How to select a compelling blog topic

Whether you have a large and dedicated following for your blog, or it you’re trying to build one, selecting a blog topic is one of the most important decisions you can make.  You need to consider whether it is of general interest as well as your subject matter expertise and passion for the topic.  If you blog about a trend and can provide a new perspective, you will likely get more attention than blogging about the obscure.

It all goes back to your buyer personas.  What interests your target audience?  What will catch their attention?  Is it something they can relate to?  Will they only be interested for a moment or is this a topic that can withstand the test of time?  Not all blog topics must be timeless, but having a few in your content arsenal allows for great reuse opportunities and long term SEO.

If you have identified a topic of interest, say a common problem that your personas grapple with, then what is your unique point of view?  What are you saying that is different from the next guy and will stand out?

In general when choosing a blog topic it should pass the following criteria:

  • Interesting – entertaining and will reflect positively on people who share  (e.g. the 3 things you probably don’t know about how to live longer and be happier)
  • Useful – helpful info that will make the person sharing look good (e.g. 5 tips on how do do X better)
  • Emotional – while not always appropriate in business, if you can find a way to get people excited, or to tell a heart warming story of someone you have helped, this can be compelling.
  • Peaks the reader’s curiosity – your title should make them curious enough to read more.  Ask questions at the start of the blog that make them wonder.
  • Awe inspiring (the “wow how cool is that”, or “I never would have thought of that” factor) – topics about innovation & discovery that inspire wonder and amazement (e.g. scientific or technical discoveries, images that are visually stunning, people overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles).  Think of the video of a frumpy, nervous housewife when she went on Britain’s Got Talent.  The judges were literally making fun of her, until she opened her mouth.  The story of Susan Boyle is now legendary.  That powerful emotion we all felt created one of the most highly shared videos of all time.

The latter factor has actually been shown by research to be the most impactful in getting attention, 30% more in fact.  Tougher to create of course but if what you share takes a new angle to and old problem, you’ll be well on your way.

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