This is a guest post by Josh Elkin, founder of Best Coast Marketing, a marketing agency that helps increase clients’ traffic through organic link building. Josh enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, marketing, productivity, and self-improvement.
Writing guest posts is an adventure and an opportunity to build your presence online – to say nothing of building your resume. Whether you are new to the world of guest blogs or are established in your routine, there is often a problem that needs addressing: what do you do when the ideas run dry?
You’ve always been told that you can’t always wait for inspiration to strike; sometimes you have to make it happen instead. But how do you spark the ideas? Where do you begin with making it happen? Ideas don’t lie at the bottom of the well or under an “x” on a treasure map. Instead, they are twisted into your every day as a writer. Today, we are going to identify where to find them.
Step #1: Understand your audience
Research is a key activity to identifying who you are writing for and jump-starting ideas for guest posts. But where do you begin with your research? Take time to better understand your audience for the blogs you’re posting to by analyzing the common demographic of readers. Your writing topics will be very different for a blog dominated by 35-year-old businesswoman vs. 16-year-olds who love video games.
A great way to get to know your audience is to read the comments on the website. See what questions people have brought up, what posts the audience liked and disliked. Find ways to expand on things they’ve discussed. That way, you’ll set yourself up for creating posts that the audience wants to see and better help the engagement on the site.
Step #2: Use popular posts as inspiration
Want to know another handy trick for generating ideas for guest posts? Keep up to date with trends! Knowing what’s popular will help you continually have new blog ideas because trends are always changing. Staying on top of what is popular will keep your content new and flashy. You also should look at what’s popular specifically on the sites you write for. Check for the articles that have the most engagement. Brainstorm how to expand on these hot articles and give them your own spin. Try your best to always stay up-to-date on what is changing in your industry to keep your content fresh.
Alternatively, you can also write about the change itself! Discuss the new direction trends are going in and how people are being impacted by it.
Step #3: Enlist a Brainstorm Buddy
Two heads are better than one, right? Generate ideas by brainstorming with a friend or coworker. If you’re a team leader or founder, you can even position this as an employee engagement activity for others to participate in.
Spend an hour talking about the blogs you write for or have worked with in the past. Tell each other about your goals as guest bloggers and make lists of keywords you see over and over in your industry. Talk about how you can take these active topics and keywords and turn each into inspiration. Challenge each other! Make it a contest to see who can come up with the most ideas by the end of the week.
Most importantly, hold each other accountable. Check on your brainstorm buddy and make sure they are actively thinking and generating new ideas. If they’re stuck, be their ear to listen and their hand to nudge them forward. Of course, your buddy should be doing the same for you!
It’s normal to feel uninspired, but that doesn’t mean new ideas aren’t waiting for you. By reflecting on your audience, combing through trends, and having a friend to keep you accountable, the ideas will once again begin to flow.