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Your Blog Should Not Require A Topic Generator

Point of view

I started blogging more than ten years ago. During this time, the reason I blogged – and the focus of those blogs – have varied based on my personal experiences and situations. It began with a small blog that shared my personal views on business and morphed into a corporate blog dedicated to starting debates on specific marketing topics such as customer acquisition, customer development, customer experience, and influence marketing.

Along the way, I’ve contributed to a variety of other online publications such as 12Most.com, business2community.com, the Huffington Post, and most recently, Constellation Research.

I share this information as a precursor to the point of view I’m sharing this week: Your blog should not require a topic generator.

Blog Topic Generators

Every week I see a new series of blog posts that profess to inspire blog ideas for wannabe bloggers, such as 101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas, 101 Blog Post Ideas That Will Make Your Blog “HOT” or 21 Warning Signs You Chose the Wrong Topic for Your Blog.

Back in 2007, Chris Brogan offered 100 Blog Topics I Hope YOU Write in an effort to inspire people to start blogging. He subsequently began a subscription service that would email suggested blog topics weekly. Today, others like HubSpot have picked up the mantle by offering to “do the thinking for you” through its blog topic generator.

I’m going to suggest something that you might find controversial: I get that sometimes we all need a little help but if you’re looking to other blog posts or online programs to inspire your blog ideas maybe you should stop blogging.

You Should Not Be Blogging

I encourage everyone with a point of view to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as it were) and to share those views with the world. The exchange and debate of ideas is what makes the Internet such a powerful asset.To be truly valuable, however, those ideas must be generated from your experiences; only then can they reflect an authentic point of view.

If your daily experiences, be they personal or professional, don’t inspire enough fodder for blog content, you should not be blogging. If that’s the case, I would suggest that you get off the Internet altogether and spend more time engaging with friends and colleagues in person.

Even the most boisterous and proficient bloggers get writer’s block from time to time, but the solution isn’t found in blog topic generators. The solution is found in living and experiencing life, in debating with colleagues, and in engaging with staff and customers.

The Scourge of Content Marketing

I believe in content marketing as a sub-set of the practice of marketing; however, content for the sake of content is ridiculous and the cause of so much online noise or “Internet litter.”  Content has always been at the heart of good marketing, from ad copy to branding, and from word-of-mouth to story-telling campaigns. However, social media marketing has created an entire industry out of content, which has lead too many marketers down the wrong path.

The number of available platforms we have access to – and the promise of riches they tease marketers with – has distorted the value of blogging. Content is being created for the wrong purposes and the valueless content being generated is clogging up the Internet’s drain.

There’s nothing wrong with people sharing the same point of view, provided that each post is a true representation of their experiences. Duplicate content created for the sake of creating content is the real problem with modern “content marketing” practices. If you’re turning to third parties to tell you what that point of view is, you don’t have one. If you have one, blog topics should come easily.

Blogs Are Your Point of View

In all the years I’ve been writing, blog subjects have never been an issue because each is formed organically. In fact, when I don’t write for a few days it’s often because I can’t decide which experience to write about.

Each post here on Sensei, for example, is inspired by a conversation I’ve had with a client or a challenge presented to me by staff.  In some cases, they are inspired by marketing-related news and case studies that I’ve read in newspapers or trade journals. The point is my blogging is an extension of the conversations and debates I have with clients, agencies, and colleagues every day in my role as CMO at Sensei Marketing.

My point of view is formed by my experiences and inspired by those with whom I do business. That’s what I share here for subscribers interested in learning from those experiences or those who enjoy debating the pros and cons of the various subjects we discuss. It’s true; producing such a blog may not make me an “influencer,” get me on one of the myriad of  pay-for-play “top 100” lists or even increase traffic to generate ad revenue, but it’s honest, true, and – based on feedback received from clients and prospects – valuable.

The key to choosing blog topics is not so much the selection of the topics but aligning the purpose of the blog with your personal or professional experiences.  If you focus on developing a point of view and have the courage to share it, blog topics won’t ever require a third party blog topic generator.

Sensei Debates

Are blog topic generators or articles offering blog topics useful?  Do they offer any value to the blogger and his/her audience?

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego

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Join the Conversation

10 comments
profkrg
profkrg 5pts

I've never understood why people don't have things to write about. I absolutely always have more ideas than I have time. If they can't think of anything to write about, it suggests to me that there are flaws in their understanding of their audience, audience needs and overall blogging strategy. I agree with you, Sam. Let's stop the litter!

Latest blog post: This Week’s Media Jobs

samfiorella
samfiorella moderator 5pts

@profkrg I believe the problem lies with people who want to blog to become famous, "influential," or to drive traffic to their sites for revenues, etc. They are not blogging to share their wisdom, experience or POV; they are blogging for the sake of doing it. 


They start by reading "how to guides" that promise riches if they can build up enough followers and likes, instead of, as you suggest, first building and audience by listening and responding to their needs. 

Danny Brown
Danny Brown 5pts

Amen, Sam, amen.

It's not that difficult either. Holy crap, if you can't find stuff to blog about, it makes me wonder how you find customers to market to. After all, that's all blogging is primarily doing - marketing your services (knowledge) to customers (readers, subscribers, etc).

To @Milaspage point, expand the pool, if you need to. Invite employees, team members, etc., to blog. Encourage them to open up, and you'll make it read nice, etc - just say what you feel as part of that business.

And if you're a personal blogger that needs something to write about? Wait until you have something to say.

samfiorella
samfiorella moderator 5pts

@Danny Brown Heh, "waiting until you have something to say" breaks EVERY rule content marketers (and their inforgraphics) tell people to do: Volume, volume, volume.  Are you suggesting that blogging become less, well, formulaic? Chaos! Anarchy! 

Milaspage
Milaspage 5pts

Spend some time listening to your customers, asking questions to the people who are on the front lines of your business every day. Guarantees you will find by listening you will see what the needs are. Your blog is an extension of the useful Information you provide every day. If you don't know what matters to your potential clients then you have bigger problems than knowing what to blog about.

Put some heads together in your organization and you may be surprised at what you come up with just by knowing your business.

Sometimes it is difficult to understand how to go about this. Hire someone who can come in and list and coach your team in understanding how to listen and start converting the valuable information your organization already has into "blogging". You'll at least develop the right mindset and save yourself a great deal in the long run. Your brand has something to say - only you and your people can really know what that is.

I appreciate this article and the angles you are covering...Very well said Sam!

samfiorella
samfiorella moderator 5pts

@Milaspage Thanks Mila. "...listening to customers, asking questions..." excellent tips. All the content inspiration a business blogger needs is right there.  Also, "put some heads together in your organization..." is a good tip. No reason why it can't be a group effort. 

The one tip I'd add (and what's made this blog better) is hiring an editor if your 

editing skills are not great.

Milaspage
Milaspage 5pts

Editors are the most wonderful thing in the world!! I agree Sam :) 100% ...and if you can't hire an editor, try and find some friends or connections with the right skill set to help you on editing. Maybe even make a workgroup out of it. :) now that's some interesting collaborative value that may even lead to other things!

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