What’s more terrifying than the blank page?
It might be the blinking cursor.
When you have a blog post to write, a deadline is looming and you have no clue what you’re going to write about, that little cursor seems to mock you, doesn’t it?
Now is not the time for a lecture about planning ahead (you can grab your editorial calendar later).
Now is the time that I share with you my five favorite idea-sparking, blank-page banishing tools.
Sometimes all you need is a little shove in the right direction— Portent’s Content Idea Generator will give that to you. It doesn’t just give you an idea, it gives you a headline, ready to go. While you will probably have to do some tweaking to make it relevant to your audience and appropriate for you school, it will set you off in a good direction.
Let’s look at some examples. I entered the subject “all girls school”, and got…
“Homer Simpson’s Guide to All Girls Schools”
Ok, so maybe Homer isn’t our go-to for this advice. But who is? You can switch out the name, or replace it with some adjectives and you have a great blog post idea, ready to be written. Perhaps “The Modern Guide to All Girls Schools”?
“How All Girls Schools Can Help You Live a Better Life”
Not quite right, but a good start. If I change it to “How an All Girls School Can Change Your Life” or “How An All Girls School Can Help You Achieve More”, though? That’s a great post waiting to happen.
“12 Unexpected Uses for All Girls Schools”
Again, this one doesn’t make sense, but let’s work with it. How about: “12 Unexpected Benefits of All Girls Schools”? Now that’s a winner.
Übersuggest returns a list of suggested words and phrases based on a topic you enter. Since it uses the Google API, the list has its basis in words and phrases that people are actually searching for on Google—an added, SEO-friendly bonus.
While not every item on the list will be a good fit, it’s likely you’ll find a few great ideas and can expand your perspective from which you approach the topic.
For example, a search for the broad term “nursing school” returned a list that included “nursing school advice”, “nursing school difficulty” and “nursing school motivation”. You could address these topics in individual blog posts, and you could also develop a broader post that addresses the overarching anxiety students might feel as they apply to or study in a nursing program.
This tool uses a Google spreadsheet to help you view what’s trending related to a topic, and the articles that are most popular. It’s a great way to find out what’s currently newsworthy on a topic and to spark ideas for your own post, either related to that topic, or in response to that article or opinion.
The tool aggregates data from Twitter, Google Search Trends, YouTube trends, Facebook, Reddit and more.
This tool requires a little more work upfront- you need to register, and provide some information about your school and target audience. (The questions are intended for businesses and are worded that way, but it still works!) Once you answer all the questions, Quandary will give you 360 content ideas. As with the Portent Idea Generator, the ideas won’t be a perfect fit—and beware, they might not be grammatically correct either— but they will give you something solid to work with.
Here are a few examples of results from Quandary:
“3 Things Your Parents Won’t Tell You About Problems Finding the Right School”
This wording is odd, but “3 Things Your Parents Won’t Tell You About Finding the Right School” is a simple change that makes for an interesting blog post.
“7 Mistakes Students Make When Apply”
Great idea, poor grammar, easy fix: “7 Mistakes Students Make When Applying to College”
“What Are the 5 Main Benefits of Education”
Again, this is a great start to an idea, it just has poor wording. Let’s change it to “The 5 Biggest Benefits of a [Your School Name] Education”
These tools are amazing at helping move you from I-have-no-ideas-and-I’m-panicking to I-have-a-great-idea-and-I-can’t-write-fast-enough. You’ll probably develop even more ideas than you need, so do yourself a favor to ensure panic mode never happens again—grab our free editorial calendar and start filling it in with all of your newfound brilliance.