So you’re thinking about starting up a blog. But now you’re at a crucial decision point, where you need to figure out what to blog about. That’s what this blogging guide to topic selection will help you to decide.
Let’s jump in…
The first thing we will look at in this blogging guide to topic selection is multiple methods for figuring out what your audience wants. If you can deliver content your readers crave, you can bet they’ll come back to your blog again and again for the more good stuff.
The key at this step is to use multiple methods for figuring out what your audience wants. In other words, don’t use just one of the following methods and call it a day. Use as many methods as possible, which will increase your confidence that you’re picking a topic your audience truly desires to know more about.
1. Brainstorm Ideas
This step is straightforward: take a few moments to brainstorm topic ideas for your niche. For example, if you’re part of the niche, then think about what problems and issues you’ve had. Think about the types of information you’d want to know more about if you were new to the niche. Write down ideas that you’ve seen while watching the news, talking to friends, and so on.
For example, maybe you’re starting up a dog training blog, and a friend of yours is having issues with a dog who barks and lunges when they encounter other dogs on a walk. Write that down – “solving problem behaviors” is one potential topic for you to write about.
One of the essential factors in creating a successful blog is picking a topic you’re passionate about. If you’re excited to write about a topic, people will be excited to read it.
Another key to success is finding a niche topic to focus on. When you focus on a specific topic, you can become an expert in that area and provide valuable insights that other people don’t have.
You might be wondering how to pick a timely topic. Sometimes an event or topic of conversation is so hot it can carry your blog for days or even weeks. But keep in mind the news cycle changes fast, and you’ll want to plan accordingly. If you choose to cover events, make sure you aren’t just rehashing what already happened—come up with insightful commentary on the topic.
If you’re planning to cover evergreen content, consider whether or not there will still be people interested in reading about your topic years down the road. For example, Harry Potter has continued relevance today (even though the movies came out 10+ years ago) because fans are still excited about Harry Potter’s ongoing story arc online and off.
2. Ask Your Audience
Another way to figure out what to write about is to ask your audience. You can do this informally by asking your social media followers what topics interest them in the niche. When it comes to blogging, one of the most important things you can do is choose a topic your audience will be interested in.
But how do you know what your audience wants to read about? One great way to find out is to ask them! There are many ways to do this, from surveys and questionnaires to simply polling your followers on social media. You could even create a topic specifically for suggestions from your readers. Or you can use a tool like SurveyMonkey.com to create a professional survey that you distribute as widely as possible.
Here are two ways to utilize this technique:
- Ask open-ended questions. This is the best way to get ideas for topics that you may not have ever thought about and your research didn’t uncover.
- Avoid relying on this method in isolation. What people say they want and what they actually do (e.g., what they consume) may be two different things. As such, use surveying to help you gather insights and confirm your other niche research.
What topic will best help your audience? For example, if you have a blog on fashion, what topic would be most helpful to your readers? Do you talk about fashion week, or do you instruct readers on how to redo their closets?
These are just two topics that might come to mind when deciding what topic to blog about. But why not think outside the box for once? Maybe instead of talking about fashion week, you could review the fashion at last night’s awards ceremony? Or perhaps instead of showing people how to redo their closets, you could teach them how to DIY a new tote bag?
It’s also essential to consider your audience when choosing a topic for your blog post since different audiences would prefer very different topics based on their interests or location in life.
For example, people who just bought a house might want information about home decorating, while people who just graduated from the university may be interested in choosing a career path instead- both of these topics could sound interesting, but only one will truly resonate with your audience.
3. Check Marketplaces
One of the best ways to determine what topics interest your audience is to see what topics they buy. If they’re snapping up paid products on a specific topic, you can bet they’ll rush to your blog to read about that topic too.
Check these marketplaces for bestsellers in your niche, and search for your keywords:
Also, look for multiple products on the same topic as healthy competition shows the topic is in demand.
You’ll also want to read the product reviews, which are easily accessible on Amazon. The reviews may give you insight into topics or subtopics that your audience wants to know more about. This may help you find a gap that you can fill in your niche.
4. Visit Competitors’ Blogs
Your next step is to see what your competitors are blogging about. Ask these questions:
- What topics get a lot of comments, social media shares and other interactions?
- What topics are all or nearly all of your competitors blogging about?
- What topics keep popping up repeatedly over time?
You’ll also want to be sure to check out the comments section, especially on topics that are really popular. Looking at what others in your niche are saying about the topic or related topics may give you fresh ideas of what to write about on your blog.
While you’re on the blog, be sure to take note of what info-products your competitors are selling within the blog content as well as elsewhere (such as in the blog sidebar).
You should also visit up to 5 or 10 blogs that aren’t your competitors but have a topic selection similar to yours. This will help you get a feel for the blogosphere in general and see where you fit between other bloggers/previous blogs on the topic area.
You can gain ideas about how they write, what content they include, and what topic selection is popular with readers. In fact, this entire article has been inspired by someone else’s topic selection!
5. Read Popular Newsletters
The next step is to sign up for all your competitor’s newsletters (if you haven’t already done so) and check out what topics they’re covering. Again, pay particular attention to the topics that all your competitors seem to be writing about, indicating that the topic is popular.
Do your competitors’ newsletters contain topic ideas that you could potentially write about? Or, do their topic choices seem to be following a specific direction? If these are the case, then there’s a good chance that those topics will continue to gain popularity and become hot topics in the future.
6. See What’s Trending on Twitter
Another way to see what’s famous (at least today) is to head over to Twitter to see what’s trending. Follow this link: https://twitter.com/explore. You can also search Twitter for your niche keywords to see what people write about.
Twitter can be an excellent resource for blog topic selection. The key is using it to find the right trends that are currently going on in your niche area. Trends come up all the time, and you should try searching for them or following specific users who cover those topics if you want more information on what’s popular at the moment.
You need to be careful here to ensure the trending topic is evergreen. You don’t want to pick a topic just because it’s trending today – if it’s not going to be popular tomorrow, then there’s no use starting an entire blog on the topic.
That’s why you’ll want to use this method to gather potential ideas, but don’t rely on this method as a way to determine what’s going to interest your audience next month, next year, or two years from now.
7. Check Facebook
Facebook can be a helpful tool for generating blog ideas. You can use the search bar on the top of the page to find specific topics of interest or browse the news feed to see what people are talking about. You can also join groups related to your topic area and participate in discussions there.
If you’re looking for ideas for blog posts, participating in conversations on Facebook can be a great way to get inspired and come up with new ideas. Not only will you get insights from others, but you’ll also be able to share your own thoughts and expertise.
There are two ways to use Facebook to help you uncover popular topics:
- Check relevant Pages. Again, check your competitors’ Pages and note the topics they’re writing about. Pay particular attention to topics that tend to get a lot of likes, shares and comments.
- Check relevant Groups. If there is an active group devoted to a topic, that’s a great sign that the topic is popular. You can also look at more general groups in the niche to see what topics they cover.
In both cases, you can use the Facebook search box to discover relevant Pages and Groups.
8. View YouTube Videos
You might start by looking through channels related to your niche or interests, then explore what they’re talking about and how they present their information. From there, try finding similar videos that cover different topics so you have more options when it comes time to create content for your own blog post or video series.
Run a search for your niche’s general keywords (such as “dog training” or “organic gardening”), and then see what specific topics are popular. Look for videos with a lot of views and discussions—also, note which topics have a lot of competing videos, which shows demand for the topic.
9. See What’s Popular on SlideShare.net
SlideShare.net may be a valuable source for topic selection because it has so many different types of presentations, from business to education to entertainment. You can find really anything you’re looking for on SlideShare.net – from how-to videos and productivity tips to inspirational talks and TED-style speeches; the site offers something for everyone! And since all the content is presented in an easy-to-read slide format, it’s perfect if your goal is to capture attention with quick information that grabs people by their brain cells!
It is an excellent place to find out what topics interest your audience is SlideShare.net. You can search for your niche keywords, or start at this link:
What you’re looking for are popular slide-shares that get a lot of views and comments. And, as always, look for topics that have a lot of people sharing.
10. View Q&A Sites
There are many outstanding questions on the internet that can be used as a starting point for blog topics, and these websites offer an easy way to get started without having to go through all of the work of finding good information on your own.
The idea here is to visit the most popular question and answer sites, such as:
TIP: You might also check community sites such as Reddit, where people tend to ask a lot of questions.
If you see the same questions pop up repeatedly across time and these various question sites, that’s a sign that the topic is popular in your niche.
11. Utilize Keyword Tools
Keyword research tools can be an excellent resource for finding blog topics. By looking at the keywords that are being searched for most frequently, you can get an idea of what topics people are interested in and target your content around those keywords.
You can also use keyword research to find related keywords you may not have thought of before and add them to your content strategy. Overall, using keyword research tools can be a great way to come up with new blog topic ideas and help you target your content to the right audience.
There are several excellent keyword research tools available, but the three that I find to be the most useful are Google’s Keyword Planner, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, and Ahrefs’ Keyword Research Tool. Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s essential to use more than one tool when doing your research.
Keyword tools collect information from the search engines to tell you which keywords people input to find information on specific topics and how often this topic is searched each month. You can use this information to determine how popular a particular topic is.
Some popular keyword tools include:
Just enter your broad keywords (such as “home remodeling”), and you’ll get plenty of suggestions for related topics.
12. Visit the Newsstand
The major print magazines in your niche spend a lot of resources determining which topics to put on their cover, as the cover is what sells the magazine.
As such, browsing niche magazine covers will give you a good idea of what your audience wants. You can then browse the magazine’s table of contents to get even more ideas.
13. Ask: What Do You Know About?
If you’ve taken the steps outlined above, then you’re going to have several topics in mind around which you could start your blog. Now you need to stop and ask, what do YOU know about?
It’s easier to run a blog if you know quite a bit about the topic. Here’s why:
- You save time because you don’t need to research every single blog article you create.
- You provide better information, as you’re teaching from a position of authority and experience (rather than knowing as much or maybe even less about the topic than your readers).
- You can share fresh tips and information not found anywhere else, as you’re writing from experience rather than just rehashing what everyone else is writing about.
Here’s the next question…
14. Ask: What Interests You?
The next question to ask yourself about your topic list is: which topics interest you?
When you start a blog, it’s not something you do for a few weeks and then move onto something else. If you do an excellent job of picking a popular topic and monetizing your blog, then you’ll be writing about this topic for years to come. That’s why you need to be sure you’re picking a topic that interests you.
Ask yourself: do you talk about this topic with friends? Do you spend your free time reading about this topic? Do you ever write about this topic for free, such as when you join community discussions on niche blogs and social media?
If this is a topic that’s held your interest for some time – and you expect it to interest you for the foreseeable future – then it’s a good pick for your blog.
As you sort through topics to determine what’s popular in your niche, you’ll want to look for topics you can specialize in. Generally, this will be a subtopic that’s part of the wider topic on which you blog about, but your goal is to become the “go-to” source on that topic.
For example, let’s suppose you’re blogging about dog problem behaviors. You may pick a subtopic – such as dogs being reactive on leashes – and specialize. This means:
- Positioning yourself as the niche authority on that particular topic.
- Posting news about the topic first in the niche (along with an explanation of how the news affects your readers).
- Relaying scientific information as it becomes available and explaining it to your readers in laymen’s terms.
- Offering a fresh viewpoint on the topic.
- Providing information on the topic that your audience can’t find anywhere else.
- Sharing your unique experiences with regards to the topic.
16. Choose a Topic With These Characteristics
As you’re deciding around which topic to build your blog, ask yourself these two questions:
- Is the topic big enough?
As mentioned, this is a topic that you’re going to potentially be writing about for years. As such, you need to determine if your blog topic is big enough. Namely, are there enough subtopics within your overall topic to keep you busy writing for the foreseeable future?
- Is it an evergreen topic?
While you can certainly write about trends and fads on your blog, your overall topic should be one of enduring interest.
For example, “weight loss” is an evergreen topic, one around which you could start your blog. You might occasionally write about fads and trends within this topic, such as a new weight-loss supplement hitting the market. But you’d keep the blog as a whole on an evergreen topic so that you can keep it going for years to come.
And there you have it: 16 keys to picking a topic your audience is sure to love. If you go through all 16 of these keys, then you’ve just taken one giant step towards having a successful, profitable blog that readers in your niche flock to when they need information.