SEO Writing: Questions from a Newbie about Running Out of Topics to Write On & More

Writing SEO content for a living is fun – because you learn so much about so many different industries. My friends don’t like to play trivia games with me because I know so many random facts about so many different topics it ain’t even funny. Alex Trebeck, I’m coming for you!

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Writing SEO Content: Running Out of Topics to Write On?

Even though you’re almost never bored as a SEO writer, one of the big drawbacks is highlighted in an email I received from a relatively new SEO writer; the one in this post. She wrote:

What do you do when you have literally run out of topics for a client? My very first client, a digital marketing agency, has me writing about [names of three topics].

The SEO guy they have (very nice guy) post my keywords on their editorial calendar, and then I have to go in, look at the keywords, and come up with an article topic for each one.

The first month [with the first set of keywords] … I knocked those articles out the park. But the second month the keywords [were] almost identical keywords [as the first month]…. for a niche that is COMPLETELY unpopular. When I Google, it’s the same topics, over and over again for this industry.

I’m at a point where I have no idea what to do. Have you ever run into anything like this? I don’t want to give up this client over something so trivial, but I don’t know how I can do this every month — especially for $25 a pop.

My AnswerSEO Content Writing: Questions from a Newbie

Oh boy have I been there. I’ve said numerous times on this blog that I’ve written so many articles on mortgages (one of my writing niches) that I know I’ve plagiarized myself!

SEO Content Writing Drawback

One time, I had a client who had me writing on arctic drilling equipment. Not only did I not know jack squat about this (or that it even existed!), when I started to research it, it was hard to find much info.

I almost pulled my hair out on that one (I wound up outsourcing the article).

So this is one of the drawbacks of writing SEO content, especially when land a client who orders lots of articles on the same subject (usually SEO companies and digital marketing firms).

On the flip side, it’s a good problem to have because that means they have lots of work.

My First SEO Writing Job

My first SEO writing job was with an internet marketing firm (SEO company) out of Canada, and they’d give me 10, 20, 30 or 40 articles a week sometimes.

I started out writing articles on mortgages for them — and wound up writing on every topic under the sun once they got to know my writing (and like it).

But, I digress. … Here’s how I handled it when I ran into the “I’m fresh out of ideas” problem.

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1. Use Q&A Sites

Sites like Yahoo Answers, and Quora are great because they feature questions from actual web surfers about stuff they want to know.

Many times, you’ll stumble upon a question – that may have been already answered – that you hadn’t even thought to address. That will spark an idea for an article. And if the question has already been answered, you can take that content, do further research to add to it, and the article will have practically written itself.

2. Dig into Article Directories

I’d never even thought of this until SEO writer Paul Lindquist suggested it in a post I wrote years ago. He said:

. . . for the person who’s struggling to write an article in under a few hours, here’s what works for me. For an original article I know nothing about, I go to Ezine Articles and pull 3 related articles and read them over. Then I go to YouTube and watch 1 or 2 videos. Total time-about a half hour. But after that half hour, I know more about the topic than 95% of the public. Then of course I proceed to write an original article, which takes me another half hour or so for 500 words. 

Although he was talking about writing on subjects you know nothing about, this is excellent advice for when you have run out of topics to write about. And even though article directories are an old-school form of content marketing, there’s still a lot of good content to e found on them that can spark ideas.

3. Ask Your Client

As your client for a few things:

(i) Specific topics they want you to write on: This is as opposed to just giving you a set of  keywords. A secondary benefit of this is – just in case they have any qualms about the articles you’re turning in – they’ll see just how hard it is to come up with good content week in and week out on the same topic.

Why HostGator is the best web hositing company for freelance writers (IMO)(ii) Marketing materials: These are helpful because it shows you the points that they definitely want to get across. So, when you conduct your research to find a topic to write about, you can narrow it down to what’s included in their marketing material(s).

(iii) Customer questions: Ask them to give you a list of their most frequently asked questions, eg, from their website, via phone, in any surveys they’ve conducted. Again, this is to give you some fresh areas to mine for potential article ideas.

Sometimes, companies don’t use the data they collect to address customer concerns; this is especially true with an intermediary company (like a digital marketing agency).

(iv) More money: Tell them that it’s taking you a lot of time in research to come up with different ideas to write about on the same keywords week in and week out. So, let them know that unless they can pay you more per article, eg, $35 or $45, then you need them to at least give you the topics to write on (as well as the keywords).

4. Outsource the Writing

Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is exactly what a topic needs. So where possible, outsource the writing just so you don’t have to worry about it. Now, at $25/pop, that’s probably impossible, which brings me to my next point.

SEO Writers: Where to Find Reliable Freelancers to Outsource To

Speaking of outsourcing, this freelancer sent in a follow-up question asking about it. She wrote:

…would you recommend Upwork as a way to find subcontractors? Someone suggested it to me, and I was wondering what you thought. I have one subcontractor writer that saw me on Facebook and reached out. I’m going to need more, and I don’t trust Craigslist.

I’ve addressed outsourcing on numerous occasions over the years. You can find links in this post. I’ve also written an entire book about it. But to address this question specifically, I’ve never hired freelance writers from Upwork.

I know Laura Pennington (who I partnered with to put together this Freelance Writer Starter Pack), does all the time. She’s an Upwork expert – on both sides of the hiring desk. Based on Laura’s experience, I’d say yes.

I always have more than enough freelance writers on file who contact me via my SEO writing company’s site to reach out to when I need to hire help.

FYI, here’s another post that gives some great insight on hiring freelancers to outsource to.


I’ve been writing SEO content since 2007 and I have to say, based on the questions I constantly receive and the old blog posts I dig through, not a lot has changed. Sure, content is longer – and a few other changes have come down the pike — but the logistics of starting and running a SEO writing business is about the same.

It’s never too late to start – and no, the industry is not oversaturated. There’s more work than ever, in large part thanks to the popularity of content marketing. So get trained … and get started.

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This detailed post answers all of those questions.

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