Blogging works. We’ve seen it triple our website traffic and double our revenue this year – but you know what doesn’t work?
The big mistakes people make when trying to fill their content calendar:
- Blogging about whatever your (junior or C-level) people feel like blogging about that month.
- Spending less than 5% of your time on the research and targeting portion of your content strategy.
- Only doing competitive analysis to dig up your blog topics – because you can’t get ahead by only looking what your competitors did last year.
Why listen to these 14 strategies for filling your content calendar? We’ve come up with approximately 3,736 Blog topics this year (including for ourselves and clients), some of whom have quadrupled traffic. Here’s a screenshot from a roofing SEO client we’ve been blogging for – (from Google Data Studio):
We blogged about everything from color trends, to roofing technology and ‘things to do’ in the area the company served – and although 3,292 page-views a month isn’t astronomical, a 471.5% increase in page-views year over year isn’t half bad! This is all to say – we know what we’re doing when it comes to content strategy that actually drives traffic.
Taking on content strategy for many clients every month is no simple task – but the challenge has allowed our team to efficiently find ways to dig up content ideas.
Here are our top 14 ways to fill your content calendar.
Think About What Content YOU Would Want
The first place to start with your content calendar is to sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and get all of the stuff you’ve thought about previously, and anything you can come up with onto the paper. Even if you’re uncomfortable at first – if you use these simple methods, you should be scribbling ideas furiously in no time!
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1. Pretend you’re brilliant for a half hour and get every idea onto a sheet of paper
See if you can write down 100 blog titles, no matter how bad they stink, and then come back and sort through them afterwards.
2. Look for problems in the industry (that you offer an alternative too) and put a magnifying glass on them
I love hearing business owners and craftsman talk about what grinds their gears. Where there is a problem – there is opportunity, particularly when it comes to ideating content. Just today I had a construction company owner talk about how much it bothers him when homeowners don’t make sure they match new trim to the existing trim, and how easy it is to have custom trim made. I said ‘Eureka!’ that is the absolute perfect topic for a new piece of content. In this case, we were talking about the creation of a video, but if it inflames your higher sensibilities for how something should be done – it’s a lovely topic for an article.
3. Find the things that you (or someone on your team) just happens to passionate about – and let loose that energy on a piece of content
4. Something you’ve wanted deeper research done on? Have a team member with more time than you do an in-depth piece on that, to curate the information for you.
Have Your Ears Wide Open During the Sales Process for Ideas
The sales process is insanely ripe with ideas for your content and SEO strategy. If you don’t have ears on the sales process, and are instead the kind of marketer in the back office with your hands folded, it’s time to stand up – go talk to whoever handles sales, and get passionate about answering ideal prospects questions.
5. Listen for questions about specific granular topics you could go after
Recently an ideal prospect asked me “Do chatbots work in the roofing industry?” and I had to admit that frankly – I didn’t know. I hadn’t done the research yet, but if an ideal prospect is asking you stuff, it’s time to do research, because other ideal prospects probably have the same questions as well.
6. Ask “What made you go with someone else?” and consider writing about that as an opportunity to improve in that area
The point is – this one question hurts a little bit to ask, but will lead to a rich source of things to level up on (or consider,) and these topics can be great for more research and writing.
7. What topics have (or could) lead to ideal client up-sells?
Have a new sales initiative? Write the ‘Ultimate Guide to why that’s a good idea’.
Brainstorming With Your Team
We do a content strategy meeting every Friday at 10am, and we often make music playlists for the different clients we’re brainstorming for. One of my favorite playlists of recent memory was the one for a bail-bonds company. Nothing better than ideating for a year’s worth of blog post titles to the ‘Bad Boys’ theme song. Here are some of the games & exercises we use to get the most out of our content strategy brainstorms:
8. “Guest presenter” picks a topic
In this exercise each person takes a turn at the whiteboard – picking a ‘topic’ that all of the blog titles have to be about, and each person around the table comes up with at least one blog title.
9. Highest search volume contest
In this exercise you need to have a subscription to Ahrefs or SemRush, but you put 7 minutes on the stopwatch, and see who can find the keyword that relates that has the highest ‘search volume’ per month.
10. Ask ‘what other problems’ adjacent to the one we solve are ideal customers searching for around the time they make a decision with us?
Running a Competitive Analysis
Why’d I leave this powerful set of strategies for last? I do think it’s important to get really specific about what ideal customers want before going into pure analysis mode.
First – find out who these people are, what they want, and be human about it. Dive deep into context. What context are we dealing with, are they dealing with when they are making a decision to buy from us, or become our customer.
Then – you can get crazy into data. If I’m real about – 70-75% of our keyword / blogging strategy for ourselves and our clients comes from competitive analysis, so it’s definitely not a small portion of what I’m suggesting you go after, just not the first thing.
11. Take the 3 competitors you hear about the most and look at what keywords they are ranking for
12. Find some ‘non-competitors’ in your area that are doing really well – and look at what they are ranking for
13. If you’re a regional business, Look at people in different or larger markets (LA, Chicago, New York etc.) to see what their best keywords are
14. Find industry blogs that aren’t naturally competitors but that have deep editorial content to mine for ideas
I’d love to add more strategies to our arsenal – if you have any other exercises or methods to use – please leave them in the comments, and thank you for reading!