NOTE: There will be no blog post on Thursday, August 4 because I’m busy traveling. Stay tuned for the next Blogging Bookshelf post on Monday, August 8. Thanks!

I know we’ve all seen those “10 Ways to Get Blog Post Ideas” posts, and they usually rehash the same handful of tired ideas. This is different, I promise.

This idea-mining exercise involves Amazon. You’ve probably heard (and I mention it in my free 101 Ways to Battle Blogger’s Block ebook) that one way to use Amazon to get blog post ideas is to go look at the table of contents of books. You can see what topics are covered in the book, and there might be some topics that you hadn’t previously thought of that you can talk about on your blog.

But there’s another nifty tip. Here we’re going to go read through book or product reviews on Amazon to get ideas.

To illustrate my point here, let’s say that I have a blog about linguistics (I don’t). I ‘d search for “linguistics” on Amazon.com and choose one of the books that has a good number of reviews. I clicked on this one:

The book I selected

The book I clicked on

I then went down to the first review (Amazon sorts reviews so that the most helpful will be on top) and read it. Here it is (you can click it for a larger version):

The first review I looked at

The first review I looked at

Pretty much every sentence of that review contains at least one blog post idea. Let’s go through the first part, phrase by phrase.

“Saussure is important as a linguist”

I could write a short biography of the man. I could write a post that highlights his most important contributions to the world of linguistics. I could write a post refuting the statement, saying that Saussure isn’t in fact as important as everyone thinks he is. Knowing as I do that he was a father of modern linguistics (I studied linguistics in school), I could write about why he is considered a father of linguistics.

“(although many of his theories have since been put out to pasture)”

I could explain the origin of the phrase “put out to pasture.” I could write about his debunked theories (each one as a post by itself or all of them in a list post). I could write only about his theories that are still held to be valid today.

“but he is most important for his contributions to the theory of Structuralism”

I could write a post about what ideas *I* think are Saussure’s most important or influential. Or I could write a blog post about other linguists who have influenced the world outside of linguistics.

To conclude our little exercise here, let’s go over one more phrase from the second paragraph:

“This book is not particularly difficult; it’s a bit dry, but what can you expect from a linguistics class?”

I could write a post for linguistics teachers and call it “How to Make Your Linguistics Classes Less Boring.” I could write about the most boring linguistics books ever. I could write about the least boring, most interesting books about linguistics. Reading this could give me the idea to review any linguistics books I have lying around. And now that I think about it, I should write a post discussing “lying around” versus “laying around.”

So with those 4 snippets from one single review on Amazon, I gleaned enough ideas for at least 14 blog posts.

Not a bad use of a few minutes, eh?

Now consider that some books have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of reviews, and that there are millions of books in Amazon. Sweeeeet!

  • Go read a review of a book in your niche. How many blog post ideas can you come up with?
  • What are your favorite ways of coming up with new blog post ideas?
  • How else can we use Amazon for blog post ideas?