How to Choose Blog Topics that People Will Read

How to Choose Blog Topics that People Will Read

Writing a blog is hard enough. Getting people to read it might be even harder. Having blogged for a while, I have been wondering why some blog topics get read and picked up by search engines and  others seem to pass by unnoticed. If you create content for your website, I am sure you have wondered the same.

So far the most popular (we are talking relatively here) of my blog articles are:

  • a review of a stock photo website
  • an article about how much a website design should cost
  • advice on setting up Google Analytics dashboard
  • a look at my favorite fonts

Now some of the reason might be how well they were marketed. The stock photo review got picked by another blog which brings in a lot of traffic. But the others?  It seems somewhat arbitrary but maybe there is a method to the madness.

It is a given that most people are overwhelmed with information so most of it is going to go by unnoticed. But is it really about limited time? As with anything in life, if an article offers something valuable, people  will find the time to read it. And search for it.

What do people value? I short digression into evolutionary theory could help here. Evolution states that our instincts are hardwired to those that gave us an advantage, however slight and repeated over hundreds of thousands of years, as a species. On the deepest level, people value what helps them survive, and thrive.

You can see this principle in another industry where popularity means viewers in the millions (not double digits)—the movies. All movie plots reflect a few common themes which speak to our instinctive needs.Why do romantic comedies have such pull? Because boy meets girl,  get married,  have babies, etc. (you get the picture) and our species continues! Same with adventure movies,  hero overcomes tremendous risks to survive (and usually gets the girl in the end). And dramas that have to do with deep interpersonal relationships; our survival depends on us finding our place in society and connecting with others. The story comes in the obstacles to our survival and how they are overcome.

movies connect to our instinctive needs
make sure your readers are as excited by your posts as you are

Okay this might be a stretch but I think that same instinctive needs for surviving and thriving work with blog topics. It is just that the needs are a little more specific to an industry. Usually these needs fall into several categories.

  • To learn something new
  • To advance in one’s career
  • To earn more money
  • To choose the best
  • To deepen one’s connections

For example, in my field of creating websites people have these needs:

  • To make money via their website
  • To attract more people to their site.
  • To select the best fonts, photos, design ideas, etc.
  • To save time creating content or managing their site
  • To save money (maybe by firing their web designer?)
  • To learn something new that will extend their skill set
  • To overcome creative blocks that keep them from blogging, etc.

You could probably think of many more topics. The point here is to ask yourself this question:

How Can I Help My Readers Survive or Thrive?

And then start to work backward from the answers to that question to select the topics you want to blog about. If you find a topic interesting, then others will too. But interesting is not enough. It has to be useful as well. Keeping this question in mind can help keep your focus on what is important.


2 Responses to How to Choose Blog Topics that People Will Read

  1. Nice article, Tom. Do any of your other top articles have links pointing into them? That’s the biggest search engine ranking factor. A good rule of thumb is that people most often link to articles they’d want to read more than once.

Anything on your mind?