- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On March 11, 2016
We know from our research that only 40% of hospitals have blogs and yet many experts single out a blog as the jumping off point for an effective content marketing strategy.
I believe one reason many hospital marketers have not embraced blogging is the perceived difficulty of creating content week in and week out. A key element of that perceived difficulty is “writer’s block”, specifically coming up with blog post topics.
Here are 11 ideas to help you generate ideas for post topics and make it much easier to maintain a blog.
1. Talk to your persona
Many marketers skip persona development but here’s one area where it really pays to have one.
If you have not created a persona before, let me clarify what it is. A persona is a description of a fictional target reader (this could be a particular type of patient you want to drive to your hospital or a category of referring physician you wish to recruit.) You can read more about persona development in our post here.
A persona helps you understand your reader. In creating your persona you will have thought about your reader, their life and how they think, and you have documented this for your future reference. You can now go back to your persona document and come up with blog post ideas that address your reader’s biggest concerns (and dreams.)
For this blog I used our persona of a hospital marketer and from that I created a mind map of topic areas I thought hospital marketers would be interested in (the blue boxes below). Then as a second stage I took those topic areas and brainstormed sub topics (the light blue boxes below.) Finally I brainstormed actual blog post titles for each sub topic using the techniques I describe in points 2 to 11 below.
This “divide and conquer” approach seemed to really work and I ended up with a list of blog topics over 100 posts long (check #), i.e. an editorial calendar for our blog for the whole year!
2. Listen to your competitors
Your competitors are a great resource for blog post ideas. You can see what they are blogging about and come up with variants of their topics.
Never copy someone’s blog post exactly nor their blog post title, especially a competitor, but start with a competitor’s blog post title and swap in some synonyms, or add some words, and you will have a brand new post title.
Here’s a post from one of the Cleveland Clinic’s blogs entitled “Shin Splints? How You Can Avoid More Serious Injury”. You could change this blog post title to “7 tips for avoiding shin splints.”
From my experience once you have a title you are over any “writer’s block” and well on the way to a completed post.
3. Read popular industry blogs
Take a look at what healthcare industry experts are blogging about. You can use their blog titles as inspiration for your posts.
One technique to come up with blog titles is to turn titles you find elsewhere into “how-tos” or add numbers. These are two of the most widely read blog title types (based on click-through rate data) so converting titles into these formats makes good sense. For example you could turn a post you find on an industry blog from “boost your blog readership” into “7 ways to increase your blog views”.
4. Read popular non-industry blogs
You can take the same approach with blogs that are not in the healthcare space. They may even end up giving you more interesting blog titles.
Here’s a popular travel blog (I just Googled “travel blog” to find this.) There is a post on this blog entitled “Flying With Baby: Travel Tips For Flying With A Newborn“. You wouldn’t even need to change this title that much since it’s not in your industry but how about “How to reduce the stress of flying with a baby”?
5. Pick up a magazine
Thanks to Neil Patel for this tip. Neil points out that you can get inspiration for blog posts from magazines–even magazines in completely unrelated areas.
Take a look at the titles of stories magazines are running. Magazine writers (and editors) take a lot of time figuring out great titles that will “hook” their readers so why not benefit from this?
Here’s a cover story from our very own Bergen Health & Life entitled “Shoes to Step Lively”. You could create a patient-focused blog post base on this something like “Choosing shoes to keep your feet healthy while still looking stylish”.
6. Attend a conference or event
Attending a conference or event can give you great ideas for your content marketing. Every session is a topic you may be able to adapt for your blog. Even if you don’t attend a conference take a look at the conference’s agenda on the web and you can easily come up with several blog titles.
Here’s an example from a conference called “The Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference”. There is a session entitled The Mindful Eating Cycle: A Flexible, Non-Diet Approach to Resolving Mindless and Emotional Eating. This seems a bit long to me so how about a post title like “7 tips for healthy eating and eliminating binging.”
7. Login to Adwords
Google Adwords is similar to a “free encyclopedia of blog titles”.
Log into the Keyword Planner tool in Adwords (just use the same Google login you use for Gmail) and type in any keyword. Take one of the keywords the tool suggests and work into a “how to” or “numbers-driven” blog post title and you instantly have an SEO-friendly post.
For example, I typed in the keyword “fitness” to the Keyword tool.
One of the keyword “idea groups” that the Keyword Planner suggested was called “workout routine”. This seemed like a good topic area so I clicked on the folder the tool presented and found keyword ideas like ‘workout routines” or “daily workout routine”. From this keyword suggestion I can create a post title like “Designing a daily workout routine that keeps you coming back for more.”
8. Check the buzz
Buzzsumo provides a similar service to you as blogger as Adwords but here the data it provides is based on how much a piece of content is shared in social media rather than how often it is searched for.
Type a keyword into Buzzsumo and it will show you popular blog posts that use that word.
Take one of those popular blog post titles and adapt it and you’ll have a brand new post title that has a legitimate shot at being popular.
Here’s an example. I typed the word “pain” into Buzzsumo. The most shared article was called “7 Stretches In 7 Minutes For Complete Lower Back Pain Relief”. You could adapt this title to “Lose your back pain in 1o minutes with these exercises”.
9. Dive into a book
Take a look at the table of contents of a non-fiction book. With a little rework, all those chapter headings are potential blog post titles.
You don’t even have to buy the book. Just look at the book’s table of contents using the “look inside” feature on Amazon.com or search for it and you may find the table of contents page in your search results courtesy of “Google Books“.
For example, I went to Amazon and typed in “Healthy Eating” in the search box. I found a booked called Clean Eating Cookbook & Diet: Over 100 Healthy Whole Food Recipes & Meal Plans. You could generate a blog post title from the book’s title itself or use Amazon’s look inside function as I did to look at the table of contents. In the table of contents for this book is a chapter entitled “Getting Started with Clean Eating”. From this chapter title you could create a post title “How to get started with a healthier and cleaner diet”?
10. Hang out in social media
Join a Linkedin or Facebook group or monitor some relevant Twitter accounts and you will see people constantly sharing content, especially blog posts. You can use these as inspiration for your posts.
Here’s a Twitter account called Health (Nut) Tips. One of their Tweets says “Beware of late night eating!! All those calories just sit there unused and turn into fat while you sleep.” From this Tweet you could create a blog post title “9 reasons late night eating is a bad idea.”
11. Get more email
Sign up for e-newsletters that are relevant to your blog and have experts email you post ideas. Every title in every e-newsletter can potentially be adapted for your blog.
Here’s the e-newsletter archive page for Brigham and Women’s hospital. There are lots of potential blog post titles just on this one web page.
I clicked on an e-newsletter called “04/13/2015 – Latest on Asthma, Bioinspiration and Runners’ Hydration.” The first article in that e-newsletter is called “New Approaches for Patients with Severe Asthma” from this you could create a blog post entitled “The latest innovations in asthma care.”
If you want to know more about hospital blogging, check out our ebook “Learn the secrets of successful hospital blogging“.