A busy business calendar leaves little time for thoughtful contemplation, but your blog is beginning to collect cobwebs. Knowing you’ve got a meeting in forty minutes, you open up a blank document, and it strikes: writer’s block. What do you write about to interest your readers? What do your customers and clients need to know about finances? What even are words?
We’ve all been there. Idea generation is a snarling beast, and it only gets more intimidating the longer you put it off. That said, you’re in luck: here are six strategies guaranteed to help kick start the idea generation process for your finance blog.
1) Take Your Cue from Keywords
If you know how your readers found your blog, you’ll have a better idea of what they’re interested in reading. It’s unlikely that everyone reading your blog posts is already a customer—it’s much more likely that they entered a few keywords into a search engine and your finance blog was the result that worked best for them. That’s great news: those keywords are the foundation on which to build your content. Google Analytics (which is totally free, by the way) can help you track, among other things, the sources of your traffic, including the search terms that were entered into Google that led them to your doorstep. Use this powerful knowledge to write blog posts that speak directly to your audience by covering all the finance topics they’re already searching for.
2) Answer ALL the Questions!
Designing blog posts to fit search terms is great for a quick fix of evergreen content, but if you’re ready to get a little more granular, try answering some of your clients’ questions directly. Every business has it’s FAQs, and finance is no exception. Chances are you spend a lot of time fielding questions like “How can I improve my credit score?”, “Is it better to pay off my entire credit card balance or to make the minimum payment every month?” and “How long will this charge stay on my credit report?” Your blog is your opportunity to address those questions, putting your readers’ minds at ease and shining a light on your expertise.
3) Make a List, Check it Twice
This is a tried-and-true writers’ block solution, employed all over the Internet (and even on this very blog) when you need content quickly. Lists are especially helpful because they can cover almost any topic, from a quick list of answers to FAQs to the top 10 (or 5, or 50—the sky’s the limit) things your clients need to know or even a list of resources your readers might find helpful. The only drawback to the list blog post is that you don’t have the space to cover any of your bullet points in depth. If you’ve got a lot to say about one list item in particular you can always make a follow-up post about it that links back to the original list.
4) Take Note of Current Events and Let Your Readers Know What’s Next
If you want to position your company as a thought leader, you’ll need to stay on top of current events and provide insight into their effect. Set up email alerts for any news relating to your financial specialty, and make a habit of checking out the big names in finance news: CNN Money, Bloomberg, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC, to name just a few. Any time a relevant story hits, try to get a few words in about it on your blog. Your readers will appreciate the fresh content and the relevancy to what’s going on in their lives, building trust and lending you some major credibility.
5) Use an Idea Generator
Sometimes it’s really hard to branch out. It can start to feel like you’ve written everything there is to say about boosting your credit score or managing your investments. Even if you have a flash of inspiration about something tangentially related, it might be tough to work in your keywords. If you’re really stuck and you need something to give your creativity a boost, an idea generator can help.
These clever little programs generate headlines based on the search terms you enter to give you a jumping off point. If that sounds pretty sweet, that’s because it is. Need something more than a title? Content Runner’s Idea Generator will do you one better: not only will you see a list of relevant headlines, but you’ll see how many related searches there were and the estimated CPC of each. There’s even a list of recent tweets related to your keywords so you can see who’s talking about your topic and what they’re saying in real time.
6) Get Personal
Every writing expert ever will tell you the same thing: write what you know. If you’ve been writing finance articles non-stop for a while and you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut, try writing something fluffy on a topic that’s near and dear to you. I myself am a huge word nerd, and will take any opportunity to regale my colleagues and (extremely patient) friends on etymological trivia. In a pinch, I might whip up a blog post detailing some of the innumerable linguistic quirks I’ve come across recently (stay tuned!).
It’s best to stay as relevant as possible, obviously. If you don’t have a personal anecdote that lends itself to finances, there are still ways you can write a less rigid and more relatable blog post. Try departing from the usual and sitting down to an interview with the founders of your company, like I recently did with Chad Fisher. You can also profile a few outstanding coworkers and let the whole world know what a big help they are. Putting a friendly face on your finance business will help your readers feel personally connected and more inclined to trust your advice.