How to Come Up with 100 Blog Articles for Your Business in 10 Minutes or Less

by Marcus Sheridan

ideas-for-content-creationContent Creation—Studies have shown it’s the most difficult part of starting, and maintaining, a successful blog for any business. Having written about 250 blog posts and articles over the past year, I’m stoked to share a system with you that has made the process of article creation simple, fun, and extremely effective.

Although I could go into great detail as to the essential keys to unlimited blog ideas and articles for your business, I’m just going to give here 2 easy-to-follow and succinct strategies.

1. Write down on a sheet of paper EVERY question a prospect/customer has ever asked you.

I know, you may think this sounds odd, but it’s an incredible strategy for helping marketers to start to think like consumers and develop a long-tail keyword strategy at the same time. When you do this exercise, don’t take the time to edit—just write, and write as fast as you can. If you can have someone or a group of people brainstorm consumer questions with you, then even better.

Once you’ve written down as many questions as possible (25 minimum or you’re just either being lazy or your brain is not working), you now have the actual blog titles for all of your articles. For example, if you come up with 30 consumer questions, and you post 2 blogs every week, that means you have roughly 3 months worth of excellent blog articles.

Sound pretty simple? Well it is, it’s just that many people make out the process of content creation much more difficult than it needs to be.

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2. Focus on Negative Phrases consumers will ask when considering the product

Not sure what negative phrases are? If not, it’s time to learn, because they are an essential key to long-tail domination and will work wonders for your blog’s organic search results.

Let’s assume you sell concrete swimming pools. A few example of ‘negative’ articles would be:

  • Top 5 Consumer Complaints Regarding Concrete Swimming Pools
  • Top 5 Problems and Solutions of Concrete Swimming Pools
  • What are the Pros and Cons of Concrete Swimming Pools?
  • Are Concrete Swimming Pools Bad?
  • Read 5 Very Interesting Customer Reviews Regarding Concrete Swimming Pools

Hopefully you’re seeing my point here and how the pattern works. When I explain this pattern to business owners, rarely do they understand it at first. In their minds, why would it do any good to even mention the negatives of a product? Although I do see why this would initially be a concern, you must remember these two keys:

  1. Consumers are going to search for these phrases whether you like it or not. That’s what they do.
  2. By addressing a product’s supposed drawbacks, problems, etc; you can actually beat your competitors to the punch and explain fully the good, bad, and ugly of a product—thus lending you massive credibility and thwarting the efforts of those that might talk down your product.

Hopefully you understand these two simple steps and will now apply them to your company’s content marketing campaign. In addition to this post and to add even further clarity to what I’m attempting to explain, I’ve included above a segment where I spoke on this very subject for a panel at the Hubspot User Conference this past week in Boston. I can assure you as you follow these steps, you will be amazed at just how many new ideas and articles come rushing to your mind. Not only will this prevent writer’s block and frustration, but it will also lay the pattern to huge traffic results and respect from consumers and search engines alike.

Questions? Comments?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel M. Wood October 11, 2010 at

Great advice Marcus,

We are writing for our customers, we might as well listen to what they say and answer their questions.

//Daniel
.-= Daniel M. Wood´s last blog ..How to Organize Your Day to be More Efficient =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 11, 2010 at

Right you are Daniel my friend…after all, it’s all about them anyway, isn’t it?

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Roger October 11, 2010 at

Any suggestions for those who don’t have any customer questions yet to work off of? :)
.-= Roger´s last blog ..The Key to Successful Internet Marketing – The Right Tools In Your Tool Box =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 11, 2010 at

Sure thing Roger— it’s tougher but you’ve got to literally pretend you are your target consumer..

What questions would that person have?
Fears?
Concerns?
Needs?
Etc.

And remember the ‘negatives’… Good luck!!

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Roger October 11, 2010 at

Well 2 years ago I was the person I want to market to. Maybe a bit of thought can dredge up some old issues / phobies etc.

Thanks bro
.-= Roger´s last blog ..The Key to Successful Internet Marketing – The Right Tools In Your Tool Box =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 12, 2010 at

Make sure to Roger that you really know who your audience is. What is the ultimate purpose of your blog? Is it currently meeting that goal? Have you ever asked someone, who is not in the blogosphere, if you site and articles are achieving that goal?

Clarity of Purpose goes a long, long way.

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Sharon October 12, 2010 at

Love this article. Thank you for some great ideas! I have been struggling with this myself, mostly because it seems like such a daunting task & time is so short. You make it sound much easier and less time consuming than it did in my own head!

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Marcus Sheridan October 12, 2010 at

You can do it Sharon….I promise. It’s especially easier when you already have a list of questions/titles, and days you’d like to post. With a little practice, you’ll find that most articles, assuming they are 300-500 words, will take less than 30 minutes to write.

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leon Noone October 14, 2010 at

G’Day Marcus,

What great ideas. Loved the bit about concentrating on the “negatives.” You may recognize the fruits of your advice in some of my future posts.

Regards
Leon

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Marcus Sheridan October 14, 2010 at

I hope the fruits help my friend ;-)

Trust me, you’ll see the results. Almost no one focuses on the negatives.

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Christina Crowe October 21, 2010 at

I like your idea when you suggest to write down all of the questions customers ask and then turn these questions into blog posts. I’m going to try to do the same thing each week, but only with reader questions.

As for posting about the negative aspects of the products you sell, that’s an ingenious idea! I can think of a few posts right now that would work well on my blog.

Christina
.-= Christina Crowe´s last blog ..A Confession and Report- How I Developed My Writing Routine =-.

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Marcus Sheridan October 21, 2010 at

So glad it helped you a little Christina. Yeah, the negatives are usually up for the taking in most industries, as no one focuses on such phrases. But if one thinks like a curious consumer trying to dig up the good and bad on a product, the number of ideas that will flow from such thought can be phenomenal.

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Brad Harmon @ Big Feet Marketing June 10, 2011 at

I’m amazed at how little feedback this post generated, Marcus. It’s easily some of the best advice for small business owners trying to maximize their blogging efforts. I just wrote a post that included some of this advice, but I love your twist here about focusing on the negative. It’s given me yet another post idea inspired by reading The Sales Lion. I’ll be sure to give you some link love. ;)

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Marcus Sheridan June 12, 2011 at

Hey Brad, I’m so glad you liked this article. You asked why it didn’t get many comments. Well, it just goes to show that good articles/content don’t necessarily mean lots of comments–especially when there is little community. The community here on TSL didn’t really blow up till around January of this year, so that’s the reason for that, but I really do appreciate your kind words Brad.

Cheers mate,

Marcus

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Rajka Milanovic Galbraith June 11, 2011 at

Dear Marcus

As usual another good one. I just finished this exercise. I came up with 45 questions! Then I spent another 10 minutes writing a list of topics I am passionate about or which I think would add value for my readers and came up with 31 more. A total of 71 in 20 minutes! I have to admit coming up with topics have never been an issue for me…

Another pearl I have learned and hope to soon implement is to pick a topic you are passionate about, then write an outline for a book and then make each blog post a part or chapter in that book and wallah after writing all the blog posts, you have your book! Which you can offer for free or for a small fee.

Thanks,Rajka

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Marcus Sheridan June 12, 2011 at

71 blog titles Rajka?? Sweeeeeeet!! That’s it, that’s exactly how it should work, so good for you girl!!

As far as your second point is concerned, I speak from experience in say that yes, it certainly works. Content is content, and it’s important that we mesh it together so it can produce many forms.

Keep up the great work gal!! :-)

Marcus

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Paul wolfe June 14, 2011 at

Marcus

Have u thought about using a plug in like Tweet Old post to promote these older posts?

Paul

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Kelly Ward September 27, 2011 at

This is such a great blog post!

Have you ever run into a company that you had difficulties in coming up with blog post topics because all the blog topics related to their business would end up being too self-promotional? If so, how do you turn your thinking around to find topics that would be relevant yet not solely based on their products? I am working with a company that sells meat snacks and we are having a heck of a time coming up with blog post topics! The standard “how to”, problem-solving, or complaint-addressing types of articles don’t really relate to their industry. I know I just need to shift my way of thinking a bit…

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Marcus Sheridan September 27, 2011 at

Hmm, interesting topic there Kelly. I’d suggest a few things:

Compare the product with competitors
What are the main questions people ask about the meat snack?

Also, have you surveyed customers? Have you done interviews and had thorough conversations with them about your product, similar products, and snack food in general?

How much have you talked about the ‘snack industry’? I would think you could go on and on with content in that arena.

Those are just a few thoughts though, feel free to email me direct if you’d like Kelly.

Good luck!!!!

Marcus

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Andrea December 25, 2011 at

Sometimes the simple things are the most important ones. Well, most of the times the answer to a question is simple but as with all things simple they are too simple to work. Or at least that’s what we think most of the times. As you rightly say behaving like a common surfer you can come out with almost all answers needed, like titles or keywords or topics for posts, site layout, etcetera. The problem is that most of the times we can’t see well because we are not far enough to get the right picture or frame of reference. Forgetting for a moment to be a writer and thinking about being a reader makes things clear enough. So no need to pay for those special courses where they just tell you to try to get into your readers’ head to achieve results. :)

I didn’t thought about negative phrases, that’s definitely something to test. Good advices as always Marcus.

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Joshua Cary February 18, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

So glad I found this article (followed a link from your current blog post!). “Answer your potential client questions” is something I preach to pet sitters all the time.

I will put it this way to them (like you pointed out) – Every visitor is coming to your website with certain questions in mind (how much, what area do you serve, how does the process work, what happens if…).

The better you can answer her questions, the more likely she will get in touch.

And most importantly, again like you mentioned, do not assume that any visitor understands how your service (or product) works! This will help you create excellent content and will make Google happy.

As pet sitters (or any other small business owner), it may become easy to think that every pet owners understands what we do. Not the case. There are so many little details that the pet owner needs to know before feeling completely comfortable in making contact.

Address those answers up front. And, Marcus, I love the ‘address the negative’ approach. Thank you, I now have a whole new angle to approach!

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Marcus Sheridan February 18, 2012 at

Dang Joshua, I can tell you know your business and are a leader in your field of pet sitting…very cool.

And appreciate your kind words very much here, I really do.

Continued success !!

Marcus

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Nicolas November 27, 2012 at

Hi Marcus. Another very interesting blog post. I’m already convinced and I just subscribed to your weekly email.
The ideas here are VERY interesting, and from someone having so much success I’m sure they do work.
Nevertheless, I feel that with the example you give, there is still a problem.
Lets see: your questions were:

Top 5 Consumer Complaints Regarding Concrete Swimming Pools
Top 5 Problems and Solutions of Concrete Swimming Pools
What are the Pros and Cons of Concrete Swimming Pools?
Are Concrete Swimming Pools Bad?
Read 5 Very Interesting Customer Reviews Regarding Concrete Swimming Pools

What I can see here is that more or less the content will repeat itself between those 5 posts, right? In my mind, this means that the user experience is nothat great and that the content is not that good, since you might end up writing more or less the same thing.
Please could you tell me your opinion about this? Do you think content will be the same? Do you think its a problem (for the user? for the search engines?). How do you usually make sure the content is not repeated?

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Marcus Sheridan November 28, 2012 at

Very good question. Ultimately, we have to address as many phrases as possible when it comes to blogging.

Sometimes, this means that some of the content will be similar. But more often than not, if we are truly listening to customers, They will tell us exactly what we need to be writing about.

Furthermore, sometimes we are targeting specific keywords and other times we are going for more thought-provoking articles. Really, it all depends.

Good luck with your blogging Nicolas!

Marcus

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Nicolas November 29, 2012 at

Thanks Marcus! :-)

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Brian Jensen March 8, 2013 at

Hi Marcus,

Great post. I really enjoyed the part regarding researching and creating content around the ‘negative phrases’ prospects are searching for. Ranking for the negative long-tail, building credibility and answering FAQs all at once – brilliant!

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Marcus Sheridan March 9, 2013 at

Glad it helped Brian, good luck with implementation!!

Marcus

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