100 Practical Ideas for Small-Business Blog Posts

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Right now I’d like to nuke the two most-common excuses I hear business owners make for not putting a little of their expertise into blog posts:

Excuse 1: “I don’t have time,” and

Excuse 2: “I don’t know what to write about.”

There are a few good reasons not to want to blog, like having as many customers as you want and not feeling the need to have your website bring you more.  Heck, if you don’t need online visibility at all, more power to you.

Or if you just think blogging is dumb, I won’t try to change your mind.  (‘Course, I’d wonder why you’re reading this in the first place.)

But you probably know exactly why it’s smart to keep a good “small business” blog.  Customers like it, and so does Google.  I’ve mentioned examples.

The trouble is you’re concerned about time.  There’s not enough of it.

It’s true that you don’t have time to stare at the screen and peck away at something that bores and frustrates you.

But if there’s something you want to write, it won’t even be a matter of “finding” the time: You’ll just hammer it out.  Why?  Because it’ll come to you naturally.

It’s the same as when you’re talking: When you know what you’d like to say, you just say it.

So if you have any desire whatsoever to blog for your business, but just feel short on ideas, this one’s for you.

It’s the third part of my unofficial, unintentional trilogy of posts (from this month) about what needs to happen on your site for you to become the big kid on the block.

Not sure of good blog posts you can do?  Here are 100 ideas:

1. Answer a recent question – “mail bag”-style.

2. FAQs.

3. Confess a weakness.

4. Showcase a new “toy” for your business.

5. Profile an employee (new or old).

6. Profile your typical customer – or a handful of common types.

7. Discuss a relevant current event.

8. Rant.

9. Answer fan mail.  (Don’t just be self-congratulatory.)

10. Answer hate-mail.

11. Review a product.

12. Compare multiple products.

13. Explain a law or regulation.

14. Expose a scam.

15. Showcase a job.

16. Interview someone.  (A competitor, a customer, or someone else.)

17. Roundup of others’ posts or resources.

18. Cool photo(s) or video(s).

19. Pose questions to anyone who’s reading – ask for feedback, suggestions, questions.  Get a little conversation going.

20. News in your industry or city.

21. Riff off of a competitor’s post, article, or public statement.

22. Talk about your heroes.

23. Give a rallying cry for a charity.

24. Other than making money and providing good service, what’s your “mission”?

25. How will you know if you’ve succeeded or failed at your “mission”?

26. What’s a book that’s helped your business – and that might help your customer / reader?

27. Is there a disproportionately busy season in your business – and if so, why?

28. Is your work becoming a “lost art” – or are new practitioners (good or bad) popping up left and right?

29. How close are you to your 10,000 hours?

30. Tell a piece of family lore.

31. Describe your training in-detail – and preferably tell a story about it.

32. Commission an artist to draw a comic (that you think of).

33. Tell how your business got its name (assuming it’s an interesting story and not an SEO move).

34. Share a (former) secret.

35. Describe a local / community event you went to.

36. Describe an industry event you went to.

37. Tell the story of how you got into the business you’re in.

38. A wish-list of tools that haven’t been invented for your industry.

39. Describe your hiring process.

40. In what ways are you totally paranoid (in a good way) about safety?

41. Describe regulations you wish there were.

42. Typical conversation between you and ___.

43. How to pick out a ___.

44. Changes you’d love to see in your industry.

45. To what extent are there marketers who specialize in marketing businesses like yours?  What do you think of them?

46. What have you learned in the past year?

47. What’s hard or impossible to know about a job, project, or customer until you start?

48. How did you turn an unhappy customer into a happy one?

49. What are some services you’d like to offer?

50. Complain about a storm or other recent weather event.

51. What’s something about your work that drives you crazy every day?

52. In what ways are some businesses like yours really behind-the-times?

53. When do you refer a customer (or potential customer) to someone else?

54. If you were to retire today, what words of advice would you give your #2?

55. What’s the first thing most potential customers ask you?

56. Open letter.

57. Run a contest.

58. Lessons from __ years in the business.

59. Describe your typical day (or have an employee do it, if his/hers is more interesting).

60. Show internal documents – stuff you use in your organization.

61. Your industry predictions (or speculation).

62. Recap a year.

63. What’s a horror story or “close call”?

64. How you’ve addressed common complaints – your customers’ or just in your industry.

65. Regional differences between businesses in your industry.

66. Myths in your industry.

67. Common misconceptions customers have about your industry.

68. Checklist.

69. Your family-history in the industry.

70. Talk about your technology, equipment, tools, or techniques.

71. If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?

72. How your customer might justify the short-term costs of your services (to a spouse, employee, or partner).

73. Why, exactly, are your costs higher or lower than others’?

74. Good habits and bad habits of business owners in your industry.

75. Pros and cons of working with a specialist in your industry (whether or not you are one), versus with a “jack of all trades.”

76. Mistakes customers make in choosing a company like yours.

77. Common clean-up jobs: what are messes caused by other companies that you’ve had to remedy?

78. How long do employees stay in companies like yours?  What’s the churn rate?  Why?

79. How does your type of business differ in other countries?

80. Different schools of thought in your industry.  (What’s yours?)

81. Legislation that you support or oppose – and why.

82. Questions you ask your customers (or potential customers).

83. When you turn away a potential customer.

84. Insurance coverage of your services.

85. Financing options for your services.

86. What’s the toughest or easiest part of your work?

87. What do your customers have a hard time doing?

88. Describe your Customer from Hell.

89. Describe your ideal customer.

90. To what extent do customers expect to work with you?  (Or do they think, “Oh, I’ll never need that”?)

91. What’s different between people who’ve been in your industry forever and those just starting out?

92. What part(s) of your character did you have to overcome to become good at your work?

93. What’s a way your customers can barter with you?

94. What’s the best suggestion you’ve ever gotten from a customer?

95. How do you “take your work home” with you?  (Do you talk about it over dinner, do you stay up late reading about it, etc.?)

96. Describe a time you did some public speaking on your industry.

97. What questions do your kids ask you about your work?

98. How has the economy of the last few years affected your industry?

99. Who was the first person in history to do what you do (the “mother” or “father” of your field)?

100. What do you want to accomplish with your blog?

These are not 100 paint-by-numbers suggestions.  Crafting some of these posts will require perspective and know-how that only you can supply.

But if you’ve read through the 100 ideas and still don’t know what to write about…well, then you may have “issues.”

By the way, just as a little party favor, I’ve listed these in a spreadsheet, where you can sort all the ideas by which ones (1) are quick to write, (2) may give you more than one post, and (3) may be ideas you can have someone else in your company write.  This might help you cherry-pick.

I’d also suggest promoting your posts a little, like by applying the suggestions in this great post by Larry Kim.

Go ahead: hammer out a couple of blog posts today, and give your customers (and Google) more reasons to choose you.

(Update) Once you’ve burned through those, check out my 2nd list of 100 ideas.

What are some good post “angles” you’ve read or written (or thought of just now)?  Leave a comment!

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Comments

  1. How do you know just what it is I’m thinking about? I have a client who I want to propose her create a blog and the ideas are usually the main sticking point. Thank you for giving me something to work with to get started…

  2. Phil!

    Thank you for putting this together & the spreadsheet! If people just don’t have “time” to write here are 6 ways they can get others to write the content for them :)
    http://moz.com/ugc/6-ways-to-get-others-to-write-your-content

    Hope it helps.

    • Neat post, Benjamin. The only issue is although it’s not hard to get other people to write one-time “content” to go in one area of your site or another, it’s harder to have other people write consistently good blog posts. The boss’s expertise really should come out. I’m a big fan of this way of thinking:

      http://paulgraham.com/ds.html

  3. Phil,

    Awesome read bud! How on earth did you sit and come up with all of this? One thing is for sure — if I ever attempt to use one of these ideas, Ill “link to you” from the post and thank you.

    Others should do the same.

    If you use any of the above ideas, why not let others know where you attained the inspiration for the thought. *high five Phil *

    -Greg Smith

    • Thanks, Greg. Many of the ideas are either from posts, articles, or other pieces I’ve seen somewhere. The others are just questions that customers generally have.

  4. Hey Phil,

    How about adding something like this: “Doesn’t have to be a work of art: just type your post’s content and then hit the “Publish” button… :-)

    Ken

  5. I was just going to write a post on why blogging (or call it something else like “updates”) is great for small business, then I saw this. Very exhaustive-I will link out to this from my website.

  6. Hello Phil – As you may remember, you gave me permission to use the Local Search Map for one of my publications. Thank you again! It’s finally time for me to fess up – you are the only blogger who has their own folder on my hard drive.

    If you were a pitcher, I’d say you know how to bring the heat. You bring the good stuff to your readers! I’ve got to start giving you more credit lines and direct more people to your site. (And I will do that.) Keep rocking – Edgar

  7. Thanks Phil! What a great list. I think I had about 20 ideas on my spreadsheet, but 100 is awesome! Thanks for helping me expand.

  8. Interesting and fun to read and a great resource for bloggers like myself that sometimes struggle to develop blog ideas that have great content and bring the reader back for more. Thanks so much for sharing this tips. And you get extra kudos for the Bob Ross pic!

  9. Well if I was stuck for ideas I have plenty now. Thanks for this excellent post.

  10. Some brilliant ideas! This is an excellent list to come back to and I have ZERO excuses now when I run into “writers block”. I really like #3 — Confess a weakness. I recently write about my 5 disappointments from 2013 and it was very well received. Showing your human always works.

    Again, an excellent list and I plan to refer back to this often.

  11. Thank you for this post! I just happened to come across it a few minutes ago. I have had many failed attempts at blogging for my business in the last 4 years. I’ve had a hard time with what is personal and what is business and what is appropriate to post for my readers. I also felt like no one was even reading so it was discouraging and I stopped. I feel refreshed after reading this and motivated to give it another try.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Stacey.

      Nobody will read your blog for a while, but just stick with it. One beautiful thing about writing posts based on things like real questions customers ask you is that in some cases you can just point future question-askers to your post. Early on, your readership is going to be mostly people who know you on some level offline. In a way, that’s how it was here at first.

    • Stacey maybe you can add your blog url to your receipt or product tag, make sure it’s part of your marketing. Or put discounts up on blog, so people have an incentive to check it. Also you can do research on Google adwords to find out what topics folks in your industry are searching for.

    • Hi Stacey – I just wanted to chime in and say I understand exactly how you were feeling. I compare putting a website up as a “billboard in the desert” with no roads leading to it and little traffic…at first. When you add posts and promote each post you’re building new “roads” to you blog and site. Done right, those posts will live forever and give you a certain amount of traffic forever! You can check my site link for some writing and promotion ideas. If you have questions, reach out. Any friend of Phil’s is a friend of mine!

    • I appreciate the great “support” comments, guys – keep ‘em coming!

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