In a professional discussion board I am a part of, there has been talk lately about coming up with topics for blogs. Some people are not posting to their business blogs as often as they want to, because they can't think of things to blog about. Here are some ideas that work for me, along with examples. Please share your ideas, with a link to your blog.
- Anytime something catches your interest, no matter how far afield, tie it to the topic you write about on your blog. For example, I heard a story about equestrian police on my local NPR station, KUOW, and I likened the horse-training process to business writing. Read my post, Writing Is Like Policing on Horseback. Another example: I talked briefly with a woman whose dachshund was lying on the sidewalk on a sunny day. Her dog-walking approach inspired me to write Make Time to Walk the Dog, about allowing enough time to write. Here are other blog posts that tie odd topics to business writing:
Two Sides of the Fence
Surprising Your Customers
When Fast Is Thoughtless
What Dentists Can Learn From Doctors
Beyond "Out of Order"
- Notice what people ask you about in your business, and blog about the answers to their questions. For example, I regularly get questions about how to address someone in a business letter, so I have written 10 posts on that subject. (One question led to another, but I think I have said all I can on the subject now!) See my most recent post on the topic, Dear Reader: More About Salutations, which links to the earlier entries.
- Use examples to show your readers how to do things better. The examples need not be exact models of your topic. My What the Customer Wants talks about meeting readers' needs. It evolved from my frustration in not being able to find "air conditioning" in my car's user manual. The Secret of Successful Instructions was inspired by a cookbook I was proofreading. Car manuals and cookbooks are not what we think of as "business writing," but they can provide insights.
- Notice mistakes made in your line of work, and tell your readers how to avoid those mistakes. For example, I blogged last week about the commonest proofreading error and punctuation error I had seen in 2008. Write about your own mistakes too, so people can learn from them. Read my post Disburse Vs. Disperse–Wrong! in which I confess a moment of ignorance.
- Share great examples in your area or industry. See A Good Set of Conference Room Rules and Word Power: Being Partners. Using those two examples, which come from client companies, allowed me to both praise clients and share good information.
- Blog about resources that will interest your readers. Last month I wrote about Marcia Yudkin's "Shorter, Say It in Fewer Words" report in Want to Be Concise? and about a Free Spanish-English Online Dictionary.
- Blog about other blogs to introduce your readers to other useful information. You can do this with just a few sentences, as I did in Typefaces and Other Topics, or in more detail: Writing Case Studies.
- Pass on other people's good ideas. See my Hot Idea for Staying Out of Trouble and Your Untethered Reader.
- Express an opinion on something in the news. In Fired by Email I commented on a controversial layoff at RadioShack. In Me, Myself, and the Presidential Candidates I commented on a grammar error in the U.S. presidential debates.
- Share news you read. In Words to Ban in the New Year I shared Lake Superior State University's "banished word list." In A Costly Error I wrote about a lawsuit brought against a career management company. Don't worry that your readers may have seen the news story you are drawing from. You will present it from your own perspective.
- Find a way to tie any big news to your business. The post that began to draw large numbers of readers to this blog involved Hurricane Katrina, one of the biggest and most tragic news stories of 2005. Read my Sending Condolences: Hurricane Katrina.
- Build on the seasons and holidays. With the new year, most bloggers have published their recaps of 2008 and their resolutions and predictions for 2009. But look for the potential in other dates. I tied Martin Luther King Jr. Day to writing in Pursue Peace. I used Presidents' Day to talk about apostrophes.
I hope these tips on topics for writing blog posts are helpful to you. If you are still stuck, your niche may be too small to generate enough content for your blog. Read Naming Your Blog and Newsletter–Think Big for ideas on expanding your blog's vision.
Please share your ideas.