand Fishkin
- Wil Reynolds
- Noah Kagan
- Dave McClure
- Dharmesh Shaw
- Bill Sebald
- Kate O'Neill
- John Doherty
- Fareed Mosavat
- Justin Wu
- Raffaele Gaito
- Lisa Myers
- Amy Houck
- Indra Nooyi
Following the most thoughtful leaders in the startup, marketing, and entrepreneurial spaces can also help identify topics trending in your industry. Follow their conversions, and you can get great ideas of things to blog about.
Content can also extend beyond articles. Any blog post you've already done can spin off into a video, podcast, potential courses, a tutorial, webisodes, a webinar, or an ongoing column. If you can't think of anything new, there's a ton of ways to repurpose and reuse content you have.
Pro tip? If you like the idea of repurposing what you have, we wrote a whole guide on it. Check out our free download (we won't call you), Repurposing Toolkit: Why & How to Repurpose Content.
18 Solid Blog Content Ideas For Your Startup
However, sometimes you don't always have the time to look through platforms or dig through articles for ideas. So we created this cumulative list of all the blog post based on some of the most popular, and well-written posts from all over the web.
Interviewing influencers is a popular tactic, but what about interviewing your customers? There's a lot of information customers can provide that would make interesting blog content, such as:
- The challenges they're facing day by day
- How far they've come in the past few months or years
- How they feel about recent trends/changes in the industry
- Why they chose you over competitors
All you need to do is reach out and schedule phone calls with some best customers. Choosing the customers you already have a rapport is helpful, since you want to run these interviews like a conversation, especially if you're recording it.
Both parties will be much more relaxed, and it'll be a much more valuable discussion.
The best part? There are a few other benefits to this kind of approach, aside from additional blog content. By putting a spotlight on a customer, you can also help attract and gain the trust of other potential customers. Additionally, you can use these conversations to inform your buyer personas.
Small Case Studies
Experts use case studies in their blog content all the time.
"The great thing about case studies is that they are never a filler," says Jeff.
People trust case studies, so as soon as they see a blog post with "case study" in the title, they know it's valuable information. To write a blog post about a case study in a pinch, there are a few different approaches.
If you already have case studies done, you can revisit the topic or company the case study was based on and provide an update. However, if you haven't done a lot of case studies, mini-case studies can be turned into blog content. In the future, you could build these out into offers.
Another option is to evaluate case studies surrounding a specific topic, extracting some of the most important findings, and spinning them off into a post. This way, you don't have to take a ton of time and budget to create a brand new case study, you can just discuss a few that already exist.
A benefit of that tactic is that you can promote another brand or service, link to them, and get them to potentially link back to you.
Entrepreneur/Industry Expert Interview
This is one of the most popular blogging tactics, and it's effective.
However, the challenge with this post is that a lot of influencers are pretty hard to reach. You need to pitch and intrigue them enough for them to agree to an interview, then, it'll likely be awhile until they can fit you into their schedule.
Let's say you're looking to interview an influencer such as Joanna Lord, the CMO of ClassPass. It's likely that Joanna has done interviews before, so consider compiling all of her best interviews, and the best points from those interviews, and turn them into a post. In the future, you could use that article to start a conversation with her.
Goal or Diary Piece
Personal narratives are always interesting, especially when you're sharing free advice or expertise about something you're trying out. We're currently conducting a series of marketing diary blog posts at Lean Labs. Our Head of Inbound Marketing, Ryan, is documenting our aggressive goal of 10xing website traffic, leads, and opportunities.
These types of posts are great because they humanize your brand. It shows that you're always trying to improve, just like your customer, and that you trust and put your own methodologies to use. This is also another way to promote your expertise and experience without coming off as too promotional or too salesy.
Top Successes/Learnings From Past Year
Writing a post about successful experiences from the past year may seem intimidating, or self-promotional. It requires transparency and a lot of self-awareness, especially when you did not perform up to your expectations. However, depending on the angle, sharing really humanizing struggles or challenges can be beneficial. We can all learn from success and failure.
The best part? With so many customers valuing transparency and brand values, building trust and rapport is more important than ever. Your blog can be a great place to pull the curtain back and show your face. Customers love when brands are honest, and you can use that to develop much more interesting, compelling blog posts.
We all have our favorite apps or tools. For us, it's HubSpot and Slack. We all use these tools religiously, and sometimes, even we forget something really obvious: other people use them, too. Occasionally, we might know of a feature that other users don't know about, or could benefit from. So by creating blog content talking about these tools, how we use them, and why we love them, we can help other people learn more about the platform.
Alternatively, for our customers who aren't as familiar with HubSpot or Slack, we can provide real value. We work with these tools every single day, so we've picked up a trick or two. You may feel like you're sharing trade secrets, but demonstrating your expertise, even with a common tool, can really help forge connections with potential customers.
Another idea is to cover new features or integrations with an app. For instance, we were ecstatic that Slack announced an integration with HubSpot. We could easily do a blog post about it. It's buzzworthy, exciting for the industry, and could inspire a lot of content regarding communication and collaboration in the workplace.
Best Networking/Collaboration/Outreach Tips
This is always an option for a blog post, because the best practices for reaching out and engaging with new people are always changing. There's always a new platform or app to make connections, and a right and a wrong way to do it. For instance, while InMail with LinkedIn was really popular, a lot of people overuse it now and people are tired of it. That's a blog post in itself. Why isn't it as effective now? What are the alternatives to InMail? Is there a less irritating way to use it?
There are nuances to communication and outreach in every industry. Cover all of your tips and tricks for meeting new people, and turn it into content. You can also ask for feedback on this post from trusted peers or co-workers, linking their quotes back into the post, and possibly getting a share or retweet from them.
A "How To" post is really popular because whatever tool, platform, or service you're using, there's someone out there that does not know how to use it the way that you do. This is similar to the favorite app and platform post, but instead, you're selecting a specific feature and walking the reader step by step on how to properly use it.
To makes sure the content of your "How To" is exceptional, be as specific as you can. You're not going to write a blog post called "How To Use HubSpot," and you shouldn't. It would take forever, and it wouldn't be very valuable. However, a post called "How To Set Up Buyer Personas in HubSpot," could be useful to someone who's using it for the first time.
If you have a great topic, like setting up buyer personas in HubSpot, it's possible that a lot of people have already covered it. Don't let that discourage you. You could do a "How To" using the Skyscraper post approach. With a Skyscraper post, you essentially take the best ideas articles already covering a topic, and put a new spin on it, and make it exceptional.
Book or Course Reviews
If you need blog content, try taking all the books, videos, or courses you've read or watched and put them to good use. Even a Netflix special like "I Am Not Your Guru," with Tony Robbins, or "Modern Love" by Aziz Ansari could be reviewed for a startup blog post. It all depends on the angle you take, and the information you present. For example, you could write a post called, "X Lessons From Tony Robbins I Applied To Managing My Startup," or "Aziz Ansari Is Basically An Entrepreneur - Here's Why."
While you never want to stretch something that's totally unrelated, there's a lot of ways you can put a fresh perspective on an article or video from a different industry.
Even older startup and marketing books, such as "Purple Cow" by Seth Godin can be reviewed again, with a new spin on it. Discuss the parts of the book that are still applicable to the industry, and point out the parts that are not. According to Google Analytics, "Purple cow Seth Godin" still gets around 1,000 searches a month, so people are definitely still interested in hearing about this book.
Discuss Popular Posts
On any given day, your LinkedIn or Twitter feed is flooded with new blog content. If there's a common theme, or specific posts that are trending with influencers, consider writing some content around them. The best way to do this (without adding to the noise) is to go into more depth about the topic. Explain what it is, why it's trending, and why people care about it.
Basically, be the one that provides the context and expertise on the matter, similar to how a subject matter expert in your industry would do it. A lot of posts regarding trending topics tend to skim the surface. Stand out by providing the substance, and put the pieces of what's happening and why together for people who aren't as informed.
Contrary Position Post
There is a lot of opinions out there, and it's likely you don't agree with all of them. That's why the contrary position post can be a great way to engage industry peers, and start a productive dialogue. In a contrary position post, we take a viewpoint that we disagree with, and in an intelligent way, we offer a rebuttal and explain why we disagree with it.
If you approach a contrary post the right way, it can drive a lot of engagement. However, before posting an article with a strongly worded opinion, make sure that you're not being overly aggressive or negative about your opinion, and back up your thoughts with statistics or proof points. Contrary posts are intended to offer a different perspective.
Top Trends of the Year
Top trend posts can fit into any blog content strategy, in any industry. Basically take a topic and discuss the trends in the past or upcoming year. For each trend, you can discuss your opinion on it, recommend tools, or share how you plan to adopt that trend. Since trend posts are so popular, regardless of what industry you're in, this is another awesome opportunity to do Skyscraper content.
Basically, you can find all of the other posts talking about the same trends, pick the most relevant or best trends, and make your content even better.
At Lean Labs, we don't really do comparison posts. If you want to do this kind of post, and have a strong competitor or product you want to compare yourself to, there are a few best practices to follow. For starters, don't go super negative. No matter your brand or how great your service is, it's not a good look for anyone. If you write a comparison post and use it to talk about how great your company is, people won't necessarily believe you.
If you absolutely want to do a comparison post, keep it fair. Find features that you can fairly compare and contrast to, and do not have any bias. Another option is to compare to completely separate products or platforms that you've used before. For instance, if you used to use WordPress to blog, but switched to HubSpot, you could easily write a post about that.
Video or Podcast Post
If you're already doing videos or running a podcast, these posts are easy. Basically, go through the video that you already have, or the podcasts you have, and create a blog post based on them. Even if it's an older video or recording, you could write a blog post that provides an update, or additional context on the subject. Even if you're not regularly posting podcasts or videos, you could use older blog post topics for inspiration.
Find older posts that are performing well, and consider doing a podcast or video about them. Similar to a blog post, if you can pinpoint a few key topics to cover, you can piece together the building blocks of a video or podcast. Then, you can embed the video or audio file, and provide new insights, as well as the transcription of the media to make an entirely new post.
If you've been to a conference, a meeting, or workshop lately, you can put your experience to good use. For nearly any event that relates to startups, entrepreneurship, or internet marketing, there's likely to be a following for it on LinkedIn or Twitter. Write a post and provide an overview of what was discussed, as well as additional expertise, resources, or tools that relate to those topics. Another option is to share any notes or recordings you have (as long as the event coordinator is okay with it.)
If you really want to go above and beyond, reach out to other people who also attended that event as well. As for their feedback or insights into what was discussed, and consider either interviewing, or providing quotes if it will add additional value to the post.
Market Research Post
Conducting market research in-house, share the wealth. People are always looking for accurate and insightful facts and statistics, and if you can provide them, as well as add in some context or insights, you can create a pretty valuable post. So if you have reliable information and don't mind sharing it, you could probably write a pretty great market research post and rank for it.
If you have sensitive information, but still like the idea of a market research post, try a behind the scenes post instead. Buffer has a great example of a market research post, titled "How We Research: A Look Inside the Buffer Blog Process." While they don't share any of their personal research, they talk about how they conduct that research, which is still highly valuable information.
Are you a great writer? Great at time management? In a tips and tricks post, you can take something that you're really good at, and find a way to talk it to help someone else get better at it. This post positions you as an expert, and also provides a lot of value to your reader. However, when it comes to tips and tricks, try to think outside of the box.
There are already way too many posts about how entrepreneurs are great at communication, or great at managing their team. If you can find more offbeat topics, and put a relevant spin on them, you can stand out from the crowd. For instance, a post titled, "X Ways To Record A Podcast On Your Way To Work," is a little offbeat and interesting, and people who have difficulty managing their time and creating content would be interested in it.
Weekly Expertise Posts
Whiteboard Friday is a great ongoing blog series and video series from Rand Fishkin (formerly at Moz, now CEO/Founder of SparkToro.) The Whiteboard Friday content is great, because it's an ongoing, weekly thing that covers different topics. Fishkin is a great speaker, and explains the hows and whys behind SEO and content marketing very clearly.
If you can find some kind of post or feature to do every week, you can cover different topics and format them in a similar way that Whiteboard Friday does it. You just have to find something unique, and put your own spin on it. Don't just take a concept similar to Whiteboard Friday, and call it Whiteboard Monday. You want something original and incredibly valuable.
By the end of this post, if you still don't have enough good ideas for blog content, here are a few resources to use for generating blog ideas and keywords.
Free Trial/Monthly Subscription Tools For Generating Blog Ideas and Keywords
- HubSpot Content Strategy Tool (Subscription)
- Answer The Public (Free)
- Google Recommended Searches
- Reddit (Free)
- LinkedIn Groups
- Quora (Free)
- Keywords Everywhere (free plugin for Chrome)
- FAQ from Customers
- Twitter Hashtags/Conversations (Free)
Driving Traffic With Blogging and Inbound
If you're looking to increase traffic and potential leads, blogging is only a part of a puzzle. Any blog strategy is just a part of a bigger content marketing play, which requires a cohesive, overarching plan that helps support customers at every stage of the buyer's journey. So if you're serious about increasing traffic, blogging alone won't get you there.
You also need to prioritize tactics such as inbound goal setting, detailing out your personas, building out a reliable team of experienced inbound marketers, and figuring out your editorial calendar. This can be a huge undertaking for any startup, so we created a nifty guide, Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain, to get you started. There's no catch, no follow up phone calls asking if you want a conversation. Just a free guide with tools and tactics to get started with inbound marketing.