When you work on your blog's editorial calendar (or even a more general list of blog post ideas), do you ever feel stuck?
I'll let you in on a little secret.
It happens to me too.
At the start of every month (or just before it) I sit down at my desk to plan out my content for the month across all of my blogs.
I don't always stick to that plan. News happens. Rants brew. And sometimes another blogger tackles one of my planned topics around the same time so I choose something else for that day. But there is a plan, and sometimes I need a little help filling in my content calendar.
When that happens, one of the first things I turn to is my bookshelf.
How Books Can Help You Come Up With Blog Post Ideas
When you're feeling stuck, take a look at some of the best books in your niche. Which ones do you keep going back to? Which would you most strongly recommend? Set those books aside.
Then take some time to page through the table of contents of each one. Get a feel for why the author or publisher chose to organize the book that way.
I don't recommend doing this with only one book because you run the risk of taking a copy-cat approach (and nobody likes a blogger who just rips off everyone else). Instead, look at several books. Try to pinpoint any similarities. Look for differences.
Then figure out how you would have approached organizing that content.
Are questions left unanswered? Turn those questions into blog posts.
Are points glossed over too quickly? Create a more detailed guide for your blog's readers.
Would something covered in all of those books (therefore probably interesting to your target readers) make for a great expanded blog post series? Write it.
Books are fantastic idea generators for bloggers. You already know a market exists for the type of content they contain. You can use them as source material to expand on topics they cover (bonus points if you bring the book's author into it for an interview). And they can open your eyes not only to micro-niche topics they cover in sections or chapters, but also to the big picture and how all of that content fits together.
Where Amazon Comes In
When I'm feeling stuck, I start with books on-hand because getting away from the computer helps me think about my blogs a bit differently. But that's not your only option. Why not browse Amazon the next time you're short on blog post ideas?
The basic concept is the same. You find books in the niche of your blog. Then you browse their table of contents to get a feel for the overall structure and content plan of the book. Something as simple as a chapter title can inspire dozens of narrower blog post ideas.
As an added bonus, you can browse bestselling books or focus on sales ranks in the niche to figure out which styles and topics are resonating best with your target readers.
What about you? Do you ever use books to help you come up with blog post ideas? What about using Amazon to inspire your next blog post? Share your own tips or examples in the comments.