Challenging, isn’t it?

A blog is a great tool for building a business, but there’s one problem. You have to come up with high quality, engaging content.

Regularly.

And starting a new post always means looking at a blank page. Which seems to suck the ideas right out of you.

Anything that initially appeared brilliant and inspired suddenly seems trivial and inconsequential. Or worse. You have no idea what to write.

But here’s a secret that no one will tell you. You don’t have to think up great ideas – they’re right in front of you.

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You just have to steal them. And you can steal killer blog ideas without getting caught.

Here's how.​

Great Artists Steal

Shakespeare stole his plots from Greek and Roman plays. George Orwell got the story of Nineteen Eighty Four from an obscure Russian novel.

Even the band U2 created their unique sound by trying to copy others.

Great writers steal – they just don’t plagiarise – and that’s the key difference.

Plagiarising is copying. It’s taking someone else’s words and pretending they’re your own unique composition.

Not cool.

But stealing ideas and making them your own? That’s a great way of creating popular blog posts.

Cool Tools for Theft

Popular blogs are a wealth of information if you know where to look, and you can mine them for ideas.

Let’s say you run a small marketing agency and you’re looking for ideas to write about on your blog. You know that three popular blogs in your field are Kissmetrics, Hubspot and Duct Tape Marketing.

So you head over to Buzzsumo or Socialcrawlytics (both free tools) and put in the URL for Duct Tape Marketing.

This shows that the top five posts on that site, over the last year were:

  1. Top 4 Content Marketing Metrics
  2. Checklist for Perfect Blog Post
  3. Email Marketing Best Practices for Lead Generation
  4. 5 Easy Steps to Nailing a Sale
  5. People Buy Stories Before They Buy Stuff

This gives us useful insights, but remember that we don’t want to copy or plagiarise. So how do we use this information?

Clever Ways to Compose

The simplest way to use this material is to take it at face value and write something similar – but not the same. So, you might write something about measuring content marketing, or create a cheat sheet for writing the perfect blog post.

If you go a little deeper you could extend the article ideas. So, you might take the article about nailing a sale and extend it by writing something about repeat customers, or how to keep customers for life.

You could also read the content marketing metrics article and then come up with another batch of tools for measuring content marketing. Do this for each of the articles, and you’ve stolen five great blog ideas!

But we can do better than that.

Smart Writing Ideas

The smartest way to use this information is to look at the underlying issues of the top posts. The way I read it, these are:

  • How to create killer content (articles two, three and five)
  • How to generate paying customers (articles three and four)
  • Smart marketing strategies (articles one and three)

Writing your own articles about underlying issues gives you great ideas for content that’s likely to be popular with your own audience. And that’s just by looking at five posts on one site.

Imagine how many ideas you could generate if you reviewed two or three sites? Your content calendar would fill up fast, without you having to come up with any ideas at all.

And what’s more, the content you create this way is already proven to be popular.

You can spend hours brainstorming blog ideas only to have your content fall flat.

Or you can do a little research and generate content the smart way – by stealing.

The choice is yours. I can’t wait to see what you choose.

This article first appeared on Smallville.

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About the Author

Cate Scolnik helps small business owners increase engagement, share their message and create loyal fans. She specialises in getting results through social media, blogging, and content strategy. She’s worked with some of the most respected experts in the online environment including Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha and Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger.