What should I blog about? Topic A or B? That is the question.
You have your mug of coffee off to the side and a piece of scratch paper to the right of your keyboard with your beloved chewed-up pen laid on top. You have your favorite Pandora station playing at a volume that’s audible but not distracting. Most importantly, you have several ideas you want to write about. You’re ready to go.
A few Bon Jovi songs later and your mouse cursor is blinking in quarter time on a vast field of white. You’ve drunk all of your coffee and you need to use the restroom.
Why are you stuck when you have so many mind blowing titles? The problem is, you have too many. If you need to only write one blog post, one article, or one landing page, you only need one writing topic. Throwing them all into one- no matter how amazing each individual writing topic is--would make a very confusing piece.
Let’s say you’re writing for a food magazine and your assignment is to write a blog post about your favorite breakfast pastry. Well, you really love blueberry muffins and chocolate croissants.
So how do you answer the age old question of "what should I blog about"?
Much like true love, choosing a writing topic has a lot to do with timing. If The New York Times just published a story on how eating a chocolate croissant everyday is scientifically proven to decrease bad cholesterol. As doubtful as that sounds, a good strategy would be to piggyback off the article.
However, if you wait too long, your chocolate croissant piece can go stale. If you’re going to build upon a news article, it’s best to do so as soon as possible, while the first article is still generating hits.
Also, if it’s chocolate croissant month and Starbucks is giving away a chocolate croissant with every frap, then your choice is obvious. Do you know how many coffee articles, odes, podcasts and broadcasted news stories were syndicated around September 29th- National Coffee Day? A whole latt-e.
Unique Value Proposition
When freelancers pitch to editors, they have 30 seconds or less to establish their UVP- Unique Value Proposition. Why should they, above all the other writers who clog inboxes, be chosen to write about a particular writing topic. If you want to write about chocolate croissants and you have a degree in the culinary arts with a special focus in french pastries, it would help to state that as it lends credibility to your piece and your byline.
When I was at NYU, my professor asked us to write a review about our favorite artist. Two immediately came to mind: Arcade Fire and Britney Spears- complete polar opposites. While I was a huge fan of both, I wasn’t being honest with myself when I chose the indie band. Afraid of being shunned by my classmates whose tastes I believed were far superior to mine (I was in the same lot as Pitchfork interns), I was afraid to declare my love for the pop star.
Apparently, everyone’s fan mail fell flat. We were all asked to re-do the assignment with the task of injecting love into it. I titled my next piece “Why I heart Britney Spears.”
While you might have a healthy appetite for both pastries/writing topics, deep down you know you harbor an insatiable craving for only one. Be honest with yourself. With each word, sentence and metaphor, your love and expertise will shine throughout the piece and your audience will respond.
Which writing topic is going to draw the bigger crowd?
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some way to figure out which writing topic is going to get the most hits. Actually there is--the Google Adwords keyword tool.
Check out the search results for chocolate croissant:
Global Monthly Searches: 1,900
Local Monthly Searches: 1,000
Here are the results for blueberry muffin:
Global Monthly Searches: 5,400
Local Monthly Searches: 2,400
According to the keyword tool, the search term blueberry muffin garners a global monthly search of 5,400 and a local monthly search of 2,400. The search term chocolate croissant receives a global monthly search of 1,900 and a local monthly search for 1,000. A straight, mathematical comparison leaves you with two approaches:
1. Tackle the keyword with the most searches (blueberry muffin). This approach can be beneficial, but it's much more competitive. Use discretion.
2. Tackle the keyword with less competition with the possibility of ranking better for it. It all depends on how much clout your blog already has and what your competition is doing.
Also, don’t forget to utilize social media to gauge audience interest. If blueberry muffin is trending or somebody asks you to write about the delectable treat, go ahead. One of the great things about social media is that you can speak directly to your audience and ask them what they want to read about.