Content Creation Case Study: Blog Topics for an Interior Design Business

This is the second in a series of Content Creation Case Studies, where we explore a few dozen blog topic and newsletter ideas for small business bloggers in the creative space.

(Marketing online with killer free content is one of the most effective ways to up your business visibility, increase your search engine traffic, and establish yourself as the go-to person in your niche. All of which, if done correctly, will result in more sales. To do that well, you need to add fresh new content to your blog at least weekly, if possible. And to do that, you need topic ideas. That’s why I’m adding these content creation case studies to the blog on a regular basis, to get you, my creative friend, to start creating your own killer content. Check back frequently for your creative biz type – I’m sure to be covering it in a case study sometime soon.)

Last case study I laid out my system for easily and consistently coming up with dozens of content ideas, and put a clothing and accessories boutique through a brainstorming session, generating 34 potential topics this business could blog about.

Today we’re going to apply the same brainstorming & content creation system to an interior design business.

(Check out the links at the end of this blog post for more information about the system I use. Also note, the topic ideas here are slightly generic; you would obviously trick these ideas up to gear them to your specific audience.)

Amazon is a great place to start the brainstorming, so let’s begin there. What you want to do is search for books in your topic area, then look at book chapter titles. Next take a look at magazines on Amazon in your topic area, and note article headlines.

From these two resources I noted 28 blog topic ideas someone in the interior design business could write about.

From Amazon Book Chapter Titles, these ideas surfaced:

How to Decorate Like a Pro, Even If You’re Design-Challenged

How to Define Your Interior Design Style

How to Set a Decorating Budget

3 Investment Pieces Everyone Should Own: Which Pieces to Spend the Big Bucks On

Design Basics: What You Need to Know Before You Get Started on Your Next Project

Guide to the Best Decorating Resources Online

How to Build a Room Around a Signature Piece

How to Tie a Room Together with Color

A series of Home Design 101 and How-To Shop posts would make a great category for a weekly blog post (again, using Amazon book chapter titles):

Using Color 101

Lighting 101

Rugs 101

Room Layout 101

How to Shop for Furniture Online

How to Shop: Dept. Stores

How to Shop: Vintage and Second-Hand and/or Consignment

How to Shop: Catalogues

How to Shop: Yard Sales and Flea Markets

Ideas Generated from Magazine Headlines:

How to Create the Perfect Beach House Décor on a Budget

How To Do Rustic

50 Best Kitchen Ideas

50 Best Bathroom Ideas

Little Changes for Big Impact

How to Perk Up Your Rooms with Color

How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Retreat

Transform Your Home with Details

10 Picture-Hanging Tips

How to Create Big Style in a Small Space

Best Buys for Every Budget

The 28 ideas above came from 20-30 minutes of brainstorming on Amazon, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there were over 33,000 books listed in Amazon in the interior design category alone. **I don’t suggest using the headlines you find on Amazon verbatim; instead, use them as writing prompts — you’ll want to tweak them for your specific business and target audience.

After signing out of Amazon, I came up with a few ideas of my own:

* How to Hire an Interior Designer: 5 Must-Know Tips (other variations on this idea: When to Hire an Interior Designer, Why Hire an Interior Designer, etc.)

* Essential Design Principles Every DIY’er Needs to Know

* How This Home Got Style: A Before & After Story (turn this into a weekly or monthly series on your blog and use it to show off your kick-butt design skills)

* One Couple, Two Very Different Design Aesthetics: How to Combine Your Styles for Maximum Impact (and Happiness!)

* From Ho-Hum to W-O-W: How to Use Luxe Accessories to Spice Up a Boring Room


And there you have it – 33 blog topic ideas from 30 minutes of brainstorming.

Now it’s time for you to give this brainstorming technique a try and let your creative freak flag fly, baby!

**The Amazon generated ideas are somewhat generic; if this were a real client of mine, I would suggest much more specific blog topics based on their particular brand personality and target audience.**

For blog content brainstorming and content creation, I use the process I outlined in “3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time,” and “How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2.”

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Tap Into Your Inner {Bakery} Marketing Genius

Last blog post I talked about an effective problem solving technique I recently discovered to help generate ideas, come up with solutions to business and life challenges, and gain insight.  (Read about the “Sentence Stems” technique here.  Big ups to Rich Schefren, who I first learned about this technique from.)

At the end of that post, I said I’d take you through some ideas I generated when I applied this exercise to a friend’s dilemma of getting more customers into her bakery (mostly cupcakes) using no cost or low cost marketing methods.

Keep in mind that when you’re completing the sentence stems daily, not everything you write will be worthwhile, or even doable, and that’s OK.  The idea is to step outside your limitations, think big, and just write whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself.

If you work on your sentence stem exercise daily, at the end of a week or two I guarantee you’ll have at least a few really good, workable ideas.

The sentence stem I constructed for my friend’s bakery was this:

“I could get more customers into my bakery using no or low cost marketing if I  . . .”

. . . partnered with other small businesses in my community to tap into their audiences.  I could approach caterers, wedding planners, event planners, etc. and offer to do joint promotions with them.

. . . hooked up with a local florist and offered to do “a dozen cupcakes with a dozen roses” kind of delivery, or similar.

. . . dropped off samples with a business card and price sheet/order form to offices in my area for their employee birthday celebrations and other office parties where food goodies are needed.

. . . came up with something no one else is doing to set myself apart from other bakeries in my community, like offering  special order baked goods with free delivery or similar.

. . . offered customer loyalty cards where after the 10th visit, the customer gets a free cupcake or similar.

. . . partnered with another small biz owner to cut costs and rented booth space at a high-traffic bridal show.

. . . participated in the local farmers’ market weekly.

. . . offered to provide goodies for a local biz networking event (along with plenty of business cards and order forms!).

. . . offered to sponsor or host a local business networking event in my place of business.

. . . went to one local business networking event per week.

. . . offered to speak to a local networking group about how I started my dream bakery business.

. . . partnered with a wine bar or similar to do a monthly cupcake and wine tasting. We both send out invites to our email lists and invite our local Facebook and Twitter following as well.

. . . did cupcake decorating lessons to get peeps into my place of business – they pay for the class & supplies and get to keep the cupcakes.

. . .offered a Mother & Daughter cake decorating or cupcake decorating class to celebrate Mother’s Day, and other similar holiday-themed classes.

. . . provided baked goods to realtors for their open houses.

. . . did daily Facebook and Twitter promos:  Do a status update in the a.m. with the flavors that will be running that day, then as the flavors start selling out, highlight this fact on Facebook and Twitter to build excitement:  “Key lime custard almost gone, 6 left, come in and get yours!” etc.

. . .did a “question of the day,” where I post a trivia question or similar first thing in the morning to Facebook and Twitter, and the first person to come in and answer it correctly gets a free brownie or cupcake, then announce the winner on Facebook and Twitter at the end of the day.

. . . donated a beautifully decorated gift package of baked goods to a silent auction once per quarter.

. . . placed an email opt-in form on my website and collected email addresses.  Then send my email list special promotions, coupons, flyers, info about baking classes, recipes, etc. etc. to build customer loyalty (and collect email addresses in store, during baking classes, at trade shows and any and every other appropriate time and opportunity, because an active email list is one of the very best business assets you can have – but that’s a sentence stem brainstorm for a whole other post!)

. . . started a blog about baking.

. . . submitted guest posts to local food-related blogs.

. . . pitched a story to my local newspaper’s food section about my awesome local food-based business.

OK, there are 22 ideas.  Mind you, some of them might not be workable, but many of them are.  And these 22 things I came up with in one sitting of around 20-30 minutes.  If I had done the sentence stems exercise every day for a full week or two as suggested, the list would obviously be way longer.  But you get the idea.

Sometimes it’s just about giving yourself permission – and time – to get really still and brainstorm.  And doing this regularly will loosen up all kinds of ideas for you, I just betcha.  : )

Now you give it a try, and let me know how you do in the comments!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Tap Into Your Inner Genius in 10 Minutes a Day

Today I want to share a very effective problem solving technique I recently discovered.  This technique will help you generate ideas, come up with solutions to business and life challenges, and generally gain  insight into anything you’re currently trying to work through.

The technique is called “Sentence Stems,” which I was introduced to through Rich Schefren’s  “One Step Ahead” newsletter.  It’s easy and even fun to do, and takes just 10 minutes per day, though you can spend as much time as you like on it.

Here’s how it works:

Start with a sentence stem that’s based on a challenge you’re trying to work through, a goal you want to achieve, a problem you want to solve or anything else you want to gain insight into.  The sentence stem itself will contain the solution to the problem you want to solve or outcome you want to achieve.

For example:

“I could start earning more money each month right now if I . . . .”

“It would be easier to get referrals for my business if I . . .”

“I could get 2 new clients in the next 30 days if I . . .”

• Then every day for a week (or for maximum results, two weeks), write out 6-10 endings to the sentence stem.

• Each day (ideally first thing in the morning, when you’re fresh and full of energy!), write out your sentence endings without looking at the previous day’s answers — you don’t want your previous day’s answers to guide your new answers.

• Write your endings as quickly as possible without second guessing yourself, worrying about perfect grammar or spelling, or stopping to “decide” if this idea will work or not. Just write.  The idea here is to bypass your conscious mind and tap into the powerful awareness of your subconscious mind.

• Try not to use the same ending more than once.

• Now, at the end of your 7 days or 14 days or however long you decided to do this, review everything you’ve written, strike out any repetitions, and consolidate what’s left.  Some of the ideas you wrote down will give you new ideas; write these down as well.

• Then review your list again, decide which ideas are best, and prioritize the ones that are immediately actionable, and begin taking action on them.

Now, your sentence stems don’t have to be business related of course.  Your stems will be about whatever particular challenge you’re currently facing.

Maybe you want to get healthier, so your sentence stems could look like this:

“It would be easier to exercise 3-4 days per week if I . . .”

“It would be easier to eat a healthy diet daily if I . . . “

And so on. You get the idea.

Let me tell you, this technique works.  I used the sentence stem “I could increase my monthly income immediately if I . . .” and after just 4 days of doing the exercise, I have 28 ideas, and the week’s not over yet.  What’s more, I’ve already taken action on one of these ideas, which is going to net me an extra $1100 in income next month.   And I still have 27 more ideas to explore – wheeeee!  ; )

The idea I took action on is something that wouldn’t necessarily have crossed my mind had I not done this exercise.  Although it isn’t an ideal solution to a consistent increase in my monthly income year round, it doesn’t matter, because what I was after was a solution to more income right now, within the next 30 days, and that’s what I got.

I even wrote down my next half dozen sentence stems to work on when I’m finished with the current one.

One of the other benefits of doing this exercise is it will get you thinking of solutions and answers even when you’re not actively completing your sentence stems each morning.  I’ve come up with ideas lying in bed, while in the shower, while in (boring) meetings, driving around, and in the market.

Now YOU try it, you genius you!  ; )

And next blog post, I’m going to take you through some ideas I generated when I applied this exercise to a friend’s dilemma of getting more customers into her bakery/cupcake shop.  Stay tuned!