Part of my series sharing tips to improve blogging (Link)
Part of my series sharing tips to improve blogging (Link)

There’s nothing worse for a writer than sitting down and not being able to form a complete sentence. No matter how hard you try, comprehending a complete thought seems next to impossible. For my fellow ag bloggers, I urge you to keep tapping into your endless material and try a little concept I have dubbed “blogstorming“.

The name came up as a result of tied tongue on my part in a conversation with one of my favorite bloggers known as JPlovescotton. Blogstorming = blog + brain storming. Take a moment, sit down, and brain storm a list of topics you may be able to write about. Start with your daily task list, include things that are occurring in the current season in farm production, and add in a few headlines from recent news stories that peaked your interest.

One of the biggest catches we (agriculture bloggers in general) are missing out on is hot topics. We need to write more about controversial subjects, sharing our experience, and expressing our opinions. Consumers are searching Google for all sorts of food and farm related topics, and ag bloggers are not near the top on these search results. We need to change that.

blogging tips topic ideas writing
The rules of Blogstorming from JP.

Some of my most popular, frequented, and long-term posts have sprung from sitting down to answer a specific question. What do cattle eat? Is feeding corn to cattle safe? Why do farmers castrate cattle? What is a good agriculture degree? What farmers use antibiotics and hormones? The posts resulting from these simple questions pop up as views on my blog from search engines on a daily basis. One of these posts may draw as much as 25% of my daily views; on a post more than 2 years old! So why aren’t we writing more posts answering more questions like these?

I asked a few ag bloggers if they had similar posts that drew regular, long-term search traffic, and received quite a few different posts. The posts are a great example of how each blogger can build a niche and become a frequented source for specific topics. But are these the only topics we should be writing about? Are these the topics consumers are asking about most?

I did a quick search using some Google tools for a few terms included in my previous posts. I found that the terms I love to write about most aren’t necessarily answer the questions consumers are asking. Google Webmaster shows that I rank well for terms like agriculture degree or feedlot cattle. It’s great that an agriculture blog pops up on the first page of searches for these terms. Then I ask, what other terms can I write my opinions on that more people are searching for.

Google Trends is a neat tool that shows the search engine traffic for specific terms. I did a quick search for those terms that might be included in my blog posts and found that they are minuscule to what the larger population is searching for. I found that the terms antibiotics, hormones, gmo, and animal welfare (as depicted in respective order in the image below) are being search for much more frequently. Those are a sample of terms people are really searching for when compared to what content may appear on my blog.

google trends food farm gmo antibiotic hormone animal welfare
Google Trends show relative search engine traffic between selected terms. Get a closer look at this image by clicking here.

Perform a quick search for “What are GMO crops?” and let me know what you’ll find. The folks who I would consider experts on the topic, academics and farmers, don’t show up on the first page. They’re not on the second, third, or fourth page either. On the 6th page I found a link from Organic Valley and that’s the closest I got to a farm group on the topic. The rest of the material was anti-GMO propaganda and news stories. Sure GMOs is a hot topic, but when was the last time you wrote about your perspective answering those specific questions consumers may be asking about the topic?

If you run into a road block in the near future when it comes to creating meaningful content for your blog, trying sitting down and searching the questions you may have about food and farming. Don’t be afraid to suggest a topic to a fellow blogger if you have a question. It’s likely you’re not the only one asking.

Farmers, ranchers, animal and food scientists should be sharing more about the specific questions consumers have. Are you taking advantage of that? Just some Food For Thought.

For tips on how to handle difficult conversations around food topics, see last week’s blog post or view the rest of my Better Blogging Series.