A hot topic of discussion among inbound marketers is how they think of topics to write about. I personally find myself engaged in a life-long topic brainstorm -- topic ideas tend to pop up at the bar, on the train, in the shower, even while I sleep. (Indeed, I've dreamt of blog posts I should write. This post was one of them.)
And once in a blue moon, when all the stars align just right, I'll also think of topics when I'm actually supposed to. Like, at work. This post you're reading right now is an example of that.
Me and my business blogging buddies Pamela Vaughan and Ginny Soskey were trying to think of what to write for the 4th and 5th of July, and after some spectacularly unsuccessful brainstorming, we finally thought up this very blog post you're reading right now ... a post about all the stupid 4th of July-themed posts we could write, and explaining why we decided not to write them.
How meta, right? I hope you find it a nice mix of entertaining and educational -- the perfect little content dose for your day off.
8 Terrible July 4th Blog Posts We Decided Not to Write (And 2 We Did Write)
1) "Ketchup Renderings of Marketing Thought Leaders on Hamburgers"
"You know what would make this hamburger better? If the ketchup looked like Seth Godin." We decided not to write this because ... well, because it's a stupid idea. And because none of us are that good at Photoshop.
2) "Mustard Renderings of Marketing Thought Leaders on Hot Dogs"
The natural follow-up to the hamburger idea. Only worse, because there's less surface area to draw on.
3) "Sprocket Hot Dogs"
Or like ... sprockdogs? Like, renderings of the HubSpot logo made out of hot dogs?
This idea is ridiculous, and a little too phallic, at that. Maybe we just abandon the 4th of July idea entirely. This isn't going well.
4) "Totally Ridiculous 4th of July Stock Photography"
Finally! A legitimate idea. This was pretty good, because it's based on experience -- we wrote a post about awful stock photography back in November, and it performed extremely well. And since the post is image heavy, not text heavy, it would be a quick write and a quick read, not to mention easy and fun to share in social media. Perfect mix for a holiday weekend. If you read the blog yesterday, you'd know that we did, in fact, write this post! One down, one to go (we still needed a post for today, July 5th)!
5) "How to Enjoy Your 4th of July Vacation"
We thought about doing this post because it could incorporate practical advice for marketers, so we'd be teaching something while doing a 4th of July newsjack (holidayjack?). However, we wrote a post in the past about how to generate blog leads over the weekend, and it didn't perform that well. In addition, a lot of the post would focus on what you can automate, and it seemed like a post that'd already been written a million times over. We didn't want to add to the clutter on the internet, so we decided to pass on this idea. It was just ... meh.
6) "X Relaxing Things You Can Do Over the Long Weekend That'll Still Help Your Marketing"
Talk about a long workig title. We were thinking of writing a list of productive things you could do -- like using social media, reading industry sites -- that are low on brain impact, but would still make you feel like you're working. But then we realized ... people really don't want to be working on a holiday weekend. Not in the slightest. And even if they do, they're going to be doing real work, not half-arsed stuff like this post would recommend. So, as Jay-Z said, on to the next.
7) "Marketing Doppelgangers of Founding Fathers"
The problem with this one is we'd have to find marketing folks that actually look like the founding fathers, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any. And also probably get their permission to publish their photos (the marketing people, not the founding fathers). This is basically the ketchup Photoshop fiasco all over again.
8) "The Best 4th of July Fireworks Displays [SlideShare]"
There isn't even a semblance of a marketing tie-in here. If we published this, we'd just be Mashable.
9) "How Our Customers Are Enjoying the 4th of July [SlideShare]"
It'd be impossible to solicit those photos without making some poor sap work on their long weekend. And we're not that cruel.
10) "Awful 4th of July-Themed Posts We (Wisely) Decided Not to Write"
After throwing out 8 terrible topics (actually, there were a few other equally miserable iterations of many of these), we were getting pretty slap happy. I quipped we should just write a list of all the terrible topics we'd just come up with during our brainstorming session. And then we thought ... actually ... breaking down a topic brainstorm session might be pretty helpful. And this one might have some doses of entertainment, too, because we had some massively stupid ideas.
Bingo! That's our July 5th post! You just read it :)
So, now you have an idea of what a topic brainstorm looks like -- for us, at least. If you're having trouble coming up with topics to write about, grab a couple of colleagues, start throwing stuff out there, and iterate on it until you get a gem. Most of the ideas are, quite honestly, quite terrible. That's alright! It gets the brain working, and you can throw out what doesn't work for the couple of ideas that are worth a try.
To everyone still celebrating 4th of July, happy long weekend! And please share your own ridiculous blog posts you wisely decided not to write in the comments.
Image credit: janeyhenning