Choosing the right blog topics for your product can be difficult.
What do you write about? Sometimes there are too many options sometimes there aren’t any.
This post is going to walk you through step-by-step a process that I use to cultivate blog topics that will attract customers in your niche.
The best content for your blog may not always be directly related to your product. If you’re going to create content to attract buyers, it should be something that
- they’re interested in and
- something worth sharing.
But before you get there you have to uncover a topic related to your product that people are interested in. And more importantly, you have to tap into a market of people who would actually be interested in buying your product.
This related topic is called a lateral association. It’s a branch off of your main niche that is related on some level but maybe is a more interesting and abundant topic for content.
I recorded a quick video that walks you through this entire process. I recommend starting with that but if you’re somewhere where you can’t watch, the rest of this post lays out all the same info.
Step 1: Create A Mind Map
To start write down your product name. If you have many, choose the one you’re struggling with most or your best seller. For this post I’m going to choose to create a mind map for ‘dog leashes’. Our product is high quality and made with serious dog owners in mind who are looking for a leash that is comfortable, durable and effective.
For this exercise I suggest using something big to write on like a whiteboard. A blank piece of paper or a notebook works as well of course but I like the satisfaction that comes with a whiteboard. If you prefer a digital solution you can use the amazing free mind mapping tool Text 2 Mind Map.
I got this idea for the mind map from Mark Johnstone and his SlideShare How to Produce Better Content Ideas. Starting at slide 64, Mark uses Dove Soap as an example for how to find lateral associations for your product.
The point of this mind map is to open yourself up to new ideas and themes related to your product. It’s a free association. There are no wrong answers, but you may need to try it a couple time before you get the hang of it. Try to move fast. Don’t spend too long thinking about the next word, just write what comes to mind. And definitely don’t rethink or erase anything you write down. Just keep moving.
The first time I tried this I kept writing down words too closely related to my product and I knew it wasn’t going to get me anywhere in the end. The point of this is to uncover a niche or theme of content that can attract readers easily and that is related to your product’s niche.
If you’re having trouble and getting stuck, try asking yourself these questions about your product and write down single words that come to mind with each question:
- Who is the product for?
- What problems does it solve?
- What can you do with the product?
- What are the important features?
- Why would someone buy yours over the competition?
- What are your customers interested in?
Once you are comfortable with Step 1 you are ready to analyze.
Step 2: Discover Opportunities
Below is the mind map I came up with for our product Dog Leashes. Some stems and associations are going to be better than others. We kept an open mind during step 1 so that nothing was left out. Now, in Step 2, we take a more analytical approach and think about which associations we can build a blog around.
It’s important to take your time with each stem and word because your mind may have made a subconscious association that isn’t immediately obvious but with a little nurturing it could become a serious gold mine of content.
You can see with my mind map for Dog Leashes I went a couple different directions. Some are more obvious than others. One that I am intrigued by is the ‘Companion’ stem. Your dog is your companion and the leash bonds you two together. This could potentially be a very powerful message and theme for a piece of content but probably not an entire blog.
The ‘Comfort’ section is more about the specific product. It might be an important feature to my customers so that is something I should definitely explore but I’m not really going to be able to build much interesting content around it.
I like the ‘Exploring’ stem because when I walk my own dogs I personally get bored with the streets around me and end up travelling to other neighborhoods or even getting in the car to go further. Other people might feel this way to and I could create a resource that talks about local points-of-interest to see while walking. But my product isn’t a local-based product. I sell it nationwide. If I sold it in select Chicago stores for instance this might be an interesting approach.
‘Color’ led me to fashion which got me thinking about people that like to accessorize. Maybe leashes could be a high end product made with fashionable material. Maybe I could start a blog about dog fashion. There’s probably a good amount of content opportunities there but it’s not a direction I really want to head in.
The last one, and maybe the most obvious, is ‘Walking’. Now I probably could have arrived at the topic of ‘walking’ without a mind map. It seems pretty obvious. But what wasn’t obvious immediately were the words I got after walking: training and exercise.
Bingo! We’ve got something here.
There’s so much to say about dog exercise and dog training. Too much perhaps. I want to focus on people interested in buying leashes so maybe I could focus on leash training or walking tips or something like that. Regardless, I think I’ve found my blog theme and I’m ready for Step 3.
Step 3: Word Associations
Now that we have our theme: dog walking, we need to brainstorm more words surrounding that topic. This is a simple word association exercise. For this step you should start out listing out any words that come to mind but after you hit about 5-10, start using your analytical mind and think about what other people would associate with your theme.
Here are the words I came up with when thinking about dog walking:
- how to?
- day care
Just like in Step 1 with the mind map, I went a few different directions. This is great because we are only giving ourselves more options for our blog topics while at the same time honing in on a specific interest or niche.
If you have trouble with this section, think about the types of people that would be interested in this topic.
For me, I thought of someone my age (about 25-30) who works long hours but loves their dogs and wishes they had more time to walk them and exercise them.
This led me to words like ‘day care’, ‘working’, time. This blog could be directed at people who need strategies and tips on how to have more time for their dogs if they work all the time. Pretty specific but there is definitely an audience for that.
Remember the more niche you get, the easier it is to be an expert on the subject.
Let’s backtrack and imagine I’d gone with the ‘Color’ stem and decided to focus on ‘dog fashion’. To get word ideas for Step 3 I would start by creating a persona for the person interested in this topic. They are a fashion-forward woman who is more interested in appearance than performance. Not my style, but not a bad thing. Let’s go to the word associations:
Now that we have a group of words we’re working with, we need to come up with actual keywords people might search for.
Step 4: Turn Ideas Into Keywords
First without using any tools or research, turn your list of words into a list of keywords people might search Google for.
For my ‘walking’ list I came up with:
- dog walking
- dog training
- training + [any breed]
- dog pain
- dog trainer
- doggy day care
- group dog walking
- dog weight
- dog age
- walking puppies
At this point I can start to see my blog theme rising from the depths. Training and dog walking keep coming up and now I have some different ideas for dog walking that include ‘walking puppies’ and ‘group walking’. Maybe part of my target market will even be professional dog walkers. You know they need leashes!
The next part of Step 4 is to find keywords based on data research.
The first thing we’re going to do is head over to UberSuggest. This is a free keyword tool that is based off of Google’s auto-complete search. You know when you start typing something into Google and it finishes your thought with popular searches? Well, UberSuggest grabs all that data and can tell you all the phrases that are popular for the keywords you type in.
There’s no signup process but you will have to fill out the ReCaptcha.
I’m going to start with “dog walking”.
After you type in your phrase and click “Suggest”, you’ll get a list of search terms that start with your phrase. The first couple sections are the most popular followed by sections broken down alphabetically as in [your search phrase] + [word that starts with “a”] and so on.
To add a phrase you find to your list, click the green plus sign. If you click one of the phrases it will expand into more phrases related just to that one. This is a great way to get more specific ideas for blog posts.
After you have a good list collected, scroll up and on the right side of Ubersuggest you should see your list of key phrases. Click the “Get” button and you’ll be able to copy and paste the list from a popup.
Now you should have a great list of popular phrases that people are actually searching for. This is the beginning of getting some awesome ideas for blog posts. If you want to take it a step further, check out the next step.
Search Volume and Existing Content
If you’ve never used Google’s Keyword Planner, Backlinko has a great resource that will teach you step by step how to get the most out of it.
You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to get a rough estimate of the monthly search volume for each of your keywords. This will give you a better idea of the more searched for phrases but don’t take the data to heart because most likely Google doesn’t report all of the data. For example, “walking tips for puppies” has a monthly search volume of 0 but I have to imagine someone out there is actually searching for that.
Another great tool to use is BuzzSumo. This allows you to plug in a search phrase and see the most shared articles, posts, infographics and more around the web. You can sort by most shared total or a specific platform like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. BuzzSumo is a great way to get ideas on the type of content people in your niche are interested. I recommend finding a blog post that was shared a lot and then making it a lot better. There’s no shame is using the same idea. If it’s ugly, make it more visual; if it’s short, make it longer.
Keeping your content focused on a specific niche is ideal for attracting fans and customers of your product. With this strategy you’ll quickly have a list of ideas to start publishing. Keep your content consistent and keep it laser focused to draw in a qualified audience.