As a former journalist, I tend to think in headlines. This isn’t as painful as it sounds. In fact, it’s kind of useful, because in the world of non-fiction, headlines make ideal writing prompts. Just take your headline prompts and pair them with the specific keywords you’re looking to hit for your blog and off you go.
By taking your keywords and mixing them with different headline formats, you can create hundreds of possible blog ideas.
A common gripe from would-be bloggers is the amount of research that goes into creating blogs. But writing fresh content shouldn’t always require tonnes of additional research.
You should often be able to take existing knowledge, content and ideas and repackage it for your blog under a new headline. One useful time-saving way to create more blogs is to look at existing articles on your site and think about how you can update them for your audience with a new headline. All you are doing is shifting the emphasis of the piece.
Find the missing angle
What is the rest of the world missing? Take a widely held assumption and question it. Start with a headline like: “Why most people are wrong about carrots [or whatever].”
Anyone who’s read Peter Thiel’s Zero to One will know he believes that we should focus on unearthing secrets. In a business context, these are the products or services that most people think can’t be done. Or won’t be used. In a blogging context, these ‘secrets’ are the previously unsaid or secret beliefs. By finding the untold secrets or viewpoints, you have the chance to truly stand out.
‘How to’ articles
‘How to’ blogs are always popular. These articles are practical responses that help your audience overcome whatever challenges they might have. Run a keyword search and look for common questions that come up. Then write a blog post that answers them directly. Alternatively, ask your followers or fans for some common concerns.
But you don’t want all your headlines to start with ‘how to’. So mix it up with other headlines that begin with what or why, for example.
Productivity articles relating to your niche
Who doesn’t wish they could be more productive? Every day there’s another blog claiming to have unearthed the secret to productivity. They probably haven’t, but that doesn’t stop them from being wildly successful. Just tailor them usefully to your niche. And off you go.
Unusual facts about [insert keyword]
Insert the word ‘unusual’ into a headline and you’re bound to cause a stir. The same goes for ‘surprising’. Again, this comes down to the whole thing about resisting the prevailing wisdom. Often you’ll win blog cred for questioning the status quo.
What we know about [Insert news event]
Again, a canny insertion of the word ‘myths’ into any headline makes it automatically far more interesting to the reader. Use this as a chance to get on your virtual soapbox and tell your audience why everyone else has been getting it wrong the whole time.
You can also make your blog stand out by questioning conventional thinking. Ask a question that challenges popular wisdom, or write a headline along the lines of ‘The truth about X’ or ‘5 Myths about Y’. Deviations from the norm are more likely to get people interested.
You could also try experimenting with questions in your blog headlines to rouse curiosity.
Great resources for [your audience]
Being good at blogging is about being helpful so it makes sense to share some of your favourite resources with your audience, whether it be podcasts, books, audiobooks or other websites/resources.
Product reviews [for relevant products or apps in your niche]
A good product review can get you tonnes of hits, especially where there aren’t many pre-existing reviews. Often apps/products have multiple uses. It could be that your niche hasn’t considered them yet, so prepare to think laterally.
Product or app reviews relevant to your niche are an easy way to go. To do them justice, ask yourself what the product does, what it’s meant to do and how it works. Examine the features and benefits and what works and what doesn’t. Is it easy to use? Are there any compatibility issues? How much does it cost? What else should you bear in mind?
Lessons learned from [relevant book to your niche audience]
Read any great books recently? If so, then summarize some of the key points into a blog and share it with the world. Read relevant books and produce ‘Top ten lessons from X author’-style articles
Ways to avoid [common pitfalls facing your audience]
You almost certainly already know what some of the common pitfalls facing your readers are, so write a blog with those in mind. They’ll thank you for it.
Another tactic is to look at successful headlines from other blogs and think about ways you can adapt them.
If you’re looking for even more inspiration, try Headlinr, an extension for your browser. The app will create hundreds of new marketing-friendly headline ideas at the click of the button.
And you can try the basic option for free or upgrade further down the line if you want more functionality.