Looking at your blank screen, you’re getting that creeping feeling of dread again….
You’re expected to be a fountain of a scintillating blog topic with can’t-miss keywords, so people will find them organically on Google.
And not only that, they’re supposed to stick around and read your post (or at least scan it), so that you’ll get the comments, the shares, and even better…their all-important names and emails.
But you’re feeling tapped out on generating interesting subjects.
You’re convinced nobody will read what you’ve written, let alone share it or comment on it.
And how are you going to know what people really want to know, and not repeat what dozens of other content writers have recycled on their sites?
Well, relax. Here’s a step-by-step process to always have fresh travel marketing blog topics at your disposal.
1.) Go to Alltop for inspiration
Created by tech guru Guy Kawasaki, this comprehensive yet handy no-frills directory can help you get a solid idea of the topics working in blogging in nearly every category.
The home page shows the top blogs in terms of readership in a list format, with their name as a header and the most popular topic headlines under each. Other inks include Featured, Recently Viewed and MyAlltop.
You’ll want to go to this link to start your search. The trick here is to not get too specific. While there isn’t a specific link for “travel marketing,” look at other related categories, such as Travel, Marketing, and Tourism or specific destinations, such as New York or London. You can create an account so that the searches can be personalized.
2.) Listen to the masses
This one is simplicity defined, but it’s surprisingly often ignored. You need to look at your existing blog comments, read your emails, check out your social media – in other words, really look at what your audience wants to know.
I know, I know…you probably want to look at what are the hot stories, the trends, the highest ranking keywords on your SEO searches. But really, none of that means anything if you’re not listening to your biggest and most important people. Hear what they are asking and what they most want to know. Here’s how you do it:
- Check out the above resources, then start brainstorming the common topics you’re noticing.
- Build momentum by asking your audience questions, or maybe featuring a Customer of the Month post.
- If you think you have an audience with a talent for writing, invite guest blog post contests.
3.) Mind your words
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – you have to include the words that people are looking for. Keywords are oh-so important, and doing your due diligence in research will truly make the process go much easier.
But it’s also a great way to find out what blog topics are going to be worth your time and labor to get noticed.
When you’re generating your keywords and phrases lists, make sure that you have terms that have low competition but high search volume. Your audience will more likely find your content if there aren’t a whole bunch of other sites vying for their attention. Here’s an example of this:
4.) Outline to keep yourself on track
Too many of us remember this boring format from school:
I. Typical Tourist things to do
A. Go on mind-numbing tour
- Walk ’til you drop
a. Sore feet
b. Hot weather
2. Standing in a mile-long line
B. Eat at popular overrated restaurant
C. Paying too much for airfare
- Blah, blah, blah
Let me stop your right there! You don’t need to write out this antiquated dinosaur of an outline, but try to develop some kind of organized, cohesive plan. This will help you with clarifying thoughts, place important tidbits and keywords in their proper place, and provide a necessary roadmap. I personally use Workflowy, but you can also try Mindjet, Scrivener, or just map it out with good old fashioned pen and paper.
5.) Have a headline “party”
Writing these short but deceptively difficult word gems is probably one of the toughest things you can do on your own. So maybe try to ask for others to help you out, whether that’s fellow staff members or even family and friends. Just give them the basic of what makes a good headline – specificity, usefulness, uniqueness and urgency – and see what they come up with. Serving some food and drinks (and in the case of adults only, beer and wine) might get everyone’s creativity going. Also advise them to avoid the safe and boring.
A friend of mine did this last year with a sports merchandise company. One of his acquaintances and that man’s son helped my friend come up with some great slogans for a Major League Baseball team. So you just never know where inspiration will strike.
6.) Start writing…anything
OK, now the true fun starts. Maybe you may not think so, but once you’ve gotten your outline done and have some headlines generated, you can start writing your post.
The biggest thing to remember here is…screw perfection. I would use much stronger word here, but I prefer not to go down that road. But you get my point. You just need a place to get down your thoughts, no matter how weird, ridiculous, incoherent or nonsensical it may be. Who cares about spelling or grammar? Nobody at this point. It can sound worse than the stuff you wrote back in middle school English class, but the next step will take care of all that.
This is the most successful cure for writer’s block – just give yourself permission to be awful. It’s totally fine.
7.) Edit without mercy
Of course, after all the reckless abandon you’ve had with your blog draft, you now need to have a surgeon’s precision. Yep, you need to edit and revise, if necessary. Fun times.
The best way to approach this semi-painful but necessary task is to put some distance between yourself and your draft. Treat yourself for getting the work done – see a movie, buy some music, enjoy a double scoop. Whatever you feel is a reward, go for it. But give yourself at least a few hours, and preferably a day, before you do your editing.
One thing that you can try to do to check for flow, grammar and even mistakes is read your post out loud. If that feels silly, have someone else read it and make notes. It’s really surprising to see how much we miss when we’ve written our own stuff. But it’s got to be done.
Now you’re done!
You got through the impossible, and now you’ve proven to yourself that you can blog with the best of them. In my next post, I’ll talk about the necessary next step: how to promote your hard work through social media.
How do you feel about coming up with blog topics, even though it sometimes feels like pulling teeth? I’d love to hear from you.