One of the best parts about writing a blog? You can post about anything you want!
One of the worst things about writing a blog, though, is…you can post about anything you want.
(And that means making decisions.)
A solid, successful blog post has lots of tiny moving parts you have to put in place – many of which are invisible to your readers.
Choosing what to write your next blog post about shouldn’t be a matter of guesswork, though.
It’s all a matter of knowing where your audience comes from, and what they’re interested in – and those are things with cold, hard facts to back ‘em up.
Not sure what to write about? A few simple statistics will make that decision for you, if you know where to look!
What does your audience want to read?
Want to repeat and build off of your successes? You’ve gotta know what they are!
Web traffic is an obvious way to determine popularity (even if it’s not the ONLY one).
For example, if we look at our Google Analytics, we can see that our most visited posts from the past few months are:
Notice the trend?
We can see that traffic-wise, our most popular posts all have a few things in common. All but one are about Facebook, and they all focus on how social networks function in a concrete way – their rules, their changes, and how you can best work within their guidelines to see better results from what you do.
(So basically, writing this post about blogging was not a great move for us, strategically.)
Point is, traffic patterns can be a good indicator of what you should blog about – not just in the short term, but in the long term, too.
Building an audience is a thing that happens gradually over time, and it doesn’t happen by accident.
You’re defined by the content you produce – it becomes part of your identity. If you consistently put out content of a certain quality, on a certain subject, for a certain group of people, then those people learn to come back for more and more.
It might not be for everyone, but remember – nothing is!
Speaking of building an audience gradually over time, though…
How do readers find your blog?
Traffic is great and all, but understanding where that traffic came from and why can be just as valuable when you’re choosing a topic to write about.
For example, using the same dataset we used above, our top source for traffic was organic search – which tells us that our SEO strategy is working, and we should keep doing what we’re doing.
We know that our number two source of traffic is our weekly newsletter, which accounted for nearly 25% of our views – so we should continue making that newsletter a big priority. We measure a blog post’s success not just on its own performance, but on how many of our newsletter readers click through to read it – because we want our subscribers to love what we send them!
You can apply this to social media, too.
Use your Twitter analytics, for example, to look at your top tweets, your impressions, and your engagement. What patterns do you notice? Which topics get the most retweets, or the most shares?
Five Big Brands’ Strategies for Recycling Social Media Updates – https://t.co/ezPCdfjq4w
— Laura Roeder (@lkr) October 20, 2016
You can’t consistently repeat your successes without understanding why they succeeded in the first place – and the stronger that understanding is, the easier it becomes to grow your audience!
Speaking of patterns, though, you’re probably noticing a trend here…
Your blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum
Choosing your next blog topic isn’t a matter of what YOU want – it’s a matter of what your AUDIENCE wants.
(Because without that audience, your blog doesn’t have a lot of reason to exist, you know?)
In a way, that should be a relief – you don’t have any reason to sit and stare at that blinking cursor on a blank page, trying to guess at what you should write about!
Allow your data to make the decision for you. Listen to how the actions of your audience implicitly tell you what they want more of, and give it to them.
Whether you’re looking at the topics that get the most traffic overall, the most clicks from a newsletter, the most visits from social, or all of the above, the data tells a story – and paying attention pays off!