What To Do When You’re Asked To Research Topic Ideas?

So, your client asked you to research topic ideas, huh?

It sounds like the easiest thing in the world. And it can be, especially if you’re doing it for the first few times. 

But after a while, you’ll find it harder and harder to come up with interesting topics to write about.  

I’m sure freelancers who blog can also relate. 

After all, you got to keep your portfolio fresh with new content to stay relevant.

Don’t fret – I got your back

Allow me to show you my go-to strategies for generating blog topic ideas for writers. 

Let’s go.

1. Look at related keywords

If you have access to keyword research tools, you can look at related keywords to research topic ideas. 

If not, you can take advantage of free trials offered by platforms like SEMrush.

Here’s how it works. 

After logging into SEMrush, head to the ‘Keyword Magic Tool’ under “Keyword Research.” You can find it under the “SEO” sub-menu. 

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
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From there, you can begin your keyword research by typing in a “seed keyword.” 

This can be any broad term, like “men’s shoes,” “weight loss,” “pet care,” and so on.

After entering a seed keyword, click ‘Search’ to start looking for keywords. 

How to Use the Keyword Magic Tool
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In some cases, the initial broad match results can give you interesting blog topic ideas right off the bat. 

For example, using the seed keyword “pet care,” I can come up with new topics through these keywords: 

Keyword Ideas from Keyword Magic Tool
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Here are some of the topic ideas I came up with: 

  • X Easy Pets to Take Care Of 
  • How to Pick the Best Pet Car Seat
  • What to Look for in Affordable Pet Care
  • X Red Flags of Budget Pet Care Services

Remember, you can refine these topic ideas by making them more specific. 

Think about your target audience

Let’s say your client’s audience largely consists of individuals in their 20s. These people can be referred to as young adults, millennials, or newly hired professionals. 

That said, you can refine the topic “X Easy Pets to Take Care Of” into: 

  • X Easy Pets to Take Care of For Millennials
  • X Easy Pets to Take Care of For Busy Professionals
  • X Easy Pets to Take Care of For Young Adults

Easy, right? 

Take note that those are just ideas we got from broad match results. 

Above the keyword list, click ‘Related’ to get more keyword suggestions. You can also click the keywords on the left to get more specific ideas.

Related Keyword Ideas from SEMrush
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Still not happy with these ideas? 

Head back to the ‘Broad Match’ category and click ‘Questions.’ 

This will tell SEMrush that you want to discover questions that people are asking about your topic. 

Question Keywords from Keyword Magic Tool
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The best thing about using keyword research tools is that most of them offer free trials. 

Of course, it would be ideal if you purchase their premium version eventually. That is, once you have the budget and need to generate truckloads of topic ideas regularly. 

2. Check out AnswerThePublic

Speaking of discovering questions, let’s talk about another favorite tool of mine. 

AnswerThePublic is a search listening tool designed to help you discover what people ask about a specific topic. 

AnswerThePublic
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Looking at AnswerThePublic’s interface, you can tell that it’s a straightforward tool. 

Just enter any keyword, be it a topic, product, or name, and click ‘Search.’ I suggest entering only one or two words to discover as many questions as possible. 

How to Use AnswerThePublic
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This takes us to the fun part of AnswerThePublic.

Rather than giving you a plain, boring list, it generates a visualization that makes researching topics quite fun. 

AnswerThePublic Search Cloud
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That, right there, gives you dozens of ideas you can pitch to your client – or write for your blog. 

It’s also worth noting that you can view questions as organized lists. 

Simply switch to the ‘Data’ tab to do this. 

AnswerThePublic Data View
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Sure, looking at AnswerThePublic’s visualization for blog content ideas is cool for a while. 

But once your neck starts to hurt, I recommend using the data view. I actually find it more efficient when it comes to supplying you with fresh topic ideas.

Before we move on, remember that AnswerThePublic doesn’t only look for questions. 

It also obtains useful topic ideas based on prepositions and comparisons. 

Just scroll down to see the designated sections for them. 

AnswerThePublic Additional Suggestions
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Take as much time as you need with AnswerThePublic to gather topic ideas. It’s free, so you don’t have to worry about cost-effectiveness.

3. Browse Q&A websites

By now, you should know that content must be created in response to demand. 

That’s why using keyword research tools and AnswerThePublic to discover questions is so great.

By scanning Q&A websites like Quora, you not only discover more questions to answer. You can also borrow ideas from answers posted by other users. 

It’s also really easy to use. 

Just use the built-in search bar and let Quora do its thing. 

How to Use Quora to Find Questions
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On the results page, select ‘Questions’ under “By type” to find topic ideas. 

Quora Questions Suggestions
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If you’re looking for content ideas for your own blog, I have a special tip for you. 

After writing your post, go back to Quora and answer similar questions. 

You can then win readers by putting a link to your content. 

Just bear in mind that Quora has tightened its policies to combat spammy behavior on the platform. As such, make sure your answer can stand on its own without requiring users to click your link. 

4. Turn to social media

You can also tap into social networks like Facebook to figure out what people are interested in nowadays. 

Of course, you can start with the network’s search feature to find relevant posts. However, you’re more likely to find useful topic ideas by joining groups and listening to the community. 

To search for groups on Facebook, just start your search as you would normally and click ‘Groups’ under “Filters.”

How to Find Social Media Groups on Facebook
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Otherwise, you can join a private group as long as you read and agree with their rules. You may also need to undergo a short application process that requires you to answer questions.

After finding a relevant group, you can start browsing the ‘Discussion’ section to see what people are talking about. 

Facebook Group Discussions
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Let’s look at an example. 

Here is a question asked by a member of the Facebook group The Turtle Tank:

Facebook Group User Post
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Looking at her post, I could come up with the following topic ideas: 

  • Tank Setup Tips for Your Stinkpot Musk Turtle
  • How to Identify the Type of Turtle You Have
  • X Things to Consider Before Buying Turtles from Craigslist

Nice and easy. 

Just remember to focus on the questions and real-life experiences of users. That’s how you can generate topic ideas that will resonate with them. 

5. Update old posts

If your client has old posts gathering virtual dust in their blog, you can volunteer to update them. 

Not all clients are open to this idea, especially if they asked you to pitch ideas around a specific topic. But if they are, the rest should be really easy. 

All you have to do is look at their blog roll – starting from their oldest posts. 

For the sake of this guide, let’s say you’re hired by WPBeginner to write for them.

To look at old posts, head on to any blog post category or archive page. At the very bottom, click on the last page number. 

WPBeginner Old Posts
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That’s it. 

When looking at old posts to update, focus on the following factors: 

  • Outdated statistics – Does the post contain outdated statistical data? If so, how will it affect the rest of the post’s angle? 
  • Defunct or outdated tool – Does the post review or use an old tool as an example? What possible alternatives can you write about instead? 
  • Overall quality – Can the text be revised to improve readability? Does the post need more visuals to improve its overall value?

Updating old posts is also a good practice to have if you run your own blog. Doing so will allow you to squeeze the most value out of every single post you’ve ever published. 

6. Create a listicle

Ah – the blogging world’s favorite type of content. 

Listicles are easy to make and fun to read. More importantly, it’s easy to come up with topic ideas for them. 

I usually form listicle ideas around: 

  • Products
  • Tips
  • Brands
  • Websites

For example, suppose you need ideas around the topic “iPad case.”

Here are the title ideas I can think of: 

  • Top iPad Cases of 2021
  • Tips on Taking Care of Your iPad Case
  • Best iPad Case Brands for Budget-Conscious Users
  • Best Websites to Shop for iPad Cases

Easy-peasy.

The best part is, you can replace “iPad case” in any of those titles. You’d still end up with good topic ideas: 

  • Top Smart Watches of 2021
  • Tips on Taking Care of Your Smart Watch
  • Best Smart Watches for Budget-Conscious Users
  • Best Websites to Shop for Smart Watches

That’s how easy it is to come up with topic ideas for listicles. 

You can thank me by leaving a comment below – you’re welcome. 😉 

7. Review something

Just like listicles, a review is another type of content that’s easy to write and read. 

Just pick something new, describe it, share your thoughts, and you’re done. 

It doesn’t always have to be a physical product as well. 

You can review tools, blogs, services, places, events, courses, online communities, and even other reviews as a “reaction” post. 

When it comes to title ideas, reviews can be somewhat formulaic. 

Typical formats include: 

  • [Product Name] Review: Why You Need It 
  • I Tried the [Product Name] for X Days: Here’s What I Learned
  • [Product Name] Review (20XX Edition): Pros and Cons Explained

Another way to review this is to compare them with something similar. 

In my circles, we call these “versus” posts, like: 

  • [Product 1] vs [Product 2]: Which One Should You Get?
  • Ultimate [Product Type] Showdown: [Product 1] vs [Product 2]
  • [Product 2] Review: Top [Product 1] Alternative in 20XX

Naturally, you need to play with the wordings to create more unique title ideas. With the examples above, you don’t have to be an expert in your niche to do this. 

8. Steal ideas from competing websites

Let me tell you something cool. 

The research you’re doing right now – competitors have done it before

Even better, they probably already have tons of topic ideas that worked. 

By borrowing topic ideas for competitors, you’re essentially benefiting from the research someone else did. It sounds dirty, but competitor research is a crucial skill in the digital marketing industry. 

To make this happen, you must first identify the top competitors of the brand you’re writing for. This can be your client or your personal brand. 

To do this, the easiest route is to use Google Search. 

Just type in the brand you’re writing for along with any of the following terms: 

  • Alternatives
  • Competitors
  • Websites like 

For example, let’s pretend for a moment that Pinch of Yum is your client. 

Pinch of Yum
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Full disclosure, I personally love this blog. I’m in no way affiliated with them, nor is there an ulterior motive behind this mention. 

To identify competitors, just do a Google search using a query like: 

Looking for Competitors with Google
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Pinch of Yum’s competitors should only be a few clicks away. Usually, you’ll find listicles like the pages below. 

Pinch of Yum Competitors
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Another way to identify competitors, along with their top content, is through a platform like SEMrush. 

Simply plug Pinch of Yum’s URL into the “Domain Overview” tool and click ‘Search.’

SEMrush Domain Overview
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On the domain overview page, scroll down to the “Main Organic Competitors” section. 

The competitors you can steal ideas from should be listed there. 

SEMrush Main Organic Competitors
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Again, you don’t have to purchase SEMrush to do this. The free trial version should be enough to give you the results you need. 

One advantage of using SEMrush is you also get to see each competitor’s top pages. 

Just go to ‘Organic Research’ under “Competitive Research” on the main menu and look for the “Top Pages” section. 

SEMrush Organic Research
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These are topic ideas definitely worth stealing. 

Just one more thing: be sure not to make an obvious copy of the competitor’s content. 

You want to make your version unique and better in every possible way. 

Below are a few tips: 

  • Create a more updated version by covering new tools and trends.
  • If possible, incorporate more visuals to make your content more valuable.
  • When borrowing ideas from a listicle, be sure to rearrange the list items. 
  • Try to write from a different angle (if your competitor wrote about tips, write about mistakes).

9. Build topics around YouTube videos

To me, great content isn’t determined by grammatical preciseness or the writer’s vocabulary. It’s determined by the content’s ability to engage readershold their attention, and inspire action

Articles with videos are known to perform better across all fronts. 

They can make posts significantly more engaging, memorable, and actionable. 

However, videos are often an afterthought in content writing. That means they’re usually added after the content is already written. 

This can make the video appear forced and irrelevant. 

That said, I recommend doing the other way around by using existing videos to come up with topic ideas. 

Simply go to a platform like YouTube, type in your seed keyword, and click ‘Search.’

YouTube Search
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Within seconds, YouTube will show you a list of videos you can use to generate blog topic ideas. 

YouTube Videos for Turtle Care
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Feel free to embed the video you used as inspiration using the embed code provided by YouTube. 

You can find and copy it straight from the share menu. 

YouTube Video Embed Code
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When writing the actual content, just remember not to straight-up copy all the ideas in the video. 

Your content should supplement the information already provided – not simply repeat it. 

It’s also a good idea to ask for the original uploader’s permission to embed their video in your post. 

It’s not really necessary since embedding videos are perfectly legal. But it’s a nice gesture to YouTubers who put their time, energy, and money into creating videos. 

Not to mention it’s good for your professional network. 

10. Use YouTube Autocomplete suggestions 

Noticed something when looking for topic ideas from YouTube?

Watch closely. 

YouTube Autocomplete Suggestions
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That’s right – YouTube’s Autocomplete suggestions can provide you with topic ideas.

In most cases, individual suggestions are good enough for one post. But if you’re like me, you’d mix and match these suggestions to create more specific ideas. 

Looking at the results above, here are some of the ideas I came up with:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Turtle Care for Beginners
  • Things to Remember for the Best Turtle Care At Home
  • Top Turtle Care Tips in Winter
  • Turtle Care and Setup Tips for Beginners

In addition to the initial suggestions, you can “refresh” the list to get new ideas. To do this, run the search and click on the search bar again.  

Take a look at the GIF below to see how this works. 

YouTube Turtle Care
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Unlike the initial suggestions, these additional suggestions are more specific and unique. They also reflect what people search for, so you can be sure these ideas generate attention. 

11. Don’t forget about Google

I’ll be completely honest with you. 

I can’t believe I almost ended this post without talking about one of the best tools for generating topic ideas. 

Just like YouTube, Google is also a gold mine of Autocomplete suggestions you can use to fuel your ideas.  

All it takes is a seed keyword to get Google’s Autocomplete gears turning. 

Google Keywords
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Google also provides additional ideas under the “People also ask” section. 

Clicking these suggestions will unravel even more suggestions. So, go ahead and click away until you find something that catches your eye.

Google People Also Ask
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Finally, Google includes additional search suggestions at the bottom of the results page. Use them well to bolster your list of topic ideas, be it for freelance work or your own blog. 

Google Additional Suggestions
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Conclusion

When researching topic ideas, there are times when clients are less than helpful. 

The strategies above should be more than enough to provide you with an endless supply of great ideas. Don’t hesitate to bookmark this page in case you run out of ideas again in the future. 

If you have questions or suggestions for future posts, leave a comment below. 

Also, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions about what you just read. 

Good luck!

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