Picture a car with two people in love, traveling the open road with a beloved dog, to the beach, with a gentle rain shower in the background. This picture creates a longing and a recognition that life could be like that – for me…if I just buy that car.

Since when are car commercials about human love? Since when is a diaper commercial no longer about absorption, but about appreciating mothers – and now fathers?

Everyone loves a good story. Stories surround us – now more than ever we are bombarded with brands, images, messaging – all getting us to make a decision, purchase a new product, and feel a certain way.

That is Art. And it is what makes us human.

Use art. Don’t blog without it. Use clever language, images, stories that will engage your audience and draw them in (pun intended). There are many places to find your inspiration: quotes, movies, pop culture, personal stories, movies, books, trends, articles – the list goes on and on. Thanks to a little thing called the Internet, we can access all of this, 24×7. So start there. Shape it how you see fit. Make it work for your purpose and be creative.

And then there is Science. In the world of blogging, art creates beauty, but that beauty may never be consumed if there is no science behind it. To drive strong content you need a balance of both. It is important to ask the right questions, come up with your hypothesis, conduct analysis and learn from the results. Do your high school science teacher proud.

The science of blogging is learning to leverage data in insightful ways to target:

  • how your content is offered
  • what content best reaches a specific target audience
  • who that target audience is
  • why they might be interested in a topic and
  • where you can reach them

With the right combination of data and predictive analytics, you can determine, with accuracy, which topics will work and which will definitely not. You can eliminate the wasted time, effort and money spent on content that sits on your website.

Even with art and science elements as a starting point, it can still be very difficult to generate ideas with consistency, and ideas that actually work for your readers.

Here are some tips to keep you going:

1. Top Down – Start with a general theme (‘parent’) that relates to your business (e.g. content marketing) and explore ideas related to this. For example, in content marketing alone we can discuss a whole list of themes:

a. social media
b. SlideShares
c. webinars
d. blogs
e. analytics
f. content curation
g. infographics
h. whitepapers
i. case studies
j. published articles

For each theme, you can create a few different posts depending on your interests, products and customer needs. Try to come up with 5-10 ideas related to a theme, and then outline each one. For example, I might start with:
Social Media: Generating the best content for

1. Facebook
2. LinkedIn
3. Pinterest
4. Industry-related sites

Depending on your audience, you can create a longer post including all 3 ideas, or shorter pieces on each, eventually blending them together for a more in-depth post at a later date. Link them together, share them, and rework them. They may be the starting point for another masterpiece – article? Case study? eBook?

2. Bottom Up – Start with a specific idea and explore related themes. For example, you might want to narrow in on a more specific idea that is generating a lot of buzz in your industry and relate it back to an overarching theme.

For example, in content marketing, creating personalised mobile content is an emerging trend as we use our mobile devices to research, share and make purchases. So I might utilise this specific idea to create blogs about:

a. How personalised mobile content affects everything like:
i. marketing and advertising budgets
ii. WiFi standards
iv. mobile phone purchases
v. hotel / retail customer engagement
vi. the entire global economy

The sky is the limit.

Great blogging requires a balance of art and science. Sometimes that can be a delicate balance, but by utilising these two things, and some common sense topic methodology you can move away from guesswork and start identifying topics that will not only engage your reader, but also create a starting point for other blogs, articles and more.

Keep a log of all of your ideas and schedule them into your editorial calendar and then test them for traffic potential and audience engagement. Chances are one idea will lead to an even better one when you get creative and ask the right questions.

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