The Definitive Guide to Coming Up With Content Ideas
One of the biggest challenges of creating a website, updating a blog or sending out newsletters via email is coming up with content ideas. And not just one or two topics either. You need to come up with good ideas so that you can be consistent with your marketing efforts. For some businesses, that means ideas need to be generated on a daily basis.
Not always an easy task, I know.
I’ve been in this situation numerous times before. So I thought that I would help you out. Below you’ll find 20 sources that I use for inspiration for my content ideas, and a shortlist of what you can do with those topic ideas. You’ll have no excuses for citing writer’s block after this.
20 Sources of Inspiration for Content Ideas
Forums have unlimited amounts of content ideas. That’s because you won’t find a forum that doesn’t have a section aimed at solving problems or answering beginners’ questions. You can use forum sub-sections to inspire new sections or directions for your website, or comb through the posts to come up with post ideas. In fact, many posts will damn near be written for you. Using just a couple of forums, I’ve come up with nearly 200 topics in one afternoon for a project I was working on a couple months ago.
2. Yahoo Answers
Yahoo Answers is a great source for content ideas. The best part of Yahoo Answers is that the questions you read are problems that people are having right now. This works in your favor twofold — one, you now have an idea for a blog post, and two, it’s possible that this person couldn’t find anything legitimate to answer the question in Google. So write the post that answers the question and position yourself in Google for others to find you — all at the same time.
This is a slightly different way of finding content ideas. What you do is take a look at all of the Adsense ads on your site. What shows up? Look to see if any of the ads can be used or twisted into a blog post. You can take this a step further by looking at your competitor’s Adsense ads.
4. Google Analytics
Google Analytics works well for content ideas because you see what people were searching for when they landed on your site. Some of the data you won’t be able to do anything with, since you already have content covering those topics. However, you can take spins on some of those ideas and either boost your rankings and/or provide another door for your visitors to come to your site through. You can use many of these phrases for new content ideas, too.
5. Family & Friends
Ask your family and friends about your topic. Do they face any problems that you can solve? Do they have any questions that you can answer? Do they have experiences that they can share with you and your audience? Ask and find out. Then create a blog post out of it.
This is one of the easiest ways to come up with content ideas. Send an email to your customers, write a blog post or setup a poll on Facebook and ask what their biggest problems, fears and successes are. Another way of doing this is to setup a survey and ask them to fill that out.
7. Other Blogs
This can be your competitors, or just a random blog that you like to read. Look for topics that you haven’t covered yet, or (unrelated) topics that you can spin for your specific niche. Just don’t copy anyone. Come up with your own angle or spin on each topic.
8. Keyword Tools
Plug your niche or keywords into a keyword tool such as the one from Google or Ubersuggest. You could also use Google Instant. Then take these keywords, add an adjective and noun, and now you have a topic to write about. Many of these tools can generate tens, not hundreds of different phrases that you can write about.
9. Your Website
Comb through your site to see if there is any content that you can write a sort of “then and now” or “updated for 2012″ article for. Are there any articles where you’ve written some predictions that you can comment on now? Maybe you have a tutorial that you can use to create a case study showing how you used your own advice.
10. TV / Movies
There are so many ways to use TV and movies for content inspiration. You can use a character of a show, an episode you watched or an upcoming movie. The news is chock full of ideas, too. Is there a hot topic that you can comment on, or spin to fit your niche?
There’s a magazine in nearly every niche. Buy a couple and see what inspires you. Like I said above, you don’t want to blatantly copy an idea, but what you can do is maybe give your opinion on a piece that you read, or maybe try a DIY project that you read about and post your experiences.
Pretty straightforward. Use the comments in your blog for ideas. If you’re blog is rather new, use comments made on other blogs.
Sometimes you just need to do a brain-dump. A great way to accomplish this is to create a mind-map. Open up MindMeister, Bubbl.us or pull out a pen and paper, put your niche in a bubble in the center and just start jotting down ideas. Maybe create bubbles like problems, fears, solutions, products, demographics, etc and see what comes to you.
14. Social Media
There are numerous ways to use social media for content ideas. What I like to do is hop onto a competitors Facebook fan page and see what types of questions their fans are asking them. You can find these in the top right of the timeline, right below all the photos and apps.
You wouldn’t think Pinterest is a great resource for content ideas, but it can be. You just need to think outside the box a little. For example, say you use a picture of an actor, like Ben Affleck. That makes me think of writing a post titled, The Ben Affleck Guide to…. . A picture of chocolate cupcakes can turn into 10 Ways Cupcakes Don’t Make You Fat, or How to Get Your Kids Into Baking.
16. Your Daily Life
Is there anything you do or have experienced that you can get ideas from? Any struggles that you’ve overcome? Don’t forget the successes too. People are inspired and motivated by positive experiences.
17. Other Bloggers (Case Studies, Interviews, Successes, Failures)
Instead of using another blog for content ideas, find the owners of blogs in your niche and interview them, ask them if they have any case studies or failures that they can share with your readers.
18. Your Work (Case Studies, Successes, Failures)
Same thing as above, but instead focus on yourself. What have you done in your niche that others can be motivated or learn from.
Do a search in Google Trends or visit a site such as Trend Hunter. What up and coming stories can you get ideas from? There’s always something going on, from international events, politics, fashion and celebrity news and gossip. Plenty of ideas to tap into here.
20. Group / Co-Workers
If you work in a company, have a group session where you bounce ideas off each other. Between you and a handful of people, there’s no reason why you couldn’t come up with 25, 50 or 100 content ideas. Many of these content ideas can also serve as inspiration for future ideas.
How to Format Your Content Ideas
Well, those sources should keep you from facing writers block anytime soon. But what do you do with all of the content ideas that you come up with? Here are a few ideas:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- White papers
- Round ups
Whew! That provides a lot of possibilities, doesn’t it?
Well, that’s it from me. But what about you? What do you think of the list above — have you used any of these sources for inspiration? Do you have any of your own that you’d like to share? Let me know about it in the comments.
Check out our previous articles!
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- The Definitive Guide to Coming Up With Content Ideas - August 28, 2012