Pre-PS: Here’s a G-Docs worksheet you can make a copy of to figure out what you should blog about. It’s ungated. You’re welcome. =)
Everyone and their mothers are trying to make money blogging these days. In 2015, 28.3 million Internet users updated a blog at least once per month, and by 2020, the number of U.S. bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million. (source)
If that doesn’t make you want to give up on blogging, then keep reading. In this post, you’ll learn how to develop an interesting blog theme, and get inspired by a long list of blog examples — with some ideas I haven’t seen shared anywhere before. I truly believe if you can produce really phenomenal content, then any of these types of blogs I mention will drive the traffic you need to monetize it down the road. Onward.
What should you blog about? You can’t just decide one day that you want to blog. To do it right, you need to research, plan and strategize, which is actually a lot of fun! Sometimes even more fun than the actual writing.
The first (and best) way to jumpstart the brainstorming process is by asking yourself questions. The second is by researching.
Here’s a G-Docs worksheet you can make a copy of to figure out what you should blog about. It’s ungated. You’re welcome. =)
This is important because you want to target an audience of people, who will love you and your personality, stories and advice. Describe these types of people, and jot down what they say they love about you.
Think of anything and everything. For instance, my friends come to me for:
Don’t limit this question to your family and friends though. Consider what your co-workers ask you for help with or what they say you’re good at.
Think books, articles, courses… Could you teach anything you’ve learned from any of the above? What do you want to learn? Learn about it, and document your journey with actionable advice.
Most of my friends are getting married and having babies (kill me). Maybe you could blog about the journey to your wedding day. You could document your journey to help others:
(There could probably even be a funny blog from the male’s perspective going through the process.)
What meaningful thing(s) could you discuss for hours on end. For me, it’s:
Based on my above interests, I could create a blog called, “Is it me or the world that’s all wrong?” (I’ve been saving that title for a book I want to write!) My imaginary blog could feature:
What are you already doing that you could “document,” or write about that people would find interesting?
Why do you read the blogs you read? What do the authors do that draws you in and keeps you coming back? Take inspiration from them, and make note of what you like about each.
Do you see any big gaps in the market?
Or even if there is competition, could you do something different that makes your blog blow the current ones out of the water. It could be a better design, better writing, more experience, etc.
There are definitely gaps. I see a decent amount, which I’ll list out soon.
Just ask yourself: Has this idea been done before? Is the niche saturated?
If so, how could I do this differently and way better? People just want better, so give them better.
It doesn’t matter how much competition there is – if you can give them better, and promote it well, you’ll win.
Maybe you’re funny.
You could be the next Sarah Cooper.
Maybe you’re phenomenal (or terrible) at dating.
You could be the next Carrie Bradshaw.
Help people get better at whatever it is you’re good at. Ask your friends, family and teachers — whoever — to honestly tell you what you’re good at.
Both of the examples I linked to are based on real life experiences or rather “experiments” I tried that succeeded.
What experiment could you try?
This is the most important question. You must enjoy what you’re writing about in order for it to be good.
Which topics would you filter by? Look for actual questions that you’re excited to answer.
You could ask survey/poll participants the following questions:
After you have a long list of ideas, it’s time to see what’s already out there on the topic. You want to make sure there’s demand for it. Here’s how to do just that.
I’d start by googling.
For example, if I wanted to start a blog on dating or relationships, I’d google “best relationship blogs” or “best dating blogs.”
Then I’d check out all the links on the front page (maybe even the second and third) to see what comes up. Check out the number of search results at the top and the related queries at the bottom of the SERP. Is there any gap you could fill?
Pro-tip: Install “Keywords Everywhere” to see the SERP volume for those queries.
To add more blogs to your research list — making sure you’ve done as much due diligence as possible — visit AllTop, which is a massive blog directory.
Search or click on the category you’re looking for, and check out the blogs it lists. Bookmark, and make note of the ones you like and the ones that seem to be the most popular.
Take a handful of your favorite blogs — or the ones that seem to be the most popular — and input the URLs into SimilarWeb, which is a free website analyzer tool. SimilarWeb will tell you how popular the blog is (or isn’t).
Here’s an example of a report:
As you can see, this site is really popular, meaning A LOT of people are looking for helpful advice on the topic.
Checking Google Trends to see if search demand is increasing or decreasing is a good idea too. If it’s decreasing, you may want to stay away from it. Use good judgement.
Search Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Are people talking about the things you want to potentially write about? What are the saying? Is it positive? Negative? Neutral?
Search for your topic idea(s) on Amazon, and look for books on it.
For instance, I could type in “content marketing” or “content marketing books,” and read the reviews for a couple of them — the most popular ones — so there’s more reviews to read.
When reading, look out for what information readers say is missing from the book.
Read both positive and negative reviews, and if you can, preview the book’s table of contents for ideas on blog post topics and categories.
If you’re having trouble deciding on a topic still, this exercise will help. And even if you’re positive or dead-set on what your niche/topic will be, still complete this exercise.
All you have to do is open up a blank G-Doc or grab a pen and paper.
Then jot down a list of potential posts you could see yourself blogging about and doing well with your target audience.
The goal of this exercise is to simply see if you can generate enough ideas to keep your blog going for a while.
The good news is: If you’re still stuck, I have a list of blog theme ideas for you along with proven examples.
Are you going on some type of “journey” that a decent amount of other people are going through or are about to go through too? Document it.
Share the good, the bad, the ugly and the outcomes.
People will respect you and root for you if you’re honest and genuine. (Of course, there will always be trolls, but just tell them to say it to your face ;).
This blog post explains the Groove’s blog theme and how they came up with it.
While they’re taking a break from blogging right now, the business had grown to $10 million per year in revenue all because they documented their startup journey. This worked because startups are (or were) the coolest thing since Justin Bieber for nerds.
I mean even Ashton Kutcher is an investor. The majority of entrepreneurs can’t secure, or don’t want to secure, funding, hence the reason their blog theme: “Our Journey to $100,000 a Month” worked so well.
It worked because:
This is one of my favorite opportunities, but it’s quickly become saturated, so your interviews would have to be really badass to catch on.
These 4,000-5,000-word stories are actually interviews of “nerd” celebs its target audience idolizes and respects. They’re so good because the stories weave in actionable advice that teach its audience how to do something to better themselves or their companies.
“Mixergy is where the ambitious learn from a mix of experienced mentors through interviews and courses.”
Andrew Warner charges to read and listen to his interviews.
I think this site is fluffy AF, so don’t copy it. Just get inspired by its category “Career Profiles.”
It is SO hard to find a genuine review site that you can actually trust.
Websites, like Capterra, write these tech “reviews,” comparing different types of technologies, software and tools, just to make money off clicks, leads and premium ad placements, regardless of whether the product is actually good or not.
There is a major need in the market for a genuine person to conduct real reviews that they aren’t paid to write.
This site is really popular and kind-of untrustworthy, in my opinion. But look through its categories for inspiration anyway.
What software/technologies could you test and center your blog solely around?
A bit more complex than I’m thinking but similar nonetheless.
According to HubSpot, 26 percent of marketers biggest challenge is choosing the right technologies for their needs.
Take a look at this graphic for category ideas, then once you have enough reviews, you can bundle them into comparisons.
Everyone only ever reviews courses from conglomerates, like Udemy, Udacity, Lynda, etc, and that aggravates me because those courses usually aren’t good.
Hot Tip: Visit UberSuggest.org, and type in “reviews.” Filter by “Shopping” and sort by search volume or competition. This will give you a ton of ideas.
A super easy way to get a blog up and running is by looking for good content and “syndicating” it on your site. This could be like a Flipboard magazine.
I see a massive opportunity for WAY BETTER local news sites and blogs. Seriously, how old-school are the majority of them?
I bet Airbnb would acquire *good* blogs like these. #justsayin You could include all kinds of content, like:
Who doesn’t love laughing? I’m noticing more and more satires and funny comics/illustrations.
I’ve yet to find a really great email marketing blog.
I find articles here and there, but I can’t find a definitive source on email marketing that I enjoy and learn from a lot.
The closest thing is Ramit Sethi’s Growth Lab and I Will Teach You to Be Rich, which blogs about a lot of other topics too.
Regardless of the topic you focus on, you should always be teaching people stuff.
But what I’m talking about here is focusing on teaching readers a specific skill, a group of related skills and/or how to use a specific technology.
Double Your Freelancing Brennan Dunn teaches marketing automation, how to double your freelancing rates and how to use complicated software, like Drip.
Dev/technical software for non-coders
Are you super structured? Can you teach people how to get more done or how you do stuff so fast by teaching them all of your processes?
You could also teach readers by observing and breaking down other people’s processes.
I think there should be a blog like Sex and the City or a modern day version of The Carrie Diaries.
Ok, so I won’t lie, this is kind-of like my dream blog to write, but I have absolutely zero dating life currently, so it’d be really boring if I penned it.
Fun fact though: In college, I did have an active dating life, and I had my own relationship column called “Knights with Benefits.” It was SO MUCH FUN!!!
If you don’t read this column every Sunday, wo/man, you are SO missing out.
This book slays me. It’s by the millennial writer Jen Glantz.
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hated high school, and I was in the “popular” group, which is NOT the cool group once you get older, kids.
You CAN sit with us
I don’t know about you, but I am SO SICK of mean people — online especially.
My girlfriend and I wanted to create a blog called “You CAN sit with us.”
Its purpose was to (hopefully) make bullying look lame by sharing our life stories from high school and show how life actually plays out after it. I bet someone like The Girl Scouts would buy a blog like this, if it proved popular. Maybe even Beyonce.
Oh, and the video that inspired this idea is an absolutely phenomenally moving TED Talk by Monica Lewinsky.
It’s a MUST-WATCH!
And that’s how you start a blog, folks.
Slack is no longer the shiny new toy that everyone loves. In fact, if you’re a remote worker, it may even be…
"If you only read the stuff that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking."…
My fellow content marketers will likely disagree with what I’m about to type, and it may very well be contrary to…
I don't send regular emails... I send cool emails. Get my newsletter with the best things I've read all week.