I write several blog posts every month -- most of which appear on my own site and here on Search Engine Watch. Most of the time I have no trouble coming up with a topic. After all, I read so much that something usually grabs my attention.
But some days I'm desperately looking for a topic to blog about. At these times, I might just walk away from the computer and do other things until an idea pops up.
But on other days the Internet is the solution. Here are some of the places you can go to get inspiration for your blog posts.
It's almost impossible these days to think about an online world without Twitter. Within a couple of years Twitter has become one of the leading online services -- at least when we're talking about the tech industry.
In some other industries this social tool is only just emerging. Still, it can be a useful tool for almost every industry.
You can use Twitter to find a topic for your blog post. By looking at your timeline or looking at the trending topics you will see what topics are "hot."
What are people sharing? What are they talking about? It will give you a general idea of possible topics.
You can use Twitter search to filter down the topics by adding a keyword which is connected to the topics you usually blog about.
Google Trends and insights
Another way of seeing what people are interested in is Google Trends. It will give you an idea of what people are searching for worldwide or in a specific region.
Just looking at the trends might just give you a few ideas, but you can make them more specific by combining the trends with keywords you're interested in and checking them in Google Insights. You will most definitely find a topic to write about that way!
You want to write blog posts that people will want to read. You like to have an audience after all, right? That is why the trending topics on Twitter and Google are interesting to look at.
Looking at Q&A sites is another way of finding out what people are interested in. That is where people are asking the questions you might be able to answer.
A good example of a site like that is Quora. Just open up the site and see what questions people have. If you know the answer you can either answer the question or make a blog post out of it (or both).
Sites like Quora, but also Yahoo Answers and Ask.com, are great places to see what people want to know and what they want to read. They are practically asking you to blog about a certain topic.
Comments on Specific Niche News Sites
Many sites write about what's happening in the tech industry. In addition to Search Engine Watch, there's Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Next Web.
A site like Techmeme brings them all together. You have sites like this in most industries -- some more than others -- but look carefully and you will find them. These sites offer great content, but they will also tell you what's hot and what interests readers.
You should follow these sites and read the content, but more importantly: follow the comments. The comments will tell you what the readers think and what they want to hear. It is a great source of inspiration to eventually take a different angle on a story, based on the comments.
One of my personal favorites is my RSS Reader. I've subscribed to many sites and I use different tools to read them, from the Google Reader account on my computer to Pulse and Zite on my iPad.
The sites I look at are the "bigger ones" I mentioned before, but even more important when it comes to inspiration are the smaller sites. Small local sites from different countries give you a nice insight in what is going on in their world. You will see that there are very many different topics you can choose from.
A very good way of finding out what you should be writing about is your Analytics Program. It will tell you what kind of posts people like to read, but a closer look will also show you what they want to read.
A look at your analytics will give you an idea of what people were looking for when they found your site in the first place. Does that match the articles you have on there? Or could you maybe write something that would really fit the search they were doing?
Also, make sure you look at your internal search engine. It will show you the topics they expect to find on your site. Chances are you might get some inspiration there.
Ask Your Followers and Readers
A nice way to get inspiration for a post, and at the same time write content that fits the needs of your readers, is to ask your readers or your followers. Ask them on social media like Twitter or Facebook or simply put up a post asking for suggestions. I've seen it happen many times and the bloggers always received great feedback and tons of ideas for blog posts.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you create some great blog posts.
Where else do you look for topics? Leave a comment or tweet some ideas. Maybe you'll even give me an idea for my next Search Engine Watch column!
Introducing SES Online
Want to view one of the sessions you missed or listen to an especially informative presenter a second time? SES New York sessions are available for purchase on ClickZ Academy's new e-Learning site. SES is now Online!