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How to Brainstorm and Research Your Next Article Topic

hether you’re in charge of content at your company, or you run your own website, you have undoubtedly come up against the challenge of thinking of new content for your site. At some point, it begins to feel like you’ve covered everything that your target market is interested in, and it’s hard to break through to the next set of topics.While not a full proof process, here is an outline of a specific way to hack this challenge, and come out of it with a wide array of topics.

how to brainstorm and research your next article topic

Get in the Right Mindset

Before you start brainstorming, it helps to check your workspace. Ironically, this can often be the biggest roadblock in your brain being able to find the next topic. Make sure your environment is free from distractions. We aren’t going to tell you to clean your desk, or control your lighting… while those things might help you, the specifics are usually unique to the individual. However, if you have distractions, you need to eliminate those. If it’s social media, turn it off for a period of time. If it’s your children, close the door and put on headphones. You need to eliminate the distractions.

Sometimes, even with distractions eliminated, it can still be hard to focus. In this case, try changing things up. Pack up and head to a local coffee shop, work outside… the change in environment helps. You can also try switching to a standing desk, which can help focus tremendously. The transition is easy – it can be as simple as putting your desk on blocks and picking up a standing floor mat for your feet.

Start with General Topics

Now that you’ve got your space figured out, lets start to think through your article topics. Start with very general topics, to get the ball rolling. Think extremely broad, and start to write down any broad topics that come to mind. Lets say that we are writing for a pool company as an example. General brainstorming on topics might yield

  • Adding a pool
  • Cleaning the pool
  • Upgrading a pool

This process works for pretty much any niche. Service based industries can be a bit easier, but it still applies for product sales as well. If your products are high quality shower products, you can brainstorm topics around bathroom and home improvement topics. Be inquisitive, and try to approach the subject from the angle of a complete novice. What are the first questions you would ask about a topic you know nothing about? If you’re stuck, ask a friend that question to get the ball rolling. You only need 3-5 seed topics to get started on the process.

Add Modifiers

With general topics, it’s now time to add modifiers. A modifier is a word (or several words) that modifies the original topic, making it more specific and narrow. Modifiers are great for article writing because the naturally add expertise and topical relevancy. They add specificity, helping your article to be more relevant for your target market. Sticking with our pool example, here are several modifiers for our seed topics:

  • Adding a pool
    • Adding a pool when you have no space
    • Adding a pool without getting a permit
  • Cleaning the pool
    • Cleaning the pool without toxic chemicals
    • How to teach your kids to clean the pool
  • Upgrading a pool
    • Upgrading a pool without breaking the bank
    • Upgrading a pool without hiring a professional

Add Qualifiers

A qualifier has some similarities to a modifier. So, without this becoming a lesson (and debate) in grammar, lets quickly clear up what a qualifier means for the sake of this exercise. A qualifier is a word or set of words that limits your original topic, reducing it down to a certain range of choices because the topic has to “qualify” for a set of criteria.

In our first example, “when you have no space” is a scenario that one would consider when thinking about adding a pool. But the words on their own do not limit or reduce the number of options. However, if instead we had said “for under $1,000”, that would be a qualifier. It specifically addresses the price limitation, thus qualifying what is necessary for the topic. Here are some examples of qualifiers in our pool scenario:

  • Adding a pool
    • Adding a pool for under $1,000
    • Adding an above ground pool
  • Cleaning the pool
    • Cleaning the pool in under 10 minutes
    • Cleaning the pool with only one chemical
  • Upgrading a pool
    • Upgrading a pool to make it modern
    • Upgrading a pool during summertime

Now, combine everything you have brainstormed from your topics modifiers and qualifiers. Combine the various scenarios into a big long list that includes every combination, such as “How to add a pool without a permit for under $1,000.”

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Use Software for Help

Round out your topics by turning to the internet and doing some basic research. There are several additional tools you can use to help you finish of your topic research:

  • Google Auto Fill: go to the search bar of google and start typing in your general topic. Google will auto-fill its recommendations, based on what others have searched for. This is a great way to see what questions people have about your topic.
  • Answer The Public: this tool is actually not there to answer your questions, but to provide related topics. Pop your general topic and it will spit out hundreds of questions. For example, when you type “how to clean a pool”, it returned 120 questions. Each of those can make for a fantastic article.

Conclusion

At this point, you should have a well-rounded and diverse list of topics that you can write articles about. This exercise does not exclude the need for other areas that go into article writing, such as keyword research, but it is a great start when you need some inspiration for what to write about.

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Anthea Scordilis

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