If you are looking for a source of inspiration for blog posts and articles that won’t run dry, consider visiting an online forum that corresponds to the broad topic you are writing about. There are a number of advantages to using them as a way to get your creative juices flowing. This is a resource you should keep in your virtual back pocket and not hesitate to turn to when you are looking for fresh blog post ideas to write about that will engage your audience.
What is an Online Forum?
An online forum, or internet forum, is a discussion board on a website where participants can read posts by members and post responses of their own. In most cases, registration is required to post on the discussion board. All members can post new topics and respond to all other members’ posts.
Members agree to a certain code of conduct when they register. It’s understood they will not be abusive to fellow members or use inappropriate language. A moderator can delete posts, entire threads or ban members who are found to be in violation of the forum’s code of conduct.
Online Forums: History
The first online bulletin boards were developed by Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss in 1978, who called it the Computerized Bulletin Board System (BBS). This type of bulletin board was used until the 1990s when Usenet became popular. Users would subscribe to newsgroups dedicated to topics that interested them. Participants reply to a thread, and their response is shared with all the other participants in the newsgroup. Usenet is still being used today. There are a number of search engines; Binsearch is one example that is free to try.
The first dedicated software for discussion forums was developed in 1994 by the W3 Consortium. Since that time, there have been many other software programs developed for online forums. They continue to be very popular, with some forums having thousands of members.
Advantages of Using Online Forums as a Source for Blog Post Ideas
Collecting ideas from this online source can benefit you in the following ways:
- Online Forums Contain Topics your Audience Finds Relevant
If a particular question is being asked or an issue is being discussed in a forum, it’s of interest to the online community. You’ll still want to check other sources to see whether it has already been covered by several other bloggers or at least find an angle that has not been written about a number of times before you start to write about the topic. If the topic is broad enough, you should be able to find a different angle that you can address.
- Find Fresh Ideas and Questions for your Audience
Since the posts on the online forum are dated, you can focus your attention on the most recent ones. This will allow you to address the types of problems and issues your audience is trying to solve now.
This information is especially helpful if you are writing for a blog. Your audience wants to see facts they can use right away when they read the posts. The ideas you get from forum posts can give you clues to where your readers’ pain points are and what you can write about to address them. The blog post ideas you get are then more timely and relevant.
- Learn Terms Specific to your Niche
Often, a niche will have specific terms that apply to it that may not be used in general conversation. If you are new to the topic, you’ll need to do some research to learn these terms in order to make your topics more relevant and relatable to your audience. Visiting online forums will help you with this by exposing you to the lingo.
While you don’t have to become an immediate expert, you do need to be able to define the special terms you are using in your posts and articles so that readers who are new to the topic can familiarize themselves with what you are writing about. You also need to understand the special terms so that you don’t get bogged down when trying to write. There are usually one or more posts with definitions in easy to follow language that can help to explain terms specific to a particular niche, and these can be very helpful when taking on a new topic.
- Ideas for Multiple Posts
Visiting a forum be a starting point where you can collect ideas for several posts. You can mine it for general topics or ones that are very specific that you can build a post around, depending on the niche you are writing about.
- Provides an Excellent Networking Opportunity
Spending time visiting online forums and participating in discussions gives you an opportunity to get to know other people who are active in the online community relevant to your niche. Do take time to introduce yourself and to answer other people’s questions in the forum if are able to provide them with some helpful information.
Other forum members can be a source of help and information for you. Your networking efforts can lead to sources for information and interviews, as well as opportunities for guest posts.
- Source of Job Leads and Information
Forums are an alternate source of job leads for yourself or someone you know who is interested in working in the field you are writing about.
If you are browsing through posts, look for categories listing job training, education or specific openings. You may also get to know people who are hiring for gigs from your networking efforts.