How to efficiently come up with topics for your blog

How to efficiently come up with topics for your blog

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Day 2 of the Challenge – My brain is tired. I didn’t sleep very well – I kept waking up, maybe too much excitement from Xbox session with my friend Tauras in the evening. I taught him how to play NHL, then we played some football and in the end some first person shooter.

What do you do, when your brain is tired to think and create?

Some immediately say “coffee”. Nope, wrong answer. Coffee screws up your metabolism, it provides a steep rush, and then even deeper crash. We don’t want that. We want constant, sustainable energy outtake throughout the day.

How do you concentrate without using addictive substances (e.g. coffee)?

You push your brain a little bit, with Focus@Will music – Uptempo. It’s better than coffee, it brings up brain waves that help you concentrate and perform.

Now, when settled here we go …

Coming up with the epic topics for your pillar posts is not easy.

What are pillar posts you ask? Pillar posts, that are also known as Pillar articles or Pillar content, are based on the definition by Yaro Starak, posts that create the foundation of your blog.

This content is why people come to your blog in the first place. Yaro lists this content to be evergreen, bringing constant traffic, can be repurposed and has a lot of actionable value for the followers. It can take the form of:

  • ‘How to …’ post
  • List (e.g. Top 10 …)
  • Technical blueprint
  • Definition of some interesting topic or
  • Your strong opinion (goes well with politics)

I am strongly apolitical, so I will stay away from the last one.

Coming back to the pillar posts topics. Most efficient is to start thinking about the most important variables:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What topics are the most important for the audience?
  • How much am I able to create in less than 4 weeks?
  • What is my goal for this challenge?

The simplest thing here to do is to ask the audience.

I have a couple of ideas in my mind, but I am not writing for myself. I am writing to provide value to you, the readers of this blog and I need to serve you.

This brings me to a very important question 🙂 I think you already spotted it as well … Who do I think is my audience? (I told you I will keep adding important things as I go along – important is to start, everything relevant will show itself along the way).

My audience can’t be everybody. At least not in the beginning. As Steve Job used to say (paraphrased): “If you focus on everybody you end up pleasing nobody”.

I need to choose a niche.

I have been in the community of startuppers/business founders for more than 2 years, so logically it’s the best audience.

Or is it? … Let’s think about it …

Startuppers / Entrepreneurs are people who take the leap towards creating something from scratch, without knowing if it materializes, their only driving force being strong belief. They breathe their idea 24/7, never stopping to think how to turn it into a viable business.

When you have your own business, you have to do everything. It’s not like when you sit in a company and you have specified job role.

In a startup, you have to do everything from product to sales, to marketing, to administration, to HR, to operations, to logistics and this is just a tip of the iceberg. On top of this, the founders have to deal with their personal lives, emotional stress, work-life balance (which in this case is more of a life balance). And yet again this is just a tip of the iceberg.

The founders actively look into how to make their days more efficient, how to be more productive, how to achieve more in less time. They know that their ideas are like their babies and they need to be in the best mental and physical capacity to bring them to fruition.

What is more, founders hate mundane tasks and that’s why I think they are the perfect target audience.

Selecting the topics

I just wrote the below email* (*Update 1.4.2017 – since then I ‘rebranded’ to Efficient Daily Habits to make it easier to pronounce and remember) to a couple of people, starting with Michael. Let’s see what they come up with.

EHD_call for feedback

All of them are startup founders/entrepreneurs who are very busy so I need to give them up to 72h turn around time.

What to do in the meantime?

I can contemplate on the topics I have in mind:

  • Sleeping & waking up – I find this topic very interesting in connection with efficient habits. If you get enough quality sleep, waking up is easy and you have enough energy throughout the day to do everything with a breeze. Do the opposite and on top of the gloomy shadows under your eyes, your brain doesn’t deliver to its fullest
  • Procrastinating on mundane tasks (chores) – something like paying bills late can have severe consequences on your existence, but also things like expense reports, or things like late receivables (payments to you). You can’t cover everything, so as Tim Ferriss (famous author of 4-Hour Work Week) says, you need to let small bad things happen. However, you need to be strategic about what you let slip and what you grab. My philosophy is to take care of everything that endangers personal relationships and either generates or eats money.
  • Motivation – you know that feeling, you are all hyped about your newest idea or your New Year’s resolutions. You throw yourself into the activity, doing it to its fullest. And, surprise, surprise, few days or weeks later you don’t even remember what was it. The most important thing to get straight in your head is ‘Why’ … Why did you decide to do it in the first place? What do you want to achieve? How does it influence your life? Once you have this cleared, any means will do.

Update after 72 hours

I was lucky to receive feedback from 5 people and researched topics that other blogs about efficiency write about.

All of the 5 people are startup founders/entrepreneurs. The majority of them were quite specific, some provided me with general advice that I can use as well.

Many of you might say that feedback from 5 people is not enough to evaluate the topics. You might be right, but I have a time constraint here – 4 weeks. Ideally, I would talk to 100 people in a qualitative way, discussing in an informal atmosphere, digging deeper. This would, however, take as much as 4 weeks of the time.

I have to be efficient.

What helps is to go with my gut feeling, too. I have to lead the way to make the way. Turns and shortcuts will show themselves later.

What did the audience say?

The overarching topics are:

  • Exercise, in particular, how much exercise is most efficient?
  • Diet, in particular, how to eat healthy in the most efficient way?
  • Sleep, in particular, how to fall asleep and wake up in the most efficient way?
  • Admin side of their business, in particular, how to set up your business most efficiently?

The great thing is that on top of these overarching themes, they briefly provided me with what they already tried and what works for them. This gave me an idea for another topic – Interviews with Startup Founders about their habits. Why not make an interview/podcast about this? 🙂 Noted!

Researching what other bloggers write about efficient lifestyle gave me another idea. Pinpoint down some kind of Manifesto of Efficient Daily Habits. You can check it out here: http://www.efficientdailyhabits.com/efficient-habits-daily-manifesto/ 

There is one another topic I almost forgot about …

The trend is evident. There are more and more people having their own ideas for a business.

I tend to go to 2-3 meetups per month to meet like-minded people, exchange ideas and network. There are more and more of them who say, I have this cool idea, but I have a job.

There is also a little bit of ‘fad’ in there. After all, everybody who is in some kind of business is talking about startups. TV shows like Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den help to make this cult even more prominent. When you see entrepreneurs pitching in front of the shrewd investors in TV, you say to yourself: “If they can do it, I can do it as well”. Well, of course. If you are smart and efficient about it, sure you can.

Then, the last topic I need to consider for this challenge is “You don’t need to quit your job to start a business.

How much content am I able to create in less than 4 weeks?

The question is not really how much content, but how much quality content.

If I went on a writing spree, I could write easily 1000 articles. Yep, you hear that right. I shut myself at home, take care of food, water and off I go. However, will this be the content that anybody wants to read? I don’t think so. The most important point here is quality – in terms of helpfulness for the audience … and applicability. It’s not the most efficient to only read about it 😉 You gotta walk the walk.

I think I can publish 4 high-quality pieces in 4 weeks. 1 per week. I have other things to do as well, so this gives me a good portion of time to create quality, helpful and actionable content.

What is my goal for this challenge?

This is actually a very interesting question that I should have answered already yesterday, before starting to work on this challenge.

Obviously, the goal is to launch … but, I mean … I launched yesterday already.

The goal is to provide content that will make the audience crave for more. Is that it?

Based on the SMART goals framework, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.

  • Time-based is done – 4 weeks
  • Relevant – yes, I have gone on a journey of applying learnings from Smart Passive Income to create a Passive Income “Imperium” so this challenge is perfect for it
  • Attainable – yes, I think so, Point 3 of this exercise answers it in more detail
  • I am missing Specific and Measurable.

The essential ingredients of a blog are content and audience. My SMART goal has to be built around these two ingredients then. I discussed the context of the content earlier in this post.

In regards to the audience … What type of audience? I think it should be an audience that likes my content, engages with it, shares it with their network and regularly comes for more.

How can I measure that I have reached this type of audience in 4 weeks?

I think I have few vehicles to judge if the audience is engaged – they comment and they subscribe to join the community.

To be measurable, how many comments and subscribers do I want to gain?

Let’s say that each post should ‘provoke’ at least 2 comments from two different people and at least 4 people will subscribe to join the community. Is it too little? Is it too much? I don’t know, this is not set in stone. It’s more like a line in the sand so depending on how it develops, I can adjust. This should, however, be a very good ‘gauge’ of assessing the success.

“My SMART goal for this challenge is to create 4 pieces of pillar content and engage in a min. 2 comments per post, attracting min. 4 subscribers to my blog.”

The outstanding task is to select topics that will help me to achieve this SMART goal in the most efficient way. I need 1-2 days to think about them.

What did I learn from writing this post?

Lesson 1

The analysis doesn’t mean paralysis if you know your ‘WHY’ … Why am I doing this?

Lesson 2

Giving a little bit of time to other people (= patience) means that you can get quality responses.

Result

I have a SMART goal and a selection of topics that I can write about during this challenge.

What comes next?

Next is all about writing pillar posts about the topics. I will start with the topic of Sleep as that is the core of everything. Human brain and body need quality sleep to perform at the most efficient level.

Resources and tools mentioned in this post

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